Reason : Gluten And Other Food Sensitivities
Sleep issues are common in patients with celiac disease11 as well as those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, even if they are following a gluten-free diet. I find that many patients with multiple food sensitivities and with leaky gut tend not to sleep well, and that when they eliminate foods based on an IgG and IgA food panel, they report improved sleep. It may seem hard to believe that the gut and brain are so interconnected, but research is now proving the link referred to as the gut-brain axis12.
The Connection Between Lack Of Sleep And Diabetes
âThere is some evidence that sleep deprivation could lead to pre-diabetic state,â says Mark Mahowald, MD, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Hennepin County.
According to Mahowald, the body’s reaction to sleep loss can resemble insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Insulinâs job is to help the body use glucose for energy. In insulin resistance, cells fail to use the hormone efficiently, resulting in high blood sugar.
Diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells do not properly use the insulin. When insulin is not doing its job, high blood sugar levels build in the body to the point where they can harm the eyes, kidneys, nerves, or heart.
Treating Lung Conditions And Excess Mucus
For people with chronic lung conditions, such as or cystic fibrosis, some doctors recommend NAC. It is available in an inhalable form that may help reduce excess mucus.
That said, clinical trials of NAC as a treatment for lung disease have arrived at mixed results, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
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Quick Read Not Sleeping Enough May Contribute To Gestational Diabetes
- Gestational diabetes, elevated blood sugar levels during pregnancy, carries significant risks for both moms and babies.
- A new study shows that pregnant women who sleep less are more likely to have gestational diabetes.
- Sleep in pregnancy is challenging. Good eating habits, exercise and avoiding screen time before bedtime can all help, as can making sleep a priority.
Meanwhilesurprise!youre getting bigger everywhere you look, sometimes even your feet.
Your body is flooded with hormones. Add that to your changing emotional landscape and its no wonder youre having trouble sleeping.
Unfortunately, the results of a recent study suggest that pregnant women who sleep less than 6 hours and 15 minutes a night are almost three times more likely to have gestational diabetes as those who sleep more.
Blood Sugar And Sleep Problems
Sleep can affect your blood sugar levels, and your blood glucose control can also affect your sleep. Its a vicious cycle.
As the amount of sleep decreases, blood sugar increases, escalating the issue. Lack of sleep has been shown to increase blood sugar levels and the risk of diabetic issues. Higher blood sugar means less long-lasting fat metabolism in the night and even less sleep.
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine found that people who slept less than 6 hours a night had more blood sugar complications compared to those who received 8 hours of sleep.
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How Diabetes And High Blood Sugar Affects Your Sleep
To make matters worse? Having diabetes usually makes quality sleep even more elusive. Heres how:
- Sleep Apnea: Many people who have type 2 diabetes also suffer from sleep apnea. When untreated, pauses in breathing can cause people to wake up hundreds of times throughout the night.
- Peripheral Neuropathy: Nerve damage in the legs or feet is common among people with diabetes, and can lead to tingling, numbness, burning, or pain that can make it tougher to doze off.
- Restless Leg Syndrome: Another condition common among those with diabetes, RLS can cause feelings of needing to move your legs while sitting or lying down, which can make it harder to fall or stay asleep.
- High or Low Blood Sugar: Both can make it difficult to achieve restful sleep. Too-high blood sugar can leave you feeling hot, irritable, or unsettled. Blood sugar thats too low could result in nightmares, or cause you to wake up feeling sweaty or clammy.
- Nocturia: Nocturia, or nighttime urination, is a common problem among diabetics thats usually the result of uncontrolled blood sugar. Having higher amounts of sugar in your urine may cause you to wake up and have to go more frequently during the night.
The Chemistry Of The Sleep
Since diabetics are sensitive to blood glucose levels and chemical balances in the body, its illustrative to explore just how detrimental disruptions in the sleep cycle can be. Studies have shown that diabetes worsens when adult sufferers sleep less than 6 hours per night or more than 9. The loss of normal sleep hours or addition of sleep hours seems to undo the bodys chemistry and completely throw off-balance the blood glucose levels. Doctors dont know for sure the exact chemistry behind this phenomenon outside of the observation. This underscores the importance of the sleep cycle chemistry.
Further studies have shown that chronic insomnia in healthy people can also instigate diabetes. Loss of sleep interrupts insulin balanceleads to insulin resistancewhich in turn can lead to more severe medical problems and Type 2 diabetes.
