Tiredness Vs Fatigue

Tiredness Vs Fatigue

Pretty much as soon as that last pesky stitch came out, I finally felt better. Better than I had in a year. The low iron and the tonsillitis (and tonsillectomy) were nearly back to back, leaving me vaguely sick but outwardly functional for most of a year. It’s only since “coming out of it” that I’ve been able to define the types of tiredness that I’ve felt.


Tiredness Vs Fatigue


Tiredness Vs Fatigue



We all get tired. Parents. Non-parents. Carers. Anyone! There is no need to compete about this, nor is there anything “wrong” with being just tired. I’m going to add in here #NotADoctor but to me, if we weren’t tired, we wouldn’t need sleep daily. Tired is not bad, it’s just one state of being that we have. However, in my experience, tired is not the same as fatigued. 



Based on what I’ve felt, there are different types of fatigue. The fatigue I felt when I had low iron was very different to the viral fatigue I felt when my tonsillitis turned chronic. The big difference between “normal” tiredness and fatigue is that when you are tired you don’t want to do everyday things like put a load of washing on, but you know you can. When you are fatigued, you genuinely don’t know if you can carry a basket to the laundry. You don’t know if putting the laundry on means you won’t have the energy to spend on brushing your teeth.


Which Am I?

Again, because I don’t think you can say this too many times on the internet, #NotADoctor. So how do you know if you are tired or fatigued? Well, you as a person probably don’t clinically know. But I do think being aware of what you feel is a good indicator. I don’t know if you can tell the difference between tired and fatigued if you haven’t distinctly felt them. But what I do know is that being tired all the time should not be a normal. Talk to your doctor if you do feel tired all the time. Yes, you can make positive changes at home – many people have wind-down routines before sleep, others have smells, heats or weights that makes them comfortable to sleep – these are all good things if they make you feel good, but to me they are complimentary. So they need something to compliment. Which is making sure that your body is ok, by asking a medical professional to give you a check up. 


As I get better, I can see why* people who’ve never had any kind of ongoing health issue beyond a flu think that people with chronic health issues are “lazy” – it is because of this difference between tired and fatigued that means when you’re tired, you can push through, and when you’re fatigued, you can’t.


*Before anyone gets mad, I said I can see why; I don’t agree with it! I think it shows a distinct lack of empathy and respect. You don’t have to understand someone’s condition to trust them, believe them, and support them. Your experience of life is not their experience of life.


Have you ever found a difference in the types of tired that you feel? Have you found a definition between tired and fatigued that helped you understand it?


12 Replies to “Tiredness Vs Fatigue”

  1. I have never suffered from fatigue so I don’t know how that feels. I suppose I would compare it to depression. Those who have never suffered from depression cannot understand how someone can wake up every day and feel that horrible flat feeling. Great post lovely.

    1. I think it probably is a similar feeling for any kind of non acute illness.

  2. Right now I feel both fatigued and tired. I’m starting some supplements that will hopefully help plus a visit to the doctor.

    1. Fingers crossed that they work for you Bec, it’s awful to feel this way and still have to go about everyday life.

  3. Crikey, do I ever know the difference – as you know, I too have had battles with this. Low iron, depression, sleep apnea … finally starting to feel I can get through a day without NEEDING to lie down after lunch for a nap. Which means I actually feel TIRED at night when I go to bed. So cool!

    1. I’m glad you’re starting to feel better! Has the CPAP machine helped a lot in this area?

  4. Fatigue is, in my experience, more all-encompassing than simple tiredness. But both are horrible!

    1. Yes, that’s a good word for fatigue, all-encompassing.

  5. Yes I agree they are two different things and having had the flu once I will never forget its effects on me. I also get a kind of low grade of fatigue related to low mood and motivation. Maybe each of us knows our own level. I know sometimes when I start thinking a certain way it actually means I have done too much in that day and need a rest. This has been evident in my recovery phase from cancer surgery. I still think I can do what I used to some months back and “forget” what I have been through. Nevertheless I am much better at reading my own signals. Good post Ness!

    1. I remember the most recent time I got the flu, a few years ago. I was driving to work and I had to stop about 3km from home because my arms were too tired to hold the steering wheel. I sat at the beach for probably a good hour before I could make it the 3km home again.
      Reading our own signals is so important, I know when I’m tired and need to sleep now haha. Frustration is a signal I’d like to work on, I find it tied into feeling powerless and that’s hard for me to deal with.

  6. As a mum to 6 month old twins I’m experiencing tiredness like I’ve never known it. I occasionally sob quietly in the night, especially when the longest stretch of sleep I get is 1.5 hours. But I don’t think it’s fatigue. I manage to plod along. #teamIBOT

    1. I can’t imagine 6 month olds, or twins, or both!

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