As the cold weather takes over, the workload that often accompanies autumn is on the way: the following months can make us feel more tired. However, when the problem continues for too long and the fatigue during the day does not resolve, it is a good idea to seek medical advice to investigate the cause.
Often, the disorder originates from a lack of sleep, a problem that affects many people and that, in the long run, can have a severe impact on individual health, both in the development of diseases, such as those of the cardiovascular system and in the exacerbation of disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Sleep Disorders: Insomnia and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The two most common sleep disorders are insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea.
Insomnia is a disorder associated with various neurological, metabolic, and cardiac disorders and psychological issues. There are three different types:
- Initial: the most “recognizable” one consisting of difficulty falling asleep;
- Central: characterized by constantly waking up at night;
- Terminal: which causes the patient to wake up early with subsequent inability to fall back asleep.
On the other hand, obstructive apnea involves episodes of interrupted breathing accompanied by loud snoring and, in general, decreased airflow to the lungs during sleep. Apnea causes frequent awakenings in the patient, who will experience the sensation of lack of air. Obstructive apnea causes fatigue of the heart muscle due to decreased oxygen in the bloodstream, a condition that can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease.
Stress and Sleep: What Are the Correlations?
As mentioned above, stress can also strongly influence sleep quality. In addition to the worries and emotional burden involved in going through a difficult period, perhaps at work or home, stress also activates actual physiological mechanisms that help keep the brain active. These hormonal mechanisms interfere with the action of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
For this reason, in some cases and under medical advice, melatonin supplements may be helpful to aid the processes that lead to sleep naturally.
Tips for Better Sleep
Several strategies can be implemented to improve night rest and facilitate falling asleep. For example, it can be helpful to regularize the sleep-wake rhythm by always lying down and waking up at the same time, not eating close to bedtime, and avoiding stimulating substances such as coffee, tea or alcohol, preferring warm, relaxing herbal teas. These include those made with chamomile, lemon balm, or passion flower.
The bedroom should have a temperature of 64-66°F, so it should not be cold but not warm either, and light screens should be avoided for at least half an hour before bedtime.
Persistent daytime fatigue is also among the symptoms of long COVID, a clinical syndrome that many COVID-19-infected patients develop and causes some symptoms to persist beyond four weeks after resolution of the infection. In addition to muscle and joint pain, dyspnea, cough and chest pain, and other cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and neurological symptoms can occur; several manifestations are similar to daytime fatigue, such as persistent fatigue and a widespread feeling of weakness.
Therefore, patients who suspect long COVID-related fatigue should refer to their physician, who will clinically diagnose long COVID syndrome and, if deemed necessary, indicate what medical test to perform.
Other conditions, including, for example, diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disorders, and vitamin deficiencies (such as vitamin B12), may also be related to daytime fatigue. It is therefore advisable to seek medical advice where the symptom persists.