Fighting Through Fatigue

Many stroke survivors experience overwhelming fatigue, both physically and mentally. Symptoms can include difficulty with self-control, emotions and memory. Some report feeling tired even after a good night’s sleep. Others say they feel tired when they perform a task requiring physical or mental focus. Most report that fatigue occurs without warning and makes it harder to do daily, routine activities.

If you’re experiencing fatigue, talk to your family and work with your health care team to determine the best plan of care for you. Sleep disturbances are common with stroke. 50% to 70% of stroke patients have sleep related breathing disturbances, and 27% had prolonged nighttime sleep or excessive daytime sleepiness. Sleep studies can be done to help with evaluation and treatment for sleep disorders.

Here are some other tips:

  1. Check your prescriptions for potential side effects, including fatigue.
  2. Ask for treatment options if you are experiencing anxiety, depression or difficulty sleeping.
  3. Family support and understanding can also help. Let your family know post-stroke fatigue can be overwhelming.
  4. Try to eat healthy and exercise to prevent other health problems that also can affect your energy level.
  5. Talk to your physical therapist to understand fitness, balance disorders, uncoordinated movement and walking related to fatigue. Balance and coordination exercises will help you perform tasks with less energy, increase your confidence and decrease your anxiety.
  6. Try to schedule demanding physical or mental activities throughout the day or week. That way, you’ll plan to take rest breaks before you feel tired.
  7. Consider modifying your home and work environment to make them more efficient. Use assistive technology when possible.

Ways to improve your sleep:

  1. Keep the same bedtime and wake-up time each day.
  2. Exercise regularly, but not within a few hours before going to bed.
  3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine late in the day and alcoholic drinks before bed.
  4. Relax before bed.
  5. Create a room for sleep – avoid stimulating bright lights and noise.
  6. Keep the temperature comfortable in the bedroom.
  7. Don’t watch TV or have a computer in your bedroom.
  8. If you can’t get to sleep, get out of bed to do something relaxing until you feel tired.
  9. Discuss your sleep issues with your doctor.