How Does Diabetes Effect Sleep?

Type 2 diabetes never rests. That is why managing the condition requires thoughtfulness, planning, and vigilance throughout the day. But in the evenings, diabetes can cause problems with sleep. In turn, a lack of sufficient and quality sleep can have a negative impact on overall health. Fortunately, people with diabetes can minimize disruptions to sleep by adopting sleep-facilitative habits and doing many of the things they should be doing anyway: a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and careful blood sugar monitoring.

How Diabetes Affects Sleep

Approximately half of those with type 2 diabetes experience sleep problems because of unstable blood glucose levels and accompanying diabetes-related symptoms. Both high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) while sleeping can cause insomnia and the inevitable fatigue that follows.

High nighttime blood sugar levels cause the kidneys to overcompensate, leading to a need to urinate more often. Frequent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night do your sleep no favors. Additionally, elevated blood sugar levels can cause increased thirst, headaches, and over-tiredness, all of which can interfere with the ability to fall asleep.

Low blood sugar levels at night aren’t good for sleep either. They can cause nightmares, night sweats, and a feeling of irritability or confusion upon waking up.

How Does Poor Sleep Impact Blood Sugar Levels?

Problems with sleep and diabetes aren’t a one-way street. Just as diabetes can lead to sleep problems, sleep issues can also play a role in diabetes. A lack of quality sleep has been linked to high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Approximately 25 percent of people with diabetes report sleeping less than six hours or more than eight hours a night. This puts them at a higher risk of having elevated blood sugar. Some studies have also found a correlation between higher blood sugar levels in people who have irregular sleep schedules or go to bed late.

In addition to its immediate impact on blood sugar levels, poor sleep can take a long-term toll on people with type 2 diabetes. Those who rely on sleep medication or have trouble staying asleep are more likely to experience psychological distress. There is also some evidence to suggest that people with diabetes who do not get sufficient sleep may be more at risk for cognitive decline as they age.

Reducing Diabetes-Related Sleep Problems

Careful management of blood sugar levels, including the use of Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM), can help improve sleep for individuals with type 2 diabetes. But good sleep habits are critical as well. These involve setting your body and mind up for restfulness and avoiding habits that interfere with rest. If you want to prevent or minimize diabetes-related sleep problems, try to:

  • Stick to a diet plan that works for you and helps keep your blood sugar controlled
  • Get regular exercise
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine or nicotine before bed
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet

Continuous Glucose Monitoring Can Help You Get The Sleep You Need

As noted, keeping blood sugar levels in check is an essential part of setting yourself up for successful sleep. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is an alternative to disruptive and inconvenient finger-pricking that has long been the primary method of checking blood sugar. CGM is a proven, approved, and easy-to-use transceiver device that provides real-time glucose readings every few minutes through a tiny sensor underneath the skin. This sensor measures your interstitial glucose level and then sends the data to a pager-like monitor or an app on your smartphone. An alarm will sound if your blood sugar becomes too high or too low.

Ask your doctor about CGM and contact us today to see if you qualify for CGM and access our guide to continuous glucose monitoring.

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*Fingersticks are required for treatment decisions when you see Check Blood Glucose symbol, when symptoms do not match system readings when you suspect readings may be in accurate, or when you experience symptoms that may be due to high or low blood glucose.

Reference 1: Data on file. Abbott Diabetes Care. 2, FreeStyle Libre 14 day User’s Manual

Indications and Important Safety Information

FreeStyle Libre and FreeStyle Libre 14 day Flash Glucose Monitoring systems are continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices indicated for replacing blood glucose testing and detecting trends and tracking patterns aiding in the detection of episodes of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, facilitating both acute and long-term therapy adjustments in persons (age 18 and older) with diabetes. The systems are intended for single patient use and require a prescription.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Remove the sensor before MRI, CT scan, X-ray, or diathermy treatment.

WARNINGS/LIMITATIONS: Do not ignore symptoms that may be due to low or high blood glucose, hypoglycemic unawareness, or dehydration. Check sensor glucose readings with a blood glucose meter when Check Blood Glucose symbol appears, when symptoms do not match system readings, or when readings are suspected to be inaccurate. The system does not have alarms unless the sensor is scanned, and the system contains small parts that may be dangerous if swallowed. The system is not approved for pregnant women, persons on dialysis, or critically-ill population. Sensor placement is not approved for sites other than the back of the arm and standard precautions for transmission of blood borne pathogens should be taken. The built-in blood glucose meter is not for use on dehydrated, hypotensive, in shock, hyperglycemic-hyperosmolar state, with or without ketosis, neonates, critically-ill patients, or for diagnosis or screening of diabetes. When using FreeStyle LibreLink app, access to a blood glucose monitoring system is required as the app does not provide one. Review all product information before use or contact Abbott Toll Free (855-632-8658) or visit www.freestylelibre.us for detailed indications for use and safety information.html. . FreeStyle, Libre, and related brand marks are trademarks of Abbott Diabetes Care Inc. in various jurisdictions. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2018 Abbott. ADC-09691 vLO 10/18