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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Relationship Between Fatigue and Insomnia

The Relationship Between Fatigue and Insomnia

By Matt Allen G—June 25, 2015
Pretty much everyone with Multiple Sclerosis has experienced or has to deal with fatigue but what is fatigue? Fatigue is not just “feeling” tired; there are different types of fatigue with different causes. They may feel the same but describing the difference is almost too difficult for most people. Trying to describe the subtle difference between the different types of fatigue is like trying to describe the difference between two different shades of one color. Pastel blue VS aqua blue. That can be much more difficult than describing the difference between two different symptoms or two completely different colors. Fatigue VS insomnia and blue VS orange.
So what causes fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis? Well first we need to have an understanding of what fatigue actually is. As I said before, fatigue is not just feeling tired. We feel tired after doing hard work that burns off all our “fuel” (energy) whether it is physical work (cleaning the house, yard work, a job, etc) or mental work (paying bills, managing appointments, school, etc). Keep in mind we all have different sized “fuel tanks” meaning, everyone has a different capacity for how much energy they have to work with throughout the day and when we use all that fuel up (some faster than others) we feel tired. MS Fatigue is basically the result of running out of energy due to MS symptoms keeping you up at night or because any given task uses more energy than it should. Taking out the trash may feel like running a marathon! Why? Well that is not entirely known. The last form of fatigue is called lassitude and is unique to people with MS. It is fatigue that occurs for no reason at all generally on a daily basis even after a great night of sleep that should leave you feeling energetic for the day. Fatigue that is caused by exposure to heat or humidity is also considered lassitude. Lassitude generally feels more severe than fatigue and worsens as the day goes on making it much more difficult to complete your daily tasks. So MS-related fatigue can be caused by symptoms burning energy, tasks requiring more energy than they should, or for no apparent reason at all! The National MS Society says that about 80% of people with MS experience some form of fatigue making it one of the most common MS symptoms.

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