This article is for informational purposes only. None of the information here should be taken as medical advice. If you are struggling with fatigue, seek medical help. Reducing Stress
Stress and fatigue are closely and reciprocally linked, meaning they often co-occur and can influence each other. Stressful life events can cause not only PTSD , but also chronic fatigue syndrome . Similarly, occupational exposure to traumatic events of others (e.g., by healthcare workers) causes physical and mental fatigue, and may reduce empathy [ 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ].
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for stress management has been reported to reduce fatigue from chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis in several studies. Similarly, its combination with mindfulness meditation (mindfulness-based stress reduction) may help with fatigue from fibromyalgia and cancer [ 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 ].
Relaxation therapy with breathing practices and muscle relaxation exercises has also been reported to help with fatigue from conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart failure, and stem cell transplantation. However, CBT was more effective in those studies that compared both treatments [ 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 ]. Improving Sleep Quality
Sleep is essential for optimal health. Failing to get enough quality sleep is associated with fatigue among many other health issues. People who perform shift or night work (such as healthcare professionals) are at increased risk of sleep disturbances and fatigue [ 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 ].
Sleep disturbances are frequent in people with chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, multiple sclerosis, IBD , and allergic rhinitis, and can further worsen fatigue associated with these conditions [ 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 ].
Some clinical research suggests that therapy for sleep disturbances may improve fatigue from some of these conditions (such as cancer and multiple sclerosis). In turn, CBT for chronic fatigue syndrome has been inconsistently suggested to improve sleep quality [ 30 , 31 , 32 ]. Exercise
A sedentary lifestyle is a common cause of persistent fatigue. Several studies have reported that practicing more exercise may reduce fatigue in healthy people. Paradoxically, being ‘too tired’ was the most common excuse for not exercising in a study on middle-aged and elderly people [ 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 ].
People with chronic fatigue syndrome are at especially high risk of not meeting physical activity requirements. In people with this condition, engaging in regular physical exercise may help reduce fatigue — even more than in healthy controls according to one meta-analysis [ 37 , 38 , 39 ].
Multiple studies have reported that exercise may help with fatigue from other conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, COPD, lupus, ALS, fibromyalgia, muscle disease, and heart failure [ 40 , 41 , 42 , 43 , 44 , 45 , 46 , 47 , 48 ].
However, over-exercising can lead to fatigue and several health issues. Experts recommend moderate exercise such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling. Staying Hydrated
Dehydration, even mild, has been associated with increased mental fatigue in healthy people and reduced physical and cognitive performance in athletes [ 49 , 50 , 51 , 52 , 53 , 54 , 55 , 56 ].
In line with this, several clinical trials report that rehydration helps revert this increased fatigue while staying hydrated prevents it [ 57 , 58 , 59 , 60 , 61 , 62 ].
Yoga interventions reduced fatigue in a few clinical trials on healthy adolescents, adults, and seniors [ 63 , 64 , 65 , 66 ].
This practice has been most widely investigated regarding fatigue from multiple sclerosis and breast cancer. The most recent meta-analyses concluded that yoga may be effective as an add-on to conventional therapies [ 67 , 68 ].
Yoga has also been reported to help with fatigue from chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, depression , low-back pain , IBS, COPD, end-stage kidney disease, HIV, and arthritis in a few preliminary trials [ 69 , 70 , 71 , 72 , 73 , 74 , 75 , 76 , 77 , 78 , 79 ].
A handful of clinical trials found massage effective at reducing post-exercise localized muscle fatigue and soreness. However, cold water immersion seems to be more effective for generalized fatigue [ 80 , 81 , 82 , 83 , 84 , 85 , 86 ].
A small clinical trial found a combination of massage chairs and brain massage ( binaural beats ) effective at reducing mental fatigue and improving cognitive function [ 87 ].
A meta-analysis concluded that massage, especially myofascial release, may reduce fatigue from fibromyalgia. In a clinical trial on women with this condition, massage was more effective when combined with physical exercise [ 88 , 89 ].
Although another meta-analysis found massage interventions effective at reducing fatigue from breast cancer, a Cochrane review concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support massage for cancer-related fatigue due to the low quality and small size of most studies [ 90 , 91 ].
More limited evidence suggests that massage may also help with fatigue from chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, low-back pain, hemodialysis, spinal cord injury, bone marrow transplantation, and Parkinson’s disease [ 92 , 93 , 94 , 95 , 96 , 97 , 98 , 99 , 100 ]. Cold Exposure
Multiple studies found cold water immersion prior to exercise effective at increasing performance. During exercise, only external cooling (e.g., by wearing cooling garments) may reduce fatigue from anaerobic exercise, while both external and internal cooling (e.g., by ingesting cold beverages) seem to improve aerobic performance [ 101 , 102 , 103 ].
Similarly, cold exposure after exercise has been suggested to reduce fatigue perception after 48-72 hours in multiple trials. Whole-body immersion in cold water seems more effective than cryotherapy [ 104 , 105 , 106 , 107 , 108 ]. Sun Exposure
Many studies have associated […]