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How Does Sleep Affect Blood Sugar

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How A Lack Of Sleep Can Affect Your Diabetes

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Experts associate a lack of sleep with an altered hormone balance that can affect food intake and weight. If you have diabetes, you face a challenging circle. Its common to compensate for a lack of sleep by eating an excess amount of food to try to gain energy through calories.

This can cause your blood sugar levels to rise and make it harder to achieve a decent amount of sleep. Then, you may find yourself in this same sleepless situation.

A lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity. Being obese can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Follow these tips to get a better nights rest.

Lack Of Sleep And Its Effect On Blood Sugar Levels

May 15, 2017 by Sound Sleep Health

More than 29 million Americans suffer from diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with millions more falling into the pre-diabetes range. Keeping blood glucose levels under control is essential to good health, both for people with diabetes and those who do not have the disease. Although most people know that dietary choices and exercise affect blood sugar levels, many do not realize that sleep can also have a dramatic effect on glycemic control. Failing to get enough sleep or getting poor quality sleep can have serious effects on your blood sugar. This is unhealthy for all individuals but particularly dangerous for those with diabetes or prediabetes.

What Can You Do To Keep Your Blood Sugar Balanced

The best way to avoid this whole pattern is to:

1.Choose protein every time you eat, along with high-fiber carbs and healthy fats.

2.Minimize sugars

3.Eat half-size meals so your blood sugar doesnt go so high.

4.Eat every three to four hours so your blood sugar doesnt dip too low.

5.Avoid eating sugar or processed high-carb foods especially within two hours of bedtime.

This is important even if you are not diabetic and your blood tests show a normal blood sugar. It is best to start implementing these tips now rather than later, because if this pattern continues unaddressed, it can lead to further issues down the line.

When insulin is responding in high amounts day after day, and year after year because of high carbohydrate meals and imbalanced blood sugar levels, your cells stop responding to the insulin so efficiently and/or your insulin level can drop permanently .

This means your blood sugar levels stay high and this too, can cause you to feel sleepy after eating carbs because you do not have enough insulin to transport the sugar from your blood into your cells where it can be turned into energy.

When it gets to that point it is even more important to follow these tips in order to keep your blood sugar balanced and your sleep patterns healthy.

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Trouble Sleeping From High Sugar Levels

High blood sugar levels can impact upon your sleep. It could be that the high levels make it less comfortable for you to sleep it may make you feel too warm or irritable and unsettled.

Another factor is if you need to go the toilet during the night. For people with regularly high blood sugar levels this can have a pronounced impact on your ability to get a good nights sleep. If this is the case, be sure to mention this to your health team.

Stay Away From Stimulants At Night

The Importance of Sleep in Blood Glucose Regulation

Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages, exercising, and even doing simple work around the house at night.

The only type of evening workout you should consider is a slow-paced yoga session that can prepare your body for sleep. Otherwise, youll speed up your blood flow, and itll take a while for your body to calm down.

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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.

What Should I Do If This Happens

People and their partners or roommates should learn to recognize the signs of nighttime hypoglycemia. Be prepared! Ask your doctor for an emergency glucagon kit. This kit contains a fast-acting medication that can be injected if the person cant be woken up. Store the kit in a bedside drawer for easy access.


  • If the person cannot be woken: If there is no emergency glucagon kit, call 911. If the person has a glucagon kit, the partner or roommate should follow the instructions to fill the syringe and inject the medicine. Once fully awake, he/she should eat a meal and check their blood glucose every few hours using a home test kit. After giving the injection, the persons doctor should be notified.

  • If the person can be woken up and sit without support: They should be given a fast-acting glucose source. Good options include hard candy, fruit juice or glucose paste or tablets, which can be purchased at most pharmacies. Once the person is fully awake, they should eat a meal and check their blood glucose every few hours using a home test kit.

