Causes of Sickle Cell Fatigue

Sickle Cell fatigue is the result of not enough oxygen reaching muscles and other tissues. Sickled blood cells have trouble traveling through the smallest blood vessels, which means that muscles and tissues are not getting the oxygen they need.

The chronic pain and inflammation that Sickle Cell can cause may interfere with your sleep. Both chronic and acute pain can make getting a restful sleep difficult. Additionally, some medications can interfere with your sleep.

Managing Fatigue

In addition to practicing good sleep hygiene, there are some other lifestyle changes that can help you minimize fatigue:

  • Moderate exercise.
    Even though it can be hard to exercise when you’re fatigued and even though it can seem like it will make you more tired, doing so will help you have energy during the day and sleep better at night.
  • A healthy diet.
    When you feel tired, it can be tempting to reach for junk food to give you energy. It is important to have a healthy diet, and avoid eating too much junk food.
  • Getting enough sleep.
    Mindfulness meditation can help improve your sleep. This practice means focusing on your breathing and awareness of the present moment. That means not worrying about the past or future and focusing on what you feel in your body and mind in the moment. If you are struggling to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up in the morning, talk to your doctor.

Some medications can interfere with restful sleep, and it is important to discuss all the medications you are taking with your doctor as they may be contributing to your fatigue.

Fatigue can be disruptive

It may be true that everyone is tired these days. People work too many hours, stay up too late bingeing TV shows and spend a lot of time online. But their tiredness is nothing like the fatigue you experience with Sickle Cell. To help with fatigue, it is important to practice good “sleep hygiene” which means building healthy habits that support sleep. Some of these habits include:

  • Limiting naps to less than 30 minutes
  • Limiting caffeine to the morning
  • Having a bedtime routine that you follow every night
  • Making your bedroom pleasant, dark, and as free of distractions as possible