Living with diabetes blog

Adequate sleep key factor in controlling diabetes

By Sara J. Carlson, R.N., C.D.E. July 10, 2015

Stressful life events. Sleeplessness. Overeating. High blood sugars. Excessive thirst and frequent urination. Sleeplessness. Nighttime eating. Weight gain. Worry. Sleeplessness. Lack of energy. Little exercise. High blood sugar. Does this sound familiar?

Many of you with diabetes describe this "vicious cycle". For example, high blood sugars cause excessive thirst and frequent urination which keep you awake at night. When you don't sleep well, you tend to eat more which leads to weight gain and high blood sugars. This gives a whole new meaning to the term "sweet dreams".

Research has found that insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC. Specifically, sleep duration and quality have emerged as predictors of levels of Hemoglobin A1c, an important marker of blood sugar control.

Recent research suggests that optimizing sleep duration and quality may be important means of improving blood sugar control in persons with Type 2 diabetes.

Experts recommend most adults get seven to eight hours of sleep per day, but sleep requirements vary with individuals. If you depend on an alarm clock to wake up, find yourself cranky or forgetful, or rely on caffeine to make it through the day, you're probably sleep deprived.

Need some tips for better sleep?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
  • Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, which is neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable and use it only for sleeping and not for other activities such as reading, watching TV, or listening to music. Remove all TVs, computers, and other "gadgets" from the bedroom.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime.

As you know, being overweight or obese is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, but it's also a risk factor for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder marked by loud snoring and pauses in breathing while you sleep.

There are effective treatments for sleep apnea. If you (or the person next to you), suspect you may have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor.

Please share your sleep experiences and suggestions for improved sleep.

Sleep well,

July 10, 2015