Optimum napping time is 30 or 90 minutes

Post stroke fatigue affects up to 80 per cent of all stroke survivors

09 May 2018

By June Shannon

Rest is important in the management of post stroke fatigue and the optimum nap time is either half an hour or 90 minutes.

These were some of the messages on managing post stroke fatigue according to Michelle Murphy with the Rehab Neurological Services, who spoke at a recent Irish Heart Foundation Stroke Survivors’ Day in Croke Park.

Post stroke fatigue is extremely common affecting up to 80 per cent of all stroke survivors and it can affect your physical and mental health as well as causing cognitive difficulties.

Ms Murphy described post stroke fatigue as a “hidden disability” and one that was difficult to understand if you have not had a stroke.

“When people have a stroke or any other type of brain injury you are running on 30 per cent less battery than someone who hasn’t had a stroke"

Michelle Murphy, Rehab Neurological Services

“When people have a stroke or any other type of brain injury you are running on 30 per cent less battery than someone who hasn’t had a stroke but at the same time you are trying to do the exact same things…so you are going to be fatigued if you are working on less of a battery,” she explained.

The symptoms of stroke fatigue include loss of appetite, slower movement and speech, irritability, poor concentration levels and a general feeling of being isolated and overwhelmed.

Ms Murphy explained that care givers can also get fatigued. Caring for someone who has had a stroke can take a toll on care givers physical and emotional health.

“It is almost like the care givers are going on their own journey in parallel with the stroke survivors,” she said.

“It is almost like the care givers are going on their own journey in parallel with the stroke survivors"

Michelle Murphy, Rehab Neurological Services

There are a number of tools that can help with fatigue management and these include: identifying triggers, keeping a fatigue diary, developing a regular sleep routine and taking sufficient rest.

Ms Murphy explained that as every cycle of sleep lasts approximately 90 minutes, the trick was to nap for either 30 or 90 minutes.

If you have a 30-minute nap you feel quite restored afterwards and after 90 minutes you will feel much more refreshed, so set the alarm. If you go for anything around 60 minutes you are going to feel worse, she advised

When incorporating naps into your routine daily Ms Murphy suggested looking at how much time you can afford from your schedule and allocate naps accordingly.

Other tips to manage post stroke fatigue included eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise and trying to minimise stress.

Ms Murphy also said it was important to get medication reviewed by a GP if the fatigue was not improving.

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