Sleep and Diabetes

Diabetes and sleep issues can often go hand in hand. When blood sugar levels are high, the kidneys try to get rid of this by urinating. This leads to people getting up frequently in the night to go to the lavatory, and sleep is obviously affected by this. In turn, diabetes can also cause sleep loss and there is even evidence that not sleeping well can increase the risk of developing diabetes in the first place.

It’s been frequently proved that those who are tired will eat more to try and get some energy. This usually means reaching for something sweet and sugary, which can spike blood sugar levels. This is a real problem for those with diabetes, so it’s crucial to eat properly during the day and keep blood sugar levels under control in order to get a better night’s sleep.

Mark Mahowald, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Centre has also found evidence that sleep deprivation could lead to a pre-diabetic state. According to Mahowald, the body’s reaction to sleep loss can resemble insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes. Insulin’s job is to help the body to use glucose for energy. However, when there is insulin resistance cells can’t use the hormone efficiently, and this results in high blood sugar. Diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the cells don’t properly use insulin. The high blood sugar levels build up in the body and can eventually harm the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.

Another risk factor for diabetes is being overweight or obese. Diabetes has also been linked with sleep apnea, which is a sleep disorder marked by loud snoring and pauses in breathing while you sleep. Sleep apnea may be caused by excess weight causing fat to deposit around the upper airway and obstructing breathing. Sleep apnea stops sufferers from getting a restful night’s sleep and this can increase the risk of developing diabetes or worsen an existing case.

In addition to all this if your body has extra glucose it will draw water from your tissues to try and compensate. This can lead to you feeling dehydrated meaning that you may be woken in the night needing a drink of water. Symptoms of low blood sugar, which include dizziness and shakiness, can also lead to a poor night’s sleep.

It’s important to promote better sleep, so try following these simple tips:

  • Keep your blood glucose under control
  • Make sure your mattress is large and comfortable enough for your requirements
  • Keep your room at around 18 degrees and well ventilated
  • Ensure your room is dark, free of noise and without distractions such as televisions and computers
  • Try to take regular exercise
  • Keep to a regular bed time

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