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Why Am I So Tired?

Tips & Tricks for Alle­vi­at­ing Fatigue

What is Fatigue?
While we all expe­ri­ence occa­sion­al sleepy days, fatigue is often defined as an increased need for sleep, dif­fi­cul­ty ini­ti­at­ing activ­i­ty, reduced capac­i­ty to main­tain activ­i­ty or feel­ing tired from sim­ple tasks.

In addi­tion to being phys­i­cal, fatigue can be men­tal. Often, men­tal fatigue is a result of brain over-activ­i­ty, such as pro­longed con­cen­tra­tion, or an emo­tion­al side effect. Because fatigue has the abil­i­ty to neg­a­tive­ly impact our every­day lives and over­all health, it is impor­tant to pri­or­i­tize your sleep.

The Impor­tance of Sleep Hygiene
It is easy to become con­sumed by our fast-paced lives, mak­ing it all the more impor­tant to incor­po­rate healthy sleep habits into your dai­ly rou­tine. Sleep hygiene refers to behav­ioral and envi­ron­men­tal prac­tices that pro­mote bet­ter qual­i­ty and con­sis­ten­cy of sleep. Many under­ly­ing caus­es of fatigue can be resolved with the right sleep prac­tices. To help you obtain qual­i­ty z’s each night, con­sid­er the fol­low­ing tips:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night to estab­lish a sense of reg­u­lar­i­ty and to help you fall asleep more quickly.
  • Cre­ate and main­tain a bed­time rit­u­al. In addi­tion to going to bed at the same time each night, this may include read­ing a book, tak­ing a bath or lis­ten­ing to music before bed. With time, your brain will asso­ciate these activ­i­ties with bedtime.
  • Dim the lights in your house and bed­room at night. Light affects sleep and your body will rec­og­nize dark­ness as a sig­nal to rest.
  • Try to get about 20 min­utes of sun expo­sure in the morn­ing or mid­day. The light informs your cir­ca­di­an rhythm that you should be up and alert and will help your body to estab­lish regularity.
  • Set your room tem­per­a­ture to about 60 to 66 degrees Fahren­heit, as we tend to sleep bet­ter in cool­er environments. 
  • Avoid alco­hol before bed. Alco­hol reduces the qual­i­ty and quan­ti­ty of your sleep, leav­ing you to wake up more fre­quent­ly and to expe­ri­ence a more rest­less sleep.
  • Avoid Caf­feine after 1:00 p.m. Caf­feine stays in your body hours after con­sump­tion and inter­feres with your abil­i­ty to fall asleep.
  • Avoid eat­ing two to three hours before bed to help avoid glu­cose or insulin spikes” and to low­er your body’s over­all activity.

Every­day Tips to Com­bat Fatigue:
In addi­tion to incor­po­rat­ing healthy sleep habits, mak­ing small adjust­ments to your dai­ly rou­tine can help your body estab­lish the right rhythm.

  • Try to lim­it screen time. Look­ing at screens for pro­longed peri­ods of time dries out and strains your eyes, mak­ing you feel more tired.
  • Drink 8 to 10 glass­es of water each day to avoid dehy­dra­tion induced feel­ings of fatigue. If you are exer­cis­ing or engag­ing in stren­u­ous activ­i­ty, drink about 10 to 12 glass­es of water each day.
  • If you feel you need a nap dur­ing the day, only sleep for 20 to 30 min­utes. Longer naps may inter­fere with sleep dur­ing your rapid eye move­ment (REM) cycle, which can lead to feel­ing sluggish.
  • Do not use sleep aids to induce sleep. Sleep aids, such as mela­tonin, are most help­ful when try­ing to shift sleep sched­ules, such as com­bat­ting jet­lag or work­ing night shifts. Pro­longed use of sleep aids can cre­ate a depen­den­cy and there­fore should not be used for more than two weeks.
  • Aim for 7.5 hours of sleep each night.
    • Try this exer­cise to deter­mine the ide­al amount of sleep for you: Set your alarm to get 7.5 hours of sleep. If you wake up before your alarm feel­ing well-rest­ed and refreshed, this is your ide­al sleep time. If you wake up to your alarm feel­ing grog­gy or slug­gish, you like­ly awoke dur­ing your REM cycle and need more sleep to feel refreshed. Set your alarm for 15 min­utes lat­er each night until you achieve opti­mal sleep.
  • Eat a well-bal­anced diet, high in pro­tein and vegetables.
    • Eat­ing a well-bal­anced diet, com­plete with fresh fruits, veg­eta­bles, whole grains and low-fat pro­teins rich in B vit­a­mins, is essen­tial in main­tain­ing qual­i­ty sleep. Foods rich in B vit­a­mins help to con­trol mela­tonin, a hor­mone that reg­u­lates your sleep cycles.
  • Exer­cise reg­u­lar­ly, includ­ing both car­dio and weight train­ing workouts.
    • Reg­u­lar exer­cise ben­e­fits your over­all health, and prop­er­ly timed exer­cise has a pos­i­tive impact on the qual­i­ty of your sleep. Because exer­cise speeds up your metab­o­lism and makes you feel more ener­gized and alert, work­ing out right before bed can dis­rupt a good night’s sleep. Instead, try work­ing out no lat­er than three hours before bed­time to allow your body time to decom­press and cool off before bed.

Address­ing Men­tal Fatigue
Many fac­tors play a role in men­tal fatigue, and address­ing the under­ly­ing caus­es can dimin­ish their influ­ence on your sleep. Anx­i­ety, stress and depres­sion can con­tribute to men­tal fatigue, and tak­ing the time to assess, min­i­mize and cope with stres­sors can make a big difference.

If you are strug­gling with men­tal fatigue, talk to your physi­cian to eval­u­ate pos­si­ble solutions.

When to Seek Med­ical Atten­tion
Please con­sult your physi­cian or seek med­ical atten­tion if feel­ings of fatigue start to affect or inter­fere with: 

  • Mood
  • Enjoy­ment of life
  • Rela­tion­ships with others
  • Dai­ly activity

If you think feel­ings of fatigue are a result of your med­ica­tion, please con­sult your physician.

Your sleep mat­ters, and feel­ing well-rest­ed and refreshed can do won­ders for your health. Tak­ing care of your body, both phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly, and prac­tic­ing healthy habits can help you achieve the qual­i­ty sleep you need to stay hap­py and ener­gized. To learn more about what you can do to improve sleep, or to make an appoint­ment with one of our Fam­i­ly Med­i­cine physi­cians, please vis­it https://​www​.dupagemed​ical​group​.com/.

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