Fatigue refers to mental or physical exhaustion that stops you from being able to function normally, and is more than simply feeling tired or drowsy.
Fatigue can be caused by a range of personal and work factors, as well as sleep disorders and other health conditions.
What are the signs of fatigue?
- Tiredness even after sleep
- Reduced hand-eye coordination or slow reflexes
- Short term memory problems and an inability to concentrate
- Blurred vision or impaired visual perception
- A need for extended sleep during days off work
What is the impact of fatigue?
Fatigue can have both short and long term impacts on your health, safety and wellbeing.
- Reduced alertness
- Impaired decision making and learning capability
- Increased risk of injury and illness
Work and study performance can also be impacted, especially around exam periods and during periods of high work demands.
Long term fatigue has also been shown to contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure, diabetes, impaired immune system function, obesity, low fertility, and anxiety and depression.
What can I do to minimise fatigue?
- Try and prioritise sleep: Quality and consistent sleep is arguably the most important factor impacting fatigue. It is generally recommended that 7 – 9 hours is adequate for most people. Personal factors such as stress, nutrition, physical activity and general health will also impact the need, and benefit from sleep.
- Look at your overall lifestyle: Consider your overall lifestyle (including physical activity levels, nutrition, stress, relaxation, and alcohol) and how these factors may be impacting on your sleep and recovery.
- Take regular breaks: Whilst working continuously on a task may seem like the best approach at the time, taking regular breaks to recharge and reflect will most likely be more productive in the long run.
- Plan ahead of time: If you have a looming deadline, planning ahead of time can help reduce the need to ‘cram’ and work/study excess hours.
- Leave space between major meetings, labs, tutorials and exams: If you need to be at your best, make sure you allow time before important meetings and arrive early where possible to take a breath and refocus.
- Plan rest around journeys: People are not at their best after a long flight or multi-hour car trip. Encourage your colleagues and friends to leave early enough so they can rest after arriving at their destination. Also try to schedule breaks in to travel so you increase your chances of arriving fresh and at your best.
Where can I find out more?
For general information on sleep, the Sleep Health Foundation has a range of tip sheets, guides, and general information to get you started.
You can also chat to a Student Wellbeing Advisor on-campus, over the phone or via email.