Is It Sleepiness Or Fatigue
Sleepiness can occur when a person does not get enough good quality sleep, or when they have a lack of stimulation. It can also be a symptom of a health condition that interferes with sleep, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome.
Sleepiness is more likely to be short-term than fatigue. It is usually treatable with regular and consistent sleep.
However, fatigue especially when it is chronic is often associated with a health condition or problem. It may also be its own chronic condition, called chronic fatigue syndrome, or myalgic encephalomyelitis.
Fatigue is associated with many health conditions and lifestyle factors. The sections below will outline these in more detail.
Fatigue Cause No : Diabetes
In people with diabetes, abnormally high levels of sugar remain in the bloodstream instead of entering the body’s cells, where it would be converted into energy. The result is a body that runs out of steam despite having enough to eat. If you have persistent, unexplained fatigue, ask your doctor about being tested for diabetes.
Fix: Treatments for diabetes may include lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, insulin therapy, and medications to help the body process sugar.
Get Tested For Other Conditions
Anaemia is often found alongside arthritis and is a common cause of fatigue. Anaemia can be caused by lack of iron in your diet, and this means your red blood cells cant carry enough oxygen to the parts of your body that need it.
GPs are generally very good at diagnosing and treating anaemia, says Dr Rae.
However, thyroid disease remains a major concern, because it can masquerade as so many other conditions. Dry skin and thinning hair are common symptoms, alongside the fatigue and aching joints that people put down to arthritis. Your rheumatologist or GP should offer tests to check your thyroid function.
If thyroid disease is diagnosed, its reasonably easy to manage with the right medication.
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Sleep Suggestions For Fighting Fatigue
A common cause of fatigue is not enough sleep, or poor quality sleep. Suggestions include:
- Get enough sleep two-thirds of us suffer from sleep problems, and many people dont get the sleep they need to stay alert through the day. Some recommendations on getting a good nights sleep include: go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time every day, avoid naps through the day, and have a warm bath or shower before bed.
- Limit caffeine too much caffeine, particularly in the evening, can cause insomnia. Limit caffeinated drinks to five or less per day, and avoid these types of drinks after dinner.
- Learn how to relax a common cause of insomnia is fretting about problems while lying in bed. Experiment with different relaxation techniques until you find one or two that work for you for example, you could think of a restful scene, focus on your breathing, or silently repeat a calming mantra or phrase.
- Avoid sleeping pills sleeping pills are not a long-term solution because they dont address the causes of insomnia.
How Can A Workplace Address Fatigue
Fatigue can be addressed through the workplaceâs safety management system, or as a separate fatigue management program. Creation of a program that addresses both workplace and personal factors may include to:
- identify the hazards and conduct a risk assessment for factors associated with fatigue
- develop and implement the organizationâs response to when a person is experiencing fatigue
- document of the steps to take to report fatigue in self or others
- design the work area to have appropriate lighting, temperature, and noise levels.
- develop administrative practices such as maximum hours of service, appropriate shift rotation, extended workdays, reducing or eliminating the need to do high risk activities between certain hours , etc.
- assess physical and mental job demands.
- provide appropriate work, where possible. For example, try to offer a variety of tasks that vary in interest and movement throughout the shift.
- provide lodging or areas to rest or sleep, where appropriate and necessary
- educate and train about fatigue, including recognizing signs and symptoms of fatigue, how to gauge alertness, or steps to help achieve better sleep
- provide medical screening for health issues that may affect sleep
- provide mental health services, including employee assistance programs , as needed
- include fatigue as a possible factor and related causes of fatigue when investigating incidents
For more information, please see the following OSH Answers documents:
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Give Supplements / Nutraceuticals A Try
There are a variety of supplements and nutraceuticals that may help to boost your energy levels and reduce fatigue. While there is certainly no magic-bullet to stop chronic fatigue, a combination of lifestyle changes, healthy eating, and dietary supplements is inevitably beneficial and is certainly worth exploring.
1. Supplements that boost dopamine levels
These are products that help to increase the activity of neurotransmitters or reduce their metabolism, thus improving the levels of dopamine or serotonin in your brain. Dopamine and serotonin help to support a healthy mood as well as to improve your energy levels. Examples include supplements like L-Tyrosine, Phenylethylamine and CDP-Choline .
2. Nutraceuticals that improve energy levels on a cellular level
These are supplements that work more systemically, improving energy production on a cellular level, throughout your body. Examples include powerful antioxidants like Quercetin, Rutin, or SAL-Glutathione, which destroy harmful free radicals that may interfere with your bodys energy production. Another example is Inositol Trispyrophosphate , which improves the ability of hemoglobin to deliver oxygen to your muscles and tissues.
