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Posted on Apr 19, 2022

Fatigue when you have kidney disease

People with kidney disease often have anemia—a shortage of oxygen-carrying red blood cells because they do not have healthy kidneys that make a hormone called erythropoietin, or EPO, that tells the bone marrow to make red blood cells. As the kidneys fail, they make less EPO, so you have fewer red blood cells—and less oxygen. When this happens, you may feel:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold all the time


If you have more than one of the following symptoms for longer than 2 weeks, you may be depressed. Check off any symptoms that apply to you:

Some symptoms of depression, like fatigue, loss of energy, weight gain/loss, and sleeping problems, can also be caused by your kidney disease or its treatment.


It’s hard to have energy during the day if you aren’t sleeping well at night. Problems falling asleep or staying asleep can sap your strength and leave you tired and irritable. CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) and its treatment can sometimes cause sleep problems. Five of the most common sleep problems that people with CKD have are:

  • Poor sleep habits
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Pain
  • Itching

Sleep problems are very common—whether we have CKD or not. Part of the issue may be how much sleep we expect to get. As we age, our bodies tend to need less sleep because we are less active, and it can be harder to sleep deeply all night.