Sleep Deprivation and Diabetes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about a third of adults do not get enough sleep. The CDC also states that not getting enough sleep can lead to the development of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. Aside from the long-term effects of not getting enough sleep, sleep is also important because it’s necessary for the normal functioning of the body. A restful sleep keeps us healthy in many ways; the following are just a few:
- it keeps our brain working well
- it helps the body heal
- it helps the body keep a healthy balance of hormones
- it helps the immune system defend the body from harmful substances
- it helps the body regulate insulin and blood sugar
During the evening and night hours, because we are not being as active, our body makes less insulin (a hormone that helps our cells take in sugar for energy) and our cells become less sensitive to insulin when we are asleep. When sleep is interrupted or we don’t get a full night’s sleep, these processes that occur with insulin and blood sugar are also interrupted. This, along with the stress of not sleeping, increased appetite and hunger causing overeating, and the release of other chemicals and hormones caused by lack of sleep, can increase the risk of developing diabetes.
It may be difficult to figure out what the exact cause for losing sleep is. Though the reasons may be different for each person, below are some common themes among those who report not getting enough restful sleep.
- Use of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and certain medications
- Health conditions that cause pain or can be uncomfortable such as arthritis, congestive heart failure, anxiety disorders and depression
- Stressful situations that can occupy the mind such as stress at work or school and problems in relationships
- Eating large meals before bed or exercising right before going to bed
Some of the reasons for losing sleep above are easier to remedy than others, but it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor about ways to improve your sleep. Here are a few lifestyle changes that can be implemented at home to get started on the right track:
- Try to follow a sleep schedule so your body gets used to going to bed and waking up at specific times
- Avoid drinks that contain caffeine such as coffee, soda, chocolate or tea, especially before going to bed
- Try to avoid smoking and using nicotine because these products have stimulant effects on the body; the experience of nicotine withdrawal can cause early morning waking
- Avoid alcohol use because it can interrupt the sleep cycle
- Review the medicines you are taking with a healthcare professional and determine if any of your medications are causing you to lose sleep
- Make your bedroom a comfortable environment to sleep in by getting rid of anything that may interrupt your sleep such as noise, bright lights, or uncomfortable temperatures that are too hot or too cold
- Do something relaxing before bedtime like reading or listening to music
Sleep is actually one of the most important cornerstones of leading a healthy lifestyle. Sleep can affect our mood and how our body works; not giving the body the right amount can lead to long-term consequences on health. If you have concerns about your sleeping habits or don’t feel rested after waking, discuss ways to improve your sleep with your doctor. They may be able to help you identify the reasons for not getting enough rest and give you personalized suggestions for improving it.