People living with type 2 diabetes can sometimes have low energy. This isn’t necessarily about being sleepy. If you are feeling more tired than usual, check with your healthcare team. There are several issues that may contribute to feeling low energy. Not sure what they are? Let us fill you in.
When people who are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, they often report having very little energy. They say they have trouble getting up in the morning, and they spend a lot of time on the couch after work and on days off. At the cellular level, if the body doesn’t have enough insulin working, for whatever reason, blood sugar can’t be used properly to produce energy.
Fatigue isn't necessarily about being sleepy; it's often more about low energy
People living with diabetes face several situations that can affect the amount and quality of sleep they get. High and low blood sugar may interfere with sleep; damage to nerves caused by diabetes can result in pain or burning in the feet/legs that can affect sleep; and some people living with the condition have “restless legs syndrome,” which can also affect sleep. And finally, people living with diabetes are at risk for sleep apnea, a condition in which there is shallow breathing, as well as repeated pauses in breathing during sleep.
Sometimes emotional issues, such as anxiety or depression, may create fatigue and/or low energy. And people living with diabetes are at risk for both anxiety and depression. Anxiety or depression along with diabetes can be an unfortunate combination; sometimes this lack of energy can lead to not doing the daily self-care that diabetes requires.
Being overweight can also play a role in low energy. People who carry extra weight may not have the energy to get out and do the things they enjoy.
The body's natural response to stress is to release hormones that increase the amount of blood sugar. For people living with diabetes, this rise in blood sugar can lead to decreased energy, as you read earlier. Not to mention, stress itself can be exhausting! It’s also important to note that taking care of diabetes—your own or someone else's—can be stressful and energy-draining.
So while there are lots of reasons you might be feeling low energy, there is more than one solution to take on this issue. So we suggest taking a brief but fearless self-inventory and seeing if one or more of the above reasons are contributing to your fatigue, if you’re feeling tired. Then do what you can to face it or them head on. Of course, sharing what you’ve discovered with your healthcare team is a great initial step.