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Tips For Managing Overnight Low Or High Blood Sugars
- Talk to your healthcare team ASAP about adjusting your medication dosages
- Consider getting a continuous glucose monitor to help you keep a better eye on your overnight blood sugar trends, and to simply keep you safer while you sleep.
- Remember, a low blood sugar is not an opportunity to eat everything in the kitchen. This will make it harder to fall asleep, and likely result in a rebounding high blood sugar by morning.
- Keep fast-acting glucose near your bed at all times, like juice boxes, glucose tabs, Smarties, Pixie Stix to treat low blood sugars quickly and efficiently.
- If you take insulin to correct high blood sugars, carefully calculate your correction dose based on how many points 1 unit of insulin lowers your blood sugar. If you are at 300 mg/dL, and 1 unit of insulin lowers your blood sugar by 25 points, youll likely need at least 6 units of insulin to bring you down below 150 mg/dL.
How Sleep Environment Affects Insulin
A study published in the journal Sleep has looked into whether and how nightly light exposure affects the chances of a person to have diabetes. The researchers were motivated by the widespread use of artificial lights at night, both before and during sleep.
There were two groups of people one which slept in dark for two nights, and one which slept in dark on the first night and with overhead light on the second. Both groups were allowed to sleep for about 8 hours.
They found that the single night of sleeping with the light on increased insulin levels this can lead us to ask how artificial light exposure during sleep affects our bodies if we leave the light on over a longer period of time.
You should also reduce the light exposure before bedtime, because the blue light from screens can confuse our body into delaying the production of melatonin, a hormone which makes us sleepy. Therefore, if the lights are strong in our room and we look at screens until bedtime, the chances are high that we will suffer from an inability to fall asleep.
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Maintain Hydration Through The Day
If you frequently find yourself thirsty at night, it might mean that you arent staying hydrated during the day. By maintaining hydration throughout the day, you have less to worry about when bedtime rolls around. Tips for healthy hydration include:
- Sipping fluids regularly, including by setting a schedule reminder if you have a hard time remembering to drink water.
- Using a water bottle to have a drink easily accessible and to track how much water youve consumed.
- Drinking water as your primary beverage and being careful about the intake of sugary drinks like soda or juice as well as caffeinated and alcoholic drinks.
- Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, which have higher moisture content and can increase your water intake from food.
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How The Body Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
Glucose, a typeof sugar, is the bodys primary energy source. Cells throughout your body depend on glucose to continue operating. When you eat a meal, your stomach breaks carbohydrates down into glucose molecules. This glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it circulates throughout your body.
The body prefers for blood sugar levels to be kept within a tight range. To achieve this, a hormone called insulin is released by the pancreas into the bloodstream. Insulin tells your bodys cells to increase their uptake of glucose from the blood, resulting in lower blood sugar levels. If blood sugar levels dip too low such as after an intense bout of exercise another hormone signals the liver to release its excess glucose stores to restore balance.
People with diabetes have a difficult time responding properly to insulin. Those with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin, making them unable to keep their glucose levels under control. Individuals with type 2 diabetes gradually become insensitive to insulin over time, making it difficult to their bodies to respond appropriately to elevated blood glucose. Impaired insulin sensitivity can result from dietary factors, such as high consumption of simple carbohydrates and fat. However, lack of sleep and blood sugar levels are also linked, particularly for those with type 2 diabetes.
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Fasting Alters Sleep Cycles
Studies of people fasting during Ramadan has shown that it doesnt affect most of your sleep cycles, but fasting does reduce the amount of REM sleep .
REM sleep is the lightest sleep stage , that you generally spend more time in as the night progresses.
While not as important for basic restorative purposes, a lack of REM sleep may cause you to wake up earlier or feel less refreshed.
This isnt necessarily a cause for concern, but can help explain a part of why your sleep experience has changed.
Make Sure Youre Drinking Water With All Of Your Meals
Theres an old-time myth circulating that drinking water during meals will dilute your stomach acid, making it harder for your body to absorb nutrients. This simply isnt true. Drinking water during meals actually helps your body in digestion, because it helps your stomach liquefy food and absorb nutrients. Consuming H2O with food could also help prevent constipation by keeping your digestive tract lubricated, making it easier for the turds to slide down when the time comes . Drinking water while you eat could keep you from overeating because it forces you to take breaks from shoveling food into your mouth, and will give you some time to check in with your stomach to see if it really needs more food or if its just being greedy.
