Tiredness and Fatigue Are Different: How to Cope With the Latter

A woman lying in bed with no energy.

In some cases, people feel a continuous lack of energy and desire to lay low even though they have not worked hard. That is what is clinically called fatigue. (Image: Rodjulian via Dreamstime)

Not everyone has the same energy levels, but at times, fatigue sets in. Sometimes, it can be hard to differentiate between regular tiredness and fatigue. However, you should learn the difference between the two to ensure your health is not impacted adversely.

Sleep health expert Shelby Harris says: “Fatigue and sleepiness are a bit different and important to make a difference between them. You can be both, but we often confuse the terms.” (Well and Good). Tiredness makes you sleepy in general, but fatigue may not. 

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Naturally, everyone gets tired after a hard day’s work or physically exhausting task. However, in some cases, people feel a continuous lack of energy and desire to lay low even though they have not worked hard. That is what is clinically called fatigue.

Tiredness makes you sleepy in general but fatigue may not.
Tiredness makes you sleepy in general but fatigue may not. (Image: Antonio Guillem via Dreamstime)

Dr. Harris says: “Sleepiness is the actual act of falling asleep, napping and dozing at times when you’re quiet, sedentary, and don’t really always intend to doze. Fatigue is that feeling of dragging a ton of bricks behind you, having no energy, no gas in your tank. However, when you’re able to try and nap, sleep just doesn’t come even though you want it to.” (Well and Good).

If you cannot identify occurrences of fatigue, the results can be detrimental, say the health experts. You may gradually get into a vicious cycle. You can’t sleep sometimes even though you are very tired. As this goes on, you become sleep deprived and the feeling of fatigue never goes away. This can affect your peace of mind and performance at the workplace. 

The root causes of fatigue

Fatigue can set in for underlying health issues or certain lifestyle choices. You get less than adequate sleep when you drink a lot of caffeinated beverages, do not adhere to a specific sleeping cycle, live in a place that distracts you, or you experience a lot of stress in your life. When these factors are not checked for a long time, you may develop what is called CFS, or chronic fatigue syndrome. When this happens, you may feel really worn out even if you have not stepped out of the house or performed any household chores. 

You get less than adequate sleep when you drink a lot of caffeinated beverages.
You get less than adequate sleep when you drink a lot of caffeinated beverages. (Image: Tero Vesalainen via Dreamstime)

Sometimes, fatigue may set in owing to certain ailments and conditions, and also owing to the usage of specific medications. It has been seen that people may not be aware of underlying ailments that have made them feel this way for a long time. These include ailments like hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, COPD, chronic kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, Cushing’s syndrome, diabetes, and anemia.

The ways to combat fatigue

There are many tried and tested ways to combat the onset of fatigue. Not every method suits everyone and so you may try to figure out which hits the sweet spot for you. 

Exercise

Moderate to light exercise may tone your body and mind to drive away the feeling of exhaustion. However, ensure it does not become too overpowering. Swimming can be useful and you may also try jogging. Dr. Harris supports this view, adding: “Physical exercise helps improve sleep and reduce fatigue. The key is to be consistent, say, at least two weeks. If after two weeks of making changes and sticking with them you haven’t seen any impact on your energy levels, then it’s time to talk with your doctor.” (Well and Good).

Yoga

If hitting the gym is not your cup of tea, try practicing yoga. There are various yoga forms and you should be able to find one that fits your bill well. 

Sleep Quality

Sometimes, lack of enough sleep may impact your fatigue levels. This can be caused by distractions like uncomfortable and less ergonomic bedding, lights and sounds, etc. Ensure the bedroom remains dark and quiet when you sleep. Keep gadgets like mobile and tablets away from your bed.  

Diet Control

Excluding certain foods and beverages from your diet may help you sleep better and in turn reduce fatigue levels. Refrain from having coffee after the evening. You may try drinking herbal tea that calms the nerves as well. Cutting down on smoking can also be useful in this regard.

Moderate to light exercise may tone your body and mind to drive away the feeling of exhaustion.
Moderate to light exercise may tone your body and mind to drive away the feeling of exhaustion. (Image: Martinmark via Dreamstime)

When you find nothing is of use and fatigue remains a recurring menace despite trying every possible measure, seek advice from a medical professional. 

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