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Fixes for fatigue
Posted: September 22, 2010
Last Updated: September 22, 2010


When you sleep, your body rests and restores its energy levels. However, sleep is an active state that affects both your physical and mental well-being. A good night's sleep is often the best way to help you cope with stress, solve problems, recover from illness and face life’s challenges.


The amount of sleep a person needs depends on the individual. The need for sleep depends on various factors, mainly an individual’s age. Infants usually require about 16 to 18 hours of sleep per day, while teenagers need about nine hours per day on average. Most adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep per day to remain healthy. The amount of sleep a person needs also increases if he or she has been deprived of sleep. People do not seem to adapt to getting less sleep than they need. It is impossible for a person to “make up” on lost sleep, but there are ways to fix the common causes of fatigue.

Surprise, the most common cause of fatigue is too little sleep. Too little sleep can negatively affect your concentration and overall health. Adults need at least eight hours of sleep every night, so it is important to make sleep a priority and keep to a regular schedule. Never vary your sleeping patters more than two hours. To aid in getting a sound sleep ban televisions, laptops, cell phones, and PDAs from the bedroom. If a person is still experiencing fatigue after eight hours of sleep a night, they should consult with a doctor on the possibility of a sleep disorder or sleep apnea. Sleep apnea briefly stops a person’s breathing throughout the night, each interruption wakes a person up for a moment depriving the person of a full night’s sleep. There are diet and lifestyle habits that can reduce sleep apnea and even devices to help aid an individual in breathing while sleeping.

Poor eating habits can also contribute to lack of sleep as blood sugar levels plummet in the morning to cause a sluggish feeling throughout the day. Always eat breakfast and try to include both protein and complex carbohydrates in every meal to keep level blood sugar throughout the day.

Depression can cause many of the physical symptoms associated with the lack of sleep. Headaches, fatigue, insomnia, and loss of appetite are common symptoms of depression. If you feel “down” for more than a few weeks, talk to a doctor to rule out any medical problems before being referred to a counselor.

Caffeine is another common cause of sleeplessness. Though caffeine can boost alertness and concentration in moderate doses, excessive amounts can increase heart rate, blood pressure and jitteriness. A recent study has shown more than seven cups a day of coffee can also cause hallucinations and anxiety. For some people caffeine intake in the late afternoon can make it difficult to sleep later in the evening. Other research has shown too much caffeine intake can actually cause fatigue in some people. Gradually cut back on caffeine intake, including coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks and medication that contains caffeine. Suddenly stopping caffeine intake can cause withdrawals and more fatigue.     

Finally, to cure mild fatigue, that isn’t associated with depression or any medical condition, exercise could be the solution. Research has found tired adults can gain a significant energy boost from a modest work out program. One study found riding a stationary bike for twenty minutes three times a week was enough to fight fatigue, and participants reported sleeping better at night as an additional benefit.

If you would like to learn more about the connection between depression and sleep patterns call Border Area Mental Health Services. To reach Border Area Mental Health Services in Grant and Hidalgo Counties, call 388-4412; in Catron County, call 533-6649 for referral; in Luna County, call 546-2174.  For CRISIS, call 538-3488 or outside Silver City, call 1-800-426-0997.

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© 2008 by Border Area Mental Health Services and Putting the Web to Work. Front-page photo copyright by Bob Pelham, Pinos Altos Cabins, and used by permission. All rights reserved. For the privacy and comfort of our clients and staff, the photographs used in this site are representative and do not show specific individuals associated with BAMHS.