If your answer is yes, then you are not alone. A recent survey from the Diabetic Research Foundation showed that almost 85 percent of people with diabetes reported that fatigue was one of their leading daily challenges.
Although everyone feels tired now and then, fatigue is different. Many people describe it as just being too tired to do even the simplest things. Being fatigued a lot of the time adds to the stress in your life and can even lead to depression.
FATIGUE AND DIABETES
People with diabetes sometimes feel fatigued when their blood glucose level is very high or very low. You may also feel very tired when your blood glucose is going up and down a lot. The cells in your body need glucose for energy. So it makes sense that when your blood glucose is low, you don’t have enough energy for the body, so you feel fatigued. When your blood glucose level is high there is plenty of glucose, but because you have diabetes, it stays in your bloodstream and does not go into the cells where it can be used for energy. Fatigue can also be a sign of depression and is a common side effect of several medicines, such as those for high blood pressure.
MONITORING YOUR FATIGUE
The first step in solving a problem is to figure out the cause. Some people make a note in their blood glucose logbook when they are feeling extra tired. Figuring out how your energy level is linked to your blood glucose levels is a good first step. The next step is to share the notes about your fatigue with your healthcare provider, who may be able to help you figure out a cause and a way to care for it.
HOW CAN I KEEP FROM FEELING FATIGUED?
- Keep your blood glucose in your target range.
As you might expect, the first thing you can do is to keep your blood glucose as close to normal as is safe for you. This will give your cells the glucose they need for energy.
- Eat small meals throughout the day.
You may notice that you feel extra tired after a big meal, or you might even fall asleep without really trying or meaning to. Part of the reason is high blood glucose, but the other issue is that meals high in fat take a long time to digest. It can make you feel overly full and sleepy. Or if you go long periods of time without eating, your blood glucose may be too low, which makes you feel tired.
- Stay active.
Although it doesn’t sound like it would help, regular physical activity actually gives you more energy because of the hormones your body makes when you exercise. It also helps you cope with the daily hassles of caring for diabetes and the stress in your life. And you’ll sleep better. If you are taking medicine that lowers your blood glucose, exercise can cause you to have a low blood glucose. That can cause you to feel very tired rather than energized. Check your blood glucose if you feel more tired after exercise. If your blood glucose levels are below your target range, talk with your healthcare provider about what you can do to keep your blood glucose on track with exercise.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
A lack of restful sleep can also lead to fatigue. If you have trouble falling asleep easily or wake up a lot at night, you may not be getting the right kind of sleep. To feel rested, you need both deep sleep (delta sleep) and the stage of sleep in which you dream (REM sleep). Many people with diabetes have sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. If you often wake up tired or you snore heavily, talk with your healthcare provider about having a sleep study to find out if you have a sleep disorder.
Feeling tired all the time is a challenge that can have a big effect on your quality of life. Once you figure out the cause, you can take steps to correct the problem and move toward feeling like yourself again!