Tiredness or Fatigue

What is Tiredness or Fatigue? How Can I Beat Tiredness?

Experts say that 10% of us at any one time are suffering from persistent tiredness. Persistent tiredness is more common among women than men. General Practitioners say they regularly see patients who come in complaining of severe tiredness.

As a consequence of our busy and stressful modern lifestyles, most of us will at some time experience tiredness. On most occasions, fatigue can be relieved after a good night's sleep. However, this is not the case for everybody. Some people find that tiredness becomes a chronic problem which undermines their day-to-day functioning - i.e. it significantly affects their quality of life.

What are The Causes of Tiredness?

Tiredness can be caused by several different factors. Here is a list of some common causes of tiredness:

  • a recent illness
  • a current illness
  • pregnancy
  • bereavement
  • moving home
  • divorce
  • work problems
  • jet lag
  • depression
  • boredom
  • lack of sleep
  • some type of poisoning
  • a vitamin or mineral deficiency
  • anemia

Tiredness Can Have Physical Causes

Chronic tiredness can become a vicious circle. If a person feels tired he may avoid most forms of physical activity. He could then become physically unfit and will be even more tired when trying to do something physical.

If your bodyweight is too high or too low for your height you may feel tired because of this. An overweight person's body has to work harder to do everyday things, compared to a person whose bodyweight is normal. A person who is underweight might have less muscle strength and will tire more easily.

If your thyroid gland is not working properly - if it is underactive - you might feel exhausted all the time. Patients who suffer from heart disease or heart failure tend to feel tired most of the time, as do patients with anemia.

Tiredness May Have Emotional or Mental Causes

Some stress can be invigorating - in fact, many of us need some kind of mental pressure to get going. However, when stress levels are too high they commonly trigger fatigue - stress and worry are two emotions that most frequently cause tiredness. If your stress reaches such a point that you are unable to see the 'light at the end of the tunnel', the sensation can be draining. Some people say that when they have no control over a situation it makes them feel frustrated, irritable and tired. Depression can lead to tiredness for many reasons. It could be the depression itself, or the patient may not sleep properly and feel tired as a result.

Your Lifestyle Could Be Making You Tired

There are some jobs which are more likely to cause tiredness. Nurses, firefighters, doctors, the police, and shift-workers in general may have irregular sleep patterns which will often cause tiredness.
If there is a baby in the house you may find that getting a good night's sleep is a distant memory. Small children may often cause their parent(s) to sleep less.

If you consume too many caffeinated or alcoholic drinks your ability to fall or stay asleep may be affected, especially if you consume them close to your bedtime.

How Do People Define Tiredness?

Patients who experience tiredness say:
  • They lack energy
  • They feel discomfort
  • They feel unwell
  • They feel sleepy
  • They have lost motivation
  • Their concentration is poor
  • They find it hard to make decisions
  • They find daily tasks difficult to carry out
  • They feel depressed

What is Fatigue - Video

Learn about the causes and symptoms of tiredness and fatigue in this video clip from Expert Village.

What You Can Do To Help Yourself

1) Try to get some decent sleep
  • Aim for a regular sleep routine - this means going to bed and getting up at the same time each day
  • Make sure your bedroom is neither too hot nor too cold
  • Don't eat too close to your bedtime
  • Make sure your thoughts and activities are relaxing ones as bedtime nears - listen to soothing music, have a warm bath
  • Try to clear your mind of worrying thoughts as bedtime approaches
  • Some people find that writing their thoughts down in a diary helps

2) Eat and drink in a way that helps you sleep better
  • You need to consume a balanced diet. People who have a well balanced diet tend to be better sleepers than those who don't
  • If you are too thin, eat more
  • If you are overweight, eat less
  • Crash dieting can cause you to have sleeping problems
  • Do not consume alcohol and/or caffeine in the evenings. Some people find that cutting alcohol and caffeine altogether helps

3) Become physically more active

Remember that vicious circle. Unfit people are more likely to feel tired, meaning they often don't exercise enough. You need to break that cycle. Make sure your physical activity increases gradually. Dozens of studies have shown that people who exercise regularly enjoy better sleep than those who don't.

In most cases tiredness can be solved with some simple steps, such as getting some good and regular sleep and changing your lifestyle. However, in some cases chronic tiredness can have a major impact on your life. If the simple steps cannot solve your problem, you should seek professional help.

Sources: National Health Service (NHS), UK, The Mayo Clinic, Wikipedia, HHS (Department of Health and Human Services USA), NIH (National Institutes of Health, USA).


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