Could sleep be making your diabetes worse?

Healthy Living

Could sleep be making your diabetes worse?

Do you wake up and want to hit snooze on the alarm clock and can’t wait to lie in on the weekends? You spend the day wishing you had more energy and dream of snuggling up in your bed at the end of the day?

You’re not alone. Nearly half of people surveyed say they don’t get enough sleep. The CDC (Centre for Disease Control) cites insufficient sleep as a public health problem. The CDC estimates that 50-70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder.

There are the obvious hazards caused by sleep deprivation like accidents caused when driving or operating machinery. In fact lack of sleep contributed to some of the world's biggest disasters including Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

But what about the more subtle effects of sleep deficiency on our bodies - could lack of sleep have helped diabetes sneak up on you?

Researchers have clearly shown that a lack of sleep is directly linked to developing not just type 2 diabetes but a number of other illnesses and diseases including:

  • Heart attack

  • Heart disease

  • Heart failure

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • High blood pressure

  • Stroke

  • Obesity

Sleep is your bodies way of recharging and without enough sleep problems happen. The brain doesn’t function as well. Memory and judgement are impaired. Appetite increases as the body knows it needs to carry on despite being tired and requests more fuel to do so, this is one of the main causes of late night snacking.

Sleep deprivation also affects the immune system and makes people more prone to infections.

But the biggest issue is that lack of sleep means that your body becomes less sensitive to insulin. In a diabetic that means high blood sugars and more damage to the body. 

Researchers at the University of Colorado found that the longer you are awake during the night the greater the disruption in the bodies natural rhythms. Kenneth Wright stated “We found the longer you are awake during the biological night, the worse your insulin sensitivity is”.  Reduced insulin sensitivity (or insulin resistance) is the cause of type 2 diabetes and contributes to many other diseases.

5 signs you are not getting enough sleep

  • You crave comfort food.

    • What these kind of foods have in common is that they are high in carbohydrates. If your brain isn’t getting enough energy from sleep it will try and get it from food. Lack of sleep causes a drop in leptin (your fullness hormone) and a rise in ghrelin (your hunger hormone) and leaves you wide open to snacking.

  • You fall asleep within 5 minutes of going to bed

    • According to the FDA falling asleep this quickly means it is likely that you are sleep deprived. The average person without sleep deprivation will take 10 - 20 minutes to get to sleep.

  • You hit snooze when the alarm goes off

    • Being tired when you wake up in the morning is a good indicator that you need more sleep.

  • Falling asleep during the day

    • Do you find yourself nodding off when sitting down on a regular basis? This is a sign that you are not getting enough sleep.

  • Irritability

    • Sleep deprivation can leave you more irritable and is linked to depression.

How much sleep do you need?

Most experts say that the goal is 7-9 hours per night for adults. Each person will have their own ‘sweet spot’. You know you’re having the right amount by how you feel. If you wake in the morning and are energised and ready to start the day - that’s the right amount. Take your bedtime back by 30 mins a night per week until the snooze button no longer beckons.

How to get more quality sleep now!

Keep it dark

Make sure the curtains are closed. Even a small amount of light can disrupt your natural sleeping rhythm.

Electronics off

Keep the phone and the tablet out of the bedroom. Resist the temptation to surf the net or check emails. Consider getting an app that filters out the blue light your screen emits. Scientists have shown that the blue light emitted by screens can contribute to sleep disruption and harm eyes.


Create your perfect bedtime routine. Your body will start to connect that when you have a relaxing bath that bed isn’t far away.


Lavender has been proven in studies to improve the quality of sleep. Sprinkle a few drops of pure lavender oil on a tissue and tuck it under your pillow and look forward to a better night's sleep.

Sleep is such a fundamental part of our lives and without it we can’t function. It’s not surprising that the quality of our sleep is directly linked to the quality of our health. Do you get enough sleep.