Living with diabetes blog

Sleep and diabetes

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. December 1, 2010

Does lack of sleep affect my diabetes?

I've been asked this question by my patients but haven't known how to answer. After recently reading several articles on lack of sleep and diabetes, it seems that there's no pat answer to this question. And there are many variables to consider. However, it does seem that sleep may be an important factor in your diabetes management.

How much sleep a person needs varies depending on the individual. As an example of two sleep extremes, the famous scientists Einstein and Edison had very different sleep requirements. Edison thought sleep was a waste of time, but he did take naps during the day. In contrast, Einstein slept 10 hours a night.

Healthy adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, and, today, the average amount of sleep per night is less than this. Studies find that the less people sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight. And being overweight increases insulin resistance. One study I read indicated that the body's reaction to sleep loss actually resembles insulin resistance.

Getting more sleep and improving the quality of sleep may have a positive effect on glucose control in people with and without diabetes. So if you're having sleep difficulties, consider taking a few steps to promote healthy sleep:

  • Exercise early, not immediately before bed
  • Maintain consistency with a regular routine
  • Try relaxation techniques such as taking a hot bath or reading a book
  • Restrict alcohol and caffeine, and avoid heavy meals before bedtime
  • Save worry for the next day, which can be easier said than done; consider journaling to process thoughts

If you're having trouble sleeping and these strategies aren't working for you, see your healthcare provider.

What are your thoughts on how lack of sleep affects you and your diabetes?

Have a great week.

Nancy

Dec. 01, 2010