Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the body is unable to produce or use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy. When the body cannot produce insulin, it cannot regulate blood sugar, which can lead to a number of health problems.
When the body does not receive the proper amounts of sleep, it experiences a spike in hormone levels like cortisol and epinephrine. These hormones help to regulate appetite and control blood sugar, but when they are not regulated properly, diabetes is likely to occur.
Diabetes has been linked to several health complications, including an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. However, many people who live with type 2 diabetes also experience problems sleeping at night due to high blood glucose levels. Poor sleep habits and poor blood sugar control can both be significant risk factors for the development of serious health conditions. In fact, studies show that people who have been diagnosed with diabetes are twice as likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea. This disorder makes breathing difficult during sleep by narrowing the airway in the back of the mouth or throat and allowing the tongue to fall back and block it. When people are not getting enough oxygen while they sleep, it can result in excessive daytime sleepiness that can make it difficult to manage blood sugar levels. People with diabetes are at even higher risk than people who do not have the disease for developing sleep apnea, so they should talk to their doctor about receiving treatment right away if they have trouble sleeping at night.
When someone has diabetes, their body is unable to properly control blood glucose levels. Because glucose can’t enter the cells as fuel, the glucose levels in the blood will continue to increase until the cells are full or the person becomes sick to their stomach from the excess sugar. In order to lower these levels, the body will produce more insulin than is needed to help metabolize blood sugar. This excess of insulin causes blood sugar levels to drop too low, which can also cause a person to fall into a deeper sleep than normal. Once they are awake, their blood glucose level will be lower than it should be. When they fall asleep again, they will experience the same cycle again and again during the night, unable to achieve adequate rest. If this pattern repeats night after night, it can lead to a severe lack of sleep.
In addition, people with diabetes may also experience frequent urination during the night. When the body is in a deep sleep, the kidneys do not waste energy by filtering out waste products. So, when glucose enters the urine without being metabolized, it can cause more frequent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
For diabetics who want to get better sleep, managing their condition can lead to better nights of rest. A healthy diet and regular physical activity can help to reduce insulin resistance and improve metabolism, while diabetes medications can also help restore normal bodily functions and create more stable blood glucose readings.
Lifestyle changes can help improve sleep quality for people with both conditions. When possible, try to stick to a regular sleep schedule each day, avoiding long naps or sleeping in later on the weekends. Avoid caffeine or alcohol in the evening, and avoid exercising four hours before bedtime. Most importantly, try to relax before bed each night and ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. If you wake up at night and cannot fall back asleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing. When you feel tired again, go back to bed and try again. It may take a few times before you fall back to sleep. Avoid watching TV in bed or using a laptop or tablet, as these devices are too stimulating to the brain and can make it hard for you to fall asleep.
To learn more about our services for sleep health, call us at (971) 339-0816 or visit the Sleep Health Partners office at 9370 SW Greenburg Rd, Suite 422 Rd Suite 422, Portland 97223.
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9370 SW Greenburg Rd, Suite 422 Rd Suite 422, Portland, 97223