Diabetes and Sleep: Understanding the Connection and Managing Your Health


October 20, 2023 4 MIN READ

Diabetes and Sleep

Diabetes and Sleep: Understanding the Connection and Managing Your Health

Every day in America thousands of people receive a diagnosis of a chronic illness or condition. Such diagnoses are usually life-altering, arriving unexpectedly to turn the world upside down and inside out. Living with a chronic disease is, at best, challenging and stressful, delivering a vast array of unknowns and what-ifs that foster seemingly endless anxiety.

One of the more common and most familiar is diabetes.  Over 37 million Americans have diabetes, and another 8.5 million remain undiagnosed.

Research indicates that nearly 40% of people with type II diabetes have insomnia. Restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and peripheral neuropathy are frequent companions of type II diabetes, negatively affecting sleep.

In this article, we will focus on how diabetes impacts sleep and how insufficient sleep risks diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Most people with diabetes fall into the type II diabetes camp, with a smaller portion dealing with type I diabetes. Type II can arise from poor diet and lifestyle choices, type I diabetes is an autoimmune condition previously considered childhood diabetes, but more adults receive this diagnosis each year than children.

In either case, diabetes indicates inadequate insulin production, the body’s inability to use insulin properly, and the need for intervention with type II drugs and/or insulin injections.

Depending on its origin, some individuals with type II diabetes can reverse and eliminate the disease with the proper aggressive regimen. However, most type II diabetics continue their lives with a daily routine to manage their condition.

On the other hand, type I diabetes indicates the failure of an individual’s beta cells in the pancreas that produce the body’s insulin. Lacking that natural production, all type I diabetics must use prescription insulin to survive. This condition is not reversible with today’s technology.

Understanding the Sleep and Diabetes Link

Getting sufficient rest is crucial for your overall health and well-being, and lacking that rest puts you at risk for a lot of severe health issues like:

  • Cardiovascular Issues
  • Depression
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Diabetes

So, if you aren’t sleeping well, diabetes and other serious problems have an opening in your life.

Adequate sleep has a critical role in supporting healthy blood sugar levels. Studies show that higher glucose levels result in poor sleep. For instance, nearly 2/3 of those in the prediabetes range endure poor sleep compared to people with normal blood sugar levels at under 50%.

Diabetes and Sleep

The cloud of stress and anxiety that hangs over people when they get a diagnosis of diabetes can last for months. There is an unbelievable amount of information to take in, understand, and apply to manage this condition and stay alive.

Talk about stress; it’s a constant companion in these situations and maintains its foothold until you understand what to expect and what you must do to avoid suffering disastrous results.

Diabetes is a severe disease that demands serious attention constantly.

Then, there is the concern of every person with diabetes: Dead in Bed Syndrome. DBS results from a crashing low blood sugar episode while sleeping that can bring on seizures and unconsciousness and eventually lead to death.

It is not uncommon for a person with diabetes to go to bed one night and not wake up in the morning.

Given all this, it’s no wonder people managing diabetes can have significant issues falling and staying asleep.

In the Beginning

Often, diabetes sneaks up like a thief in the night, arriving unexpectedly even though its target experiences numerous typical symptoms that signal the onset of diabetes:

  • Extreme Thirst
  • Frequent Urination
  • Weight Loss

Each of these symptoms is a result of excessive blood sugar. High glucose levels cause continuous extreme thirst, and to reduce blood sugar levels, your body forces it out through urination, both of which interrupt sleep. Weight loss occurs when the body consumes muscle to feed the cells when insulin is no longer working.

Not only are you losing sleep, you are losing muscle mass and risking dire health consequences by remaining passive or in denial about your health.

The Connections

Science shows a significant link between glucose levels and sleep issues such as insomnia and others like these:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Poor and Inadequate Sleep.
  • Sleep Disordered Breathing

Our body operates with a specific blood chemistry/glucose level, and excessive or insufficient blood sugar levels can cause all manner of problems regarding sleep. Poor blood sugar control can cause frequent sleep disruptions, foster anxiety and stress, and put you at risk for physical and mental health issues that make everything much worse.

What Can You Do?

The health consequences, physical attributes like pain and digestive discomfort, and other unpleasant symptoms of out-of-control blood sugar may be elusive and challenging to avoid. The reality of a disease like diabetes is that it will do what it will, and it’s up to us to manage it in a way that keeps us safe and healthy.

Still, just like any other person, people with diabetes should practice good sleep hygiene and learn coping skills for their stress and anxiety to gain better sleep, even if it is less than optimal. The key is to control what you can and develop the necessary skills to deal with all the other issues to achieve the best rest possible, whatever that might be.

Living with diabetes is a 24/7 – 365 effort full of twists and turns. It can seem as if every minute of every day and night is full of stress and anxiety. Chronic insomnia and other sleep challenges like sleep apnea are common disorders among people with diabetes.

Like anyone battling insomnia, understanding sleep, minimizing and managing anxiety and stress, and being present in the moment are critical practices for obtaining the best sleep possible when managing diabetes.

Sleep Science Academy’s science-based, incredibly successful Dynamic Sleep Recalibration (DSR) program combines numerous methods and techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) for the most comprehensive and dynamic natural insomnia remedy available.

If you have diabetes or believe you may be developing it, you must learn how to deal with it for better sleep and health.

The Sleep Science Academy Difference means clients work directly with their certified holistic health/sleep coach, who crafts a treatment regimen to fit their needs and situation.

If you are battling diabetes and struggling to get enough sleep, your health is at an even higher risk than the typical person. Finding proper support, as we provide at Sleep Science Academy, can be the difference between living well and getting by.

Contact us today to schedule your complimentary sleep consultation to take your first step towards better managing diabetes and getting the sleep you want and need.