Diabetes and Sleep: The Real Reason for Better Sleep

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Sleepless Nights

Tossing and turning in bed; pulling an all-nighter to crank out a thesis; staying up to comfort a newborn. We've all been there. Usually, most of us can snap out of our insomnia and gladly jump into a great night's slumber the following day.

We all know sleep is important. And we all want it. But why is getting a good, full and true night's sleep so important to those of us with diabetes?

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Vicious Cycle

If blood glucose levels are already running high (maybe you've already been diagnosed with diabetes, or maybe pre-diabetes is on the horizon), you're going to be emptying those higher levels of glucose by going to the bathroom.

During the day, this is a nuisance. At night, that means waking up multiple times to go to the bathroom, and ultimately not getting our 7-hours-worth.

Queue the sleep deprivation feels the following day. If you've just spent a night waking up every hour to rid yourself of those sugars, you're averaging a less-than-stellar night of sleep. Or, maybe you're BGs were fine, but you had to keep yourself up to finish that project.

Whatever the situation may be, if you've gotten less than 7 hours of real, good REM rest, chances are you're going to see it the next day in your blood sugars.

Diabetes and Sleep

Lack of sufficient nighttime rest messes with our entire endocrine system, PWD and non- included.

After one all-nighter (or any kind of sleep deprivation in general), your body secretes much higher than normal levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Likewise, levels of leptin (the hunger-regulator hormone) decrease. Cortisol levels (the stress hormone) are also piqued.

Are you seeing the trend here? All roads lead to: increased, albeit fake, hunger, calorie consumption, and obesity risk. 😱


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Insulin Sensitivity and Sleep

Perhaps most important for our diabetes purposes, though, is the increase of insulin resistance.

Study after study concludes that lack of sleep directly correlates to increased insulin resistance. OK, but what does that mean, exactly?

Sleep deprivation literally translates to the body's need for more insulin; without that additional insulin intake, blood sugars spike. It all has to do with groggy fat cells.

When fat cells don't get their rest, they let you know it by upping their insulin resistance. Meaning, higher blood glucose levels for you, and more insulin needed for your body. Clearly, there's a direct correlation here. But what to do about those sleepless nights that are affecting your blood glucose?

Unlike other, more difficult problems we face, sleep habits are fairly easy to fix. Check out our guide, and get back on track with your new sleeping regimen! 

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Mary Elizabeth Adams
Mar 11, 2019

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