Getting a decent night’s sleep can help you prevent obesity, and as a result, improve your control over diabetes.
Getting enough quality sleep is
vital, even for healthy people. Resting well at night boosts productivity and
helps us perform well during the day. But when it comes down to it, sleeping
well does much more than help you to feel alert and on top of things. It can
actually help you lose weight. And, as anyone with diabetes knows, controlling
your weight can help you control the illness.
It is estimated that an adult needs
between seven and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. If, for any
reason, you don’t get this amount of sleep, your biological clock takes a hit
and your circadian rhythms are thrown off.
What are circadian rhythms?
A lot of people have heard about
them but very few fully understand exactly what they involve. Commonly referred
to as biorhythms, circadian rhythms are the physical, mental and emotional
changes that follow a cycle of roughly 24 hours. These cycles primarily respond
to the amount of light and darkness we are exposed to.
What part do circadian rhythms play in
controlling our blood sugar levels?
A recent study discovered a
relationship between the changing sleep-wake cycles and the change in circadian
rhythms (the regulators of physical activity). Circadian rhythms control
different bodily functions, taking their cue from environmental changes. They
also regulate body temperature, blood pressure and the release of endocrine
hormones (which regulate blood sugar levels).
When our work/rest cycles are
changed, our blood sugar levels go up and the metabolic rate (the speed at
which our body burns calories in order to obtain energy) is lowered. And as you
already know, high blood sugar can lead to prediabetes, which if left untreated
can develop into type 2 diabetes.
If you already have type 2 diabetes
it’s quite likely you have difficulty falling asleep as well as staying asleep
once you do. According to a study (exploring the association between sleep
quality and quality of life in people with type 2 diabetes) carried out by the
School of Nursing at the University of Pittsburgh, sleep disorders are all too
common in people with type 2 diabetes.
300 people with type 2 diabetes
participated in the study. The average age was 63 and 57% of the participants
were women. Of the 300 people interviewed, 12% were being treated with insulin.
Results showed that 55% had sleep disorders that they felt affected their
quality of life. Interestingly, using an insulin based treatment did not seem
to have an impact on sleep quality. Results did show, however, that sleep
disorders were commonly associated with individuals who presented a greater
number of complications typically associated with the illness, such as
peripheral neuropathy (pain in the legs) or nocturia (excessive urination at
What could help me sleep better?
So, as you can see, sleeping well is
just as important in controlling the illness as exercising and eating well. So,
don’t lose another minute’s sleep. If you have difficulty falling asleep we
recommend you try the following:
- Don’t overeat in the evenings. Try
making lunch your main meal of the day.
- Try to establish a fixed sleeping
pattern by going to bed at the same time each night and making sure you get up
at the same time (even if it’s the weekend). If you have to take a nap after
lunch, keep it short (half an hour tops).
- Do what you can to ensure your
bedroom is as dark and quiet as possible (leaving lights on is not a good
idea). The more peaceful and welcoming your sleeping environment, the better
- Keep the temperature in your
bedroom neutral – not too hot, not too cold.
- Try to avoid physical activity
late at night. Exercising just before you go to bed can prove to be
invigorating rather than relaxing. What you really want is to get your body to
wind down - signaling it’s time to sleep.
- It’s not a good idea to watch
television or work on the computer just before going to bed. The light from the
screen can actually stop you from relaxing and drifting off.
- Try not to smoke or drink alcohol
or caffeine based drinks late at night. All three of these habits have a
stimulating affect - winding you up rather than calming you down.
- Talk things through with your
doctor if you find that you’re persistently having trouble sleeping. Don’t just
let it happen and hope it’ll get better on its own.
So, say goodbye to dark circles
under your eyes and falling asleep at your desk. Put the spring back in your
step. Sleeping soundly is not just one of life’s greatest pleasures - it also
has proven health benefits. Are you sure you’re getting enough?
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