Sleep Your Way to Better Diabetes Control

If you don't get enough sleep or have poor-quality sleep, your glucose levels may be even harder to control. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 35 percent of Americans get less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. If you are one of them, you're not only tired but you're hurting your glucose levels.

Glucose Control and Sleep

A study in Diabetes Care from the University of Chicago found that morning glucose levels were 23 percent higher in people with diabetes who had poor sleep quality, compared to those who slept well. In addition, the people with diabetes who did sleep well had insulin levels that were 43 percent higher than their sleep-deprived fellows.

So, what's the connection between diabetes and sleep? The thought is that the body's circadian rhythm regulates our hormones and metabolism differently during the day than it does at night. For example, insulin is more readily secreted during the day (when we are eating) than at night. Eating and sleeping at the wrong time or not sleeping well can disturb this rhythm, causing glucose and insulin levels to get out of whack.

Sleep and Your Diet

The time that you go to sleep can also impact your diet and, inadvertently, your glucose levels. Another study, this one in the journal Obesity, from researchers at Northwestern University, showed that people who regularly went to bed late not only tended to eat more food than average during the day, but they also made more unhealthy diet choices, like consuming more fast foods and sweetened beverages and less fruits and vegetables. The researchers noted that people who went to bed late consumed more calories in the afternoon and evening and weighed more than their early-to-bed counterparts.

The Solution

Sleep! While this may be easier said than done, work on getting some quality sleep.

  • Make it a priority to go to bed earlier.
  • Ditch the need to have the TV on or to bring your laptop to bed even artificial light can hinder sleep.
  • Get good exercise to tire yourself out, but avoid exercise right before bed because that can keep you awake.
  • Also think about your caffeine and alcohol intake neither of these help sleep.
  • If you think you have a problem with sleeping, talk with your doctor.

Do whatever helps you to get more sleep or to sleep better because this is a healthy step for you and for your glycemic control.


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