Type 2 Diabetes: Sleep On It

By: Jolie Wiener

April 07, 2021

Is Sleep Really That Important?

On average, a person spends about a third of their life sleeping, and adults need approximately 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, according to the Sleep Foundation.

Sleep is an essential part of a healthy balanced lifestyle, and even so, it is not unusual for adults to suffer from sleep deprivation. In the USA, it was reported that more than a third of the population isn’t getting enough sleep. Some interesting facts you may not have known about sleep is that it is vital for maintaining critical functions, restoring energy, repairing muscle tissue, and allowing the brain to process new information. On the other hand, not getting enough of it can affect the body mentally and physically, possibly impairing our ability to control emotions, react, focus and think clearly. 

For people with type 2 diabetes, focusing on getting enough rest is crucial for keeping the blood sugar levels regular and sustaining a healthy lifestyle. But similar to the chicken and the egg it is still not clear if diabetes affects your sleep or the other way around, although it may just go both ways it is essential to understand the impact lack of proper sleep can have on your body and your condition.

What Does This Mean For Someone With Type 2 Diabetes?

Not getting enough sleep can potentially cause more harm than just leaving you tired the next day. In fact, sleep deprivation can potentially raise the risk of developing insulin resistance in non-diabetics. In addition, studies have found a connection between irregular sleeping schedules and higher blood sugar. But this could be connected to nutritional habits because sleep deprivation raises the levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and decreases the levels of leptin, the hormone that makes us feel full, which in most cases leads to a more erratic diet. Nonetheless, getting insufficient sleep has been linked to high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and prediabetes. Researchers believe it affects blood sugar levels because of its effect on insulin, cortisol, and oxidative stress. If you struggle with getting enough sleep rest assured that you are not alone, one-quarter of people with diabetes report sleeping less than 6 hours or more than 8 hours at night, which puts them at a higher risk of having elevated blood sugar.  

Does My Type 2 Diabetes Affect My Sleep?

If you have type 2 diabetes, you have a higher chance of developing some sort of sleeping disorder. The American Diabetes Association estimates that up to one in four people with type 2 diabetes also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. A further quarter of type 2 diabetics suffer from another sleep-related breathing disorder, and approximately one in five type-2 diabetics suffer from restless leg syndrome. However, the most common sleep issues develop due to unstable blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar is high, it may cause headaches, increased thirst, and tiredness, as well as the urge to urinate frequently. It also might make you feel too warm, or irritable, and unsettled. When your blood sugar is too low, you may experience nightmares, break out into a sweat, feel irritated or confused when you wake up. Spending too many hours without eating or taking the wrong balance of medication can cause low blood sugar levels during the night, which can lead to difficulty waking up in the morning and tiredness throughout the day. It is also understandable that feelings of stress or depression might come in the way of you getting a good night’s sleep, considering that diabetes is a chronic condition that can be dangerous if left not treated. 

The bigger picture: Your positivity might be rewarded.

Whether you are currently suffering from any sleep-disrupting condition or not, take comfort in the fact that these issues are controllable and treatable. Managing your blood sugar levels and creating good sleep hygiene habits can improve your sleep. This can be done by following a healthy diet plan that controls your blood sugar levels, exercising regularly, making sure you have the time needed to get enough sleep, avoiding stimulants like caffeine or nicotine before bed, and keeping the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. If you are struggling with sleep issues, talk to your personal doctor. They might recommend a sleep medication, tracking your habits through a sleep study, or trying out other solutions such as a CPAP machine.

In recent years focusing on eating healthy and working out has become trendy. However, during these times when people feel like they don't have enough hours to get everything done, getting enough sleep is considered a luxury. Hopefully, this article shines a light on the importance of getting your 7-9 hours of sleep a night so you can live a healthier and happier life. 

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