Blood Sugar and Sleep Problems
Category : How Diabetes Affects Sleep
Sleep can affect your blood sugar levels, and your blood glucose control can also affect your sleep. It’s a vicious cycle.
As the amount of sleep decreases, blood sugar increases, escalating the issue. Lack of sleep has been shown to increase blood sugar levels and the risk of diabetic issues.
Higher blood sugar means less long-lasting fat metabolism in the night and even less sleep.
Researchers found that people who slept less than 6 hours a night had more blood sugar complications compared to those who received 8 hours of sleep.
The dawn phenomenon occurs when the body releases growth and other hormones around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. to prepare the body for awakening. Making you wake up to a high blood sugar reading in the morning, even if your number was good when you went to bed the night before.
These hormones make the body less sensitive to insulin, the hormone that lowers blood sugar. In people with diabetes, these changes can lead to a morning blood sugar spike.
HIGH BLOOD SUGAR – HYPERGLYCEMIA
Sleepless and restless nights hurt more than your mood and energy; it is a form of chronic stress on the body. When there is added stress on your body this results in having higher blood sugar levels. When researchers restricted people with type1 diabetes to just 4 hours of sleep, their sensitivity to insulin was reduced by 20% compared to that after a full night of sleep.
When your blood sugar is really high, your kidneys will try to get rid of it by removing it from the body via urination. This most likely causes you to get out of bed and go to the bathroom all night, resulting in inconsistent sleep patterns. It can also wake you up by feelings of thirstiness.
High blood sugar levels also make it less comfortable for you to sleep by feelings of warmness, irritability and unsettledness.
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LOW BLOOD SUGAR – HYPOGLYCEMIA
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your blood glucose is too low, hypoglycemia, you may also wake up during the night. Every cell in your body needs sugar to work properly. It’s your body’s main source of energy. When your sugar levels fall too low it can cause a variety of problems within your central nervous system which can include:
9.Tingling or numbness of mouth
The next time you wake up during the night with these symptoms, check your blood glucose. When there is a drop in the blood glucose level, it causes the release of hormones that regulate glucose levels, such as adrenaline, glucagon, cortisol, and growth hormone. These compounds stimulate the brain. They are a natural signal that it is time to eat.
Good bedtime snacks to keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the night are oatmeal and other whole grain cereals, whole grain breads and muffins, and other complex carbohydrates. These foods will not only help maintain blood sugar levels, they actually can help promote sleep by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain.
Severe low blood sugar is sometimes called insulin shock. Untreated, it can be very dangerous, resulting in seizures, loss of consciousness, or death.
What can you do to keep your blood sugar balanced?
The best way to avoid this whole pattern is to:
1.Choose protein every time you eat, along with high-fiber carbs and healthy fats.
3.Eat “half-size” meals so your blood sugar doesn’t go so high.
4.Eat every three to four hours (depending on your body’s needs) so your blood sugar doesn’t dip too low.
5.Avoid eating sugar or processed high-carb foods especially within two hours of bedtime.
This is important even if you are not diabetic and your blood tests show a normal blood sugar. It is best to start implementing these tips now rather than later, because if this pattern continues unaddressed, it can lead to further issues down the line.
When insulin is responding in high amounts day after day, and year after year because of high carbohydrate meals and imbalanced blood sugar levels, your cells stop responding to the insulin so efficiently (known as insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome) and/or your insulin level can drop permanently (also known as diabetes).
This means your blood sugar levels stay high and this too, can cause you to feel sleepy after eating carbs because you do not have enough insulin to transport the sugar from your blood into your cells where it can be turned into energy.
When it gets to that point it is even more important to follow these tips in order to keep your blood sugar balanced and your sleep patterns healthy.
Your body responds to increasing or decreasing blood sugar levels with hormones that attempt to keep the level steady, but if those hormones can’t keep up with your eating patterns, then they are no longer able to manage the fluctuating blood sugar levels.
So, it is clear that your decisions about what to eat and when have a huge part to play in regulating your blood sugar levels; if you feed your body in a way that keeps your blood sugar levels balanced, you will prevent diabetes and ensure a good night’s sleep.
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