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Diabetes & Sleep: Why a Good Night's Rest Matters


Think about the best night of sleep you have recently had. How did you feel the next day? Were you full of energy, thinking clearly, and ready to accomplish everything within your day?

Now think about the worst night of sleep you have recently had. How did you feel the next day? Were you groggy, exhausted, and thinking about taking a nap as soon as you woke up?

While life may be extremely busy, it is important to prioritize sleep for increased productivity and better health. Studies have shown that diabetes and sleep problems are often interrelated. To maximize our health, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.

Why is Quality Sleep Important?

Short Term Benefits:

  • Improved emotional stability
  • Improved concentration & memory
  • Improved work productivity
  • Improved hunger & fullness cues
  • Improved coordination & balance

Long Term Benefits:

  • Improved energy for all daily activities
  • Improved quality of life
  • Improved hormonal balance
  • Improved immune function & healing
  • Improved blood pressure & blood sugars

Complications From Lack of Sleep:

  • Increase insulin resistance
  • Increase hunger the next day and reduce fullness after eating
  • Raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attack
  • Decrease immune system
  • Increase risk of depression and anxiety
How Does Diabetes Affect Sleep?

When blood sugar levels are too high at night, the kidneys overcompensate by causing you to urinate more often, leading to frequent trips to the restroom and disrupted sleep. But, when blood sugar levels are too low at night, you may experience nightmares, night sweats, or feel irritated or confused when you wake up. Therefore, it is important to monitor blood sugar levels regularly to ensure that spikes and dips are not happening too close to bedtime.

How Does Poor Sleep Affect Blood Sugar Levels?

Studies have found that irregular sleeping schedules are correlated with higher blood sugar levels due to hormone imbalances with the body's hunger and fullness cues. Sleep deprivation raises levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and decreases levels of leptin, which is the hormone that makes us feel full after eating. To compensate for lower energy levels, people who sleep poorly may seek relief in foods that raise blood sugar levels.

Tips to Improve Sleep

What to do:

  • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, relaxing, and cool
  • Limit screen time around bedtime
  • Get 15-45 minutes of physical activity during the day
  • Mentally unwind and relax before bedtime
  • Create a bedtime routine, such as showering, reading, and breathing exercises
  • Get in bed only when you are tired

What to avoid:

  • Afternoon and evening caffeine: can affect your body for up to 8 hours
  • Alcohol in the evening: can affect how you breathe when you sleep
  • Large meals late at night: can cause indigestion and higher blood sugar levels overnight
  • Naps after 3 p.m.: can make you less tired when it's time for bed
  • Nicotine: acts like caffeine

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