Fatigue and Sleepiness

Lately I’ve been really struggling with my sleep and awake schedule and with managing my health and exercise. A brief web search on sleep habits and cycles turned up a lot of hits about how to get more sleep, but what I’m struggling with is how to be more alert, awake, and energetic for a productive portion of the day. I feel sleepy, groggy, and tired a good portion of the time that I am awake. This isn’t really new – I’ve often struggled with fatigue – yawning repeatedly throughout the days even when I’m working or really paying attention to something.

I know some good tips that I can try to help feel more energetic and alert, but I am also struggling to make myself actually do these things. Lately, I would guess I’ve been sleeping about 8-10 hours a night. At least in the last week I’ve managed to keep myself from sleeping any stretches of over 10 hours. This is an above average amount of sleep to get, but it’s not clear whether it’s unhealthy. What I’m most concerned with is getting to a place where I have energy and feel alert during my awake time.

The national sleep foundation recommends waking at the same time each day, weekdays and weekends, to help establish your circadian rhythms. Additionally, they recommend regular exercise, and I have always found that to be helpful in being able to sleep when I want to. My current lifestyle could really use a lot more exercise, and so I’m slowly working on trying to get more of that. For now, I’m doing simple things like 10-30 minutes of yoga and walking around the neighborhood. It’s really hard, being able to do most of my work wherever and whenever I want, to work some routines into my day that allow me good opportunity for exercise.

I was able to find this information about sleeping too long on the national sleep foundation’s site:

On the other hand, some research has found that long sleep durations (nine hours or more) are also associated with increased morbidity (illness, accidents) and mortality (death). Researchers describe this relationship as a “U-shaped” curve where both sleeping too little and sleeping too much may put you at risk. This research found that variables such as low socioeconomic status and depression were significantly associated with long sleep. Some researchers argue that these other variables might be the cause of the longer sleep: the fact that individuals with low socioeconomic status are more likely to have undiagnosed illnesses because of poor medical care explains the relationship between low socioeconomic status, long sleep and morbidity/mortality. Researchers caution that there is not a definitive conclusion that getting more than nine hours of sleep per night is consistently linked with health problems and/or mortality in adults, while short sleep has been linked to both these consequences in numerous studies.

The link between sleeping a lot and depression is fairly clear, and I do tend to sleep more often and longer when I’m feeling depressed. But right now, I’m not sure if it’s depression related or just that I need to establish some new routines and patterns as my lifestyle and work have been changing. Mostly, I feel surprised by how challenging I am finding it to manage my own health and wellness.


3 thoughts on “Fatigue and Sleepiness

  1. You might want to check into your nutritional intake, especially things like iron as well as B vitamins, vitamin C, D, E, etc. That can affect a lot and it’s easy to have happen even if you appear to be eating a lot. Also stimulants such as caffeine.

  2. I’m working on the same problems that you are. I’ve hardly ever had a regular sleep cycle (night owl + needing to get up early on certain days = no semblance of routine). I’m trying to get over my caffeine addiction, too, but it’s hard, since I first took it up to deal with waking fatigue problems in the first place. In any case, with a class schedule this fall that’s about half comprised of 9am seminars, I really need to transform myself into an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type if I don’t want to be out of it half the time…

    Sleep can be such a frustrating and tricky thing, so good luck in figuring out your own sleep/fatigue issues.

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