Facing Lupus Fatigue
The fatigue of lupus can’t be ignored. It’s much more than just feeling tired. It can make getting out of bed every morning seem like climbing a mountain. Ordinary tasks, like cooking dinner or doing the laundry, can seem impossible.
Fatigue is a symptom that others can’t see, which means they may not understand how bad you feel. Even worse, you may feel like no matter how much rest you do get, the fatigue will never go away.
If you have this kind of fatigue, talk to your doctor to find out if there is an exact cause, and if it can be treated. What you eat, your exercise routine, and your ability to cope with stress are all things that can worsen—or reduce—fatigue.
With lupus, medical conditions such as chronic inflammation, anemia (a blood disorder), and certain medicines often make fatigue even worse.
Your nurse or doctor will suggest ways to better manage fatigue. And here are a few extra tips from us. Call us if you have any questions.
Sleep is crucial for a person with lupus. Aim for 10 hours a night, and see if you feel better. A 15-minute nap during the day can also help, but longer naps may make you feel sluggish when you wake up, and can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
It seems like the opposite would be true, but exercise that gets your muscles moving and makes you sweaty can actually lessen fatigue. Studies show that people with lupus who exercise often feel more energetic as well as more hopeful and happy about life. Stronger muscles and bones are an added benefit.
Work Can Work For You
If you are used to working long hours, or getting up early for work, you may need to change your schedule. Fatigue can be worse at the beginning and end of the day, so think about working part-time, or coming in later and leaving later in the day. If possible, mix mini-breaks in to your work day rather than taking one long lunch hour.
Easier at Home
Talk to your spouse, children, or roommate about sharing chores around the house in ways that split things fairly, but give you the jobs that don’t add to your fatigue.
At the start of each week, make a schedule to be sure you’ll have a balance of rest and activity. Each morning, go over what you have to do for the day. If you think you’ll be too tired, try to reschedule. It’s better to be rested and enjoy your time out, rather than over doing it and feeling worse.
Stress makes it even harder for your body to heal itself. Stress-relievers such as massage, yoga, and acupuncture can reduce fatigue in some people with lupus.
Feeling alone or depressed can make lupus fatigue even worse. Reach out to your friends or spouse. Studies have shown that people with lupus that communicate well with their spouse, and feel in control and good about themselves, are less likely to feel fatigued. If you’d like help in finding new ways to talk to your spouse or friends and family, call the Cooperatives. An outreach coordinator can help you in many ways.