Stroke Fatigue

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Stroke Fatigue

Fatigue is one of the invisible aspects of life after stroke. Post-stroke fatigue is not like typical tiredness. Unlike usual tiredness, this fatigue does not subside with rest and many people find that the tiredness does not directly relate to their activity levels on any given day.

Living with fatigue and its unpredictable nature can be very frustrating and for some it can be very disabling. The fact this is an invisible effect can make it hard for family members, friends and colleagues to understand.

It is not currently understood why stroke causes fatigue, although it is likely to be because of a mixture of both physical and emotional reasons. There is currently no specific treatments or medications for post-stroke fatigue, however self-management is key.

What is it like living with this fatigue?

Every experience is different , below is how stroke survivors living with post-stroke fatigue describe their experiences:

“It’s been Two and Half years since my stroke and extreme mental fatigue still affects me every day. It’s inconsistent and unpredictable.”

“I try to pace myself, the fatigue makes it difficult to plan – so I take it one day at a time. If I have plans I must completely rest in the day(s) leading up to them and a few days after any event or outing may be needed for recovery time.”

“It took me a long time to understand that rest means no noise, TV, reading, chatting, etc. Improvements do happen, but they are subtle and take a long time. Be patient with yourself and don’t feel guilty for resting – it’s a necessity!”

“I find the heavy fogginess distressing. Some days my brain feels OK-ish, some days like concrete, some days like wading through mud and on others like walking through porridge. I never know what the next day will be like. I do what I can most days, sometimes pushing myself too hard”

We also asked our members their best tips for managing post-stroke fatigue and we have categorised them into 5 Key Tips.

1. Learn Your Triggers

Every person will have different triggers that can make their own fatigue worse, from the obvious; like working alot to the less obvious such as noise levels or emotional distress. Our members shared their tips for learning their triggers:

“Write down what makes you tired – it’s sometimes surprising.”

“I’ve learned that my optimal number of sleep hours per night is 10. Often, I need to make up hours on the weekends, but after 4 years trying to function on less than 8 hours, it’s been life-changing”