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The Connection Between Diabetes and Fatigue

Fatigue often occurs among people with diabetes due to stress, blood sugar fluctuations, and more. You can manage it with home remedies like exercising regularly and adjusting your sleep habits. Your doctor may also adjust your medications or recommend other treatments.

What causes fatigue in people with diabetes?

Fatigue experienced by people with diabetes may occur due to a number of factors.


Stress can contribute to fatigue. It can also negatively affect your sleep, diet, and self-care behaviors. If stress prevents you from resting, exercising, or preparing nutritious meals, you may experience increased fatigue.

Blood sugar fluctuations

Glucose is your body’s primary source of energy. Unstable blood glucose levels may contribute to fatigue because diabetes affects your body’s ability to absorb and store this energy.


Some medications can cause fatigue with diabetes. These include:

  • corticosteroids
  • beta-blockers
  • diuretics
  • statin drugs
  • antidepressant medications

If you notice fatigue and believe your medication is a contributing factor, talk with your doctor about making changes.

Chronic pain

If you have pain due to diabetic neuropathy, sleeping and getting adequate exercise may be harder. Diabetes can cause damage to small nerves, leading to pain.

Lack of sleep

Inadequate sleep can contribute to increased fatigue with diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a lack of sleep may also make your condition harder to manage by:

  • making you hungrier and more likely to consume foods high in sugar or carbohydrates
  • increasing insulin resistance
  • raising your blood pressure
  • weakening your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections

Accompanying conditions

Diabetes can coexist with other underlying conditions. These conditions can also cause severe fatigue and may include:

  • kidney health complications
  • anemia
  • muscle weakness or deterioration
  • other endocrine diseases, like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome
  • vitamin deficiency
  • heart failure

Is fatigue a common symptom of diabetes?

People living with diabetes often experience fatigue. When diabetes and fatigue occur together, it can result in a condition that some experts call “diabetes fatigue syndrome.”

Being tired can make engaging in beneficial self-care practices, like exercising and preparing nutritious meals, more difficult. In turn, insufficient self-care can make you feel more tired.

How can people with diabetes manage their fatigue?

There are things you can do to help manage fatigue resulting from diabetes.

Getting support

Getting support from multiple sources may help reduce your fatigue. Consider a support group, a cooking class for people with diabetes, or quality time with friends or family. Ask for help with the daily demands of managing your condition. You may receive new tips and tools, validation, or tangible support, like help with cooking and shopping.

Tracking trends

Journaling may help you track your blood sugar levels, sleep, other symptoms, or diet trends. This can help you and your doctor pinpoint and address the cause of your fatigue.

Making lifestyle changes

Regular exercise helps strengthen and condition muscles and your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. It may also help you sleep better.

Eating a balanced diet with whole grains in moderation, lean protein, and fresh fruits and vegetables may help you manage your blood sugar and give you more energy.

Getting better sleep

Healthy sleep practices will help ensure that you get adequate and quality sleep. While everyone is different, experts typically recommend that adults get 7–8 hours of sleep each night.

Some practices that may promote better sleep habits include:

  • going to bed and getting up at the same time each day
  • avoiding screen use before bed or in the bedroom
  • using a filter that decreases the blue light emitted by screens
  • keeping your sleeping area dark and quiet
  • maintaining your sleep schedule even on days off

Medical treatments

Your doctor may suggest certain supplements, like vitamin D and calcium, if your vitamin D level is low. Changing your insulin dosage or other medications may also help improve and stabilize your blood sugar levels.

A consultation with a nutritionist can help you ensure that your diet contains the right balance of foods for your particular needs.

Managing chronic pain may help you exercise and rest better. Therefore, your doctor may offer you medication options that include tricyclic antidepressants, duloxetine, or anticonvulsants.

Can people with diabetes prevent fatigue?

Some causes of fatigue may be preventable, while others may not. Managing pain, getting adequate sleep and exercise, eating a balanced diet, and managing your blood glucose levels may help reduce or prevent fatigue.

When should you see a doctor about fatigue with diabetes?

Fatigue with diabetes sometimes requires intervention from your physician. If your fatigue does not improve with lifestyle changes, you may need a medication adjustment or additional treatments for other potential causes of your fatigue.

If you have not received a diabetes diagnosis but suspect you may have the condition, make an appointment for an evaluation. The sooner you receive treatment, the lower your likelihood of experiencing complications.


Diabetes commonly causes fatigue. If you are experiencing fatigue, there are lifestyle modifications you can make with your doctor’s guidance to help you feel better and have more energy.

Contact your doctor for help if lifestyle modifications do not improve your fatigue. You and your doctor can create a plan to manage fatigue and improve your quality of life.

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