Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that produces a range of symptoms, some of which can affect daily life. For instance, fatigue might limit what a person feels able to do during the day. Some energy conservation techniques may help minimize exhaustion.
A person can try a range of strategies, from simplifying home tasks to taking steps to improve sleep hygiene.
This article discusses ways in which a person can conserve energy and explains how this can help those with MS and fatigue.
By exerting less energy when performing specific tasks, a person may experience more consistent periods of higher energy throughout the day.
For example, a
- wearing clothing and shoes that were comfortable and easy to put on and take off
- doing one thing at a time
- taking small breaks
- using a supportive chair with back and arm rests
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) states that MS is a lifelong condition involving symptoms that can range from mild to severe. It is
MS primarily affects the brain and spinal cord, so the symptoms are generally related to the eyes, arm and leg movement, and balance.
Individuals can experience intermittent or continuous symptoms, depending on the MS type. In some cases, the symptoms can worsen over time. Possible symptoms include:
- difficulty walking
- blurred vision
- lack of bladder control
- numbness or tingling
- muscle spasms or stiffness
- lack of coordination
Even if those living with MS have a regular sleep routine, experiencing the above symptoms alone may tire a person. The effects of this may include concentration difficulties and muddled thoughts.
According to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA), energy conservation techniques can help a person by:
- reducing body temperature, which, in turn, reduces fatigue
- simplifying home tasks, such as by using a dishwasher
- optimizing tasks, such as batch cooking or collecting all ingredients at one time
- improving sleep hygiene
- building endurance through exercise
The Multiple Sclerosis Society lists 10 techniques that can help people conserve energy. These include:
- Using a diary: People can use a diary to list their daily activities and rate their level of fatigue at different times during the day. This can help pinpoint some factors, such as types of food or activity, that increase or decrease overall tiredness.
- Prioritization: The deliberate prioritization of tasks and relationships can help a person better manage their time. For example, they may benefit from doing more intensive tasks during certain times of the day when they feel stronger, such as in the morning or after a mindfulness or relaxation session.
- Exercise: The MS Society notes that there is strong evidence to suggest that exercise can help improve fitness, strength, and mood. People will respond differently to different forms of exercise, so speaking with a physical therapist may help identify the best type for each person.
- Frequent rest: Power naps, sleeping before going out in the evening or after work, meditation, and yoga can help a person regain energy later in the day. It is important for people with MS to let others in the household know that they should not disturb them during this time.
Other techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), body positioning, and task splitting, may also help.
Some people with symptoms of fatigue may wish to consider talking with a doctor, who may prescribe methylphenidate, modafinil, or amantadine.
However, in a
The MSAA offers some practical tips for energy conservation. The organization advises people to try:
- organizing their clothing in boxes, trays, and easy-to-reach places
- sitting down to do some tasks, such as ironing or washing dishes
- preparing double food portions for easy reheating
- limiting the number of laundry loads per day
- using handlebars around the home to help with stability and leverage
- keeping supplies close to the bath or shower
- using easy clothing fasteners, such as velcro
- having good lighting and ventilation
- using air conditioning to cool the body slowly
- wearing light, cooling clothing, such as vests and wraps
- using online grocery shops that deliver to the person’s home
- working from home, if possible
- delegating intensive tasks to those who offer at-home support, such as friends or family
There is currently little evidence to support the efficacy of energy conservation techniques in people with MS.
MS is often a complex condition to manage, particularly if the symptoms worsen over time. In many cases, people with MS experience some level of daily fatigue.
Energy conservation techniques, such as yoga, task prioritization, and keeping the body cool, may help reduce fatigue and stress, allowing individuals with MS to retain independence and enjoy their daily routine. If necessary, a doctor can prescribe medications for alleviating fatigue, but there is currently no clear evidence to support their efficacy.
It is also important for people with MS to reach out to healthcare professionals, family members, and close friends for support.