Does Sleep Impact Diabetes?

Late-night events and early mornings, insomnia and stress, all take a toll on your sleep. A frequent lack of sleep takes a toll on your health – mental, emotional and physical, and can throw off your usual rhythms of sleep, blood sugar control, and eating habits. Lack of sleep makes it more difficult to manage your diabetes.

How Does Poor Sleep Affects Diabetes?

It Limits Insulin’s Actions

Poor shut-eye drives a series of reactions in your body that prevent insulin from doing its job. Insulin is a hormone that lowers your blood sugar by helping your body cells use glucose (sugar). The inability to do so prevents your cells from using the glucose efficiently, leading to high blood sugar. 

It Makes You Crave Unhealthy Food

When you’re skimping on sleep, you may notice you reach for cupcakes more often, rather than healthy food. Ever wonder why? 

Sleepless nights affect the activity of the brain that helps make complex judgments and decisions, and the area of the brain that controls desire and reward becomes hyperactive. This tricks your brain into cutting corners, and why you prefer to grab the fast-food burger and french fries rather than fruits and veggies. This in turn, spikes your blood sugar, causes fatigue and weight gain.

It Raises The “Not So Healthy” Blood Hormone Levels

Medical experts say that after a night of little sleep the internal processes of the body look a lot like the stress-related fight-or-flight response. This is the same response triggered when you face a stressful situation. These moments cause your body to churn out hormones like cortisol that make your blood sugar go off the rails. A deep, restful sleep causes an opposite reaction, insulin and blood sugar control are at their optimum. 

Tips for Better Sleep

The #1 tip restful sleep when you have diabetes is to keep your blood sugars balanced. When it comes to sugar control, sleep is as important as your diet. No matter how busy your schedule, do not give up on your sleep. Make sure to give yourself the gift of a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night. Stick to a regular bedtime. 

1. Limit Caffeine After Noon

While caffeine helps you jumpstart your day, a cup after 2 pm may interrupt your sleep. Therefore, set a daily time when you stop consuming caffeine.  

2. Prep Your Room For Sleep

Keep your bedroom dark and noise-free. If neighbor noise and street lights keep you awake, put on a good-quality eye mask and earplugs, or maybe a white noise machine.

3. Watch Out For Alcohol 

Late-night drinks throw off your sleep pattern and sugar contro, so limit your drinks to the recommended maximum of one (for women) or two (for men) glasses per day. 

4. Stay Active 

Exercise during the day helps you drift off to dreamland faster, but when you are sleep deprived, it’s not unusual for your exercise routine to take a back seat. Stay active by: 

  • Inviting friends and family to join you for an after-meal walk 
  • Chase kids or grand-kids around the yard or throw a frisbee
  • Swimming or yoga
  • Dancing to some good music

If you are eating healthy, limiting alcohol and caffeine, but still struggle in getting a good night’s sleep, talk to your doctor.

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