The impact of diabetes on the body can cause all manner of issues, one being diabetes fatigue.
Symptoms of diabetes fatigue include overwhelming feelings of exhaustion, a near constant state of weariness, lack of energy, and a decline in motivation and concentration.
This fatigue could stem from any number of reasons – unsuccessful diabetes management, the responsibility of monitoring diabetes on a daily basis, or your diabetes symptoms themselves.
Other potential causes include dehydration, high blood sugar levels, sleep apnea, or other underlying health conditions.
Dr. Graham McMahon, endocrinologist for Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, tells us “Don’t take fatigue for granted… it needs to be investigated.” It is crucial to work with your healthcare team to pinpoint the causes of your fatigue in order to regain your health and your energy.
Your physician may investigate potential underlying conditions such as anemia or nerve damage, or may order a sleep study to test for sleep apnea. Review your current medications with your physician to make sure they do not enhance drowsiness.
Diet is also a huge contributor to how our bodies feel on a daily basis. By examining your diet and making positive food choices, you can decrease your chances of fatigue. Monitor how you feel after eating certain foods. Do some foods make you sleepy while others give you a boost?
From eating enough fiber, to ensuring you start the day right with a good breakfast, your diet can make a real difference in how you feel throughout the day. Eating immune-enhancing and inflammation-reducing foods also contributes to an energized body.
When it’s time to end the day, everyone knows nothing feels as good as a great night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults between the ages of 25-65. Sounds lovely doesn’t it?
One way to help improve your night’s sleep is to form a bedtime routine. Perhaps you enjoy a warm bath each night before bed; add some lavender or chamomile bath oil to relax your muscles and your mind. If you have multiple errands for the next day, write them down in a to-do list before lying down to sleep. Avoid looking at brightly lit screens (television, cell phone) as these stimulate your brain and can keep you awake.
Learning how lack of sleep affects those with diabetes will be helpful when monitoring your energy levels. If you consistently have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, talk with your physician.
Also be sure to check your blood sugar regularly. Blood sugar that is too high (or too low), or blood sugar that is constantly spiking and falling will have a definite impact on how you feel.
For example, high sugar levels can make the blood sticky which prevents it from flowing freely throughout the body. This can slow the body’s normal circulation process and contribute to muscle fatigue.
Stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of water keeps your body running and can help keep you feeling refreshed. Every single body system depends on water; from the flushing of toxins, to keeping your eyes moist. The Mayo Clinic recommends 13 cups (3 liters) of fluids daily for men, and 9 cups (2.2 liters) of fluids daily for women.
Physical activity also helps to keep the body and mind energized. Getting up and moving throughout the day prevents deconditioning (muscle weakness) and encourages blood flow to extremities. Not to mention the positive effect exercise has on blood sugar. Click here for more information on how exercise affects diabetes.
Exercise also combats stress. Stress can increase insulin resistance and lead to higher blood sugar. Your heart rate also quickens, therefore, raising blood pressure. Stress also causes tense muscles and can even interfere with your breathing.
By practicing stress-reduction techniques, we can lower the toll on our minds and bodies. Take a few moments every day to simply rest and breathe. Meditation and prayer are two more ways to calm your spirit and relax. Or give yoga a try to combine exercise and meditation in one.
Along with your physical health, be sure to discuss your emotional health with your physician. Talk about your stress level, along with any feelings of anxiety or depression. These feelings can create and enhance fatigue. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to discuss your feelings with your healthcare team; it is a crucial part of encouraging your overall best health.
Yes everyone “gets tired” every now and then, but for diabetics this fatigue can have an impact on every aspect of life. Through awareness, motivation, and effort you can have the energy to live the life you love!