How to Combat Fatigue

Four Methods:Addressing Possible Medical IssuesImproving Sleep HabitsImproving Physical and Emotional HealthBoosting your Energy Levels

If you often experience fatigue, you may feel listless, tired, or unmotivated. Many people often suffer from these, and similar, symptoms—often in part due to a poor sleep schedule. Fatigue can also be caused, in some cases, by medical concerns, or by mental exhaustion due to overwork in a career. Combating fatigue requires attention to your diet and sleep pattern, but also physical and emotional self-care, combined with attentiveness to your own energy levels.

Method 1
Addressing Possible Medical Issues

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    Consider a medical cause. Fatigue itself can be a symptom of a number of medical conditions.[1] While fatigue as a symptom is not particularly serious, it can indicate a serious health problem, such as:
    • Diabetes.
    • Heart, liver, or kidney disease.[2]
    • Anemia or sleep apnea.
    • Obesity.
    • Autoimmune diseases or fibromyalgia.[3]
    • If you experience serious, long-term fatigue, see your doctor—you may have one of these illnesses.
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    Treat any medical problem initially. If you have one of the listed medical conditions—or suspect that you might—and treat fatigue as the root problem, you will be curing the symptom instead of the disease.
    • If you have a medically induced fatigue, getting more sleep or changing your diet are unlikely to provide long-term help.
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    Obtain a diagnosis. Once you are in communication with your doctor about your fatigue, it can still be difficult to arrive at a correct diagnoses. Fatigue can be a result of medical, psychological, or physiological causes, and it can often be a time-intensive process to diagnose a medical cause. Work closely with your doctor to speed up the diagnostic process.[4]
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    Ask your doctor about Chronic Fatigue Symptom. Any individual who has suffered from fatigue for over 6 months is likely to be diagnosed as suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).[5] CFS is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as muscular or joint pains, poor concentration, and poor sleep patterns.[6]
    • Treatment of CFS focuses on managing the problematic symptoms, and improving the patient’s sleep and diet.
    • Statistically, certain groups of individuals have a higher probability of being diagnosed with fatigue. These include:
    • Women.
    • People who live in poverty.
    • People who suffer from physical or mental illness.

Method 2
Improving Sleep Habits

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    Avoid excessive consumption of caffeine throughout the day. Avoid caffeine at night, too. Although many adults use (or overuse) caffeine to give them energy throughout the day, excessive consumption can be unhealthy and actually worsen your fatigue.
    • A small amount of caffeine in the morning can give you a burst of energy, but when caffeine is consumed at night you will find it difficult to fall asleep, making you more tired in the morning.
    • To give your body time to feel tired naturally, avoid consuming any caffeine after noon.[7]
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    Lower your thermostat so your sleeping room is cooler than normal. You should feel comfortable wrapped in a blanket. Your body temperature will drop at night, and it is important that you avoid becoming uncomfortable and waking up during sleep.
    • If your bedroom’s nighttime temperature is high, you will wake up more often and sleep poorly in general.
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    Put down the computer, phone, and tablet at night. Avoid using any of these devices after 8 pm—you should also limit the amount of TV that you watch at night. The light from these devices prevents you from feeling naturally tired, by suppressing the amount of melatonin (a natural sleep hormone) that your body produces.[8]
    • If you are in the habit of spending time on your phone or computer or tablet at night, try reading a book instead.
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    Assess your daily schedule. If you are not regularly sleeping for at least 8 hours per night, try to decrease your commitments or alter your schedule so that you are not staying up as late or getting up as early.[9]
    • If possible, reduce your hours spent at work or time on your commute, recruit family members to help with household chores, and assign yourself a bedtime.
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    Reduce stress in your life. Even if you are getting plenty of sleep each night, a stressful lifestyle can increase fatigue and mental exhaustion. By reducing stress, you’ll give yourself time to relax mentally.
    • Exercise and spend time with your friends and family. Try not to dwell on issues where outcomes are beyond your control, especially if they frequently keep you up at night.