3. Natural immune-supporting products
4. Adaptogens to beat fatigue
Psychological Causes Of Tiredness
Psychological tiredness is much more common than tiredness caused by a physical problem. Both anxiety and depression can make you feel very tired. Eating disorders can make you feel tired, particularly if you are underweight or overweight. Any cause of a sleep problem will also cause tiredness during the day.
Stress is a common cause of tiredness, either because it interferes with sleep, or because of the effect of having a worry on your mind all the time.
Other possible causes include:
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How Energy Conservation Can Combat The Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Avoiding extreme lows and highs is a balancing act for people working to overcome chronic fatigue syndrome. This condition essentially limits the amount of energy a person has, which can be illustrated by representing the available energy with cones. If I give a patient six cones to represent their energy for the day, without the option to borrow cones from another day, any activity they participate in uses up their cones to a proportionate degree.
For example, if a patient tells me they made a gourmet meal that took four hours, I grab away all their cones and that is their entire energy supply for that day. Then I will show them that alternatively they could have gotten up and made a simple breakfast, then I would have only taken one cone away. Then they would have had enough energy left to clean the kitchen, go to the grocery store, and do their physical therapy exercises, all while still having a bit of energy in reserve. I always encourage individuals to aim to leave a cone do not use up every bit you have every day.
When a patient first begins to address chronic fatigue syndrome, they bounce between what they perceive as really terrible and really good days. Our goal is to level that out and ultimately reach a point where the bad days feel even better than the good days used to, as that energy level slowly increases.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms
While the term chronic fatigue is fairly descriptive of this crippling illness, it doesnt tell the entire story. Chronic fatigue often starts suddenly, with flu-like symptoms. But unlike the flu, it can last a lifetime.
In addition to the profound fatigue experienced, other serious symptoms often accompany CFS, such as:
- joint pain that moves from one spot to another
- muscle pain
- night sweats
- digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome .
Sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome also experience significant alterations in levels of irritability, mood swings, panic attacks, anxiety and depression. According to a study published in Family Practice, 36 percent of individuals with CFS were clinically depressed and 22 percent had seriously considered suicide in the past year.
Simply, the emotional and mental side effects of CFS cannot be overlooked, and treatment must include the mind, body and spirit.
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A Demanding Job Or Lifestyle
Working in a high-pressure job or having a demanding lifestyle can mentally drain you.
A demanding job isnt the only thing that can cause mental exhaustion. Juggling too many responsibilities at home and work can also lead to chronic fatigue. This is especially true for people in the sandwich generation. After a long day at work, many adults come home to be full-time caregivers of children and aging relatives.
This kind of responsibility and stress takes a toll on their emotional and mental well-being.
Increase Your Physical Activity
Adding some gentle exercises to your day can increase the amount of energy you have.
Staying active increases your fitness levels and strengthens your muscles. Weak muscles use more energy, so doing too little can be as damaging as doing too much.
Exercise also increases your circulation and improves the health of vital organs, such as your heart and lungs, which can also give you more energy.
Its important to give yourself time to recover after exercise by taking a break before you move onto your next activity.
When you start exercising
Introducing more physical activity to your day may be tiring at first. Dont overdo it, start your activity slowly, perhaps just add a 510 minute walk or some gentle stretching exercises to begin with.
If youre in pain you can take painkillers before you exercise.
Gradually build up the amount of activity you do. For example, when youre ready, walk for 5 more minutes or add some strengthening exercises to your routine.
Generally, the best way to build up your fitness levels is to do a little exercise as often as you can. Stick with it because as you get fitter youll start to feel better, stronger and more energetic.
You could try using a step counter such as a fitness tracker, a pedometer, or a mobile phone app. When youre ready and depending on how youre feeling, you could try to beat your previous records.
You should aim to exercise every day. But be aware some days will be easier than others.
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What Can I Do To Manage Covid Fatigue
Fatigue can drain your energy and keep you from doing day-to-day things when youre down with a viral sickness like COVID-19 or long-haul COVID-19.
To manage your health and ease fatigue symptoms while youre sick or post-COVID, you should:
- Accept that fatigue is a real side effect of having COVID-19.
- Make sure to get a good nights sleep. This can help your body preserve energy.
- Try relaxation techniques like mindful meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, and tai chi. These can help to reduce stress and fatigue symptoms.
- Plan ahead on what you can get done with limited energy.
- Prioritize the tasks that are important. This will help you spend energy on only those things that need to be done.
- Delegate certain tasks to others who can complete them for you. This can include activities like grocery shopping or cooking.
- Try to stay active. A viral infection can knock your energy out, but moving and light exercise can energize you.
- Keep a diary on all things that either trigger your fatigue or make it worse. This will help you steer clear of energy-draining activities.
