How to deal with a lack of sleep and stress-related chronic fatigue
Finding the cause of persistent and stress-related chronic fatigue can be tedious, nerve-wracking, and complicated.
But if you feel that exhaustion is weighing on your life, tapping the trigger is the first way to get better. The condition is pathological if the phases of fatigue do not alternate with vital, awake phases.
Lack of quality sleep
Too little healthy sleep is the most common and easiest cause of constant fatigue. People’s need for sleep is individual and there is no magic formula for how much nightly rest you should actually get.
Due to a structured everyday life, it is not possible to sleep as long as the body would like, waking up with an alarm clock is unnatural.
Unfortunately, this fact is part of our society and is indispensable, so it is important to develop strategies for restful sleep.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you feel awake when you get up?
Are you having difficulties falling asleep?
What about nightmares?
Do you wake up at night?
Are you using the bathroom during the night?
Do you feel hungry at night?
How many hours do you sleep?
Do you sleep significantly longer if you do not set an alarm clock?
Are you feeling comfortable and rested when you wake up?
It’s best to test it out. The perfect time to try the following is during a vacation or flextime:
Sleep as much as you want for several days in a row, even during the day. If you already feel fit and vital after a few days, the cause of chronic fatigue is simply a lack of sleep.
You can also measure the quality of sleep. There are various fitness trackers available that monitor the pulse and record exactly to the minute when and how long you slept.
They, likewise, document the different phases of sleep and every time you wake up.
Sleep consists of three phases
REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase
Every sleep phase is of great importance for recovery, processing of information, memory and metabolism.
Sleep is irreplaceable not only for alertness, but also for human health, and chronic lack of sleep can promote chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and autoimmune diseases.
People spend around 50% of their time in light sleep, and 20-25% of sleep is reserved for the REM phase. 15-25% of the time and, thus, the shortest time is deep sleep.
Likewise, everyone wakes up 10-30 times a night, even with healthy sleep quality. The waking phases are usually so short that you don’t remember them.
At times, those phases can last seconds or a few minutes. However, if you remember the waking phases and these regularly last longer than five minutes, there may be a problem.
Improve sleep quality
If the lack of sleep is not linked to an illness, you can significantly improve the quality of sleep. Everyone needs their own environment to sleep well.
It is best to try out for yourself what is good for you! Here are some suggestions for sleep hygiene that can help you:
1- Better ventilation of the bedrooms
2- Change in temperature, often it is too warm in the bedroom
3- Exclusion of noise sources, e.g. with hearing protection
4- Change in light, for example, darken the room
5- Reduction of caffeine during the day and especially several hours before sleep
6- Go to bed earlier
7- Introduce regular sleep times
8- Change duvet covers, blankets or sleeping clothes
9- Turn off the heater
10- Humidify the air
11- Clear out the bedroom, so less furniture
12- Take a walk before going to sleep
13- No electronic devices before going to sleep (smartphone, television, laptop, etc.)
14- No emotional, serious or stressful conversations/books/films before sleep
15- Increase exercise per day
16- Walk in the sun during the day
17- Meditation or relaxation techniques in bed
18- Positive thoughts (psycho-hygiene)
20- Little and only light food in the hours before sleep
21- No alcohol before sleep
22- Quiet music or sounds
23- Soothing herbal teas, e.g. with valerian, lemon balm and chamomile
If fatigue is linked to an illness, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, or Fibromyalgia, improved sleep quality can alleviate the symptoms.
Sleep is individual – find your recipe for success
People need different amounts of sleep. The personal need depends on the physical condition, lifestyle, age, health and individual feeling. Some people need 8 hours a day, others are wide awake and fit for the day after only 6 hours.
Some persons get along very well when the length of the sleep phases is chaotic and different, while others need a solid structure.
All of these aspects and a few others are normal. It is important to find out what type of sleep you belong to. One should leave out claims like “Sleep is only restful before midnight”.
If a person does not like to go to bed until around 3:00 a.m. and sleeps to feel fit until 10:00 a.m in the morning, there is no reason to make this sleep rhythm subject to change.
If you were able to change the circumstances and, thus, to improve and optimize your sleep and the tiredness subsides, there is no further need for medical intervention.
If you can’t find a way to make your sleeping experience better, treatment and research into the causes can become useful.
Stress as a cause of chronic fatigue
Even if you get enough sleep despite stressful circumstances, the stress can still make you tired and sluggish.
Often these includes stress factors such as problems in the private and professional environment, a high level of responsibility, fears for existence, appointments.
Also, pain, injuries, excessive or insufficient demands and many more causes can become triggers.
When you are permanently stressed, your body does a lot of extra work. The stress is still connected to the original escape reflex, all systems are increasingly supplied to ensure survival.
The natural reaction, i.e. running away, does not take place and the human being has no way of discharging the energy.
The uninterrupted stress, the additional supply and the release of the hormones often go hand in hand with an undersupply of the brain and do not allow rest breaks for regeneration.
The body is constantly in a tense “escape mode” and the condition leads to permanent exhaustion.
Reduce stress for more alertness and vitality
Your body can only recover if you can reduce the stress level. Make conscious use of rest periods, relieve tension, e.g. through hobbies, sports, relaxation treatments, walks, dealing with animals and enough sleep.
At the same time, try to narrow down and reduce stress factors.
You can find more suggestions, tips and assistance in the articles “step by step protocol on how to cope with stress” and “reducing stress”.
Want to tell us about your experiences with stress-related chronic fatigue, then leave a comment below. I’m always looking forward to reading from you.
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