Chronic fatigue, apathy, seasonal “depression” and much more: a trivial reason

    Articles on self-organization are often published on the habr - we all want to procrastinate less and do more useful things. But what if doing useful interferes with the wildest fatigue? No organization of tasks will remove fatigue.

    It would seem that the work of IT-employees is simple - we do not unload the cars, we do not dig the earth and physically should not get tired. However, the wildest fatigue of people engaged in intellectual work is heard more often than we would like. After I arrived in Moscow 3 years ago, for some reason I started wilderly getting tired on a completely level ground, and neither I nor the doctors could find a reason. After 2 years of searching, a trivial and easily fixable reason was found, and in my opinion, almost all people involved in intellectual work are at risk. The situation is exacerbated by two folk customs.

    So, if you have one of the following symptoms (arranged in order to exacerbate the situation) - I ask for cat. As you noticed in the comments, this list has a suggestion for self-hypnosis, so do not give in :-)

    1) In summer everything is ok, and in winter it is apathy, I don’t want to do anything. They like to call this seasonal "depression."
    2) In the morning everything is OK, and in the evening at work - the brains “don’t cook”, I don’t feel like doing anything — just flipping through a hub and reddit. Come home - and with the wildest tiredness you fall into a chair. Only enough power to surf the Internet until night. This item also applies to employers , there is a chance that people in the evening stop working not because of their laziness.
    3) Even if you wake up without an alarm, you do not get enough sleep.
    4) Coffee and other stimulants - do not give vigor, only make you meaner.
    5) Even if you sleep “how much will fit” - dreams are short and not memorable, or they do not exist at all.
    6) You notice that even 1 thing is sometimes difficult for you to keep in your head. We can forget what you just wanted to do.
    7) You wake up already with the wildest fatigue
    8) It seems to you that the room is dark and everything is somewhat not sharp.

    _ Possible_ reason for all this - carbon dioxide poisoning (not carbon monoxide!)

    I deliberately use the word “poisoning,” contrary to the established notion that carbon dioxide is considered harmless and harmless. Carbon dioxide - released during the metabolism, partially bound to hemoglobin, partially dissolved in the blood - and removed with breathing. Moreover, the process of “inhalation” is triggered precisely by an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood. But the more carbon dioxide in the air, the more it will remain in the blood => the higher the average acidity of the blood (respiratory acidosis) And with a change in blood acidity - absolutely all processes in the body go awry. One of the consequences - pronounced symptoms of oxygen starvation appear despite the fact that the concentration of oxygen in the air varies slightly, although why it turns out this way, it was not possible to reliably find out. In the symptom plate - the lower - the more pronounced are the symptoms of oxygen starvation.

    It is clear that everyone knows that a person needs fresh air, and you need to regularly ventilate the apartment. But how often? I still have not seen clear and justified figures. Now they will appear.

    Permissible levels and process dynamics

    In the late 80s, there was an average of 350ppm of carbon dioxide in the air (ppm = part per million, 0.03%), now it is already an average of 400ppm. A person feels absolutely perfect at CO 2 levels of 700ppm and below. At the level of 1000ppm - if you go into the room with a fresh mind - there will already be a feeling of stale air, it becomes a little stuffy. When it grows up to 2500ppm it becomes more and more stuffy (despite the fact that the oxygen level changes slightly, from 20% it drops to about 19.75%), and then it grows with the occurrence of the symptoms of oxygen starvation mentioned above. Those. when you think that you are stuffy and lacking oxygen - in fact there is simply too much carbon dioxide.

    A person produces approximately 35.2 grams of CO 2 indoorsper hour, and accordingly, if a room is 20 m2 2.5 meters high, then without good ventilation every hour the concentration of carbon dioxide will increase by 584ppm every hour . But since changes occur very slowly - a person gets used to them, and can easily not notice them - just like they do not notice carbon monoxide poisoning (although this is faster).

    About folk habits

    In the Soviet Union it was fashionable to cover windows with paper for the winter - “so as not to blow”. However, if it does not blow, then where will the carbon dioxide produced go? It will accumulate, which leads to the fact that in winter people suffer from carbon dioxide. This is especially true for children - "so as not to catch a cold." Carbon dioxide is just as dangerous for children as it is for adults and inevitably complicates learning. It is better to dress warmer at home.

