Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Not getting enough sleep at the right time of the day is one of the main reasons that leaves you fatigued throughout the day. It has been found by researchers that after only 17 hours of being awake, the ability to think and learn drops systematically. Other tasks that require speed and coordination are also impaired as much as it is impaired when the blood alcohol level is at 0.05%. There are of course certain heavy duty tasks that are absolutely harmful if performed when tired, and the body does not permit such tasks, however, there are also fine tasks that should absolutely be avoided when tired. The following is a list of things that should be avoided at all cost, when you are fatigued:

Working Out Intensely: To work out hard when you are fatigued or tired is simply a waste of your time; as you cannot keep up with your regular routine, says William Suggs, a certified trainer and a licensed sports nutritionist in New York City. It is advised, that you rather focus on light cardio activities like walking, biking or the elliptical. These activities help your arms to propel throughout the workout session. If you still want to work on your muscles, you should steer clear from free weights and rather work on circuit machines, which are designed specifically to ensure your safety.

When tired, there remains a possibility that you tweak or cramp a muscle, especially those on your back. You are especially more prone to injure yourself when fatigued and working out because it is harder to focus on the workout and engage your core, which basically gives you stability. The best way to combat such hazards is to eat a healthy snack, like a fruit, because this will provide you with a new surge of energy. Eating a fruit will not make you jittery; instead, it will help you to keep working as the simple sugars break down. So, doing intense exercise is one of the worst things to do when you are fatigued.

Drinking Caffeinated Drinks: Drinking a lot of coffee in the morning seems like the best way to kick-start the morning when you are fatigued and to stay energized throughout the day. But in reality, this is not true. You are most likely to crash once the boost provided by the coffee wears off and feel extremely sluggish. Caffeine has a half-life of about five hours, which means that after five hours of consuming the coffee, about half of what has been ingested still remains in the system. This amount of caffeine is not enough to provide you with energy, but since the brain knows that there is caffeine in the system, it makes it all the more difficult to go off to sleep. You should hence cut down the consumption of caffeinated drink post 1:00 PM; especially when you are fatigued.

An amazing alternative to drinking coffee when you want to stay awake is to chew on some peppermint gum. Peppermint has been found to be an active ingredient that stimulates the brain cells that are responsible for keeping us awake. This is an advice propounded by Alan Hirsh of The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation.

Engaging in Aggression: You are most likely to feel irritable when tired and probably, this is the reason why a mild disagreement escalates so quickly to a full-blown act of aggression when you are fatigued. According to studies conducted by UC Berkeley and Harvard Medical School sleep deprivation, in fact, does make it difficult to control emotions. It is because with the lack of sleep, the brain is not able to put emotional experiences in context to reality and thus cannot produce proper and well-adjusted responses to stimulation. According to another study by the UC Berkeley, it is difficult to perceive correctly, facial expressions when fatigues hits, thus it is almost obvious that when angry, you are most likely to misinterpret intentions of your partner, it is thus best, to not engage in any acts of aggression when fatigued or tired.

Taking a Long Nap: Taking a nap is like the perfect solution to combat against fatigue, but there are problems associated with this notion as well. This solution works only if the nap has been taken the correct way. Sleeping too little or too hard can make it difficult to fall asleep during the night which will, in turn, make you tired the next morning. According to Dr. Barone, the best time to take a nap is as early in the day as possible, and the nap time should not exceed more than 20 to 30 minutes. This will make sure that you get a surge of wakefulness without completely ruining your bedtime.

Indulging in Fast Food: Researchers has found out that a tired, sleep deprived brain often craves for food that is fatty and has a high-calorie level. This happens because the regions of the brain that are concerned with decision making are highly clouded and thus the need to eat junk food becomes high. Scientifically, when your body is tired, it is looking for a dopamine release and at this juncture, eating your favorite unhealthy food feeds your brain and thus makes you happy. If at all you want to eat when tired, you should order some steamed vegetables, with a lean protein and some brown rice to accompany it. This way, you get to enjoy a balanced meal that is after all extremely healthy for you.

Another great way to not indulge in fast foods or to stop yourself from binge eating when tired is to stay away from grocery stores. In a study conducted by the Uppsala University found out that sleep-deprived individuals had the tendency to buy more of the high-calorie food than when the same individuals were well rested. Eating junk food is the worst thing to do when you are fatigued.

