Fatigue : I know it is to be expected but apart from... - Headway

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Fatigue

Jaec
Jaec

I know it is to be expected but apart from trying to get lots of sleep, does anyone have advice on the relentless fatigue after a brain injury?

47 Replies
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The golden nugget of a one size fits all answer to fatigue, sadly does not exist. This said, there are plenty of sources that would be willing to suggest ' solutions', despite not knowing anything other than you have had a brain injury. To illustrate, I am two months post shunt revision surgery, have a wound infection, am attempting to recovery in circumstances less than ideal and had similar fatigue issues even prior to my VP shunt infection being diagnosed. I struggle with fatigue, but I confront it by busying myself with things that keep certain skills active. This would be inappropriate for many, but that is my point.

Some may be convinced the answer lies in everything from diet to inner peace, music to meditation, drugs to herbal infusions, or any number of 'solutions'. some far more credible than others. Brain injury, its many causes and diversity make it highly improbable that a single solution exists and I simply ask that you exercise caution in believing everything you are told and remember that most things that involve the brain take time to heal, despite our wish that it was otherwise.

Regards

K

The only thing I’ve found is management, ie trying not to boom/bust so making sure I don’t get too tired each day so I don’t end up crashing which can happen if I do!

Have U tried a 20 minute nap in the afternoon Roger ???

Its not incredibly helpful - but rest as often as you need to. Other than that try to lead a healthy lifestyle, get plenty of fresh air and make the most of what you have. I'm afraid there doesn't seem to be a magic cure for fatigue. You just have to find out what works for you.

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to lcd8

Hiya Lulu, have U tried a 20 minute nap in the afternoon ???

lcd8
lcd8 in reply to StaceM8

Thanks for the suggestion. But I'm afraid I can't do that. I need to work full-time.

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to lcd8

Lunch hour ???

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to StaceM8

Coffee breaks ??? ;o)

lcd8
lcd8 in reply to StaceM8

Hahaha. Yes I do that if it gets bad already. I go out to the car and have a doze. Alternatively a brisk walk at lunch often helps.

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to lcd8

I do the same if I'm out & about, even been known t disappear to the toilet a few times (good job most toilets are nice n clean nowadays eh ;o)

Hi Jaec

Sleep is the key however I have come across many other options. It all depends on your BI. I can only explain from my experiences. I have had great success and now basically live with no fatigue, however my life is not as full but I'm working on that.

First thing is to recognise what are the major problems affecting you. For me visual issues were a big factor, bright light and pattern glare and fluorescing colours. It turns out most of the energy your brain uses is linked to vision primarily. The brain is working overtime to process visual information and and uses up all the energy resulting in fatigue. Sensory overload.

I resolved this by going to a good optometrist and getting specific coloured filter glasses. The results were astonishing and my fatigue reduced by more than 50% plus overnight.

I have been chipping away at other factors regarding fatigue. Avoiding noise and social interactions are good.

A really good one is to work with your brain, ie, if you wake up at 3am and feel good get up and do whatever you need to then go back to sleep when you start feeling fatigued. So basically design your life around when you feel good. Working 9-5 and timetable type processes will not work so you need to adapt your life to your brain. It really works.

Reduce all stress and anxiety, mindfulness and meditating activities are brilliant.

I suppose I'm lucky in a way, I have no responsibilities, I don't own anything ie property etc and I'm single. So there are no pressures and I can adapt my life whatever way I want and live off plastic till I go bust. My main job in life is to beat the BI and it is working.

Currently I am addressing automatic brain actions. I came across a brilliant lecture that explained and showed that most activity the brain carries out is unconscious ie you don't need to think about it. Basically everything you do is a practised process and it's fixed in neural pathways. After a BI these pathways are functionally damaged and the automatic processes broken. So it takes a long time to do things that you did not even need to think about before. Does that sound familiar?

