A Case of Fatigue or What Little Rest Will Do to You

A few days ago I felt weakness, headache, eye ache, and a few other symptoms of falling sick. At first I thought that I had  caught a bug from my daughter (she had been a little “under the weather” after her first few days in preschool). Then it looked more like a burnout, but after going through various definitions of burnout, I realized that I could only identify with the physical symptoms of it. Then I found a book by Cooper et al. where the authors wrote that “it is important to differentiate burnout from fatigue.” (Organizational Stress, 2001, p. 82) So I did some research on fatigue, and Carpenito-Moyet’s definition hit the nail on the head! She wrote that fatigue is to be understood as a “self-recognized state in which a person experiences an overwhelming, sustained sense of exhaustion and decreased capacity for physical and mental work.” (Nursing Diagnosis, p. 307). Bang!! That was it! For the first time in my life I have reached the limit, and my body told me loud and clear: Slow down, man!

That morning I took care of the immediately important issues, took some acetaminophen (to make sure I address the “falling sick” part just in case I were falling sick), and went to sleep. I slept for 2 hours, worked just a little more after lunch, and went to sleep again. Slept for close to 2.5 hours the second time. I thought I would have trouble going to sleep in the evening, but, on the contrary, went to bed earlier than usual, and slept perfectly well all night… I felt much better on the next day, and made sure not to push it too hard and took a midday nap again. On day 3 I felt almost perfectly well.

Back in the year of my birth Yale University Press published a book by Haggard & Greenberg where among other things, the authors discussed fatigue, and wrote that one “may recover from fatigue merely by resting.” (Diet and Physical Efficiency, 1977, p. 157) That plus some chicken soup did wonders for me.

I am making this my second post in the “Staying Healthy” section of my blog, and I promise you that not one post in this section will be of secondary importance. While I am a firm believer in hard work, my above-described experience has stressed the vitality of rest to me. For years I’ve been going to bed several hours later than the rest of my household, and getting up a couple hours earlier than everyone else; and at one moment the cup has just run over.

Are you getting enough rest?

Brian McDonough wrote that while the “amount of sleep one needs varies from person to person,” everyone needs to sleep, and “most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.” He wrote that for some people 4-5 hours is enough (I can’t help but recall biographies of Peter the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte here), and there are those who need 10-12 hours of sleep a night. But “to feel alert and productive during the day, without the need for a daytime nap and without stimulants,” it seems that 7-9 hours a night is what most people need. (Talking Health with Dr. Brian McDonough, 1994, p. 230)

Let’s take our health seriously and rest well; for only then we’ll be able to be productive and receive the ultimate enjoyment from our work and life.

3 thoughts on “A Case of Fatigue or What Little Rest Will Do to You”

  1. Geno – I know exactly how you felt. I was feeling wiped out the middle of last week and it was getting progressively worse going into the weekend – I rested the entire weekend. Kicked the “bug” and felt totally rested by today.

    “Sleep. It does the body good.”

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