5 Ways Poor Sleep Hurts Your Blood Sugar

Sleep rocks! Am I right?

Sadly, more than 1/3 of adults in the US fail to get enough Z’s. Oddly, that’s the same number of adults with prediabetes. Related? At least a little. Sleep and health are closely linked and so are sleep and blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes or prediabetes – and even if you don’t – it’s smart to prioritize sleep.

sleep and blood sugar are related

Have you really considered that turning off the lights and snuggling up in bed is a tool for blood sugar management? It is. And it’s right up there with other critical lifestyle habits like managing your weight, being physically active, choosing foods based on quality as well as quantity, nurturing a helpful mindset, taking medications appropriately and more.

To stay on track, get my prediabetes self-care checklist. It covers 4 domains of health that are important in your prediabetes action plan.

5 Ways Too Little Sleep Hurts Blood Sugar Levels

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep nightly. But if you’re not convinced about the connection between sleep and blood sugar, here are 5  ways that skimping on snoozing directly or indirectly puts you at risk for prediabetes and type diabetes or damages your blood sugar control if you already have one of these conditions.

sleepy dog

Even Benny fights to stay awake for fear of missing out. Yes dog FOMO is a thing.

  1. Decreases insulin sensitivity. Sleeping poorly or too little does a number on the balance of some hormones, such as cortisol and growth hormone. And this increases insulin resistance. Scientists found that restricting sleep for a single night to 4 hours impaired insulin sensitivity by 20 – 25% compared to sleeping 8.5 hours. Other studies find that people who sleep 7 – 8 hours per night are the least likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  2. Boosts your appetite. It’s about hormones again. A sleep debt can cause levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin to go up and the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin to go down. And it’s not just appetite that goes up. Calories go up too. Sleep-deprived men and women of a healthy weight ate several hundred more calories than when they slept normally. Even worse, extra calories likely come from high-fat foods and poor-quality snacks.
  3. Packs on the pounds. Short-sleeping is linked with increased weight gain and obesity, at least partly because of the increased calorie intake. Gaining extra weight is clearly linked to insulin resistance, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
  4. Wears you out. When you’re overtired, aren’t you also a little under-motivated for all those necessary self-care behaviors like cooking a healthful meal, taking a walk, measuring your blood sugar levels, etc? Even if you do get out there to exercise, are you able to give it your all?
  5. Impairs your judgment. You’re more likely to have mental fatigue too! And that can lead to poor decisions such as rationalizing your choice to order heavy, greasy takeout; skip your after-dinner walk; ignore your blood sugar monitor; or stay up too late.

Here’s what science says about reversing prediabetes and diabetes.

So now you can see how sleep and blood sugar are tied together. If you’re short on sleep because you have too many chores or because you’re having too much fun, commit to getting to bed on time. Even though it might not feel as urgent as sending another email, sleep is more important.

Get this checklist for 4 domains of prediabetes health, including sleep

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Jill Weisenberger

I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.

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Welcome to my Blog

Hi there! I'm Jill, a nutrition & diabetes expert and the author of 4 books.

Jill Weisenberger

I believe simple changes in health habits can bring you life-changing rewards.

And I believe willpower is way overrated.

Right here is where you can discover the mindset and habits to stick with healthy lifestyle choices most of the time - and drop the guilt when you don't.

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