Why does someone with chronic disease feel so tired?
By GAtherton

Ashley explains how fatigue affects your psychological wellbeing, and how to manage thoughts and feelings.

Most people with a chronic illness will be all too familiar with how tired it makes them feel. Fatigue is a prominent and debilitating symptom of aspergillosis and recent research is starting to show why this is.

We are often asked why someone with aspergillosis feels so tired and up till now our usual answer would be that when your immune system is working hard it tires you out much like if you had run a km or two that day – the effort needed is similar and you are exhausted. Recent research gives us a slightly different picture. As your body responds to an infection one of the things that your immune system can do is to directly put you to sleep to help your recovery!


Molecules called cytokines are produced in response to inflammation (eg infection) and one of their functions is to stimulate drowsiness and sleep. Furthermore once asleep your immune system really gets to work on the infection – focusing your energy on fighting the infection, and promoting fever.

Needless to say, it follows that if you don’t sleep well this system does not work as well as it could, and long-term sleep deprivation can promote emotional disturbances such as depression and even reduce the effectiveness of vaccines!
Note too that our immune system stands between us and several types of cancer, so getting good sleep is vital for our health in more ways than you may think.
This web link is quite old now but explains the basics simply https://www.nature.com/articles/nri1369

So – when tired and sleepy it is possible that your immune system is telling you to take a nap, or make sure you sleep well that night!

We are aware that some medications make good sleep difficult/impossible at times and anxiety plays its part too. If you mention this to your GP you may get a referral to one of the many NHS Sleep clinics in the UK who can help problems with getting asleep/staying asleep https://www.nhs.uk/…/Sleep-Medicine/LocationSearch/1888

Hints and tips for getting a good sleep

Hints and tips on how to manage the psychological impact of fatigue