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Understanding chronic fatigue: why you’re feeling tired all the time

Understanding chronic fatigue: why you’re feeling tired all the time

If you think you get enough rest but you still feel tired much of the time, there might be something else going on. 

Understanding chronic fatigue: why you’re feeling tired all the time

Feeling exhausted is a common complaint for many people, so common in fact that many people think it’s normal to feel tired most of the time.

There are many reasons for feeling tired, including lack of sleep, poor diet, insufficient water intake, sedentary lifestyle and stress, but when fatigue is overwhelming and isn’t relieved by sleep and rest it’s important to talk to your healthcare practitioner.

Fatigue can be a symptom of several conditions and diseases, from anaemia to diabetes to depression, so it’s important to not just discount ongoing fatigue as normal.

Additionally, many people ignore signs of fatigue, choosing to ‘power through’ rather than rest.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine say they have pinpointed areas of the human brain that regulate efforts to deal with fatigue.

“We know the physiologic processes involved in fatigue, such as lactic acid build-up in muscles, but we know far less about how feelings of fatigue are processed in the brain and how our brain decides how much and what kind of effort to make to overcome fatigue,” says Dr Vikram Chib, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and research scientist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Understanding which brain regions control choices about fatigue-moderating efforts can help scientists find therapies that precisely alter those choices, says Chib.

“It might not be ideal for your brain to simply power through fatigue,” says Chib. “It might be more beneficial for the brain to be more efficient about the signals it’s sending.”

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