    The second habit is “turn on the air conditioner - close the windows”. Cold air! = Fresh. Air cooled to a hot day to 18C does not solve the problem of carbon dioxide, ventilation at the same speed is needed anyway - and the whole new air stream will have to be cooled.

    Quantification of Carbon Dioxide

    Until recently, this was a very expensive pleasure, but now relatively cheap CO 2 K-30 level sensors based on dispersionless infrared spectroscopy have appeared , and complete devices based on them, for example MIC 98128 and others (searched according to the CO 2 monitor, the price is about 150 $): Also about this sensor is in more detail on a habr .

    Measurements showed that in a room of 20m 2 with one person at rest - the level from 400 to 1500ppm rises in 3 hours, and with two people - respectively in 1.5 hours. This means that neither 1 nor 2 airing a day does not solve the problem of carbon dioxide.

    I also measured the level in the city and in the metro: in general, everything turned out to be better than I thought, I did not see it on the street next to the road above 500ppm, in the subways in the transitions and in the “Soviet” metro cars - not higher than 1000ppm, including and in large transitions at rush hour, i.e. ventilation is completely adequate. But in new cars with air conditioning on the ring line - because of the principle “the air conditioner works - close the window” - 2500ppm and above, because the air there is cold, but “heavy” and stuffy. Mosekomonitoring should also control the

    level of CO 2 in the city , but the only station with a CO 2 sensor does not work for them.

    What to do

    Someone might have thought of an oxygen concentrator, which I nevertheless bought (mainly, of course, for the sake of experimentation). As it turned out, the oxygen concentrator separates not only nitrogen and argon, but also carbon dioxide - according to the results of measurements at the outlet, together with oxygen, only 45ppm CO 2 . But in any case, a person without fatal diseases does not need a greater concentration of oxygen in the air, so you should not buy a concentrator.

    Maybe you need to spend more time outdoors? Unfortunately, this also cannot radically solve the problem. If you spend 70% of the time in a room with a high level of carbon dioxide, and 30% in the fresh air, then you will get 70% of the harmful effects (dissolved carbon dioxide in the blood very quickly follows the level of carbon dioxide in the air, walk up "for the future" will not work). + -5% do not solve anything here.

    And you need it - banal constant ventilation. In summer, a permanently open window or balcony will ride, in winter - either continue to keep the window open and dress warmer, or buy a ventilation system that will heat the air. It may also be the correct exhaust ventilation system.. You can save electricity by using ventilation with heat recovery - but such systems are still relatively rare and expensive for "non-industrial" applications.

    This also applies to offices: if this is a room converted into an office without proper ventilation, then problems are guaranteed. This is especially true for small meeting rooms, which are filled with 20 people. If 20 people sit in a meeting room on 20 squares - then in an hour the concentration of carbon dioxide will increase to 10'000 ppm - and this is the level at which the brain stops working.

    You can’t count on the sanitary and epidemiological station - they not only do not measure carbon dioxide during the evening peak (it just before everyone starts to go home), they also have the maximum permissible concentration of carbon dioxide in Russia - ~ 13 790 ppm, which fatally a lot.

    How the problem was discovered

    As it turned out, it was useless to go to the doctors with these symptoms, no one “guessed”. With my friend, a doctor, we tortured me with analyzes for a long time, and cut off all possible causes. The insidious thing was that while you go to the tests - you breathe in fresh air, and the primary signs are erased, there are only consequences. One of the tests, as one of the reasons (along with cancer), indicated acidosis. Well, then everything is simple - we find respiratory acidosis, we find a carbon dioxide forum on ixbt , we order a carbon dioxide monitor (at the beginning I almost went in the wrong direction and didn’t buy an oxygen monitor - it certainly wouldn’t show anything special). After switching to permanent ventilation, all the first 8 stages of symptoms disappeared within a week.

    Open questions for the future:

    1) Is it possible to sow plants (many tiers / hydroponics) on a reasonable area that would eat 20-35 grams of CO 2 per hour, and what kind of lighting power do they need for this? In the future, it would be possible to realize a conditionally closed ecosystem in an apartment, just in case. Question on the topic . It must be remembered that not only carbon dioxide is released with breathing.
    2) Are there simple designs of CO 2 scrubbers (i.e. apparatus that clean the air of carbon dioxide)? I tried to make a prototype based on a solution of sodium and calcium hydroxides - I just melted the basin, there was no noticeable decrease in the level of CO 2 above the surface. Apparently, everything is not so simple.


