Sleep and Sugar: How Diabetes Affects Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
By Alicia Sanchez
Diabetes and sleep loss often go hand in hand. People with diabetes are often sleep deprived, and at the same time, sleep loss may make diabetic symptoms worse. For example, sleep deprivation has been linked to impaired glucose metabolism.
What Diabetes Does to Sleep
Diabetics often struggle with insomnia, especially if blood sugar and hormone levels are not regulated. With a high blood sugar level during the day, you may find it difficult for you to sleep well at night.
If you have high blood sugar levels, you may experience neuropathy. This feeling is a burning or tingling feeling in the fingers, toes, hands, and feet.
Diabetics are more likely to experience sleep disorders including Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and sleep apnea. RLS can keep you awake at night as you feel a strong urge to move your lower limbs. Sleep apnea causes interrupted breathing during sleep. Many people wake up each time their breathing is stopped, which can make deep, restorative sleep be very elusive.
While sleep can be difficult with diabetes, improving the quality of your sleep can help you manage diabetes. With more sleep at a higher quality, you may be able to decrease glucose levels and better manage your diabetes symptoms.
Improving Sleep for Diabetics
Getting a good night’s sleep can help you feel better — but that’s not always easy when you are dealing with diabetic symptoms. Try these tips that can increase the quality of sleep for diabetics.
Maintain proper blood sugar levels. Work with your doctor to get to the right blood sugar level throughout the
day. A roller coaster of blood sugar levels is detrimental to your energy levels, but maintaining a good blood sugar level throughout the day can make it easier for the body to keep your levels regulated through the night.
Manage neuropathy and RLS. If you’re experiencing symptoms of neuropathy or RLS, talk to your doctor. Often, the best treatment for these symptoms is properly maintaining your blood sugar levels, but your doctor may have additional treatment options if you’re already doing that and not seeing an improvement in symptoms.
Lose weight if you’re obese. Diabetes and sleep apnea have a common risk factor: obesity. Sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, may affect overweight people at a higher rate than those at a lower weight. If you’re obese, work with your doctor to create a plan for healthy weight loss. Losing weight can help alleviate the symptoms of both diabetes and sleep disorders.
Practice good sleep hygiene. Managing diabetic symptoms and improving overall health can help you sleep better, but you may still suffer from poor sleep if you have bad sleep habits. Create a healthy, comfortable, and calm sleep environment by upgrading your mattress or mattress topper, adding blackout curtains and minimizing noise. Maintain a regular sleep schedule and bedtime routine so you can train yourself to settle down and get to sleep at the same time each night. Avoid pitfalls that can interfere with healthy sleep, such as late-night caffeine, and alcohol just before bed. Screen time can also be a problem, so it’s best to stop screen exposure at least one hour before bedtime.
For further information on peripheral neuropathy read our article here!
For more on sleep and diabetes, read a longer article by Tuck here.
Alicia Sanchez is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com with a specialty in health and wellness. A Nashville native, Alicia finds the sound of summer storms so soothing that she still sleeps with recorded rain on her white noise machine.