Functioning On Sleep Deprivation
When our bodies try to function on less sleep, stress hormones, like cortisol, increase, and our systems start craving quick sources of high-carb, high-sugar fuel, even though they wont keep us energized for long. Because of the shift in stress hormones, we are also likely to experience insulin resistance in the day, or days, following a bad night of sleep.
So, what happens next? More out of range blood sugars due to our cravings and insulin resistance, so the cycle begins again. And this is, of course, without any added issues of insomnia, anxiety, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and other sleep disorders and mental health disruptors that can impact people living with T1D more intensely.
While an off night here and there can be recovered from, chronic disrupted sleep can lead to poorer health outcomes. In a 2016 study, Sarah S. Farabi reported that adults with type 1 diabetes who slept less than 6.5 hours per night, or spent less time in slow-wave sleep , had higher A1C levels than those who experienced healthy sleep amounts and patterns. Understandably, this can lead to added stress and anxiety over our diabetes management and health, continuing the unhelpful cycle.
What Can You Eat For Better Sleep
Following a healthy and balanced diet low in refined sugar, salt, and saturated fats can increase energy levels during the day and help you sleep better at night.
Vitamins and nutrients that are especially beneficial for sleep include vitamin D, vitamin C, calcium, and selenium. You can find these vitamins and nutrients in foods like nuts, grains, dairy products, seafood, meat, fruits, and vegetables.
If you’re craving a late-night snack, there are certain foods said to promote sleep by boosting levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Foods that may be sleep-inducing include milk, kiwifruit, and tart cherries. A bedtime snack high in fiber-rich complex carbohydrates , such as nuts, may also contribute to more restorative sleep.
For the best sleep, include a variety of foods in your diet. Incorporating a balance of proteins , carbohydrates, and healthy fats in every meal can help keep your blood sugar and energy levels more stable. Give your sleep an extra boost by eating a well-rounded breakfast, exercising regularly , avoiding sugar before bed, and drinking plenty of water.
It may be difficult to kick the habit of reaching for sugary treats when you’re tired. However, each day of proper eating brings you one step closer to better sleep and helps you wake up feeling more energized.
The Importance Of Bedtime And Consistency
The ZOE research team and their international collaborators analyzed the blood sugar responses and sleep data of 953 people without any health conditions, who took part in a clinical trial called PREDICT 1.
The team published their results in the journal Diabetologia.
To allow the scientists to assess the participants sleep patterns in detail, the volunteers wore sleep trackers that picked up movement beyond what standard wearables are capable of.
After a good nights sleep measured by looking at whether they managed to stay asleep for most of the night the participants were generally able to avoid big blood sugar spikes after breakfast the following day.
But when the participants didnt sleep well, they experienced big spikes in blood sugar after breakfast, particularly if they opted for sugary foods.
Sleep efficiency, or how well you sleep, is clearly an important factor. But so is bedtime.
People who generally had a later bedtime were less able to control their blood sugar the next morning, even if they slept in. Going to bed earlier, on the other hand, led to better blood sugar control.
This means that youre better able to control your blood sugar if you go to sleep earlier than you are if you try to catch up on sleep in the morning.
Consistency is key because if you normally go to sleep early, staying up late for even just one night will make your blood sugar control worse the next day.
But how is blood sugar linked to heart disease?
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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.
Always Follow Up With The Doctor
It is very important to call your doctor as soon as possible after experiencing nocturnal hypoglycemia. The patient and doctor should try to figure out what caused the episode and how to prevent it from happening again.Often the doctor will suggest:
Changing the dose or timing of insulin or other medications
Setting an alarm for the early morning so that the patient can test their blood glucose levels and determine how often the episodes occur
Having the person wear a continuous glucose monitor that checks blood glucose every five minutes with an alarm that wakes the patient from sleep if levels start to drop too low. This option is usually reserved for patients who experience frequent or severe nocturnal hypoglycemia
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A Low Blood Sugar Level Without Diabetes
A low blood sugar level is uncommon in people who do not have diabetes.
Possible causes include:
- a gastric bypass
- other medical conditions, such as problems with your hormone levels, pancreas, liver, kidneys, adrenal glands or heart
- some medicines, including quinine
See a GP if you think you keep getting symptoms of a low blood sugar level. They can arrange some simple tests to check if your blood sugar level is low and try to find out what’s causing it.
Exploring The Connection Between Blood Sugar And Insomnia
Todays society is full of stimulation. From the technology you use to the foods you eat, there are many things you come in contact with throughout the day that will stimulate your brain. All of this stimulation and activity can make it difficult to sleep, and many adults suffer from insomnia as a result. Consider the connection between certain activities, such as blood sugar and insomnia.
Medication and Insomnia
For some, turning to medications may be the first step in addressing insomnia. However, a few of these medications have strong side effects, are not tolerated well and may lead to a chemical dependence. While medications may help you short-term, they do not address the underlying causes of insomnia. Medications might not work well as a long-term solution to your sleep issues.
Blood Sugar Stability and Insomnia
Often, insomnia is linked directly to blood sugar imbalances. If you cant fall asleep, or if you can fall asleep but not stay asleep, a blood sugar imbalance may be to blame. Read on to learn how your blood sugar affects your quality of sleep and what you can do to get a better nights rest.
What Is Insomnia?
Facts about Insomnia
Insomnia is common in adults, and the National Institutes of Health report that approximately 30 percent of the general population suffer from some sleep disruption. About 10 percent of people who suffer from insomnia have daytime functional impairments that are associated with a diagnosis.
