What is fatigue?
Fatigue is a general term used to describe a wide variety of conditions, but is generally accepted as a decline in mental and/or physical performance, where the person suffering feels very tired, weary or sleepy, as a result of insufficient sleep, prolonged mental or physical work, or extended periods of stress or anxiety. Boring or repetitive tasks can intensify feelings of fatigue.
Fatigue can also be described as either acute (usually reversed by sleep and relaxation) or chronic (a constant severe state of tiredness not relieved by rest).
The consequences of fatigue include reduced alertness, poor perception and sleepiness, whilst chronic fatigue has also been associated with several long-term health problems.
Indicators of fatigue
A person who is suffering from fatigue may experience a range of symptoms, including:
Cognitive: slower reactions, memory lapses, reduced ability to process information, lack of concentration, decreased awareness, underestimation of risk, irritability, reduced coordination, reduced ability to make decisions.
Emotional: depression, giddiness, lack of motivation.
Physiological: tiredness, headaches, increased susceptibility to illness, loss of appetite, digestive problems.
These symptoms can lead to errors and accidents, ill-health and injury, and reduced productivity.
Health risks associated with fatigue:
Higher risk of being involved in/causing an accident
Higher levels of anxiety and depression
Impaired cognitive function and memory
Higher rate of higher blood pressure and heart disease
Higher risk of diabetes
Increased risk of breast cancer
Higher risk of stroke
Greater appetite for unhealthy food cravings
Greater risk of chronic sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnoea, narcolepsy