Causes and Symptoms of Fatigue Featured

To Counteract Fatigue, it is Important be Familiar with Some of its Main Causes and Symptoms.

Common Causes of Fatigue

  1. Sleep deprivation: Not getting enough sleep is probably the most common cause of fatigue. It’s important to keep in mind that there are different reasons for being sleep deprived, including:
    • Extended time awake. How long has it been since you slept? After being awake for 16 consecutive hours most people begin to feel tired.
    • Reduced time asleep. Most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep to be at their best.  
    • Disrupted or poor quality sleep. Whether it’s a baby waking you up every 2 hours or back pain that prevents you from getting comfortable, not getting good quality sleep can lead to sleep deprivation.
    • The cumulative effect of multiple days with shortened or disrupted sleep – Has it been a couple of days since you last slept well? This type of sleep deprivation could put you at greater risk for feeling fatigued. 

2. Sleep disorders: Sleep disorders such as insomnia, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can all impact sleep quality and duration and lead to fatigue.

3. Illness or disease: Fatigue is common in many diseases and illnesses. Fatigue can occur as a direct result of being sick, or caused by other symptoms such as pain, nausea etc. which disrupts sleep.

4. Medication Side-Effect: Fatigue is a commonly listed side-effect of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Always check the label to see if the medicine you are about to take will make you drowsy,

5. Physical or Mental Exertion: Fatigue occurs as the result of extended hours of work with heavy muscular activity (e.g. on feet entire shift), continued stress (e.g. demanding work, emergency situations) or intense mental exertion which occurs either during the task or as a rebound effect after the task, in proportion to the relative fitness (and/or prior training) of the individual. Conversely, extended hours in a low demand environment (e.g., monitoring stable patients in an ICU) can become monotonous and boring, and lead to mental fatigue.

6. Work Schedule: The number of consecutive shifts, duration of shifts and overtime, type of shift (e.g., night or evening shift), speed of rotation (e.g. going from day to night shifts) can all influence your fatigue level.

Symptoms of Fatigue

Now that we’ve covered some of the main causes of fatigue, let’s take a look at some of the main symptoms or signs that you or someone else might be fatigued.

Along with the obvious physical symptoms of fatigue (yawning, difficulty keeping your eyes open) more subtle indications include both cognitive and psychological symptoms.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Reduced motor coordination
  • Slower reaction times.
  • Decreased energy

Psychological/Social Symptoms:

  • Less connected with the environment around you
  • Less motivated
  • More apathetic towards the people around you.
  • More easily frustrated

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Cannot think as clearly or as quickly
  • Inability to remember the last five minutes
  • Reduced problem solving ability
  • More difficult to communicate and/or process communications and information.
  • Reduced judgment/more risk taking

Due to the reduced or impaired alertness caused by fatigue, the inevitable net result is increased human error and reduced ability to work safely and productively. Numerous scientific studies and extensive field experience confirm people with high levels of fatigue are more likely to experience sleepiness, nodding-off, and making mistakes while working, as well as nodding-off or fighting sleep while commuting to and from work.

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