Tips for better rest if you have fatigue

Regular, good quality sleep is important when you are feeling tired.

Keeping to your normal sleeping pattern, even if you want to sleep all the time, can help. There are different things you can do to improve your sleep and rest. You might want to try:

  • keeping a bedtime routine
  • reducing light and noise in your bedroom
  • keeping a worry diary to record any thoughts that stop you sleeping
  • getting some exercise – this may help you to sleep better in the long term.

If you struggle to get to sleep, there are things you can do to help. It’s a good idea to have a small snack or a warm drink before bed. But try not to drink stimulating drinks, such as coffee, close to bedtime as this can keep you awake. You might also want to try mental exercises if you can’t get to sleep. For example, try to remember the lines of a song, make alphabetical lists or write a letter in your mind.

Your doctor or nurse can give you more advice on how to manage your fatigue.

Sleep when coping with fatigue

It’s very important to try to keep to a normal sleep routine, even though your fatigue may make you feel like sleeping all the time.

There are many ways to overcome fatigue, which your nurse or doctor can discuss with you. In the meantime, the tips below might help you to make the most of your rest periods.

10 tips for better rest

Good-quality sleep is very important and may help to relieve fatigue, as well as reduce your need to sleep during the day.

  1. Sleep for just long enough to feel refreshed the following day, but don’t sleep for longer than you need. Spending too much time in bed is likely to affect the quality of your sleep.

  2. Exercise regularly if you can, as this may help you sleep better in the long term.

  3. Wake up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time so you get into a good sleep routine.

  4. Keep your bedroom for sleeping. If you wake during the night, go to another room in the house. If you need to sleep during the day, go to your bed to sleep.

  5. Reduce light and noise at night-time as this will disturb your sleep. Even occasional loud noises (such as an aircraft flying overhead) affect sleep. If there’s too much light, try using a heavier pair of curtains or an eye-mask. If your bedroom is noisy, you could try using ear plugs.

  6. Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortably warm. If your room is very warm or very cold, your sleep may be affected.

  7. Have a bedtime snack but avoid stimulants and limit your alcohol intake at night-time. Hunger may disturb sleep. Have a light bedtime snack, warm milk or a hot drink before going to bed if you find it helps you sleep, but avoid food and drinks that contain stimulants such as caffeine for a few hours before bedtime. While alcohol can help people to fall asleep more quickly, the sleep tends to be disturbed. It may also give you a dry mouth and an unpleasant taste that can wake you up, so it’s best to limit your intake of alcohol near bedtime.

  8. Be aware of how naps affect you. Some people find that daytime naps help them sleep better at night, while others sleep less well after them. Find out what suits you best.

  9. Get out of bed if you can’t sleep. Rather than lying in bed tossing and turning, get up and watch television or read a book. You could try listening to audiobooks, which are available from most bookshops and libraries, or can be downloaded from the internet. Wait until you feel tired again and then go back to bed.

  10. Keep a worry book. If you wake at night and are worrying about things, write them down. You can then work through your list during the day and get support and advice from relatives, friends or from your doctor or nurse.

Mental exercises to help you sleep

Mental exercises can also help you to sleep. Here are a few mental exercises that you may like to try. They usually take about 10 minutes to do:

  • Try to remember the lines of a song or poem.
  • Make alphabetical lists of girls’ or boys’ names, countries, trees or flowers.
  • Relive in detail a favourite experience.
  • Write a letter in your mind.
  • Use a relaxation exercise.

You can get more information on sleeping well from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which produces a range of useful information leaflets.

Back to Tiredness (fatigue)

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is feeling very tired most, or all, of the time. It can sometimes be caused by cancer or cancer treatment.

What causes fatigue?

There are many causes of fatigue. Knowing about them may help you to cope with your fatigue a bit better.