World Diabetes Day: The Link Between Sleep and Diabetes

Today, November 14th is World Diabetes Day: a day dedicated to raising awareness and support for those living with either type 1 or 2 diabetes. Created by the International Diabetes Federation in 1991, World Diabetes Day advocates for educating the world on the condition and ways to prevent, or help the severity of it. 

Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to properly produce insulin. With type 1, the pancreas fails to produce any insulin, therefore individuals living with type 1 diabetes must take insulin on a daily basis. With type 2, the body does have the capability of producing insulin but generally does not produce enough for proper functioning. With each type, the body is unable to use insulin or produce it correctly. 

Currently, over 460 million people are living with type 1 or 2 diabetes, meaning 1 in every 11 adults worldwide. 

Although only few people may be aware of this, there is a strong link between diabetes and sleep. So, how exactly are sleep and diabetes related? The relationship between the two can go one of two ways:

Diabetes Can Lead to Poor Sleep

Living with diabetes can mean having high blood sugar levels. With high blood sugar, your body may feel a constant need for urination, which then leads to having to constantly get out of bed throughout the night. On the other hand, having diabetes may mean your body has low blood sugar which can lead to shakiness, dizziness, or sweating, making it harder to stay asleep.

On top of this, diabetes can mean an excess production of glucose. This extra glucose draws water from the tissues in your body, resulting in major dehydration. Similar to needing to get up to use the restroom, being dehydrated throughout the night will mean having to get up for multiple glasses of water. Having to constantly wake up when you should be sound asleep can entirely disrupt your natural sleeping patterns. Overall, diabetes has been found to be linked to sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome or insomnia.

Bad Sleeping Habits Can Heighten the Risk of Diabetes

Research has shown that sleep deprivation can put your body in a pre-diabetic state. Your body’s reaction to sleep loss can closely resemble insulin resistance, which can then lead to high blood sugar levels. Loss of sleep can also lead to an increase in appetite, which may then lead to weight gain. As weight gain is a risk factor to developing type 2 diabetes, loss of sleep or poor quality of sleep can be quite harmful to one’s health. 

The relationship between diabetes and sleep moves in an ongoing cycle. If you’re looking to improve your sleeping habits here are 3 super easy tips to help improve your overall quality of sleep:

Free Your Bed of All Distractions

When going to bed, make sure you have no screens of any kind around you. Try to use an alarm clock rather than your phone, as the phone screen’s blue light and the thought of work will keep you up at night. Only participate in relaxing activities such as reading a book or meditating before laying your head on your pillow. To further rid your space of distractions, create white noise, perhaps with a fan, so you’re not woken up the garbage truck or loud birds chirping in the morning. Lastly, make your bedroom dark and entirely closed off from light. Don’t let any kind of distraction, whether it be your smartphone, unwanted noise or light, get in the way of your sleep.

Make Sure You Have Quality Bedding

In order to achieve the best quality of sleep, your body needs to be properly catered to. Be sure to have the most comfortable mattress, and the mostly heavenly pillows that will allow your body to fully relax and rest. Once you’re fully equipped with a mattress and pillows, be sure to have a quality duvet that will be warm enough to keep you cozy throughout the night, but is made with breathable materials so you’re not waking up sweating.

Create a Sense of Ritual, and Get a Sufficient Amount of Hours In

This one is real simple: set a bedtime and wake-up time, and follow it! The recommended amount of sleep each night is 7-9 hours. The best way to make sure you’re getting enough rest is to have a consistent bedtime and time to wake up, so you’re confident you’re getting enough sleep each night. 

Whether you are living with type 1 or 2 diabetes, or not at all, it’s important to be aware and educated on the conditions affecting those around you. Be sure to take care of yourself, your general health and sleeping habits, today and everyday!