I have to go now so if you want any more info let me know

Jaec
Jaec in reply to pinkvision

Thankyou. I had my brain haemorrhage 30 yrs ago and since then I have studied, worked, got married, had kids and now I run my own business. I have worked out ways round many of the problems I face but fatigue is one that I get stuck at. I would tell someone else they needed to be more patient with themselves and rest when they need to. I would just love someone to come up with a miracle pill!

pinkvision
pinkvision in reply to Jaec

Hi, seems your life is good except the fatigue, maybe there is another factor other than BI. Good luck finding a way ahead.

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to pinkvision

Hiya, a way more complicated answer t mine. I do like the 'if U wake up in the middle of the night but not feel sleepy, get up until U feel sleepy, then go back t sleep.

Struggling t get back to sleep is horrible, loads of things going through your mind.

Anyway, what I was wondering was whether U have tried the 20 minute nap (power naps ???)

Stace

pinkvision
pinkvision in reply to StaceM8

Hi, not tried them as such but I sleep whenever I feel sleepy, it really works for me. In fact I'm just over the 2 year mark now and can survive for a good few hours without stopping to rest. Just over a year ago I could do 2 hours going to the shop etc in a mild state of fatigue and then spend 3 days recovering.

I think it's key to crack that initial fatigue, the one that's just there all the time first. After that focus on the things that make you fatigued such as sensory issues like light sensitivity via optometry and automatic brain function through neural reprogramming.

I've made some serious headway and have tried all sorts of so called pseudo techniques that actually work.

I'm preparing for a 3 month neural reprogram which I'll start in October. If you want to recover it's possible I think, ok so there may be a few things that still remain but can be worked around.

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to pinkvision

Hiya Pink (first thing I'll say before I write my reply, how du fancy writin a brief profile, your name at least cos I sound like I'm talking to a pop star - you're not the Pink are you ??? ;o)

Anyway in reply to your response, I appreciate u have found things that are beneficial, taking several naps, but U might find one 20 minute nap lasts a lot longer before U start feeling sleepy again & U might even find, like me, you'll no longer need several naps (No more than 26mins though - it's known as the Ultradian rhythm & supposedly after 26mins u go into a deeper stage of sleep, which is why 20 is ideal)

Gotta be worth trying surely, but literally set an alarm for 20 minutes, drink a glass of water before closing your eyes though, cos this will make u get up to goto toilet & by the time you've been u will have woken up properly & will feel totally refreshed.

My head injury was 25 years years ago & I have given bits of information that could be useful in my profile if U did want to look. Things I have come across during my recovery & still from time to time add things that I come across.

Stace Xxx

pinkvision
pinkvision in reply to StaceM8

Cheers. My username is pinkvision, that's because for a few months everything had a pink tinge to it. Thanks for your advice, I will consider the 20min rule but will stick to my rules for the while, it seems to be paying very big dividends at the moment.

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to pinkvision

Fair enough. Btw are U not able t write a brief bit about yourself ???

Stace

If you're at an early stage in recovery, then the simple answer is to rest when you need to. Your body needs that to recover as much as possible. There's no way you won't be tired - so avoiding sleep won't help at all.

After that initial period (several months, several years perhaps), as others have said, there's no one size fits all, but personally, I've found the thing that fatigues me most, apart from emotional stress, is working hard with my brain.

That doesn't mean I stop myself from doing that - on the contrary, I try to work hard on a regular basis to keep my brain active. But I've also noticed that I only get physically tired (rather than fatigued, or drained) from doing physical exercise, so I try to do that regularly as well. The fitter I am, the more able I am to cope with both brain work and emotional stress.

heyjo
heyjo in reply to RobHH

That’s a good response. Yes, I try to Keep decision making with my brain 🧠 to a minimum. Good way you differentiated between tiredness and fatigue.

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to RobHH

Hiya Rob, have U tried a 20 minute nap in the afternoon ???

RobHH
RobHH in reply to StaceM8

Thanks for the suggestion, and yes, over the years, I've tried many types of napping in the afternoon. Sometimes, if I'm just physically tired, I can close my eyes anywhere and sleep for even 5 or 10 minutes, and wake feeling completely refreshed.

