Why is Good Sleep Necessary For People With Diabetes?

World Sleep Day: People with Type 2 Diabetes are prone to having sleep disorders or an unstable sleeping pattern. Irregular sleeping patterns can be caused by high sugar levels (Hyperglycemia) and low sugar levels (Hypoglycemia). An irregular sleep pattern can lead to fatigue the next day and insomnia. On this World Sleep Day, let us try to understand the relationship between diabetes and a good night’s rest.Also Read – World Sleep Day: 7 Tips to Sleep Better at Night And How it Helps in Improving Quality of Life

Connection between Diabetes and Your Sleep Pattern Also Read – Can’t Fall Asleep at Night? Try These Mental Tricks to Beat Insomnia And Calm Your Mind

Diabetes or any other chronic condition can lead to a stressful situation which can make you overanxious and can lead you to staying awake at night. When you suffer from Hyperglycemia, your kidneys force you to urinate more often and this can cause you to get up multiple times during the night. High blood sugar levels can also lead to increased thirst, fatigue and headaches, which interfere with your sleeping pattern. On the other hand, low blood sugar levels might make you sweat during your sleep or you might wake up feeling irritated or confused. Therefore both Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia can cause you trouble while sleeping. Also Read – How to Manage Diabetes During Holiday Season? Easy Tips For Diabetics by Expert

How Can a Poor Sleeping Pattern Affect Your Sugar Levels?

Diabetes and your sleeping pattern work both ways. A poor sleeping pattern can have an adverse effect upon your sugar levels. If you do not get adequate sleep, it can affect your insulin resistance, oxidative stress, etc. People with an irregular sleeping pattern have been proven to follow an erratic diet which leads to a spike in their sugar levels. If you have an irregular sleeping pattern, it can lead to increased levels of ghrelin, the controlling hormone. It also leads to a decrease in leptin, the hormone that gives us the feeling of fullness or being satiated. To compensate for low levels of energy, people seek refuge in high calorie foods. This instantly spikes their sugar levels and puts them at a risk for obesity. Obesity is another risk factor that leads to Type 2 Diabetes.

Sleeping Disorders associated with Diabetes

You might suffer from a particular disorder when it comes to diabetes. Commonly, people with Type 2 Diabetes can suffer from the following disorders:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea – In this disorder, a person can stop breathing at recurring intervals throughout the night. It might leave them gasping for breath. The person might not even be aware of his/her condition and might need help from their partner to analyze their situation and take the necessary corrective measures. It generally happens to people who are overweight or obese.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) – This is a common condition of the nervous system where a person will have uncomfortable sensations that cause an overwhelming urge to move the legs or arms. This is also caused by Diabetes Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN) where there is damage to the nerves and present with symptoms of tingling sensation in legs that can patients with Diabetes having trouble causing adequate sleep. The symptoms may also include pain in the extremity, numbness and tingling. Both RLS & DPN can lead to long term nerve damage if not treated at the right time by a healthcare provider.

Other problems associated with diabetes and sleep patterns

People who have Type 2 diabetes and an irregular sleeping pattern, suffer from other problems as well. They feel fatigued and are unable to follow the right diabetes-care routine. They are unable to have a workout routine or closely monitor their blood sugar levels. Having an irregular sleeping pattern can also lead to a lot of psychological distress. It contributes to everyday stress which can, in turn, lead to a spike in your blood sugar levels.

Treatment of Sleep Apnea

It is proven that physical health plays a crucial role in developing a healthy sleep pattern. To treat Sleep Apnea, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) should be coupled with weight loss if you want to see positive results.

Diabetes and Sleeping – How can diabetics develop the right sleep hygiene?

If you keep a regular tab on your sugar levels and keep them within the controlled range, it can help you attain a better sleep pattern. You should also practice the right sleep hygiene. Some of the practices include the following –

  • Follow a regular workout regime.
  • Avoid consuming nicotine, caffeine or alcohol before bed.
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool.
  • Consume a healthy diet. Avoid having heavy or large meals within a couple of hours before bedtime.
  • Reduce screen time right before bedtime.

Follow all the recommendations given by your health coach to manage your diabetes in the best possible manner. Only when your sugar levels are within the controlled range, you will be able to avoid diabetes related complications.

(With inputs by Dr. Mudit Sabharwal, Head of Medical Affairs, BeatO)


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