Fatigue is common in people with MS, even when there are no other obvious symptoms.1 It can impact on all aspects of your life.
The fatigue you experience with MS is caused by the damage to your central nervous system. It can occur rapidly and can take longer to recover from than your other MS symptoms.
Tips for managing fatigue2
- Understand: Learn about your fatigue by keeping a diary for 1-2 weeks, including what activities you do each day, how much sleep you get at night, if you have rests during the day, when you notice fatigue etc
- Work: Think about whether you can change your work tasks to make them less tiring - e.g. can you do more physical tasks in the morning? Are there different tools or processes you can use to make them easier? Can you break the tasks into smaller components? Can you change your work environment (e.g. work from home, change your workstation set up, sit closer to a printer/staff room or bathroom)? Can you change your personal activities before going to work (e.g. sitting in the shower or while dressing)?
- Rest and sleep: Ensure you are getting enough sleep, build small rest breaks into your daily routine, take time to stretch or go for a walk around the office or outside, find a quiet place where you can recharge for a few minutes. If possible take a day off mid-week
- Health: Eat well, stay hydrated and exercise even when feeling fatigued to improve endurance, increase energy levels, manage stress and help with mood.
Different types of fatigue in MS2
- Neuromuscular fatigue: Can occur from damage to nerves interrupting the signals to muscles, often occurring during repetitive or prolonged activity (e.g. typing) and usually stops after a short break
- Lassitude fatigue: Can occur at any time without any obvious reason and feels like an overwhelming sense of tiredness. This type of fatigue doesn’t always get better after resting
- Secondary causes: These are not necessarily due to the damage to the central nervous system but can be exacerbated by the MS symptoms impacting on sleep (e.g. due to muscle pain or spasms, temperature insensitivity or low mood).
Listen to Jemma share what a bad day is like for her and what strategies she has in place for those days.
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- MS Australia. Brain health in multiple sclerosis. https://www.msaustralia.org.au/about-ms/ms-practice (last updated 21 June 2019).
- MS Australia. Living with fatigue. https://www.msaustralia.org.au/living-with-ms/expert-blog/ready-nap-desk-way (last updated 8 March 2017).