Can Diabetes Make You Sleepy?

It's normal to feel tired throughout the day every now and then, but if you are not managing your diabetes properly it could be affecting your energy levels. Diabetes can directly cause fatigue due to high or low blood sugar levels. High blood glucose causes your blood to become “sludgy,” which slows down circulation. When this occurs, cells can’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need. On the other hand, low sugar levels also cause fatigue. This occurs because when sugar levels are low there isn't enough fuel for your cells to work well.

Additionally, stress can also make you feel fatigued. If you are feeling burned out about having to manage your diabetes every day, this could be causing you to feel tired. Your exercise routine and diet can also have an effect on how tired you feel throughout the day.

Fatigue and Other Medical Conditions

Diabetics are susceptible to many different conditions, and it is important to know what other diabetes-related complications could be causing fatigue. One complication to look out for is infection. Often a diabetic may have an infection that he or she is not aware of.

It takes a lot of energy to fight off an infection, something which can cause fatigue and a spike in blood sugar levels. Urinary tract or bladder infections are very common conditions that diabetics should watch out for. Bladder infections often hurt, but sometimes have no symptoms, except for that of fatigue.

Another thing to watch out for is undiagnosed heart disease. If you are getting tired after doing tasks that used to be a breeze, it may be time to have your heart checked out. Certain medications can also have side effects like fatigue. Drugs for diabetes, blood pressure, depression, pain, and other issues can cause fatigue. Always read medication labels and communicate with your doctor about medication side effects.

How to Fight Fatigue

Use these five simple tips to fight off fatigue:

  1. Exercise regularly. If you move more, you will have more energy. Research has shown that people who take a brisk 30-minute walk daily are less tired than people who are idle. Try to choose an activity that you will enjoy and do it for 30 to 60 minutes a day. If you don't have time to work out for extended periods of time, sneak in shorter periods of exercise whenever you can. Simply make sure it adds up to 30 to 60 minutes per day.
  2. Watch what you eat. Eat three healthy meals and a snack during the day to keep your blood sugar levels steady. Include healthy carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your diet. Make sure to eat lean protein from sources such as beans, tofu, fish or skinless chicken breasts.
  3. Skip that extra cup of coffee, especially late in the day. Caffeine can keep you awake and disrupt your sleep. It can also make it harder to control your blood sugar if you are not careful.
  4. Make sure you're getting enough sleep. Many people with diabetes struggle with sleep apnea, which causes a person to briefly stop breathing several times at night. Some other symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, feeling sleepy during the day, having trouble concentrating, and waking up with a headache or sore throat. Sleep apnea is treatable, and once treated, you should sleep better at night, which will give you more daytime energy.
  5. Stay hydrated throughout the day. You can become fatigued if you're dehydrated. Try to drink at least eight to nine glasses of fluids a day.

Sources: WebMD and DiabetesSelfManagement.com
Photo: Pexels

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