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.