What All Diabetics Need to Know About Sleep

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

What is it about what happens when we sleep that puts us at greater risk for diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, as well as worsening an already existing health condition?

Scientists are still unlocking the mysteries about what happens when we sleep. But what we know already is that during sleep, our body takes the time to improve learning and brain functioning, as well as healing and repairing blood vessels and the heart and other organs. Being unable to repair blood and organ systems from prolonged sleep deprivation or sleep issues can become one of many factors at play that contribute to a chronic condition.

If you are one of the 29 million people living with diabetes, here's how not getting a good night's sleep can further affect your health with the condition.

1. Diabetes risk and sleep problems

As noted, if you are not already living with diabetes, not getting enough sleep puts you at greater risk of developing the condition. This may occur in part because when you don't get enough sleep, your body may begin to struggle to use insulin efficiently, leading to high blood sugar.

2. Waking during the night

Just as trouble sleeping may cause issues with insulin regulation, having trouble sleeping may point to already existing issues with maintaining your blood sugar level. If you find that you regularly wake to use the bathroom, it may suggest that you have high blood glucose levels.

This could be because your body is trying to get rid of the excess sugar, and the only way it can do that is by processing it through the kidneys.

3. Sleep apnea and diabetes

Another cause of poor sleep is sleep apnea, which is also shown a relation to diabetes and being overweight.

If you snore, are overweight, are having trouble sleeping, and you're diabetic, you should talk with your doctor. Sleep apnea may actually make your diabetes worse.

4. What you can do to improve your sleep

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute also has reported that Getting enough sleep proves to be vital for your mental health and physical health. If you are living with diabetes and suffer from lack of sleep, you need to talk with your doctor about ensuring that you are maintaining an appropriate blood sugar level. Avoid foods that can spike your blood sugar levels such as :

  • White rice and bread

  • Soda and sugary drinks

  • Red meat

  • Fast and packaged foods

  • Whole milk

It’s also important that to reduce your risk for complication, that you make sure you eat appropriately during the day.

If you suffer from sleep apnea and are overweight, exercising and eating wellcan help you lose weight and reduce (or even eliminate) the condition**.** If your sleep apnea is severe, you may be prescribed a machine called a CPAP that will help keep your airways open at night and ensure you get quality sleep.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.