    1) Seasonal “depression” - it is not only due to a lack of light (I’m doing fine with this ), but also because people sit at home and do not adequately ventilate the room (because it’s cold) - and as a result suffer from carbon dioxide poisoning gas.
    2) The most comfortable level of carbon dioxide is 700-1000ppm and lower, it can only be kept at this level by constant ventilation - a constantly open window or a forced ventilation system. Without ventilation, this level will be exceeded after 2 hours when 1 person is in the room. For ventilation at large facilities - it is fashionable to implement power control by measuring the concentration of CO 2 in the exhaust air - so as not to automatically drive the air in vain when everyone has left the office (huge capacities leave for heating / cooling).
    3) "More time to spend in the fresh air" for the future - will not work. How much time you spend in a non-ventilated room - you will get so many negative consequences.
    4) As it turned out, Nootropil, known to many, seems to simply compensate for oxygen starvation in non-ventilated rooms, and therefore has a positive effect where doctors do not expect it. It's better and safer just to have good ventilation.
    5) Each ruble saved in an office with good ventilation will be more than repaid by the reduced working capacity of employees at the end of the working day.
    6) According to the results of calculations, in small meeting rooms without constantly blowing ventilation with fresh air (not air conditioning!), The permissible time for 5-10 people to stay without cognitive decline is no more than 10-20 minutes.
    7) Cold air! = Fresh air. The presence of an air conditioner does not reduce the ventilation requirements. Closing windows just because the air conditioner is working is impossible;
    8) Children need fresh air in winter no less than in summer. Again, airing once a day is not enough. And so as not to “blew” - there is a supply ventilation with heated air.

    Well, now you are left face to face with your laziness and caffeine addiction :-)

    But if you have already had a constant flow of fresh air for the last week, and you still get tired out of the blue - this is not normal, and you need to deal with the reason.

    Update:In response to fair criticism, I must say that this is not a golden bullet, but only one of the options, the verification of which costs nothing and is absolutely safe (the main thing is not to catch a cold). Each case is unique, and in addition to ventilation problems, a bunch of diseases can lead to the same symptoms.

    CO2 restrictions in other countries (1% = 10'000 ppm):
    Hidden text
    Country / institutionLevel%Level mg m -3Averaging periodGuideline typeImplemen- of a Date
    Relevant lawNotesRef.
    EU0.590008 hour TWAOel Commission Directive 91/322 a
    UK1.527400015 minMEL ILV b
    0.591508 hour TWAMEL ILV b
    USA354000015 minSTEL2003Niosh c
    > 0.590008 hour TWAPel OSHA Regulations (Standards - 29 CFR)1d
    0.5900010 hour TWARel2003Niosh c

    Is CO2 an Indoor Pollutant? Direct Effects of Low-to-Moderate CO2 oncentrations on Human Decision-Making Performance - A direct test of cognitive ability at various CO2 levels (600-2500ppm). Results from page 17.
    Hidden text
    For seven of nine scales of decision-making performance (basic activity, applied activity, task
    orientation, initiative, information usage, breadth of approach, and strategy), mean raw scores
    showed a consistently monotonic decrease with increasing CO2 concentration, with all overall
    p -values ​​<0.001 (Table 2). In post-hoc pairwise comparisons by CO2 concentration, performance
    on these 7 scales differed between concentrations with p <0.01 for all comparisons, with the
    exception of performance on the task orientation, initiative, and strategy scales between 600 and
    1,000 ppm CO2 (p < 0.05, p <0.10, and p <0.05, respectively) (Table 3). For these 7 scales,
    compared with mean raw scores at 600 ppm CO2, mean raw scores at 1,000 ppm CO2 were 11%
    to 23% lower, and at 2,500 ppm CO2 were 44% to 94% lower. Relative to raw scores at 1,000
    ppm CO2, raw scores at 2,500 ppm were 35% to 93% lower.

    Wikipedia lists levels at which the toxic effects of carbon dioxide are already beginning.

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