Method 3
Improving Physical and Emotional Health

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    Improve your daily diet. Although caffeine and sugars will give you immediate bursts of energy, they will lower your levels of energy overall—even later in the same day. Focus on eating healthy, balanced meals.
    • Eat small, frequent meals and snacks to prevent fatigue caused by hunger. As a general rule, eat a small meal every 3 or 4 hours; this will keep your metabolism working throughout the day.[10]
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    Eat foods that are high in protein. More than any other food group, proteins give your body energy.[11] Without sufficient protein energy every day, your body will become fatigued more quickly. Avoid foods that are fatty or sugary, such as cookies and chips. Also reduce the amount of simple carbohydrates, such as white pasta and rice, you consume. Look for proteins like:
    • Meat—including chicken, steak, and pork.
    • Beans and rice.
    • Eggs and dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.).
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    Hydrate yourself with water, fruit, and vegetables. Although drinking plenty of water is the best means to keep yourself hydrated, fruits and vegetables are also high in water content and will hydrate your body as well.Eat plenty of water-rich foods, like:
    • Watermelon and citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, etc.)
    • Broccoli and carrots.
    • Adequate hydration keeps your blood thin and able to be pumped more efficiently through the body, reducing fatigue.[12]
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    Spend time with friends. If you’re feeling fatigued by your level of busyness at work or by seemingly overwhelming responsibilities in general, take some time away—even just an evening—to spend with friends who make you happy.
    • Even a phone call can help; call a close friend and let them know how you’re feeling. Then talk about something to take your mind off your fatigue.[13]
    • Skip working one evening or weekend; instead, take a camping trip or a “staycation” with a group of friends.
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    Celebrate your own accomplishments. Part of fatigue can stem from feeling overwhelmed, or feeling like you have an impossible amount of work to accomplish. You’ll feel less fatigued if, instead of dwelling on your responsibilities and failures, you focus on your personal and professional accomplishments.
    • Make a list: write down everything you’ve accomplished in the last month. Seeing you accomplishments physically written down will help you feel more energized and successful.[14]

Method 4
Boosting your Energy Levels

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    Splash water on your face or take a cool shower. Although this will not keep you energized for a long period of time, the shock of cold water over your face and body will decrease your fatigue immediately.[15]
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    Get up and move around. Especially if you are at work or school, it can be very easy to feel fatigued after hours of sitting still. Get up, stretch, and move around—this will increase your heart rate and help you feel more awake. [16]
    • If you have time, exercise—a quick trip to the gym or a 20-minute run will increase your energy levels, even if you initially feel too fatigued to work out.[17]
    • Also focus on breathing more deeply; increased oxygen will further reduce your fatigue.
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    Take a short nap. A brief nap, even as little as 20 minutes, can give you a burst of energy. Although you cannot always repeat this activity multiple times during a day (three 20-minute naps will not make you three times as awake as a single nap), it’s a useful strategy if you know you need to be fully awake and functional at a certain time of day.
    • If you are fatigued but not tired, resting can still help you feel better. Lay down and close your eyes; even if you stay awake, you’ll feel better.
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    Take a break from technology. Especially during workdays, spending all of your time in front of a screen can feel exhausting.[18] Find time to get away from your technology; this could be during a long outdoor lunch break, or an hour spent away from technology after you get home.
    • Multitasking—which most of us have to do during the work day—can actually decrease your productivity and leave you feeling fatigued. When you do need to work on a computer or tablet, focus on one task at a time.[19]
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    Listen to some energizing music. Although this is not a long-term solution, music can decrease the tension in your body, take your mind off of your fatigue, and increase your energy levels.[20]
    • If you’re already listening to music, switch the artist or genre.
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    Get some sleep as soon as possible. Don’t count on short-term remedies to permanently boost your energy; at best, they’ll help wake you up for 20 minutes or so.
    • Especially if you are driving or operating machinery, do not attempt to keep yourself awake if you feel fatigued or exhausted.
    • Short term remedies to help yourself feel more awake are less effective than long-term changes to your sleep schedule, which will leave you with more lasting daily energy.


  • Avoid sleeping with pets. You may not notice, but their noises and movements can frequently wake you up at night preventing you from falling into a deep sleep.
  • Jot down a list of concerns that make you feel stressed and worried throughout the day.[21] Review them about an hour before bedtime, and plan how you will work to tackle them in the coming days. This clears your mind up from worrying about these issues as you fall asleep, allowing for better quality of sleep.


  • Avoid over-the-counter medications designed to combat fatigue. These often contain caffeine. Large doses of caffeine with make you feel awake for a short amount of time, but once it wears off you will usually be even more tired unless you continuously take the pills. Taking caffeine pills too often can strain your heart and make you feel jittery.

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