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Sleep-A Prescription for Better Type 2 Diabetes Control? | Diabetes Daily Post
Sleep-A Prescription for Better Type 2 Diabetes Control?

Sleep-A Prescription for Better Type 2 Diabetes Control?

Can you remember the last time you actually had 7-8 hours of good sleep?  If you can’t, you’re not alone.  Between 1959 and 2002 the percentage of people sleeping less than seven hours per night increased dramatically.  The reasons for this level of “insomnia” are multi-faceted.  We live in a very fast paced world.  We have televisions in every room, including the bedroom.  We have our laptop computers and blackberries at our side at all times.  As the world becomes more chaotic, the chances for a good night’s sleep dwindle, and the consequences can be dangerous to your health.

Several studies have shown a strong link between sleep deprivation and a link to type 2 diabetes.   One of the first studies that provided evidence that sleep deprivation was linked to diabetes appeared in a well- respected publication called The Lancet in 1999.  This study involved healthy young people who were subjected to sleep deprivation for six nights in a row.  These participants were allowed between 4-6 hours of sleep per night.  By the end of the study their ability to utilize glucose became radically impaired.  This is not definite proof that a lack of sleep causes diabetes; but there seem to be many such correlations in subsequent studies to date.  Recently a 2010 study published in Diabetes Care found that people with sleep problems are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.  In this study researchers monitored the sleep patterns of 40 subjects, measuring insulin levels and glucose at several intervals.  Among those people in the study who had diabetes already, “poor sleepers” had a 23 percent higher fasting blood glucose level that those who got a full night’s sleep.  In addition, 82 percent of the poor sleepers had greater insulin resistance, a condition may lead to type 2 diabetes.

Sleep Apnea is a condition that affects 2 out of every 3 people with diabetes.  This is a common cause of poor sleep.  It also causes problems with oxygen circulation in the blood; which can be especially dangerous for patients with diabetes.

The reason that sleep is so important to our health has been found to have a connection to our internal biological clock that keep hormones flowing and  glucose metabolism in check when properly functioning.  These biological clocks evolved to optimize energy with respect to night and day.  For example, during the day the clock gets the body ready to eat.  It does this by making more insulin to help use and store glucose.  During sleep glucagon is secreted which helps keep blood sugars steady during the “fasting” state.  Eating or sleeping at the “wrong” time can upset this delicate balance.

Light also affects the clock in the brain.  Even seeing artificial light when the body expects it to be dark may cause a problem with sleep.  I know that many folks love to fall asleep to their favorite TV show.  This may not be the best strategy for restful sleep, however.  That flat screen on your bedroom wall may not be so good for your overall health. In conclusion, a good night sleep is one of the many ways to prevent type 2 diabetes.

In my next installment we can discuss ways to get a restful night’s sleep, including drug therapy. Sweet Dreams!

Written by,

Susan Sloane, R.Ph.

Certified Diabetes Educator

Board of Directors

American Diabetes Association

Susan Sloan

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