Sleep: The Forgotten Entity In Diabetes Management

When you are living with diabetes, it can put stress on your life in ways you hadn’t imagined. But if sleep has been a casualty of your condition, it’s time to take action right away. Poor sleep and sleep deprivation can spell disaster for someone with diabetes.  

Getting adequate sleep is important to maintain good metabolic as well as cardiovascular health. Fragmented sleep, less sleep, or sleep deprivation can all impact your risk markers and result in the development of complications. 

1. A1C Levels Higher Among Those With Sleeping Trouble 

Studies show that children with diabetes aged 3-18 years who reported sleep initiation issues also had significantly higher A1C levels.  

Hemoglobin A1C is a measure of average blood sugar levels over 2-3 months. Higher percentages indicate higher blood sugar levels in this 2-3 month window. 

2. Poor Glycemic Control If You Sleep <6.5 hours  

If you don’t sleep enough every night, that could also be bad for your glycemic control.  

Specifically, as one study found, getting under 6.5 hours of sleep could mean higher A1C levels if you have type 1 diabetes. To compound the problem, if the quality of sleep you get in these 6.5 hours is bad, your A1C levels will again be higher.   

3. Insulin Resistance Increases With Sleep Deprivation 

As one study of people with diabetes found, poor sleepers had 82% greater insulin resistance compared to normal sleepers who also had diabetes.  

4. Feeling Sleepy During The Day Could Lead To Poor Food Choices 

If you’re sleep-deprived and drowsy during the day, you are more likely to wind up grazing on snacks throughout the day to give yourself the energy to get through your work and chores1. Unfortunately, these are usually comfort foods typically high on sugar and carbs. Indulging these cravings and overeating in general, can cause blood sugar levels to spike and mess with insulin levels – disaster for your diabetes management. 

5. Missed Sleep Can Impede Other Processes 

Other bodily processes like weight control, appetite regulation, and the functioning of your immune system take a beating when you don’t get enough sleep due to the resulting imbalance of hormones2. And not having these other factors in control may lead to further issues with your metabolic processes and diabetes. 

6. Lack Of Sleep Can Cause Weight Gain

Inadequate sleep can cause you to eat sugary, carb-laden foods that cause weight gain. Excess weight and obesity are linked to diabetes, so that’s something you should try and avoid. It can also hamper attempts to exercise to stay fit for glycemic control and weight loss.


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