Otherwise I don't restrict myself, and usually sleep for about an hour in the afternoon. That (usually) helps me avoid feeling too fatigued in the evening to do anything. Twenty minutes has worked in the past, but it has also sometimes not been long enough and I've had to sleep again later on.

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to RobHH

Hiya, t be fair & something I have mentioned previously, you're right, 20 minutes doesn't seem enough so I do go back t sleep. but again the alarm reset for 20 minutes, although as it goes, I now press the snooze button on my phone which goes off 15 minutes later & then I make sure I get up.

Using the Ultradian rhythm, they do say after 20 minutes you go into a deeper sleep so you aren't likely to be fully refreshed in the same way.

If U do need another nap later on, which is possible, what about another 20minute nap ??? ;o)

RobHH
RobHH in reply to StaceM8

Hi Stace,

I'm not sure it's an exact science, particularly with us. For me, it usually works to sleep for around an hour, sometimes an hour and a half, but I also make a distinction between physically tired and mentally tired.

If I'm only physically tired, even a five-minute nap can leave me feeling refreshed. If my brain's been working hard, I feel as if I need to go into the deeper sleep to give my brain a rest, but sometimes I probably don't need that long, and occasionally (thankfully not very often) I feel worse than before!

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to RobHH

Fair enough - was gonna askwhe the accident was, what happened etc, but how du fancy writing a brief profile Rob ???

RobHH
RobHH in reply to StaceM8

Hi Stace,

I've written about it a few times on here. In brief, I was cycling around the US, and was hit by a car at full speed (drunk driver didn't see me). It was 40 years ago now. Amongst other injuries, I had a blood clot on the brain - probably only survived and recovered reasonably well because I was young and very fit (I'd ridden 5,000 mostly mountainous miles at that point).

Bad luck or good luck? A bit of both: I've had some tough times since, but my resulting health problems could have been a lot worse and I'm well enough to enjoy my life today, despite some limitations.

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to RobHH

Why haven't u written a profile Rob, that would save u having to repeat yourself (& also save people asking again & again (cos I'm sure I'll ask again when we cross paths again.

Personally I always look at people's profiles before making contact / replying.

Go on Rob, be a devil, write a short (or long if U prefer ;o) profile about what happened to yourself. Maybe even include a few tips that you've learned along the way ??? Little tips / methods that have helped U in your journey

40 years & not even written a profile - I dunno ;o)

When did u come across the site Rob ???

Hi I suffered a non aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage in 2016 and the fatigue is still an issue. I plan my activities accordingly which helps.Tiredness is not a friend of mine as I still get quite bad mood swings ! I love my sleep. Rest is the best thing, even mini breaks through your the day I’d possible or my mind becomes cloudy. Hope that helps.

The most frequent response of mine on this site, is the power of a 20 minute nap (or as was well known in the 90's, the power nap.

I have found it has been a lifesaver for me - when my eyes glaze over & my mind goes foggy, I disappear & go off for a 20 minute nap.

.

Set my alarm for 20 mins, have a glass of water (cos that makes u get up when the alarms goes off because you'll need the toilet. Closing your eyes again & goin bak t sleep is so easy ;o ) but once I've got up, I feel totally refreshed in about a minute. (basically like I've had a full nights sleep).

.

You might be scepticle as t how much difference this will make, I was when I was told about it, but what have u got t lose ??? Basically 20 minutes & yet it could be as beneficial to the rest of your life as it has been t mine

If U really don't feel like getting up after the first 20 minutes reset your alarm for another 20 minutes (suppsoedly U go into a deeper stage of sleep after 26minutes & I have found 20 is always good for me.

.

Anyway, I'll stop waffling - give it a go ;o)

shaunmcg
shaunmcg in reply to StaceM8

Yip. Power naps work for me too!

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to shaunmcg

And yet so many people automatically say it won't work for them, they're too busy & therefore won't give it a go & yet for the sake of 20 minutes, you're way more productive so would make up that time so easily & feel so much better.

And for people that have had a head / brain injury it's even more essential & so beneficial ...........

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to shaunmcg

You do 20 aswell ???