- Eat foods that give your body energy.
- Stay hydrated.
Other Lifestyle Changes To Manage Me/cfs
Other ways to manage ME/CFS include:
- equipment â some people may need a blue badge for parking, a wheelchair, a stairlift, or other adaptations for their home
- changes in your place of work or study â when you’re ready and well enough to return to work or studies, your doctor should be able to advise you on changes that could ease your return
There’s limited or no evidence to recommend:
- resting completely â there’s no evidence this helps
- complementary medicine â there is not enough evidence that it’s helpful for ME/CFS
You should not take up vigorous unsupervised exercise such as going to the gym or for a run as this may make your symptoms worse.
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Check For Vitamin Deficiencies
Vitamin D deficiency affects most of the population. If you havent topped up your levels during the summer because of work or fatigue making you stay inside, you may be lacking come winter, says Dr Rae.
This can lead to weakness of muscles, low mood and lethargy all typical symptoms of fatigue. Vitamin D levels are often low in forms of inflammatory arthritis, such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
I recommend using a vitamin D spray under the tongue each morning this gets straight into the blood stream.
B-group vitamins and folate are essential for good energy levels and optimal nerve function, which are both important in fighting fatigue. Folic acid also seems to reduce the chance of heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin K is vital for bone health, which can improve muscle function and fitness.
Talking To Your Doctor Or Nurse
Prepare for your next appointment with your doctor or nurse by writing down questions that you want to ask.
Never be embarrassed to ask them to repeat and explain anything that you dont understand.
Your care and wellbeing is the doctors and nurses priority, so describe all of your symptoms to them. It can be difficult for anyone to understand how much fatigue can affect your life, and how distressing it can be, unless they have experienced it themselves. For this reason you may need to emphasise to your doctors and nurses the difficulties that it causes for you.
Discuss everyday actions that you find difficult, such as climbing stairs, cooking or bathing. If you have kept a fatigue diary you can bring it in to share with the health professionals looking after you.
It can often be difficult to discuss emotions, especially when you are ill, for fear of upsetting yourself and others. Try not to let embarrassment stop you discussing your emotions with your doctors and nurses. It may help if you take someone to the appointment with you. When you have fatigue it can be difficult to remember what the doctor or nurse has said and your relative or friend can help to fill in the gaps.
Specific questions you may like to ask:
- What could be causing my fatigue?
- What treatments may help me?
- How can I cope with my fatigue?
- What help is available?
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Do I Need To See A Doctor
If you can figure out the reason for feeling tired yourself, and do something about it, then no. If the tiredness is getting in the way of your life, or making you feel unhappy, or you feel unwell, then yes, you should visit your doctor.
You should definitely see a doctor if you feel tired and have lost weight without trying to. Also see a doctor if you have other symptoms as well as being tired, such as coughing up blood, a change in the way your guts are working, heavy periods or a lump somewhere it shouldn’t be.
Common Causes Of Stress Related To Fatigue
Unless you live in a perfect world, chances are that your body goes through physical, emotional and chemical stresses daily. Working at a construction site, for example, you may experience more physical or chemical stress, while as an emergency responder you may have more emotional stress than anything else.
As an individual, you are unique and have different thresholds of stress tolerance compared to another person. So, you may be able to handle more physical stress than your friend. But regardless, the common causes of stress related to fatigue are generally the same:
- A poor and unbalanced diet
- Lack of sleep
- Grieving the death of a loved one
- Exposure to toxic substances / environments
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Drink Plenty Of Water
Dehydration zaps energy and impairs physical performance. âOur research shows that dehydration makes it harder for athletes to complete a weight lifting workout,â says Dan Judelson, PhD, assistant professor of kinesiology at California State University at Fullerton. “Itâs reasonable to think that dehydration causes fatigue even for people who are just doing chores.”
Dehydration has also been shown to decrease alertness and concentration.
How to know if youâre drinking enough water?âUrine should be pale yellow or straw colored,â Judelson says. âIf itâs darker than that, you need to drink water.â
Know When To Say ‘enough’
Rather than lying in bed tossing and turning, you could get up and watch television or read a book. Wait until you feel tired again and then go back to bed. Audiotapes with stories may help you to sleep, and are stocked in most bookshops and libraries.
Mental exercises can also help you to sleep. These usually take about 10 minutes and include:
- trying to remember the lines of a song or poem
- making alphabetical lists of girls or boys names, countries, trees or flowers
- reliving a favourite experience in every detail
- writing a letter in your head
- relaxation exercises
Your body will still get some benefit from lying quietly in bed resting, even if you are not actually asleep. Although you may feel as if you have been awake all night, you may well have managed to have several hours of good quality sleep.
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