Fatigue (tiredness)

Fatigue is very common after mini stroke (TIA) and minor stroke. Fatigue can affect daily activities and emotions, but it is “hidden” so is often overlooked.

Fatigue...that's the other biggest impact because I literally, I can't do too much…

TIA patient

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is different to normal tiredness. There are two types:

  1. Physical: feeling exhausted doing physical activities.
  2. Mental: feeling exhausted using your brain, such as reading or concentrating.

Fatigue is very common after mini stroke (TIA) and minor stroke.

  • People experience different levels of fatigue, from mild to severe.
  • For some people fatigue will get better in a short amount of time and for others it will last a lot longer.
  • Many people experience fatigue immediately after their mini stroke (TIA) or minor stroke, but some people experience it later on.

Fatigue can affect your daily activities and emotions. Many people describe fatigue as the most difficult and upsetting problem after mini stroke (TIA) or minor stroke.

Fatigue is “hidden” so it can be difficult for other people to understand, which is very frustrating. Sharing information on fatigue after mini stroke (TIA) or minor stroke can help family and friends understand and support you.

Speak to your GP if you are struggling with fatigue. Fatigue could be caused by underlying health condition or medication side effects.

How can I manage my fatigue?

There are self-management strategies, resources and organisations to help make things a little easier for you, some of them can be found below:

Self-management strategies are summarised in this infographic.


1. Understand your triggers

  • Certain activities may trigger your fatigue; for example, being in a busy place or having a conversation with multiple people.
  • Be aware of what activities are more tiring. This can help you plan your day and set realistic targets.
  • Workplace environments can be huge triggers. If possible, you may want to adapt the way you work, like work in a quiet area. Visit the return to work section for more tips.
woman holding her head in her hands

2. Pacing

  • Spread out tasks or activities through the day, week or month.
  • Have regular breaks – it’s better to have short breaks often rather than one long one.
  • Prioritise where to use your energy – focus on what is essential and what you enjoy.
  • Plan your time and be organised – there may be times of the day when you have more energy.
  • Making lists can help with pacing and memory.

Download this leaflet with more information about pacing.

woman sat behind a desk

3. Regular sleep routine

  • Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Power naps in the day can help (less than 30 mins), but make sure these are before 4pm.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.
  • Try to have time to wind down and relax before bed.
  • Stop using screens (like smart phones) one hour before bed.

Download this self-help guide if you have sleep problems.

man with cup in his hand sitting on sofa

4. Be active

  • It can be difficult to motivate yourself to be active when you have no energy, but physical activity can be energising and improve mood.
  • Even a 15-minute walk can give you an energy boost.
  • Walking can also be invaluable for headspace and clearing your head.

Visit the Be Active page for tips on how to start being active.

man and woman with smiley face above them

5. Diet and hydration

Some food can help maintain energy over longer periods of time and other foods make you feel more lethargic:

  • Recommended - Slow-releasing carbohydrates (like whole grain pasta/ rice) maintain energy.
  • Not recommended - Fast-releasing carbohydrates (like sugary foods) cause a short-term surge in energy then fast drop.
  • The NHS have developed an ‘Energy diet’.  Click here to read more about the Energy diet.
  • Drinking water helps keep the brain hydrated.
  • Meal planning and preparing food in advance can help you keep a healthy diet.

For more information about healthy diet visit our Healthy Eating page.

hand holding smartphone with picture of food

6. Talking therapy

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy which can help you manage fatigue by changing the way you think and behave.
  • Speak to your GP about options for CBT.
  • Talk to other people about how they are feeling with fatigue and tips to manage fatigue. See the "Talk about it" section below.
man and woman with heart over them

Helpful Resources

Talking about it

Stroke charities

Stroke Association:

Call: 0303 3033 100

Email: helpline@stroke.org.uk

My Stroke Guide: https://mystrokeguide.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheStrokeAssociation

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thestrokeassoc

Different strokes:

Call: 0345 130 7172 or 01908 317 618

Email: info@differentstrokes.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/differentstrokescharity/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/diffstrokes

Social media and forums for mini stroke (TIA) and minor stroke: