I have rheumatoid arthritis, and I feel tired and worn out all the time. How can I fight this fatigue and get some of my energy back?

Your situation is very common. People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can feel tired or worn out even after a full night's sleep, or when their symptoms are mild. Several options can help you fend off fatigue.

Pace yourself

Alternating periods of activity with periods of rest can help stretch your energy reserves. This can be a tricky balancing act, because too little activity can be harmful, too. It may help to plan certain activities for the times of day you have the most energy.

Keeping a diary to record your activities and your arthritis symptoms can reveal which activities are leading to symptom flares. This can help you plan how to do those tasks differently.

Many employers now offer more-flexible work schedules or opportunities for working from home, which can help you spend your energy where it will do the most good.

Get high-quality sleep

Fewer hours of deep sleep will leave you feeling more rested than more hours of poor sleep.

  • Manage nighttime pain. If joint pain keeps you awake, talk to your doctor about adjusting your medications to better control pain at night.
  • Set a routine. Go to bed close to the same time each night. Getting into a regular schedule can make it easier for you to fall asleep.
  • Create a peaceful environment. Use blackout drapes or an eye mask and earplugs to ensure your room is as dark and quiet as possible.
  • Get comfortable. A memory foam mattress and pillows that support you comfortably can help make it less likely that you'll wake during the night from tossing and turning.

Control depression

Depression often causes fatigue and is common in people with painful inflammatory diseases such as RA. Counseling and antidepressant medications can be very helpful. Many doctors prescribe low-dose antidepressants as sleep aids, even in people who haven't been diagnosed with depression.

Exercise regularly

Regular low-impact exercise such as walking, swimming or biking can boost energy, fight fatigue and promote sound sleep when you have arthritis.

  • Exercise reduces pain by increasing muscle mass, strength, flexibility and blood circulation.
  • Exercise helps lift any anxiety or depression that might be weighing you down by causing your brain to release stress-relieving hormones.

Finally, to avoid paying the price later, resist the urge to overdo it when you're feeling good. By talking to your doctor and patiently making some lifestyle adjustments, you can reduce your RA-related fatigue and reclaim your get-up-and-go.

Sept. 15, 2020 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. 3D Printer Helps Hip
  2. 6 tips to manage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
  3. C-reactive protein test
  4. Do infrared saunas have any health benefits?
  5. Does stress make rheumatoid arthritis worse?
  6. Ease rheumatoid arthritis pain when grocery shopping
  7. Elbow Replacement
  8. Elbow replacement surgery
  9. Fatigue
  10. Hip replacement
  11. Hip resurfacing: An alternative to conventional hip replacement?
  12. Hip Surgery Overview
  13. Hockey Coach Gets Hip
  14. Is depression a factor in rheumatoid arthritis?
  15. Isometric exercise
  16. Joint pain
  17. Joint pain: Rheumatoid arthritis or parvovirus?
  18. Joint replacement
  19. Knee replacement
  20. Living better with rheumatoid arthritis
  21. Mangosteen juice: Can it relieve arthritis pain?
  22. MRI
  23. Osteoporosis and long-term prednisone: What is the risk?
  24. Palindromic rheumatism: Precursor to rheumatoid arthritis?
  25. Physical therapy
  26. Prednisone risks, benefits
  27. Prednisone withdrawal: Why taper down slowly?
  28. Protect your joints while housecleaning
  29. Rethinking Rheumatoid Arthritis
  30. Rheumatoid arthritis
  31. Rheumatoid Arthritis
  32. Rheumatoid arthritis: Does pregnancy affect symptoms?
  33. Rheumatoid arthritis and exercise
  34. Rheumatoid arthritis: Vaccines
  35. Rheumatoid arthritis diet
  36. Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the eyes?
  37. Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the lungs?
  38. Rheumatoid arthritis medications: Dangerous during pregnancy?
  39. Rheumatoid arthritis pain: Tips for protecting your joints
  40. Rheumatoid factor
  41. Robotic-Arm Assisted Knee Resurfacing
  42. Sed rate (erythrocyte sedimentation rate)
  43. Seeing Inside the Heart with MRI
  44. Cane tips
  45. Joint protection
  46. Smoking and rheumatoid arthritis: What's the risk?
  47. Spinal fusion
  48. Stem Cells Get Hip
  49. Symptom Checker
  50. Tai chi
  51. Tips for coping with rheumatoid arthritis
  52. Tips to make your mornings easier
  53. Ultrasound
  54. Unexplained weight loss
  55. MRI
  56. Tai chi
  57. X-ray