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Going To Sleep Dehydrated Can Cause Cramping
Have you ever woken up in the middle of night with an excrusiating leg cramp? Some people call them Charlie horses. If you havent had enough water during the day or before bed, you may experience cramping like this while you sleep, especially in your legs. This can be very painful, waking you up and keeping you from getting a good nights sleep.
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The Measurement Of Insomnia And Insomnia Symptoms
The primary aim was to determine the prevalence of insomnia and insomnia symptoms in adults with T2D. Insomnia or having insomnia symptoms was defined as having the following symptoms: chronic difficulty of falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up early at least 3 times per week during 1 month , although an unequivocal way for measuring insomnia does not exist. The PSQI questionnaire was most frequently used, with the questionnaire aiming to assess overall sleep quality, with a score of > 5 points on the PSQI indicating poorer sleep quality, often referred to as insomnia . But as depicted in and , other methods also are used, such as self-report on having insomnia, the Insomnia Severity Index and the Medical Outcomes Study – Sleep Scale.
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Diabetes And Sleep: A Vicious Cycle
The relationship between diabetes and sleep is complicated, and experts still have a lot to learn about how the whole thing works. What they do know? How much sleep you get could play a role in whether you develop type 2 diabetes in the first place.
First, theres the growing connection between sleep and obesity. Being overweight is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Whats more, evidence shows that there are several ways that skimping on sleep could lead to weight gain:
- When youre zonked, you dont have the energy to exercise.Research suggestsVerified SourceAmerican Academy of Sleep MedicineSociety focused on sleep medicine and disorders, and the AASM is who authorizes U.S. sleep medicine facilities.View sourcethat people who stay up late spend more time sitting than people who wake up early.
- Feeling tired means youre less likely to make healthy food choices, too. When youre exhausted, pizza or takeout just feel easier than a big kale salad.
- Staying up late means more time to eat. People who stay up into the wee hours at night have been found to eat 550 more calories than those who go to bed early.
- Lack of sleep messes with your hormones. Sleep deprivation causes your body to pump out more of the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to weight gain. Youre also flooded with more of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin.
New Research Finds That Carbs Cause Insomnia
With as many as 40 percent of the population suffering from insomnia, effective solutions for sleep problems are in high demand. There are several possible treatments, such as specialized therapies and even medications, but these only help a small percentage of those who have sleep disorders. According to a new study, eating fewer carbs may help many people who suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Researchers looked at more than 50,000 people who participated in a four-year study of lifestyle choices and disease. Those who ate a diet with high levels of refined carbs such as pasta, sugar and white rice were more likely to suffer from insomnia.
How can carbs affect your sleep? When we eat a diet with easy-to-digest refined carbohydrates, our bodies release high amounts of insulin. This lowers our blood sugar quickly. The resulting drop in blood sugar can cause your body to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which make people more alert and jittery.
However, not all carbs have this effect. Less-processed sources of carbs, such as fruits and vegetables, lead to a slower and more steady release of blood sugar. The resulting release of insulin is also more moderated, which does not generally cause the same rise in stress hormones.
This study looked only at women who are age 50 or older. Researchers nonetheless believe that these findings will also apply to men and other age groups.
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Fasting Windows Can Alter Caffeine Habits
This will only apply to a small number of people, but is worth mentioning.
Many people restrict caffeine intake to the morning, as it can make it harder to sleep if you consume it later in the day.
However, if youre practicing intermittent fasting, you may not begin your eating window until later in the day. Even if you break your fast with your coffee, it may still be late enough to cause you sleep issues.
Ways To Combat Menopausal Weight Gain Due To Insulin Resistance
Many women find that they gain weight sometimes a significant amount during menopause. And, to make matters worse, their old tried and true ways of getting the weight off simply dont work.
There are many theories regarding the causes of weight gain at menopause. Its a complex issue that includes a combination of poor diet sedentary lifestyle, stress, and many other factors. But, the truth is, whatever the underlying cause, insulin resistance is the primary driver of menopausal weight gain. And, the key to reversing it and achieving lasting weight loss is to keep insulin levels low.
Now, to be clear, menopause does not cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the result of overall poor hormonal health. If you are struggling with post-menopausal insulin resistance and weight gain here are some additional recommendations:
Have you ever been diagnosed with insulin resistance? What have you done to reverse it?
Additional Resources from Dr. Northrup
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