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What Are The Complications From Lack Of Sleep

  • Lack of sleep increases the risk for diabetes, obesity, and depression.
  • A lack of sleep can lead to less mental clarity and difficulty concentrating.
  • It has been found that those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to make poor decisions and more impulsive choices.
  • Lack of sleep increases the risk of experiencing mood swings and feeling irritable or depressed.
  • Sleeping less than 7 hours a night can lead to more serious health problems such as cancer, heart disease, and obesity.
  • Sleep deprivation increases the risk of mortality by 13%. This increased risk is similar to high blood pressure or smoking, both of which are well known for increasing the risk of mortality.
  • Extended periods of no sleep can potentially be fatal.

How Are You Sweetening Your Coffee What You Add To Your Cup May Affect Your Blood Sugar Levels

Does sugar affect your sleep?

Whether you were recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or have been living with the condition for several years, you know how fickle blood sugar levels can be, and how important it is that they stay controlled.

Proper blood sugar control is key for warding off potential diabetes complications, such as kidney disease, nerve damage, vision problems, stroke, and heart disease, according to the National Institutes of Health . Plus, keeping your levels in check on a daily basis can help you stay energized, focused, and in a good mood, explains Lisa McDermott, RD, CDCES, a diabetes specialist with the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network.

According to the American Diabetes Association , proper medication, effective meal planning, regular exercise, and regular blood sugar checks can all help you keep your levels within a healthy range. The ADA recommends blood glucose stay within 80 to 130 milligrams per deciliter before meals and below 180 mg/dL two hours after the start of a meal. Furthermore, the organization recommends getting an A1C test, which measures your average blood glucose over the past two to three months, at least twice per year if your levels are stable and you are meeting treatment goals.

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Ways To Create Stronger Sleep Habits

One way to help manage your diabetes and ensure that youre getting enough restorative sleep is to create stronger sleep habits. Since too little sleep can wreak havoc on your body due to excess cortisol and fluctuations in blood sugar levels and too much sleep is also dangerous, finding the right balance is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Here are 9 ways to create stronger sleep habits that you can start implementing tonight.

  • Turn off Electronics

    The blue light in electronic devices has been shown to disrupt your bodys natural circadian rhythm. Your brain responds similarly to how it does in sunshine, which can wake you up and cause difficulty when trying to fall into a deep sleep. To wind down, keep the phones and televisions out of the bedroom and switch to reading a book before bed instead.

  • Cut Back on Booze

    While many people believe that alcohol helps you sleep, that couldnt be further from the truth. In reality, alcohol may make you fall asleep faster, but it diminishes your brains ability to reach REM sleepthe sleep phase that gives you restorative benefits that make you feel refreshed each morning. Alcohol also increases sleep disturbances.

  • Maintain a Regular Bedtime
  • 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.

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    How Does Sleep Affect Diet

    Sleep deprivation alters the brain’s reward system , making people more likely to indulge in foods that are high in sugar and fat .

    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.

    What Sleep Disorders Are Common In People With Diabetes

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    Individuals with type 2 diabetes have a higher chance of developing accompanying sleep disorders, the most common being restless legs syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea.

    • Restless Legs Syndrome : Approximately one in five people with type 2 diabetes have restless legs syndrome, marked by tingling or other irritating sensations in the legs that can interfere with getting to sleep. People with diabetes are also at risk for another condition called peripheral neuropathy. Caused by nerve damage, the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are very similar to RLS and include numbness, tingling, and pain in the extremities. People who experience these symptoms should consult a healthcare provider, as peripheral neuropathy requires treatment to reduce long-term nerve damage.
    • Obstructive Sleep Apnea : Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which a person momentarily stops breathing at recurring intervals throughout the night. In most cases, the person is not aware this is happening, though a bed partner may observe snoring and gasping. These lapses in breathing cause micro-arousals that interfere with the natural progression of the sleep stages and impair sleep quality. OSA typically occurs in people who are overweight or obese, as they often have a thicker neck circumference that interferes with the airway. The condition can be treated with a continuous positive airway pressure device that keeps the airway open to restore normal breathing and reduce interruptions to sleep.

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    Why Do We Need Sleep

    Sleep has a profound effect on brain function and is critical for the growth of new brain cells and formation of new connections. Getting adequate sleep helps with memory and learning, particularly in the way it allows our brains to filter out and store the important bits of information we have gathered throughout the day and store these to memory.

