The amount of sleep necessary to maintain good health varies between individuals – one may function well on naps during the day while another will only do so with 10 hours of sleep. In general, healthy adults require 6-8 hours of restful sleep for good health.
But the importance of sleep among diabetics cannot be overemphasized for many reasons.
Link Between Sleep and Diabetes
Several studies have reinforced the link between sleep and diabetes. Think of it this way: Too little sleep has a significant impact on metabolism and hormones in ways that aggravate diabetes including its symptoms.
In a 1999 Lancet study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago, for example, 11 young healthy men were only allowed 4 hours of sleep for 6 nights – from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. After 6 nights, their glucose tolerance was impaired (i.e., higher than normal blood glucose levels) that almost immediately went back to normal after getting back on their normal sleep schedules.
Just imagine the effect on a diabetic! Other effects of too little sleep on diabetics are:
- Increased levels of cortisol. The stress hormone promotes insulin resistance wherein the body cannot property use insulin in moving glucose into cells for energy production.
- Decreased levels of leptin and increased levels of ghrelin. Leptin is an appetite suppressant while ghrelin is an appetite stimulant, which means that the combination can result in overeating among diabetics. Unfortunately, diabetics do not snack on healthy food like fruits, vegetables and nuts but they do crave high-carbohydrate foods like potato chips – and we all know what high-carbohydrate foods can do for insulin resistance.
The bottom line: Good sleep is good for diabetics!
Get Your Sleep
Fortunately, sleep need not be a luxury because you have so many ways to enjoy 6-8 hours of restful sleep every night.
- Keep regular bedtime and waking hours.
Sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time in the morning. This is easier said than done especially when you have an erratic work schedule or when you are on vacation or when you are planning to enjoy your weekend. But you must do it for the sake of your health!
- Create the right environment.
Ensure that your bedroom has the right sleeping environment. Cut out the noise; use earplugs with white noise, if necessary. Keep your room dark by using shades and turning out the lights. Maintain the right temperature in your room – from 54 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use a comfortable mattress, pillow and blankets. Keep pets out of your bed especially when little movements disturb your sleep. Keep stimulating activities like watching television, playing games and making office reports out of your bed – it should only be used for sex and sleeping. Avoid exercising in the night because your entire mind and body will be too keyed up, which means more difficulty in getting to sleep and staying asleep.
- Watch what you consume.
A light snack, perhaps a glass of milk, will suffice just before bedtime. Avoid nicotine and caffeine, among other stimulants, too.
Indeed, your discipline in getting a good night’s sleep every night will pay off in good health even when you have diabetes! If you have any question or would like to come in call 888-719-8448 or walk in to our Long Beach office near Signal Hill, Carson, Seal Beach, Lakewood, Bellflower, Compton, Hawaiian Gardens, and Los Alamitos.
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