Lack of sleep can be a major reason why your blood sugar is behaving like a roller coaster – with endless highs and drops. Here are some simple steps to wake up refreshed in the morning, and to get that blood sugar under control.
Written by diabetes coach Hildegunn Fossheim
A good nights sleep is essential to be able to cope with the challenges of everyday life, and especially your diabetes. Your mental capacity is the first to go when your aren’t getting enough quality sleep – you become foggy-brained, more forgetful, less observant and more irritable -, thus affecting your will power to take on the extra obstacles a disease like diabetes requires.
In addition, people who are tired is likely to eat more. A study conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota showed that people suffering from sleep deprivation ate 550 calories extra each day. That can mean consuming more sugar and other foods that will spike blood sugar levels.
The good news is that getting more sleep and improving the quality of sleep will most likely have a positive effect on your glucose control. Although you might not be able to control all of the factors that interfere with your sleep, many solutions for better sleep can be found in your daily routine. So if you’re having sleep difficulties, consider the following steps for getting a good night’s sleep.
TURN OFF THE GIZMOZ
A survey by the National Sleep Foundation in the United States showed that 95 percent of the population used laptop, television, tablet or computer games before they went to bed – and that this leads to poorer quality of sleep.
The artificial light from the electronic entertainment you bring to bed disrupts the sleep hormone melatonin, making you more awake than you would otherwise be in the evening. As a result you get less sleep than you actually need, making you more drowsy and foggy-brained during the day.
Turn the gizmos off a couple off hours before you go to bed, and read a book, take a bath, prepare for the next day or listen to soft music instead. This will give your body time to adjust and settle down, and you will sleep easier and more deeply. If you use an e-book turn the reading light off or at least to a minimum.
AVOID CAFFEINE, ALCOHOL AND HEAVY MEALS
The stimulating effect off caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and soft drinks takes a couple of hours to wear off, and can therefore disrupt your quality sleep. And sure, a couple of glasses of wine might make you fall asleep easier, but it actually reduces the quality of sleep significantly. You may also have to get up during the night to pee and then it can be difficult to fall asleep afterwards.
Also, be careful with large, heavy meals right before bedtime as it takes a lot of work for your stomach to digest, which will delay the much awaited sleep.
WRITE WHATS ON YOUR MIND
Typical scenario; when you finally lie down in bed after a long day, and you do not want anything else than a good night’s sleep, that’s when all the thoughts, concerns and ideas come popping up all at once like a massive explosion. Even though you have been lying half-asleep on the couch for the last two hours sleep suddenly seems impossible. Keep a notepad by your bed so you can write down all your thoughts, or go to another room for half an hour and write them down. It’s better to spend 30 minutes to get rid of your thoughts that disrupt your sleep, than let them keep you awake all night.
EXERCISE EARLY IN THE DAY
Physical exertion leads to a deeper and more restful sleep, and several studies show that people who exercise regularly sleep better than those who don’t. While a good work out does tire out your muscles, it also releases endorphins, which causes you to feel even wider awake – making it harder to fall asleep. So to make sure you get that deep sleep avoid exercising at least two hours before bedtime.
STICK TO A SLEEP SCHEDULE
Getting a good night’s sleep is actually a training exercise – which requires discipline, patience and a dose of stubbornness. This is because sleep is controlled by a hormone called melatonin, which helps control your natural circadian rhythm. If you go to bed and get up at about the same time every day, it will be much easier to fall asleep, stay asleep and actually wake up refreshed in the morning.
When your alarm clock goes off, wake up right away instead of fighting against the snooze button. If you are an abuser of the snooze button, this can be especially hard for you in the beginning, but if you stick through it your sleep cycle will quickly adjust. Consistency is vitally important.
You can also use the alarm clock actively in the fight against sleep difficulties at night: pre-set a fixed alarm for around an hour before you want to go to bed every day. When the alarm goes off turn off all your electronic gizmos and starting preparing for the next day, take a bath, read a book or write down everything you suddenly remember you have to remember. This way you don’t forget what time it is, and start running around the house doing all the things you suddenly just have to do before you go to bed when you should already be asleep. When you turn of the electronics and dime the lights it will also give the body time to start producing the hormones that make you sleep. Eventually you get used to getting ready for bed when the alarm clock rings, and the body begins to expect sleep at this time, making it easier to get a good nights slumber.
DON’T SLEEP ON YOUR BACK
Sleep on your side instead of your back. Both snoring and breathing worsens when you sleep on your back. This is because the tongue can relax in the back of the throat and block the airway when you sleep on your back.
Hypoglycemia can be a major reason why so many with diabetes are suffering from sleep deprivation. If you’re struggling with hypos during the night it can be worth your while to test out the mobile safety alarm DiabetesGuard. Diabetesguard alerts your guardians when you can’t alert them yourself due to hypos.
If the sleep problem persist over longer time despite your best efforts, and your concerned you have sleep apnea, insomnia or another sleep disorder contact your doctor.
What is your experience with sleep and glucose control? Have any other tips for a good nights sleep?