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Chronic fatigue: what it is and how to fight it

Small tips to face the day with a little more energy

Chronic fatigue: what it is and how to fight it Small tips to face the day with a little more energy

Work, study, disastrous dates, never having enough money, complicated family relationships, a world where antifascism is a crime, and the daily grind keep us awake at night, holding our thoughts hostage and draining our mental and physical energy. The result? We are increasingly exhausted. If burnout at the office lurks around the corner, the effects of stress and exhaustion on our physical and mental well-being are already testing us. Let's think about it: all of us have woken up in the morning after eight hours of sleep, yet not felt rested, refreshed, or ready to face another day. It’s normal. Usually, taking time for ourselves, relaxing, and recharging with a good meal and an activity we love is enough. However, sometimes the tiredness doesn’t go away. It doesn’t improve with rest or other small adjustments. In this case, it might be fatigue.

What is fatigue?

Fatigue can be described as a feeling of excessive tiredness, exhaustion, weakness, a lack of energy that is perceived as unusual or abnormal and is not relieved by rest. It can last for days, weeks, or months, preventing a person from effectively performing their daily tasks. It reduces energy, the ability to do things, and the ability to concentrate. Although it may include it, it is different from drowsiness, which is related to the simple need for sleep. It is something more nuanced, complex, and deep-rooted, often revealing itself as a symptom of a physical or mental condition. In such cases, it should be reported to your trusted doctor who will make the necessary checks and, once the cause is identified, provide the appropriate therapeutic indications.

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Fatigue, causes

Why do we feel constantly tired, even when we get enough sleep? The answer to this question can vary depending on the case. There are many causes and conditions that include fatigue among their symptoms, starting with chronic fatigue syndrome, whose main symptom is severe asthenia, present from waking and persistent throughout the day. It could be related to poor sleep quality, a period of great stress, a vitamin deficiency, anemia, a hormonal imbalance (common during the menstrual cycle and menopause), alcohol and drug use, medications (such as antidepressants, muscle relaxants, or opioids), but also more serious issues like thyroid or heart disorders, diabetes, chronic illnesses, cancer, depression, and others. Suppose we experience unexplained, continuous, and invasive tiredness. In that case, the first step should be to book a medical appointment with our family doctor who, if necessary, will refer us to a specialist.

How to cope with morning fatigue?

Once it is confirmed that our fatigue is not a symptom of a serious condition, there are several small daily adjustments we can apply to our daily lives for an energy boost to help combat exhaustion and apathy. In particular, there is a type of fatigue that seems to be quite common, namely morning fatigue. We’ve all experienced a period when, despite wanting or needing to, we couldn’t find the strength to get out of bed, exhausted despite eight hours of sleep. This unpleasant condition can be invasive and debilitating, but in milder cases, it can be fought. Here are some simple tips (in addition to seeing a doctor!) to prevent fatigue from significantly impacting daily productivity and mood.

Good sleep hygiene

A good sleep routine, but also a good wake routine, has a great impact on health. Therefore, developing and sticking to a series of practices that help you fall asleep at night is advisable. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends, helps regulate the circadian rhythm and can improve sleep quality. Other hacks include a dark, quiet, and cool bedroom, investing in a good-quality mattress and pillows, avoiding exposure to blue light in the evening, sleeping 7 to 9 hours each night, and taking a warm bath or drinking a herbal tea before bed to promote relaxation. These actions will promote a deep and restorative sleep that will make us feel rested upon waking.

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Don’t hit the snooze button

Hands off the snooze button. That button on top of the alarm clock gives us about half an hour of "fragmented sleep" that is not restorative but actually increases the feeling of grogginess and drowsiness. Many suggest placing the alarm clock across the room, away from the bed, to encourage us to get up to turn it off. Others suggest trying the 90-minute sleep cycle by setting two alarms: one for 90 minutes before waking up and one for the actual wake-up time. This interval covers a full sleep cycle, allowing us to wake up after REM sleep and feel more rested.

A healthy breakfast

Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast is essential for maintaining optimal energy levels throughout the day. The menu should include balanced amounts of proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Go for lean proteins, whole grains, low-sugar fruits like apples, carrots, and oranges, and foods that combat fatigue like oatmeal, yogurt with nuts and berries, or eggs with whole grain toast. It would be better to avoid sugary coffee drinks, sweets, and cereals until lunch, as they can cause a blood sugar spike followed by a drop, leaving a feeling of tiredness.

Limit caffeine

We know: it's hard to give up the energy boost that coffee gives us in the morning and throughout the day, but we should limit the consumption of caffeinated beverages in favor of better sleep. We're not saying to eliminate it completely. Maybe drink a small cup in the morning and then opt for a herbal tea or a smoothie; even matcha tea is a good idea, despite containing a certain amount of caffeine (about 70 mg per cup compared to 140 mg in coffee).

Don't Forget Hydration

Many people habitually drink a glass of water, maybe with some lemon, first thing in the morning. It is said to be beneficial, and it’s not hard to believe considering that our bodies are composed of about 65% water. Fatigue is a classic symptom of dehydration, which can cause drowsiness, impaired cognitive abilities, and mood disturbances. So, let's remember to stay hydrated throughout the day!


It seems contradictory, but when suffering from fatigue, moderate physical activity can help. It can even be a simple walk outdoors, perhaps silent walking, or a bike ride. Stretching, pilates, and yoga are also useful. During the REM sleep phase, the muscles are atonic, and reactivating them releases endorphins. It has been shown that 25 minutes of yoga can increase energy levels and brain functions. Meditation or deep breathing exercises are also good options for relaxation.

Get Outside

Going outside stimulates the brain. Sunlight increases serotonin levels in the body, improving sleep and, therefore, increasing daytime energy. Additionally, according to a series of studies from the University of Rochester, spending time in nature "makes people feel more alive." So, wear comfortable shoes and take a walk, even around your neighborhood or in the city park, alone, with friends, or with our dog.

Spraying Your Face with Water

It seems that cold showers have numerous benefits, including helping to wake up the body. If we’re not too sensitive to the cold, we can give it a try; otherwise, we can simply wash our face with cold water in the morning. Spraying some thermal water is also a good option, especially against the summer heat.

Delving into Mental Health

To combat morning fatigue, we should consider addressing its psychological causes by consulting a professional. A therapeutic journey will help us dig a little deeper and, hopefully, resolve the problem.