(quite often I have 5 minute naps but they don't last as long before glazing over again ;o)

shaunmcg
shaunmcg in reply to StaceM8

I do a variety of times from 10 minutes to 45. I nap two or three times a day.

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to shaunmcg

Using the Ultradian rhythm, they do say after 20 minutes you go into a deeper sleep so you aren't likely to be fully refreshed in the same way, so I do always try n stick to my 20 minutes, although admitted I do occasionally reset my alarn for a second 20minutes ;o).

shaunmcg
shaunmcg in reply to StaceM8

I usually listen to binaural beats, yoga nidra, some self hypnosis or similar. They usually help me sleep within minutes!

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to shaunmcg

Luckily I sleep within minutes anyway (well as long as the Tv or radio are on in the background ;o)

shaunmcg
shaunmcg in reply to StaceM8

I have tinnitus so need some sounds to help me go!

Your brain needs to heal and get better it takes an age and we still get tired. Some days are better than others so don't listen to sob story's keep happy as possible and do not take on others problems. Don't mean this to sound bad but you need to heal first !! Do not take on others woes and I like to sing goes down badly with my Family ha ha xxxx Now keep happy and only happy songs xxx Good luck on a stress free recovery xxxx

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to WinB

Hiya Win, have U tried a 20 minute nap in the afternoon, or when u get sleepy ???

WinB
WinB in reply to StaceM8

Yes and that's when my Dog comes in and my Lovely Daughter will want to know what time shall she put dinner on ...Husband pops in and Says having a rest Win...I want to say "Trying to hubs" but they have my welfare at heart and without them I'd be lost. Bless them ha ha xxxx Does help even if eyes shut for 15 mins and forget the worries of the world xxx Keep well and smiling xxxx

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to WinB

Shut yourself away from any disturbances, make sure your husband knows not t disturb U, likewise if your daughter wants anything, to ask your husband. Make sure your dog's shut in another room.

You say they have your welfare at heart, so if they kno not t disturd U, surely they'll let U have your 20 minutes, or even 15 as U say, no ???

WinB
WinB in reply to StaceM8

Think you took it the wrong way they kill me with kindness literally, without them my prognosis was put her in a home by OT's ..Hubby wasn't having any of it he is a Great Man and I was tongue in cheek about Dog Daughter and hubs xxxx I love them so xxxx

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to WinB

;o)

Xxx

I also suffer from fatigue continuously since my accident - reading these responses reminded me of the ‘good house keeping rules’ with respect to fatigue management, which I find SO hard to remember or implement some times!

Thank you as always x

StaceM8
StaceM8 in reply to Annie-2

Hiya Annie, did U see my posts above re th magical 20 minute nap, cos it really is quite unbelievable how much diference it makes - Stace Xxx

Had headache for more>than 2weeks.. Had my old brain fatigue return. Napping around 5pm for 2hrs, brain needing to power down. Alittle trouble with speech. Clumsier too. Friend said I seemed very tense... Explained headache, mostly vague mixed area but felt good.

Mum actually moaning! On family holiday too. Went for Ct scan, no bleeds or things growing thankfully. "Lay it on thick" my mums ridiculous advice.. My career would be killed off instantly.

On fresh walnuts, almonds etc again. Sea buckthorn tablets as Always.

Each person has their own darkness to stumble thru with regards to what can provide any micro respite on symptoms & creating coping mechanisms. But some shared light here.

Feeling the finger poking the bruise on the Brain thing :)

Hi Jaec, Husband suffered a TBI in 2015.

For about 2 years he pretty much rested his way through the day, after conversations or exercise or a short therapy meeting etc etc, but the fatigue has got less as time has gone on, yet he still gets to 6pm & is shattered - only difference is he gets through the day. He’s not a ‘rester’ but all advice would suggest, do what relaxes you once you’ve exerted yourself, but you have to be willing to relax your mind- not just the body.

Try Headspace app/ yoga/Pilates/reading, gentle music & eyes shut ... whatever floats your back. You’ll probably always suffer but it’s manageable as long as you & those around you understand it’s not just ‘tiredness’, it’s so much more ! Good Luck x

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