Living With Type 2
Diabetes and sleep related issues go hand in hand. For many diabetics, tossing and turning all night, only to wake up the next morning feeling exhausted and sluggish is an all too common occurrence. Unfortunately, poor sleep is another reason your blood sugar levels are not yet under control.
Sleep disturbance is often observed in patients diagnosed with Diabetes Type 2. Doctors believe it may be caused either by impaired glucose metabolism or the physical and psychological discomfort associated with diabetes. In fact, research shows that poor sleep also contributes towards decreased glucose tolerance and poorer insulin sensitivity.
The connection between sleep and diabetes is a bit of a vicious cycle. Sleep difficulties are a common result of uncontrolled diabetes as you may need to get up to urinate more often . Whenever your blood sugar rises, the kidneys try to remove the extra sugar by increasing urination, which means, you are getting up to use the bathroom all night and don’t sleep well. Also, diabetics are more susceptible to sleep-related ailments like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, further deteriorating sleep quality.
At the same time, poor sleep quality has a detrimental effect on blood glucose levels, and that is the reason that it is associated with an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes in research studies. Exhaustion and poor energy levels often result in an increased desire to snack on sugary foods late into the night. The body needs energy from somewhere, and so, it turns to quick snacks. But these snacks result in high blood sugar levels, that only interfere with quality sleep. So how can you break this vicious cycle of poor sleep increasing diabetes and diabetes worsening sleep quality?
The answer – treat both conditions simultaneously. Because the truth is – well controlled diabetes leads to better sleep, and improved sleep patterns lead to better control of blood glucose levels. Research shows that sleep restriction makes our body react in a manner similar to insulin resistance, raising blood sugar levels. A good night’s sleep can improve glucose metabolism, your ability to follow your exercise and medication routine, and also help you feel less exhausted and emotional throughout the day.
Sleep Apnea is the most common sleep disorder diabetics need to be aware of. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you will start and stop breathing suddenly while asleep, and the condition is more prevalent in overweight diabetics. Signs of sleep apnea include snoring, daytime drowsiness and poor quality of sleep.
For those who are overweight, studies show that sometimes sleep apnea can develop before diabetes type 2 and contributes towards uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Carrying excess weight around the neck increases risk for constricted airways during sleep, transforming into full-blown sleep apnea if not treated in time.
The correlation between sleep apnea and diabetes is well-proven in research, with interruptions to deep sleep being a key part of diabetes risk. The best way to reduce your risk is to follow a strict diet plan and exercise regularly to lose weight .
Restless leg syndrome is also known as Ekbom syndrome and is characterised by uncomfortable feelings in the legs during sleep, necessitating the need to move one’s legs to minimise the unpleasant sensation. It is linked to high blood glucose levels, thyroid disorders, and kidney problems.
Symptoms of RLS vary from uncomfortable to downright irritating and painful. Some patients experience a burning feeling, or an experience similar to insects crawling on the legs. Others notice numbness, muscle twitches and tingling. RLS overlaps with neuropathy or nerve pain and can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, especially in patients of diabetes type 2. The only differentiating factor is that RLS only afflicts the diabetic during sleep, whereas nerve pain continues in the morning even while the patient is awake.
Restless leg syndrome is treated by treating the underlying cause, which in diabetics means improving blood glucose levels.
With diabetes, fatigue is caused by a number of factors like high blood sugar, but can also be caused by low blood glucose levels if your insulin dosage is too high. If you feel tired despite a good diet and rest, it’s important to test your blood glucose level immediately and discuss a change in medicine/insulin dosages with your doctor.
Several diabetes related complications can also result in sleep disturbances. Low or high blood glucose can contribute to restless sleep, while diabetic neuropathies are another cause. The nerve pain is cause enough to wake up several times during the night. Unstable blood sugar levels will cause frequent urination, headaches, hunger, thirst and night sweats, none of which is conducive to a good night’s sleep.
To improve quality of sleep, good sleep hygiene is a must – with or without diabetes. Follow these tips to get the rest you need, so you can wake up alert and refreshed every morning.