Why does diabetes make you tired?

Diabetes and fatigue are frequently discussed in tandem. In fact, if you have diabetes, you will most likely experience fatigue at some point. However, there could be much more to this seemingly straightforward correlation.

When diabetes, affects your blood sugar (glucose) and the production of insulin in the pancreas, then it can also have inflammatory markers. A plethora of studies have been conducted to investigate the possible links between diabetes and fatigue.

Both diabetes and fatigue can be difficult to treat. However, there are numerous options available to assist. You should see your doctor first to determine the exact cause of your fatigue.

Causes of fatigue in Diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition where your body cannot control the sugar that hits the blood caused by poor insulin secretion or an imbalance in insulin.

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that helps our body get instant energy. When sugar is imbalanced in the bloodstream, energy is affected, and this is a simple explanation for fatigue in people with Diabetes.

However, the authors of a study of 155 adults with type 2 diabetes suggested that blood glucose was the indirect cause of fatigue in those with an A1C greater than 7%. (A1C is the percentage of hemoglobin proteins that are coated with sugar. Therefore, a high score indicates poor sugar control and a greater risk for Diabetes.)

These results indicate that diabetes fatigue may be associated with other symptoms of diabetes rather than controlled diabetes.

Other causes that may lead to fatigue in individuals who have diabetes include the following:

  • Depression
  • insomnia or poor sleep quality
  • widespread inflammation
  • hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • kidney failure
  • medication side effects
  • low testosterone levels (in those assigned male at birth)
  • skipping meals
  • poor nutrition
  • lack of physical activity
  • lack of social support

How to Cope with Fatigue in Diabetes 

Diabetes and fatigue are most effectively treated when they are viewed as a whole, rather than as separate conditions. Healthy lifestyle habits,  mental health therapies, and social support can all help with diabetes and fatigue.

Changes in lifestyle

Positive lifestyle habits are central to good health. These include physical activity, proper nutrition, and weight control.  All of these can help you feel more energized all while controlling your blood sugar level.

According to a 2012 study, a high body mass index (BMI) score was associated with fatigue in people with type 2 diabetes.

Regular physical activity may lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), exercise can also help regulate blood glucose even if you already have diabetes.

Exercise helps with oxygenating our body and brain.

Oxygen flow in the body enhances the performance of all organs and helps with the healing and repair of cells, recovery from cell damage, etc.

In addition, oxygen is vital in alleviating fatigue; hence, exercise is an essential regimen for people with diabetes, where the circulation of blood and oxygen supply is limited.

The recommended maximum workout time is at least 2.5 hours of exercise per week, with no more than two days off in a row. You can combine aerobics and resistance training, as well as balance and flexibility exercises like yoga.

Social assistance

Another area of research being investigated is social support.

A study of 1,657 adults with type 2 diabetes published in 2013 discovered significant links between social support and diabetes fatigue. Researchers discovered that support from family and other resources reduced diabetes-related fatigue.

Talk to members of your family about the management of your diabetes and care to ensure their support. Make it a point to spend time with friends and take part in your favorite hobbies when you have the energy.

Mental Health

Diabetes has a high rate of depression. Diabetes patients are twice as likely to suffer from depression, according to the journal Current Diabetes Reports. This can be caused by either biological or long-term psychological changes.

If you’re already being treated for depression, your antidepressant may be interfering with your sleep. You can discuss with your doctor the possibility of switching medications to see if your sleep improves.

Exercise can also aid in the treatment of depression by increasing serotonin levels. Group or one-on-one counseling with a therapist may also be beneficial.

Studies on Diabetes and fatigue.

Numerous studies have found a link between diabetes and fatigue.

One such study examined the results of a sleep quality survey. According to the findings, 31% of people with type 1 diabetes have poor sleep quality. The prevalence was slightly higher in adults with type 2 diabetes, at 42%.

Another 2014 study found that approximately 40% of people with type 1 diabetes experienced chronic fatigue. The authors also stated that fatigue is frequently so severe that it interferes with daily tasks as well as the quality of life.

In 2013, 37 people with diabetes and 33 people without diabetes participated in a study. The researchers could then examine differences in fatigue levels.

The participants responded anonymously to fatigue surveys. The researchers concluded that tiredness was significantly higher in the diabetes group. However, they were unable to pinpoint any specific factors.

Exhaustion appears to be present in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. While fatigue is a classic symptom of hyperglycemia, a 2013 study found no link between hyperglycemia and chronic fatigue in people with type 1 diabetes.

How to Boost Energy When You Have Diabetes

While diabetes can cause fatigue, there are things you can do to help alleviate that tiredness. Here are some pointers:

  • Each night, aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
  • Exercise on a regular basis.
  • Reduce your intake of processed foods and sugar.
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption if you drink.
  • Caffeine should be consumed in moderation.
  • Attempt relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.

Also, Increase your intake of fiber-rich complex carbohydrates, and plenty of plant-based proteins in your diet.. This further helps to balance sugars in the blood and improve nutrients in the body.

It’s also critical to stick to the diabetes treatment plan recommended by your doctor. Keeping the dieseas under control will help you manage your fatigue.

Other causes of exhaustion

Chronic fatigue syndrome affects approximately 2.5 million people in the United States (CFS). CFS is characterized by persistent fatigue that significantly disrupts daily life.

People who suffer from this type of extreme fatigue deplete their energy reserves without necessarily being active. Walking to your car, for example, can deplete your energy completely. CFS is thought to be linked to inflammation, which disrupts muscle metabolites.

Chronic fatigue can also be caused by a number of other factors, such as:

  • Boredom
  • Specific medications
  • Headache caused by emotional stress and anxiety
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Allergies
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

When should you see a doctor?

Fatigue can be concerning, especially when it interferes with daily activities such as work, school, and family responsibilities. If your fatigue symptoms do not improve despite lifestyle changes and diabetes management, you should consult a doctor. Tiredness could be caused by secondary symptoms of diabetes or by another condition entirely.

Your doctor may order blood tests to rule out other conditions like thyroid disease. Changing your diabetes medications may also be beneficial.


Diabetes causes fatigue, but it does not have to last forever. Discuss with your doctor how you can manage both diabetes and fatigue.

Your fatigue may improve with a few lifestyle and treatment changes, as well as patience.

How we reviewed this article


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What is ME/CFS? (2017).

Acha Maoni

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