Struggling to wake yourself up and constantly exhausted? You might be suffering from 'fall fatigue' | The Sun

THE mornings are slowly getting darker and the evenings are getting progressively gloomier; autumn is officially here.

While the clocks haven't yet changed, you might already be spiralling into a kind of dreary daze.

Are you finding it almost impossible to get out of bed when your alarm goes off in the morning?

Or do you feel constantly exhausted, knocking back coffee after coffee just to get through the afternoon?

Well, if the answer's yes, you could well be suffering from 'fall fatigue'.

The term refers to a type of utter exhaustion that comes on as summer ends.



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It's not strictly a medical condition, but very closely resembles seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or "winter depression", which is most severe during the colder months.

Sammy Margo, sleep expert at Dreams, said: "SAD is well-documented and characterised by feelings of depression and lethargy during winter when there isn't much daylight.

"However, there is another, less explored seasonal condition that affects many individuals as autumn descends.

"Often misunderstood and underestimated, fall fatigue encompasses a sense of tiredness, difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, and daytime sleepiness, especially in the afternoons.

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"It is a general sense of weariness and low energy levels."

The most common overlapping symptoms include:

  • A lack of energy
  • Sleepiness
  • Brain fog
  • Irritability
  • Low mood
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Social withdrawal

But there are several differences, according to Sammy.

  1. Timing – "Fall fatigue typically happens earlier than SAD, often beginning in late summer or early autumn when daylight hours start to decrease but before the deep darkness of winter sets in."
  2. Symptoms – "The main symptoms of fall fatigue include excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty waking up in the morning, increased cravings for carbohydrates and a lack of motivation or enthusiasm, but SAD sufferers most commonly experience low mood."
  3. Triggers – "Several factors contribute to fall fatigue, including changes in natural light exposure, alterations in sleep patterns, and shifts in daily routines as summer transitions into autumn, whereas SAD is typically just light-related."

It's not known exactly what causes fall fatigue or SAD, but both are often linked to a lack of sunlight during autumn and winter.

According to the NHS, the main theory is that this might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may impact:

  • The production of melatonin (a hormone that makes you feel sleepy)
  • The production of serotonin (a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep)
  • The body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm (the body's natural way of deciding when to wake up and be sleepy)

Anyone can suffer from either, but early research suggests women and those aged 18 to 30 are more likely to be at risk.

Thankfully, there are a range of treatments and coping mechanisms – from simple lifestyle adjustments to therapy.

Sammy recommends:

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  • Light therapy exposure to bright light, especially in the morning – "This can help regulate circadian rhythms and improve energy levels."
  • Keeping a consistent sleep schedule – "Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help normalise sleep patterns and combat fatigue."
  • Staying active – "Engaging in regular physical activity, even indoors, can boost mood and energy levels."
  • Maintaining a balanced diet – "Be mindful of nutrition and try to resist excessive consumption of high-carb comfort foods."
  • Staying connected – "Being social with friends and loved ones can provide emotional support and boost your mood."

The NHS also suggests exploring talking therapy, getting outside every day, managing stress levels, and antidepressants.

How much sleep do you need?

EVERYONE needs a different amount of sleep.

But generally, healthy adults need between seven and nine hours, children need nine to 13, and toddlers and babies need 12 to 17.

If you're constantly tired, you're probably not getting enough sleep.

Insomnia means you regularly have problems sleeping. This could be:

  • Finding it hard to fall asleep
  • Waking up several times throughout the night
  • Lying awake at night
  • Waking up early and being unable to go back to sleep
  • Still feeling tired after waking up
  • Finding it hard to nap during the day even though you're tired
  • Feeling tired and irritable during the day
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate during the day because you're tired

If you think you might have a sleep problem, you can take a simple NHS sleep test.

Insomnia usually gets people with a change in sleeping habits, such as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, relaxing at least one hour before bed, ensuring your bedroom is dark and quiet, and exercising regularly during the day.

Alcohol and cigarettes should also be avoided before bedtime, as should large meals, exercise, watching TV and napping.

Source: NHS

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