We’re never at our best after a bad night’s sleep. But if you have diabetes, sleep deprivation can lead to higher blood glucose levels. It also causes insulin resistance in people without diabetes, increasing the risk of developing type 2.
Sleep is frequently interrupted in people with diabetes due to surprise low blood glucose events and trips to the bathroom, not to mention scheduled blood glucose tests in the middle of the night. Shift workers constantly battle the interruptions to their sleep/wake cycle. Two out of three people with type 2 diabetes also have obstructive sleep apnea, which further complicates their blood glucose control.
Lack of adequate sleep impacts our body and blood glucose regulatory mechanisms in several ways:
Our brains don’t take up as much glucose as normal, causing both “brain fog” and higher than normal blood glucose values.
Hormones like cortisol are overproduced to compensate for our sleep shortage, decreasing our insulin production and sensitivity, and causing blood glucose levels to rise.
Our hunger-regulating hormones run at a higher level, tempting us to scarf down high-carbohydrate, high-fat foods that we may not even touch under normal circumstances.
If you have sleep apnea, your insulin-producing cells may not get enough oxygen to produce the insulin you need.
So, ask yourself – how well rested do you feel on a typical day? Do you suffer from morning headaches? Do you doze off during the day? Does your sleep partner complain about your snoring? Are you overweight or are you being treated for high blood pressure?
If you’re having trouble sleeping, here are some helpful suggestions:
Set and maintain regular sleep habits, including: a scheduled bedtime; decreased activity and stress; and no caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol within 2 hours of retiring for the night.
Try a melatonin supplement, 3 mg one hour before bedtime. Melatonin is the hormone your brain produces each night to prepare your body for sleep, so you’re truly supplementing what your body already makes rather than taking a “sleeping pill.”
Take prescription sleep medication exactly as prescribed, if necessary.
Ask your doctor to assess you for sleep apnea and provide appropriate treatment.
If you use a CPAP machine, make sure your mask fits properly and you’re using the heated humidified air setting.
If necessary, see a sleep specialist for a full evaluation.
For more information, visit http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2016/jul-aug/sleep.html or https://www.sleepfoundation.org/.
Have questions about how to successfully manage your diabetes? Schedule a 15 min call with Kent, our diabetes educator and pharmacist. He can help you learn how to celebrate the holidays safely with diabetes!
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