The Relationship Between Blood Sugar and Sleep
The Relationship Between Blood Sugar and Sleep HealthifyMe – Blog HealthifyMe – Blog – The definitive guide to weight loss, fitness and living a healthier life.
The blood sugar level is the amount of glucose present in the body. The glucose in the body comes from the food that you consume. The blood transports glucose to body cells as energy.
Research shows that blood sugar levels usually increase when a person sleeps. However, Blood sugar fluctuations that occur overnight and during sleep are normal and not a cause for concern for most healthy people. But, sleep deprivation is a cause of concern as it may adversely affect your blood sugar levels.
People with diabetes are at a greater risk of issues concerned with blood sugar levels due to sleep deprivation. Another fallout of improper sleep is unhealthy sugar cravings. Your body feels low on energy after waking up from inadequate sleep. As a result, you feel the urge to eat something savoury or sweet.
In most cases, the lack of energy and proper hydration levels can lead to unhealthy sugar cravings. As a result, it leads to a spike in blood sugar levels.
Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to high blood sugar levels and eventually lead to insulin resistance. Constant sleep deprivation increases the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. In addition, a lack of sleep makes you feel more dehydrated. The body depletes the tissues by draining more water to reduce the elevated sugar levels.
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Diabetes and Sleep: What Research Says
A study suggests that 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended for an adult for their body to function correctly. Nowadays, most health issues have one common cause: an irregular sleep cycle. Excess sleep and sleep deprivation both adversely affect your health.
One of the adverse health problems directly linked to irregular sleep is the body’s blood sugar levels. Constant disruption in blood sugar levels can increase diabetes risk.
Other health problems that can occur due to sleep issues are obesity and heart-related concerns. A study says that people with diabetes are more prone to kidney, eye, or heart diseases.
A stable blood sugar level reduces the likelihood of chronic health issues, particularly heart disease and stroke. Research reveals that people with diabetes have an increased risk of heart attack.
Sleep and Blood Sugar Levels: The Association
People with diabetes (type 1 or type 2) experience high or low blood sugar levels. The blood sugar levels in diabetic patients depend on the insulin performance of the body.
When the pancreas fails to release insulin or does not release enough, the condition is known as type 1 diabetes. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body doesn’t react correctly to insulin (also known as insulin resistance).
A study reports that diabetic people are at greater risk of stroke or heart disease. Hence, they should lead a healthy lifestyle and keep track of their blood sugar levels. The fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle involve adequate sleep and the least stress. So, if you have diabetes, you must prioritise your sleep and ensure that you give your body enough rest because these factors are proportional to your blood sugar levels.
An analysis shows that people whose sleeping hours as less than 6 are likely to have type 2 diabetes. It also shows that those who sleep more than 9 hours can get diabetes. So, just like a healthy diet and regular exercise are essential for a fit body, sleep also plays a vital role. Furthermore, sleeping for less than 6 hours may release excess cortisol, which causes insulin resistance and spikes blood sugar levels.
The HealthifyMe Note
The quality and quantity of sleep have a fair impact on physical and mental health. Inconsistency in sleep patterns can lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart issues, etc. Poor sleep results in a reduction in the ability to control glucose levels. It causes an increase in insulin resistance, which is directly responsible for increasing blood sugar levels.
Sleep and the Different Types of Diabetes
There are two categories of blood sugar irregularities:
- High blood sugar or hyperglycemia
- Low blood sugar level or hypoglycemia
Hyperglycemia occurs when there is a lack of insulin in the body and too much sugar in the blood. Stress, lack of sleep, etc., can all lead to hyperglycemia.
For example, your sleep hours and quality affect your mood and vitality. Sleep deprivation or improper sleep causes ongoing stress. Also, people with type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar levels because their bodies cannot utilise insulin. Those on steroids for any other health concern can also face hyperglycemia.
Research reveals that the body prepares itself for arousal between the early morning hours, resulting in the release of growth hormones. As a result, people with diabetes experience high blood sugar levels in the early morning. It is known as the dawn phenomenon. The dawn phenomenon is a result of the release of growth hormones.
Low blood sugar level occurs when sugar levels fall too low. For human cells to operate correctly, there must be enough sugar present. Low blood sugar levels can cause anxiety, headaches, and other central nervous system issues.
According to a study, untreated extreme hypoglycemia can lead to loss of consciousness, convulsions, or even death. Severely low blood sugar levels are known as insulin shock. A study also shows that low blood sugar levels cause nightmares and crying while sleeping.
Hypoglycemia often occurs when a person has not eaten anything for several hours. The food stored in the body breaks down into glucose with the help of insulin hormone produced by the pancreas.
The possible causes of a low blood sugar level in someone with diabetes include skipping meals, taking insulin doses or medicines, drinking liquor and alcohol, etc. The muscle and liver store extra glucose in the form of glycogen.
The HealthifyMe Note
An irregular sleep cycle and/or sleep deprivation can be one of the many reasons that lead to diabetes. Although it may not directly affect your blood sugar levels, sleep plays a vital role in regulating blood sugar levels. Hence, it is best to ensure you get enough sleep to prevent and control diabetes and other physical and mental health issues.
Indicators of Unhealthy Blood Sugar Levels
If a person experiences a high blood sugar level during the night, observe the following symptoms that require immediate action to regulate blood sugar levels.
