Iowa Sleep Blog

How Sleep Can Affect Your Diabetes

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Individuals with diabetes know the key to keeping their diabetes in check is to stay on top of their blood sugar with frequent monitoring and adjustments. An overlooked component of keeping blood sugar levels in check is to make sure you are getting adequate amounts of sleep. 

When you don’t get enough sleep at night, you are building up a “sleep debt” which effects the body in many ways. The buildup of sleep debt creates a chain effect that triggers responses from the rest of the body. These responses can have serious effects on your diabetes, which include:

Sleep deprivation can cause stress on the body, leading to elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This can create an insulin resistance, making it harder for the body to turn the cortisol into glucose energy for the cells.

Failing to get proper amounts of sleep also has a direct effect on your appetite. When your body knows you’re low on sleep, the hormone, leptin, which controls your appetite is reduced. At the same time, an appetite stimulant, ghrelin, is increased. The ghrelin and cortisol hormones work together in the body to make you feel hunger and crave foods that aren’t healthy for you. This is why people who are sleep-deprived eat more than well-rested people and crave fatty foods higher in carbohydrates.

When you’re sleep deprived, your body feels sluggish and slow, and the idea of exercising isn’t appealing. Some studies have reported that people who get less sleep tend to be more overweight than their well-rested counterparts.

November is American Diabetes Month, and in the United States alone, 208,000 people under the age of 20 have been diagnosed with diabetes. The CDC also reports that another 86 million adults over 20 have prediabetes, which the Mayo Clinic defines as having a blood sugar level that is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. 

Research has shown that poor sleep can also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Along with getting sufficient amounts of sleep, keeping a good diet and exercise plan can help decrease your risk for diabetes. If you or one of your family members is diabetic, take the rest of this month to monitor your sleep quality and the other factors mentioned above. If you notice regular or frequent problems sleeping, give us a call. Our doctors at Iowa Sleep will have you sleeping soundly in no time.