According to a study conducted by Université Laval researchers in 2011, 40% of adult Canadians suffer from sleep disorders. That is roughly 5.4 million people.
Currently, there is no cure for diabetes. It is an illness that must be closely monitored and controlled. In order for a diabetic to control the issues they face with loss of sleep, they must first understand diabetes.
What is diabetes?
Our bodies naturally produce a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps transfer glucose from the blood to the muscles, fat, and liver, and other cells, where it is used for energy. Insulin resistance occurs when the body has trouble producing insulin, or when the insulin fails to transfer glucose into these cells. Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to produce insulin properly. This causes excess levels of glucose in the blood. If not properly managed, this can have severe consequences for the heart, kidneys, and other organs.
How does having diabetes cause sleep issues?
Diabetes affects every part of your body and it affects how you feel. When you are regulating your blood glucose levels manually, you are aware of changes. When blood glucose levels are high, you may feel nervous, short of breath, tired, and have stomach pain among other symptoms. When your blood glucose level is low you may feel shaky, tearful, moody, anxious, and have a fast heart rate. These are physical symptoms of a chemical change. It is your body trying to make you aware that something is wrong. Sleep Apnea is one of the most serious sleep disorders a diabetic can face.
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Researchers at “The Canadian-first” study, used data from more than 30,000 adults over the age of 45 who participated in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging which they published in the journal Sleep Medicine.
The study focused on the occurrence of “multimorbidity,” which describes an individual diagnosed with multiple chronic conditions that could be as common as diabetes and hypertension. There was a link between that and self-reported poor sleep quality and altered sleep duration, which includes both too much and too little sleep.
There is already established evidence showing lack of sleep has a negative impact on cardio-metabolic, endocrine, immune and inflammatory systems and that people in general have experienced poorer sleep quality over the past several decades.
There is more information needed, but it is already obvious to the medical community that lack of sleep is a growing problem in Canada.
When a person has sleep apnea their breathing starts and stops as they sleep. In one 2009 study, researchers found that 86 percent of sleep apnea participants also had diabetes. More than half of them had it severely enough to need medical treatment.
Most diabetics that develop sleep apnea have type 2 diabetes. This is because a type 2 diabetic is often overweight. Obesity can constrict air passages when a person reclines to sleep.
People who have sleep apnea will often feel tired even when they have had a full night’s rest. They will snore loudly, sometimes waking themselves, often bothering others in the home who are trying to sleep. They sometimes fight to wake up, struggling for a breath.
Other Ways Diabetes can keep you awake at night
If you have excessive glucose (sugar) in your blood, your body is going to try to get rid of it. High blood sugar is bad for your internal organs and it is bad for your heart. Your body is programmed to remove things that are damaging to you. Here are some ways your body may keep you awake with your diabetes:
- Urination – High blood sugar levels can cause frequent urination. Extra trips to the bathroom make for a long night.
- Liquids -When your body has extra glucose, it draws water from your tissues. You will wake up throughout the night for water.
- Low blood sugar – The symptoms of low blood sugar, such as shakiness, dizziness, and sweating. This can wake you and frighten you. This is where glucose tablets are good. If you get up to eat, you often eat too much, then you get high blood sugar, and that brings more problems.
Tips To Help You Stop Diabetes, From Robbing Your Sleep
So, now we understand how being a diabetic can rob us of our sleep. But, how do we stop it? Just like everything else concerning diabetes, it is about monitoring, controlling, and maintaining. So, let’s take a look at how we can take back our sleep from the grasp of diabetes.
Get checked for sleep apnea
Go to a doctor and find out if you have sleep apnea. If you do, take the steps to cure yourself. Use the equipment prescribed, and lose some weight. In a lot of cases, this is the biggest step you can take to reclaim your sleep. Do not assume you do or do not have it, and go from there. If you put it off too long, it could be too late.
Begin one hour before you go to bed. Unplug! Turn off the computer, the smartphone, the tablet, and the television. Remove radio waves, colours, and lights from your eyes and let your brain shut down.
Just like your meals and snacks must be measured and taken at specific times, so must your rest times. Naps should be limited to early afternoon and not last longer than 20 minutes. You should go to bed at the same time every night and allow extra time for falling asleep.
Do not drink alcohol before bedtime. This is a tough one for people to understand. Usually, people think a drink just before bed will help you fall asleep. It may initially. However, alcohol will drive up the glucose in your blood, which may wake you up soon. You could struggle to get back to sleep as it takes about 2-hours to get the alcohol out of your bloodstream. Instead, have your drink with dinner or at least an hour or two before bed and have it with food. This will help metabolize the alcohol and give you a bit of the relaxing properties of the drink as well.
If you follow these tips and pay attention to your body you will get back to your natural state of waking and sleeping. This is what you want to do. Your body will take it from there.
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