- Poor sleep
- Dry mouth
However, there are some common symptoms of high blood sugar levels experienced either during the day or at night which are:
- Blurry vision
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme thirst
- Excessive or frequent urination
For low blood sugar levels, you should watch out for the following symptoms:
- Feeling hungry
- Feeling tired
- Pounding heartbeat
- Turning pale
- Passing out or collapsing
- Difficulty in concentration
Many studies suggest people who sleep for less than 6 hours tend to develop irregular eating habits and get used to eating unhealthy food that directly results in weight gain. Sleep deprivation has the following symptoms:
- Lack of focus or difficulty in remembering
- Mood changes
- Fertility issues
- Changes in body weight
Natural Ways to Improve Sleep and Regulate Blood Sugar
In Case of High Blood Sugar Levels
If a person is prone to a risk of high blood sugar levels or is currently having high blood sugar levels, it is essential to bring down the high blood sugar levels to normal levels. You can adopt the following ways to bring down high blood sugar levels:
Your eating patterns are an indicator of your overall health and well-being. A healthy and nutritious diet is essential to prevent high blood sugar levels. You should limit carbohydrate intake in your diet to regulate your insulin levels. Also, avoid refined and processed foods. Instead, you should include the following in your diet.
- Omega-3 fats like salmon, flax seeds, soybean, fish, eggs, legumes and beans
- Whole grains such as brown rice, rolled oats, and barley. Avoid foods made of white flour like bread or pasta
- Consume 35 gm or more fibre per day for males and 25 grams of fibre for female
- Eat regularly throughout the day (every 3 to 5 hours)
The most common issue on the continuous rise is the ‘stress’ issue. In literal terms, no one is free from stress or anxiety. These two issues are due to numerous reasons such as job stress, family stress, financial crisis stress, etc.
The young generation and teenagers face anxiety and stress due to competition and peer pressure. It is impossible to avoid stress altogether. But, there are ways one can reduce the level of stress or manage it effectively. Stress management can be done by following these recommendations:-
- At least 7-8 hours of sleep per night
- 30-40 minutes of brisk walking
- Regular exercise
- Yoga and meditation
- Deep breathing and practising mindfulness
- Incorporate those activities into a routine that helps the mind to relax and take time for a favourite hobby.
Weight loss is essential for people who are overweight as well as have high blood sugar levels. A study reveals that losing 1 kg reduces blood pressure by about 1mmHg. It also becomes essential to keep a healthy waistline along with shedding kilograms. As your weight increases, your blood sugar level also increases.
Routine Checkups and Regular Blood Pressure Monitoring
It is essential for any person dealing with high blood sugar level issues to measure their blood sugar at regular intervals. Also, it is advisable to measure the blood sugar levels daily or at frequent intervals depending upon the prescription given by doctors. It is also advisable to see a doctor frequently to see if there are any additional precautions or to follow a particular diet.
In Case of Low Blood Sugar Levels
For a low blood sugar level, the underlying cause must be known. People with low blood sugar levels should consume healthy food or drinks containing natural sugar, such as juices, honey, syrup, glucose tablets, etc. For treating severely low blood sugar levels is to give injectable glucagon, a kit available on prescription.
You can introduce the following remedies into the routine of people dealing with low blood sugar level issues:
- Routine regular exercises such as running, walking, and swimming
- Proper diet and focusing on low carb intake
- Include high fibre soluble food in the diet such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes
- Drink lots of water and keep yourselves hydrated
- Chewing the food properly and eating slowly
- Focusing on quality and quantity of sleep is both very important to have a healthy body and a mind
Now coming to the remedy of balancing and improving sleep, it’s essential to follow a routine or a schedule to manage sleeping habits. Even if one tries to achieve this, it will take some time before one finally gets the desired output. Night shifts, excess screen time, stress, overthinking, anxiety, unhealthy food, and inappropriate daily schedule are some reasons which contribute to sleep difficulty. Adding the following measures to the lifestyle can help to have a proper sleep schedule in place:
- Performing regular exercise
- Take a warm, relaxing bath before bed
- Have a proper or fixed bedtime routine
- Reduce screen time at least 1-2 hours before bedtime
- Following a balanced and healthy diet
- Reduce long daytime naps
- Set up a calm, dark environment before going to bed
- Perform Yoga related to sleep, such as sleep meditation or Yoga Nidra
In summary, sleep has a direct effect on blood sugar levels. Both sleep and blood sugar levels affect each other. As contradictory as it may sound, improper or less sleep can increase or decrease blood sugar levels in the body.
A disruption in the number of hours of sleep or even one night puts a person at risk of increasing blood sugar levels. Factors that affect blood sugar and a person’s sleep depend on age, diet, specific time of day, sleep time, and sleep time.
People with normal blood sugar levels should keep their lifestyle on a healthy track and minimise the risk of contracting any heart-related issues, obesity, or blood sugar levels.
Simple habits one can incorporate into the daily routine include having a fixed sleeping schedule, following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and staying away from stress.
As the stress and anxiety of daily life increase, health and sleep require focus and improvement. Adequate amounts of sleep have not only physical benefits but also mental benefits.
For example, improved sleep reduces the risk of blood sugar problems, which can be very life-threatening in the long run. In addition, good sleep and a healthy body can lower stress and anxiety and help achieve optimal blood sugar levels.
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