Unable to Fall Asleep
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Check For Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea, a sleep disorder, is common among people with type 2 diabetes, says Kingman Strohl, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 7 in 10 people with type 2 diabetes also have obstructive sleep apnea. When youre overweight and have excess fat in your neck, it can cause sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing starts and stops while youre asleep, as the National Sleep Foundation notes. This abnormal breathing during sleep affects the bodys oxygen supply and leads to lower-quality sleep, the foundation reports. Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, excessive sleepiness during the day, irritability, and morning headaches. If you or your partner suspects you have sleep apnea, ask your doctor about a sleep test. Sleep apnea can be treated with breathing devices, such as a positive airway pressure machine, and lifestyle changes, including losing weight, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports.
How Does Sleep Affect Diet
People who don’t receive sufficient amounts of sleep are also more likely to consume more calories overall , eat the bulk of their food later in the day, and favor snacks over proper meals. Conversely, extending sleep and maintaining a regular sleep schedule are associated with healthier diet choices.
Over time, the link between poor sleep and unhealthy food choices can have negative consequences for health. Long-term sleep deprivation affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and is considered a risk factor for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
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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.
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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/5how To Tell The Difference
The major difference between the two is that the Somogyi effect leads to hypoglycemia followed by hyperglycemia. One of the easiest ways to find out if the spike in the blood sugar level is due to the Somogyi effect is to check blood sugar levels at bedtime and after waking up. If the blood sugar level is low at night then it is due to the Somogyi effect. In case it is normal or high it can be due to the dawn phenomenon. Another point to keep in mind is that the Somogyi effect can occur any time of the day when your body has a high blood sugar level.
Eating The Right Foods Based On Your Sleep
After a bad or short nights sleep, its natural to crave sugary breakfasts or drinks, said Dr. Sarah Berry in the podcast. She is an associate professor in nutrition at Kings College London and ZOEs Head of Nutrition Science.
As if that wasnt bad enough, the lack of sleep and sugar interact, and the outcome for your blood sugar response is even worse.
Think about what breakfast to eat if youve had a bad nights sleep, Prof. Franks urged.
Avoid refined cereals, white bread, toast, croissants, and energy drinks, Dr. Berry said. She recommended reaching for foods that are higher in protein and healthy fats, like eggs and sourdough with avocado, rather than carbs.
We now know that controlling blood sugar peaks and dips can have major effects on our body, such as tiredness, hunger, weight gain, and long term health conditions, commented Prof. Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at Kings College London and ZOE co-founder.
I was surprised at the strength of the relationship we found in normal people not just night shift workers or insomniacs. It shows how crucial even small changes in the timing and quality of sleep are for our overall health and well-being, he continued.
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The Scary Effects Sugar Has On Your Sleep
Its no secret that sugar can affect us in many different ways, but did you know it has a direct impact on our quality of sleep? Yes, one of sugars dirty little secrets is the effect it can have on a good nights rest.
Lets discuss a few of the most significant effects that sugar has on sleep and what we can do to get a better nights rest tonight.
How A Lack Of Sleep Affects Bgs + Stress Levels
This content was made possible with support from Medtronic Diabetes.
Editors Note: This content has been verified by , a Clinical Associate Professor at Stanford University. Shes a clinical endocrinologist and researcher with a focus on diabetes management and diabetes technology. Dr. Basina is an active member of multiple medical advisory boards and community diabetes organizations, and she is on the Beyond Type 1 Science Advisory Council.
Based on research supported by the University of Chicago, elevated blood sugar levels, carbohydrate and sugar cravings, insulin resistance What do these things have in common? They are all the results of sleep deprivation.
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Why Sleep Is Important For People With Diabetes
When you are getting enough sleep, you may find that you have an easier time controlling your blood sugar. Youll be more alert during the day, have more energy, less stress, and an overall better mindset for monitoring and managing your diabetes.
Consider what happens when you dont get enough sleep. In addition to other things that may interfere with your sleep like schedule changes or stress, people with diabetes can have potential complications with sleep. Both high and low blood sugar levels can interrupt your sleep. People with type 2 diabetes who dont get a good nights sleep may me more insulin resistant and have a harder time controlling blood sugar levels. Sleep apnea is also common in people with type 2 diabetes, and neuropathy can cause leg pain that keeps you awake.
The good news: its entirely possible to control these things and get a long, healthy night of rest. With that in mind, here are some tips for getting to sleep.
8 helpful tips for getting a good nights sleep
Looking At Sleep’s Effect On Blood Sugar Levels
For this study, researchers set out to investigate how sleep duration, timing, and quality can affect people’s blood sugar fluctuations.
To do so, they pooled nearly 1,000 healthy adults for a two-week study. Over the course of the two weeks, participants wore movement-tracking devices that measured their sleep quality and glucose-monitoring devices that recorded their blood sugar after eating a standardized breakfast each morning.
The change in blood glucose levels after eating a meal is known as “postprandial glycemic control.” Maintaining better postprandial glycemic control is a sign of healthy blood sugar balance.
The findings suggest that a later bedtime and poor sleep quality could result in lower glycemic control, as well as suboptimal blood sugar levels. An earlier bedtime and better sleep quality, on the other hand, were associated with greater blood sugar control and healthier blood sugar levels. The positive effect seemed to go both ways: After maintaining healthy blood sugar levels post-breakfast, participants experienced better sleep quality.
And when a participant got better-quality sleep than usual, the findings showed their blood sugar was typically lower than normal after eating breakfast, suggesting an immediate and positive effect.
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