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News from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation

 

As COVID-19 rears its ugly head again, we are seeing more people experiencing physical and mental fatigue. The most impacted group is the battered healthcare industry. Our healthcare warriors — the local physicians, nurses, and staff working in health facilities — have once again had to plunge themselves into the line of fire to keep the population safe and alive.

With no sight of the pandemic ebbing soon, and with patient numbers in Nevada County rising, fatigue is a real concern. The very people whose life mission is caring for others are physically and emotionally drained.

Almost every industry is experiencing an employee shortage. Employees are stretched thin, are working longer hours, and more shifts. For some, this leaves less time to sleep or recharge.



In the best of circumstances, adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night. We also need to give ourselves opportunities for rest while awake. Extended work hours combined with stressful or physical activity can lead to poor sleep and extreme fatigue. Fatigue can have other effects such as risk of injury, increased chance of infection, illness, and mental health disorders.

Chronic fatigue can be an indicator of illness so it is important to talk to your physician if you feel unusually tired. For those that are working harder than usual, the answers can feel counter intuitive. For example, the last thing you may feel like doing when you are tired is exercising, but studies show physical activity boosts energy levels.




Sometimes the answers are the simplest. Dehydration zaps energy and impairs physical performance so drinking plenty of water improves alertness and concentration. If you fall short on nighttime shut-eye, take a brief nap during the day. Napping restores wakefulness and promotes performance. A 10-minute nap is usually enough to bolster energy.

Did you know that omega-3 oils which are good for the heart also enhance energy? According to a 2009 Italian study, individuals that took a fish oil capsule for 21 days demonstrated faster mental reaction times and reported feeling more vigorous.

People that get a burst of energy in the morning are often referred to as morning larks and those that feel their best at the end of the day are known as night owls. The differences in these energy patterns are determined by brain structure and genetics. Those that are aware of their circadian rhythms (the 24-hour cycles that are part of your body’s internal clock) are thoughtful about scheduling demanding activities when their energy is at its peak.

Losing weight can provide a powerful energy boost. Some people benefit by eating smaller, more frequent meals during this day as it may help steady blood sugar levels. It is best to favor whole grains and other complex carbohydrates as it takes longer than refined carbohydrates to digest, preventing fluctuations of blood sugar.

If fatigue doesn’t resolve with proper rest or nutrition, see your doctor to determine if there is an underlying medical condition that should be treated.


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