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Diabetes Questions and Answers
Is there a link between lack of sleep or disturbed sleep and my blood sugars?
There certainly can be. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can have a negative effect on several aspects of metabolism, including blood sugar, blood pressure, and even cholesterol levels. Blood sugars can be increased by the stress of lack of sleep. What constitutes an adequate amount of sleep varies among individuals, so what may be a metabolic stress for one may not be so for another. The elevation in blood sugars will not necessarily occur upon awakening, but can occur anytime due to elevated levels of stress hormones throughout the day. Stress hormones tend to push the blood sugar level up. Sometimes several days of deprived sleep are necessary to have a measurable effect on the blood sugars. Several other factors are worth noting. If the lack of sleep is associated with restless behavior (e.g., tossing and turning or arising and pacing), the increased physical activity may actually lower the blood sugars. A condition known as obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, can occur in people with obesity and type 2 diabetes. This can cause frequent awakening at night, with daytime sleepiness and napping. The net amount of sleep may be more or less than normal in people with OSA. Generally, a bed partner will notice snoring and a disturbed breathing pattern. This condition is treatable and sometimes constitutes medical justification for surgical intervention to control obesity. You should inform your doctor if you suspect you have this problem. Finally, shortened sleep tends to be associated with weight gain, so that restoration of a satisfactory sleep pattern can actually aid in efforts to reduce weight, which will generally help to control blood sugars.
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