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Area Agency on Aging

Posted on: January 15, 2014

How tired is too tired?

According to an article by Markham Heid, published in Prevention Magazine (December 2012), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a mysterious condition characterized by ongoing feelings of sleepiness that are alleviated with more rest, and don’t seem to be linked to other health problems. And while researchers have yet to nail down the cause of CFS, a new study published in the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, suggests that chronic inflammation might actually be behind the problem.

So how can you figure out whether your tiredness is CFS? Keep tabs on how you suffer from daytime lulls, says CFS expert Leonard Jason, PhD, Director of the Center for Community Research at DePaul University. Fatigue for short periods of time is normal, but fatigue that lasts for days or weeks is not.

Jason says, “If you take a vacation from work or spend a weekend catching up on sleep, you should feel better. If that doesn’t help, then the issue may be more serious.”
Ask yourself this: “Do you feel fatigued an hour after getting out of bed, feel worse after exercise, or feel like your memory or concentration are lagging? If the answer is yes to any of these questions and persists for at least six months, then CFS may be to blame,” Jason says. “It’s like having the flu all the time,” he explains. For cases of normal fatigue, people can take steps to relieve their symptoms, Jason says. Follow the recommendations to get your sleepiness in check before it gets worse:

• MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY. The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, but most of us require at least seven hours of deep, restful sleep each night to feel our best. An afternoon rest session can also help. Even if you don’t sleep, closing your eyes for 10 or 20 minutes while listening to quiet music or meditating can reduce stress and recharge the batteries.

• IMPROVE YOUR DAILY HABITS. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, which can help curb inflammation. Trim your workload or list of responsibilities, and avoid alcohol or stimulants like tobacco or caffeine in the evening.

Sure, these changes are easier said than done, but the question is, how long can you afford not to make them?

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