Alaska Sleep Education Center

Exhaustion Affects Every Part of Life

Posted by Sally Norton on Mar 11, 2020 11:16:00 AM

Mental exhaustion vs. physical exhaustion - which is worse?

A woman looking exhausted while looking at something in the distance.

Being exhausted is almost ever perceived as being a good thing. After all, it implies a lack of energy, lack of motivation and the general inability to function. But in order to properly understand exhaustion, we first need to separate it into two groups: mental exhaustion and physical exhaustion. This is because there are some major differences between the two, and lumping them together would be a costly oversight. So, how do these two types of exhaustion affect us and is there a way in which we can compare them? Well, that is what we're going to find out.

How physical exhaustion affects us

The first type of exhausting we are going to go over is physical exhaustion. Now, we need to differentiate between being tired and being physically exhausted. The first one can occur quite often. You can simply have a nice workout at a gym or not get enough sleep and you will become tired. But, to be truly physically exhausted, you need to go beyond simple tiredness.

So, what is the main difference between the two? Well, the biggest trait of being physically exhausted is that you don't have proper control over your body. Once you reach that stadium of fatigue, you will know that you are no longer simply tired.

Risk of injury

Whenever you are doing something with your body, there is always a risk of injury. A woman looking exhausted while looking at something in the distance.Even if you are swimming, which is arguably the safest way of working out, you can still pull a muscle by making a wrong move. Now, as we mentioned before, the more tired you are, the less control you have over your body. And, the less control you have, the bigger the odds are that you will hurt yourself. After all, there is a good reason why most sports injuries happen at the end of the game.

It is quite easy to become careless once you become tired enough.


Effects of doing too much exercise

People often attribute physical exhaustion to exercising. After all, in the modern world, exercising is the most common way in which we engage our muscles. So, what happens when we exhaust our bodies during exercise? Well, even when it comes to something as straightforward as working out in a gym, there are different things that can occur if we become truly exhausted.

  • Muscle fatigue - After an intense workout, your muscles can get quite fatigued. This can lead you not to be able to use them for a short amount of time.
  • Muscle tear - The whole point of working out is to hurt your muscles. That encourages them to heal and develop. But, if you go too far, you can injure your muscles which can show as bruises. In some cases, you can even tear your muscles and cause quite a bit of harm.
  • Endorphin kick - One good side of physical exhaustion is that you can feel good after it. If you deal with a large project like moving all the way from another state, you can experience quite a sense of joy once you are done. This is especially true if you haven't had too much stress and you've had the right people helping you out.

Physical exhaustion can leave a person feeling surprisingly happy.

People relaxing with a cup of coffee.

How mental exhaustion affects us

Unfortunately, mental exhaustion is a bit harder to define. This is because it can come in many different shapes and forms. Alongside that, different people can experience it in different ways. So, defining it is often treacherous. But, for the sake of this article, we are going to say that being mentally exhausted is not being able to withstand the mental strain under which you currently are.

Sleep deprivation

One of the most common causes of mental exhaustion is sleep deprivation. This happens when a person doesn't get the necessary amount of sleep for a prolonged period of time. Due to this, their nervous and hormonal systems malfunction which can lead to quite a few detriments to their overall well-being. So, do yourself a favor and ignore any modern gurus that say that 4-5 hours of sleep is enough. 7-8 hours is a must for a well-functioning adult.

Emotional exhaustion

When we talk about mental exhaustion, we don't often consider emotional exhaustion. But, if any of you have had a particularly difficult relationship with a loved one, you probably know what we are talking about. Almost all of us will at some point in our lives be emotionally exhausted. Be it due to a bad relationship, a difficult parent or a troubled child, emotional exhaustion is hard to get away from. Luckily, time can heal most wounds that cause emotional exhaustion, especially if we surround ourselves with good people. But, some cases of mental exhaustion can leave permanent scars, which is why mental health is so important.

Some forms of mental exhaustion can be quite dangerous to our mental health.

A grown man that is experiencing mental exhaustion.Mental stress

Another common trait of modern living is stress. Be it due to work, school or the overall state of the world, modern people are quite stressed. Now, if you have a healthy vent for it, you can avoid being overwhelmed. But, if put in difficult circumstances, people can get mentally exhausted due to stress. This can often lead to health issues and physical deterioration. As well as an overall inability to function properly.

Comparing the two

So, how do these two compare? Well, it's actually difficult to say. The main reason for it being so is that they often come together or overlap. But, if we have to make a choice, we would say that mental exhaustion is worse than physical. There are simply too many different ways in which mental exhaustion can hurt you, some of which are quite permanent. And, unfortunately, it can be much more difficult to shield oneself from a mental strain than from a physical one.

Recovering from physical exhaustion often means getting enough sleep and eating properly. Recovering from mental exhaustion, on the other hand, can be much more difficult. So, at the end of the day, if you have to choose, go with tiring out your body instead of tiring out your mind.

Alaska Sleep Clinic is the most comprehensive sleep lab in Alaska, with the only sleep doctor in the state that focusing on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for sleep apnea.  We can help you.  Don't hesitate!  Call Alaska Sleep Clinic today.



Topics: insomnia, stress

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