Welcome to your MCI Wellbeing Blog for April!
This month we are talking about Fatigue.
What is fatigue?
Fatigue can be a result of physical or psychological conditions, and sometimes a mixture of both. Fatigue can have a huge impact on your daily life, as well and your mental and emotional state.
A lot of students at MCI study with us in addition to balancing things like work or family. This could cause fatigue in students if precautions aren’t taken.
Fatigue often gets worse gradually. You might not realise how much it is affecting you until you think about all the things you could do previously.
What causes Fatigue?
Adults typically need 7 – 8 hours of sleep per day. A lack of sleep, poor quality or disrupted sleep, extended wakefulness, and the time of day your body clock is at (the circadian factor) can cause fatigue. However, sleep related factors are not the only things that can cause fatigue.
These are some of the things that can also contribute to fatigue:
- Sustained mental effort
- Physical exertion
- Poor nutrition or hydration
- Low light, vibration, confined spaces
- Emotional strain
- Rapid or complex information processing / high concentration tasks
Signs & Symptoms
|Physical signs & symptoms||Emotional signs & symptoms||Mental signs & symptoms|
• More quiet or withdrawn than normal
- You should plan your naps to be either short (10 - 20 minutes) or long (3-4 hours) naps of this length will minimise the sleep inertia (feeling groggy and disoriented) when you wake up.
- Avoid duties or tasks that may be sensitive to sleep inertia (e.g. driving) for at least 20 minutes after waking up from a nap.
Light & Exercise
- Consider when to exercise. Some people may find that strenuous exercise within six hours of going to bed interferes with sleep. For other people, exercise taken 30 to 180 minutes prior to bed may increase the amount of deep sleep they get. Do what works best for you.
- Exposure to sunlight by going for a walk or sitting outdoors will provide a cue to your body to reduce the production of the chemical that induces sleep. If you need to stay awake, exposure to sunlight will help.
- It generally takes caffeine 15-30 minutes to enter your system, and an hour to reach peak effectiveness.
- The effects of caffeine typically last approximately five hours.
- If you normally drink three or more cups of coffee a day, you will not get much additional boost in alertness from caffeine.
- Avoid caffeinated products for a few hours before you are planning to sleep; the stimulation from caffeine can make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Setting up your bedroom appropriately (sleep hygiene) can maximise your chances of getting sleep.
- Block out as much light as possible. Also a void blue light (e.g. mobile phone, tablet device, TV).
- Think about the noise that you can hear from your bedroom – does this have an affect on your sleep?
- Consider when you will have your meals; being hungry or thirsty, or over - eating can make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
- Try to avoid caffeine and tobacco smoking / nicotine patches for a few hours before going to bed.
- Minimise alcohol intake; although it may relax you and help you fall asleep, your quality of sleep will be reduced.
- Try to leave at least two hours between eating and lying down; this will allow your body time to digest.
- If you are eating before you plan to sleep, choose smaller meals of food that are easy to digest.
- Choose foods that will help you get to sleep. A meal that combines foods containing protein and foods that are high in complex carbohydrates will help (e.g. wholegrain cereal and milk; a turkey sandwich on wholemeal bread with a glass of milk; an apple with some cheese; pasta with parmesan cheese).
- Try to avoid foods that will make it difficult for you to sleep. This includes spicy food, caffeine, alcohol, foods that are high in sugar, foods with high levels of MSG, high-fat and fried foods, and smoked meats.
Stages of Sleep
Sleep is a really important part of your day-to-day routine. Did you know you spend about one third of your life sleeping?
Getting enough quality sleep is as essential to your survival as food and water. Without sleep, humans can’t form or maintain the brain pathways that let you learn and create memories. It’s also harder to concentrate and respond quickly. the more quality sleep you have = the more effective your studies at MCI will be!
Sleep is split into 4 stages:
Lasts 1-5 minutes
non-REM sleep is the changeover from wakefulness to sleep. During this short period (lasting several minutes) of relatively light sleep, your heartbeat, breathing, and eye movements slow, and your muscles relax with occasional twitches. Your brain waves begin to slow from their daytime wakefulness patterns.
Lasts 10 - 60 minutes
non-REM sleep is a period of light sleep before you enter deeper sleep. Your heartbeat and breathing slow, and muscles relax even further. Your body temperature drops and eye movements stop. Brain wave activity slows but is marked by brief bursts of electrical activity. You spend more of your repeated sleep cycles in stage 2 sleep than in other sleep stages.
Lasts 20 - 40 minutes
non-REM sleep is the period of deep sleep that you need to feel refreshed in the morning. It occurs in longer periods during the first half of the night. Your heartbeat and breathing slow to their lowest levels during sleep. Your muscles are relaxed and it may be difficult to awaken you. Brain waves become even slower.
Lasts 10 - 60 minutes
REM sleep first occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep. Your eyes move rapidly from side to side behind closed eyelids. Mixed frequency brain wave activity becomes closer to that seen in wakefulness. Your breathing becomes faster and irregular, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase to near waking levels. Most of your dreaming occurs during REM sleep, although some can also occur in non-REM sleep. Your arm and leg muscles become temporarily paralysed, which prevents you from acting out your dreams. As you age, you sleep less of your time in REM sleep. Memory consolidation most likely requires both non-REM and REM sleep.
If you are feeling sleep-deprived, a nap can be a really effective way to give yourself a refresh before your next big sleep. However, napping for too long or too close to your bedtime and going into stage 3 or 4 of your sleep cycle can leave you feeling confused and groggy, and can have a detrimental effect on the quality of your sleep that night. Most experts recommend that healthy people who are not sleep-deprived take short naps, defined as ranging from five to 20 minutes.
Tip’s for getting a good nights sleep:
- - Set a schedule – go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
- - Exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day but no later than a few hours before going to bed.
- - Avoid caffeine and nicotine late in the day and alcoholic drinks before bed.
- - Relax before bed – try a warm bath, reading, or another relaxing routine.
- - Create a room for sleep – avoid bright lights and loud sounds, keep the room at a comfortable temperature, and don’t watch TV or have a computer in your bedroom.
- - Don’t lie in bed awake. If you can’t get to sleep, do something else, like reading or listening to music, until you feel tired.
- - See a doctor if you have a problem sleeping or if you feel unusually tired during the day. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively.
Helpful links & resources
- - What Is Your Sleep Efficiency? How To Calculate and Improve it! (sleepsugar.com)
- - Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep | Healthy Sleep (harvard.edu)
- - Getting a Good Night’s Sleep (Innerbody Research)
- - Guided Sleep Meditation: The Haven of Peace. Ultra Deep Relaxation. Dark Screen - YouTube
- - Fatigue, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment. - YouTube
- - Burn Out to Brilliance. Recovery from Chronic Fatigue | Linda Jones | TEDxBirminghamCityUniversity - YouTube
- - Improving sleep quality leads to better mental health: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials - PubMed (nih.gov)
Need assistance as a student at MCI?
Do you require assistance with your studies at MCI? Do you need a role play partner? Be reminded, to please reach out to your mentor. Finally, you always have the option and are encouraged to interact with other students by joining the MCI Student Facebook page.
If you would like to talk to a MCI Wellbeing officer, please click below:
All the best!