Mental Fatigue: A Public Health Concern?

Jessica W. Chow*

Mental Fatigue: A Public Health Concern?

Obtaining information is just a matter of a few taps away on one’s phone. The ease in accessing information has its benefits and shortfalls. While the ease in acquiring information is an obvious advantage, the downside though, is the fatigue associated with the constant processing of information on a daily basis. Adding on the multitude of responsibilities that everyone has while including the balancing of personal and professional obligations, the symptoms of mental fatigue is perhaps more prevalent than those associated with physical fatigue where symptoms are visible to identify and perceive.

Mental fatigue is characterized with subjective feelings of “tiredness” and “lack of energy”. This psychobiological state has been extensively researched on professions where cognitive demand is very high, such as drivers and air pilots and its contribution to the development of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. It has been reported that in the United States, approximately 29% of adults reported sleeping less than 7 hours per night4 and an estimated 70 million suffer from a sleep disorder or chronic sleep deprivation with similar subjective consequential symptoms.

The impact of mental fatigue on workplace productivity is just one spectrum of recent research.  Dating back to as early as 1891, Angelo Mosso published observations of reduced muscular endurance in two physiology professors following long lectures and examinations. Presently, there is surmounting body of evidence reflecting changes in neural function related to reaction time, concentration, endurance performance, and in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. This raises the need for further research to elucidate the role of mental fatigue induced by excessive information processing enabled by the advancement of technology and its role on society’s overall well being.

Sport Exerc Med Open J
. 2018; 4(1): 1-2. doi: 10.17140/SEMOJ-4-153