Performing Important Tasks: If it is possible, when you are feeling fatigued, you should always postpone important projects and calls for the next day. According to a study conducted by Duke University Medical Center, it was found that when adults are tired and sleep deprived, they are most likely to perceive things as rather positives and lack the sense of judgment to tackle something negative. This means that taking an important decision when sleep deprived is a very bad idea. The best way you can do your job correctly is to do it when you are well rested. So, one of the worst things to do when you are fatigued is taking important decisions or doing important tasks.

Sleeping Extra & Breaking Your Normal Sleep Routine: It might seem tempting to go off to sleep early or to wake up late after a really tiring day, you should; however, resist this urge and stick to your normal sleep schedule. If you break your sleep pattern or go off track, there is a possibility that you will be putting yourself in an exhausting and erratic sleep cycle, which will prevent you to sleep properly and wake feeling rested. If you are fatigued and go off to sleep early thinking that your body needs it, you seem to forget about the state your brain is in. Even if your body is tired, our brain is just not ready to sleep outside its specific time zone; and at this point, your body will feel tired while your brain will remain active, this leads to inevitable frustration and makes it more difficult for you to go off to sleep. Even 30 minutes of extra sleep for two consecutive days, can practically jeopardize your entire sleep schedule. Instead, you should strive to get a total of seven to eight hours of sleep on a daily basis, whether you feel tired or not.

Drinking Alcohol: You might feel that a glass of wine after a tiring day will help you to sleep better, but this is possibly one of the worst things to do when you are fatigued. Drinking alcohol can actually impair your REM sleep, which is the deepest phase of your sleep cycle. If you really do want to consume alcohol, it is best to finish your alcohol at least three hours before going off to sleep. You should also avoid snacking just before going off to sleep; because then your digestive tract is thrown off the system; as during sleep, the entire body is supposed to rest. Consumption of alcohol right before going to sleep can be potentially harmful in the long run as your body might be craving the alcohol boost to sleep every night, which is absolutely an unhealthy habit.

Going on Social Media: You might feel that going on social media, like scrolling through the pages of Facebook or Instagram is a good idea, as it is a nice and relaxing activity that might even help you to doze off to sleep. When tired you might get the urge to go through social media as you are feeling lazy, but this is actually not a good idea at all. When you are tired, your self-control and judgment are not fully functional, this might lead you to post something that you might regret later. Besides, if you keep staring into your phone right before going off to bed, this can keep you stay awake longer. The light coming from your computer or your phone makes your brain interpret it in the same way, as that of sunlight and this may make it difficult for you to fall asleep. So, in today’s world, logging into social media is probably the worst thing to do when you are feeling fatigued.

Trying To Assess How Tired You Really Are: As it has been already discussed, the brain lacks the sense of judgment when you are tired and this is the reason when you are tired you misinterpret how much you are actually capable of doing, and you tend to overwork. It has been found in laboratory studies, that people who were tired performed worse than the controlled group of well-rested individuals. Even when the evidence is in hand, tired people like to believe that they are doing just fine, which is actually not true. Most people like to believe that being a little tired helps them to work better and concentrate better as they are more motivated, but this is actually not true. When tired people lack the ability to understand how much they are capable of doing due to a clouded pattern of judgment. Hence, even if you feel fine when actually tired, you should keep in mind that you are actually not doing too well.

Drive: This seems to be one of the most obvious things that should absolutely not be done when tired. Driving when already tired is inevitably risky and may lead to any number hazards. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 10, 0000 car crashes take place over a year as result of fatigue. If you feel sleepy before driving, the best thing to do is to go for a short, but effective brisk walk for some time and this will help you to become alert and handle your environment better. If you are going for a long drive, and feel a little sleepy while already driving, pull off on the side and take a nap for 20 to 30 minutes and resume driving later on. Even after your nap is done, try to find a hotel where you can spend the day and take sufficient rest before you feel refreshed again. So driving when you are feeling fatigued is an absolute no-no.

Multitasking: Multitasking is difficult as it is, but when you are fatigued then this becomes even more difficult. Trying to do not one, but a number of tasks all at once when you are already tired is downright impossible. Instead, try to focus on one thing at a time. This might seem time taking, but it is still better than messing up all the work while trying to multitask, as it will take far more time to undo all the mistakes than to do the work one thing at a time. So, trying to multitask is one of worst things to do when you are fatigued

Conclusion

Being tired or fatigued is a natural response your body has. There is no reason to be ashamed of it, and at no time, should you overstress while you are already tired. Most importantly, follow a healthy sleep routine of at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day to prevent and overcome fatigue.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 25, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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