    Our brains also use sleep as an opportunity to flush out toxins that have accumulated throughout the day. Some of these toxins, called beta-amyloids, are associated with an increased risk of brain disorders like of Alzheimers disease. Other aspects of brain function such as attention, creativity and decision-making ability are also heavily dependent on adequate sleep.

    Sleep has a significant influence over our physical health as well. Not only is it essential for the growth and repair of our muscles and other cells throughout our body, it also strengthens our immune system and improves our ability to fight infection. Interestingly, sleep also helps to maintain the balance between the hormones which regulate our feelings of hunger and fullness in relation to food. Poor sleep has been shown to affect this balance which to some extent may explain why there is an increased risk of obesity with inadequate sleep over the long term.

    How Much Do You Need

    Being well rested is important for people of all ages to stay in good health. How many hours of sleep you need changes as you age. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Children and teens need more.

    Learn more about how much sleep you need.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Poor Sleep

    Not getting enough or high-quality sleep may be affecting you more than you think. Some warning signs of poor sleep include:

    • feeling irritable or depressed
    • having trouble paying attention or concentrating
    • experiencing mood swings.

    If too little or too much sleep is a recurring problem for you, talk to your doctorit may be an early symptom of diabetes. However, it might also indicate that something else in your life needs attention.

    The Relationship Between Blood Sugar And Sleep Disorders

    How Lack of Sleep Affects Insulin Resistance & Blood Sugar? Dr.Berg

    The relationship between sleep and the effect of diabetes is dynamic and often circular. While sleep affects your diabetes, diabetes can affect your overall quality of sleep. Those living with type 2 diabetes have a higher chance of developing sleep disorders, which can further complicate blood sugar problems.

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    Low Sleep High Blood Sugar

    Maarouf says high blood sugar is a red flag for sleep problems among people with diabetes for another reason. âPeople who are tired will eat more because they want to get energy from somewhere,â she says. âThat can mean consuming sugar or other foods that can spike blood sugar levels.â

    âI really push people to eat properly throughout the day and get their blood sugars under control so they sleep better at night,â Maarouf says. âIf you get your blood sugar under control, you will get a good night sleep and wake up feeling fabulous with lots of energy.â

    Common Sleep Disorders For People With Diabetes

    Insomnia difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

    Restless leg syndrome a condition that causes an uncomfortable sensation in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them.

    Sleep apnea a condition that causes a person to stop breathing for short periods of time during sleep.

    Periodic limb movement disorder a condition that causes repetitive movements of the arms and/or legs during sleep. This can disrupt sleep and make people tired during the day.

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    Can A Lack Of Sleep Be A Cause Of Diabetes

    Research has shown that sleep deprivation and insulin resistance may be linked.

    People who regularly lack sleep are will feel more tired through the day and more likely to eat comfort foods.

    A good nights sleep is important for our hormones to regulate a large number of the bodys processes, such as appetite, weight control and the immune system.

    How To Get Better Sleep

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    Overall, if youre struggling with staying in range, experiencing insulin resistance, or fighting food cravings, it may be time to look at your sleep health. Here are a few tips you might not have thought to try to build a better sleep strategy:

    • Stop eating a few hours before bedtime so you have time to level out your blood sugar before you go to sleep. Being able to keep a steady level overnight will help your body slip into deep sleep cycles and lead to more restorative sleep.
    • Sleeping on a consistent schedule matters more than the actual hours you sleep. In other words, you dont have to sleep from 10pm to 6am to be a healthy sleeper, but it will help to keep consistent hours. If your schedule dictates sleep from 1am to 10am, great! Just keep to a schedule.
    • Staring at screens before bed disrupts your brains signals to fall asleep. If you absolutely cannot give up Netflix, grab blue light blocking glasses. If you can, put away your computer and phone an hour or more before bedtime. Let your body know its time to sleep.
    • If you have a hard time falling asleep, consider what activities may be increasing your stress hormones in the evening, like challenging post-5pm exercise. If you can, consider switching around your schedule to do strenuous activity earlier in the day.
    • The brain loves a routine. Make bedtime your favorite time of day by creating a ritual of stretching, meditation, and caffeine-free tea before you turn in.

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