a bed made from a glucose monitor

How to Settle Blood Sugar Fluctuations While Sleeping

Are you getting enough sleep? People are getting less sleep than ever before. In the 1960s, people slept for an average of 8 to 9 hours per night. In the 1990s, it was found that the average slumber decreased to 7 hours per night. As of 2004, there was a greater proportion of people getting below 6 hours of sleep. It’s no coincidence that the rising rates of obesity mimicked sleep deprivation trends.1 Check out how skimping out on sleep can negatively impact your blood glucose levels.

How does sleep deprivation affect blood sugar levels?

Staying up to watch the next episode of your favorite television series can have its consequences. While the wait may be suspenseful, the missed sleep-ortunity can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels.

Decreases insulin sensitivity

Sleep restriction can impair glucose metabolism by decreasing insulin sensitivity and secretion. In fact, research shows that people who are sleep-deprived have a 40% decreased glucose clearance and 30% lower insulin release compared to people who are adequately rested. Worst of all, it only takes one week of sleep restriction to impair the ability to metabolize glucose at the rate normally observed in healthy adults.1 In other words, if you are doing seemingly everything to manage blood glucose levels yet still struggle to keep them within an appropriate range, it may be time to get some rest.

Increases appetite

Sleep deprivation can also indirectly affect blood glucose levels by putting your appetite into overdrive, often leading to an overconsumption of foods. Not to mention, it’s also challenging to make positive food decisions when ravenous. Rarely do people crave a salad when they are h-angry. So, the extra calories and perhaps less nutritious food choices can drive up blood sugar levels and decrease disease management.1

Impacts exercise habits

When people are tired, they are also less motivated to exercise. Getting your heart rate up and breaking a real sweat at the gym while sleep-deprived likely isn’t going to happen? But, skipping your regular sweat-sesh can often lead to a positive energy balance — contributing to weight gain and insulin resistance.1 So, hit the hay so that you can slay your next workout to keep blood sugar levels smooth sailing.

Easy ways to improve your sleep quality

While “going to bed earlier” may be a noteworthy goal, it’s easier said than done. Plus, getting a restful night’s sleep goes beyond the number of total hours. A worthwhile rest involves going through deep sleep, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed. Check out these tips on how to improve your sleep quality to best manage your blood glucose levels.2

  • Shut it down. Say goodnight to your beloved technology; it’s time for bed. Exposure to artificial light emitted from cell phones, tablets, laptops, and televisions in the hours leading up to bedtime can negatively impact one’s restorative sleep. Transform the bedroom into a screen-free zone to maximize your zzz’s and blood glucose control.
  • Breathe better. If you are a city-slicker or simply someone who suffers from allergies, your home’s air quality can be getting in the way of restful night sleep. Invest in an air purifier to eliminate damaging particulate matter (soot, dirt, dust), allowing you to breathe better and decrease sleep interruptions that impact quality sleep. It also provides white noise, which often helps people fall and stay asleep.
  • Blackout from light. As the night progresses, begin to dim the lights to alert your internal clock that bedtime is on the horizon. Then, create an environment conducive to your sleep quality goals by blocking out unwanted light from street lamps, passing cars, or other homes. By eliminating possible sleep interruptions, one can maximize their restorative sleep for better blood glucose control.

If you’re still struggling with creating good sleep hygiene, consider reading a book that provides tools for changing routines. I find Atomic Habits and The Power of Habits very beneficial for lifestyle changes.

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