If you’re not getting good-quality slumber, your blood sugar could suffer.
This might sounds like an ideal type 2 diabetes treatment plan: take meds as needed, limit carbs and processed food, eat more veggies and lean protein, exercise daily, and track your blood sugar if your doc advises it. But there’s one surprising element missing: get good sleep each night.
“If you have diabetes, getting good sleep is really, really important,” says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MD, in internist in New York City.
Getting too little sleep throws off your hormone levels. According to the National Sleep Foundation, ongoing sleep loss (making six hours of shut-eye your nightly habit, say) causes your body to release less insulin after you eat. Sleep loss can also jack up levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, that can make your body resistant to insulin. This causes excess glucose in your bloodstream, which can raise your risk of developing type 2 diabetes or make your diabetes harder to control if you’ve already been diagnosed.
What’s more, when you’re tired, you’re more likely to crave certain foods that give you a quick energy boost (think bagels or doughnuts). The more of those simple carbohydrates you eat, the worse your blood sugar control will be, says Sandra Arevalo, RDN, a certified diabetes educator and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
But it’s not quite so simple as just sleep more, or just go to be bed earlier. For one thing, certain diabetes symptoms, like frequent urination, can make patients toss and turn and get worse-quality sleep. For another, people with diabetes often have an increased risk of other problems that rob them of a good night’s rest, such as sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center.
If you know you’re not getting enough sleep (or enough high-quality sleep; you wake up tired despite your best efforts), talk to your doctor. Conditions like sleep apnea are very common and very underdiagnosed, and treatment can make a real difference in helping you sleep more soundly. You could also try this yoga routine for insomnia, start wearing socks to bed, avoid these sleep-stealing habits, and make sure your bedroom follows sleep hygiene best practices.
Dr. Okeke-Igbokwe is an internist and health media expert in New York City.Sonal Chaudhry
Dr. Chaudhry is an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City.Sandra Arevalo
Sandra Arevalo is a spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and director of nutrition services and community outreach at South Bronx Health Center.Paul Knoepflmacher
Dr. Knoepflmacher is a clinical instructor of medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where he also maintains a private practice.Satjit Bhusri
Dr. Bhusri is an attending cardiologist at the Lenox Hill Heart & Vascular Institute and an assistant professor of cardiology at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine.
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If you have diabetes, getting good
sleep is really, really important.
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Sleeping better can help you
improve your metabolic health.
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It can help you with weight control.
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It can help you with reducing
the risk of diabetes.
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If you're someone with diabetes
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who experiences a lot of symptoms
because maybe your diabetes is not
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What happens it that you may be running to
the restroom quite frequently overnight.
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This interrupts your sleep pattern and
your sleep cycle.
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If you're not sleeping well,
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during the day you feel sluggish, you
feel tired, then you get more cravings.
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And you crave foods that give you energy.
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And the foods that give you energy
per choice are carbohydrates.
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And the more carbohydrates you eat,
the higher your numbers are.
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So it's like a vicious circle.
If you are getting less sleep,
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that will likely translate
into less exercise, as well.
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You are less likely to even have
the energy to wanna exercise.
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And this is something that would
not be good for a diabetic.
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The other connection that we do see as
well with someone who has diabetes and
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has issues with sleep,
what we call sleep apnea.
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Patients who do have diabetes
many of them are overweight.
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If you are obese it puts you at
a predisposition to experiencing problems
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with your breathing at night meaning
you just have these pauses with your
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breathing, which can be very dangerous.
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I ask my patients about
sleep all the time, because
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one of the most important things, other
than nutrition and exercise, is sleep.
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And a lot of us are sleep deprived.
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I take what's called a sleep history.
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So I ask people, when they wake up
in the morning do they feel rested?
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What's the quality of their sleep.
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What time did they go to bed.
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Did they eat late.
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Did they have coffee or
alcohol before bedtime.
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And based on those questions
I can kind of formulate
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a sense of what their
sleep patterns are like.
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I also ask them, do they snore.
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They may not know, but
their bed partner may know and
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that's an important clue.
For your whole body, for
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all your organs, for
your brain, for your heart.
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All of regeneration, that is of turnover
fresh new cells, happens while you sleep.
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During that rest period,
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your body is turning around
regenerating fresh new cells.
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Getting rid of the bad cells, the garbage.
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This is the middle of the night,
where all the garbage trucks come out and
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pick up all the trash and dispose of it,
and that's where sleep comes in.
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And if you don't get enough sleep,
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what happens is you have accumulation
of trash that causes both mental
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and physical problems.
The bottom line is sleep hygiene
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measure should be adhered to and
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you should optimize your sleep to
optimize your metabolic health.
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