Diabetes and Sleep: Exploring the Connection for Better Heal


Diabetes and its devious effects have undoubtedly taken a toll on millions of lives across the globe. We know that Diabetes has given rise to multiple ways that threaten human health. However, the relationship between Diabetes and sleep still remains a hidden hypothesis for most of us.

Today, I will narrate the story of a working professional, Pooja, and her expedition to deal with the challenges of being deprived of sleep because of diabetes.

The cross-connection of diabetes and sleeplessness

Pooja, a doting mother and a responsible wife has been an IT professional for the last seven years. Amidst her hectic schedule, she didn’t have much time to look after herself. Her sedentary lifestyle led to increasing levels of blood sugar resulting in diabetes. As a type-2 diabetic patient, she started battling through multiple challenges all at the same time.

Finding no way out, now, she diligently began listening to her doctor’s advice to improve her health. She took her medicines on time, changed her lifestyle by eating healthy and homemade food, devoted herself to therapeutic techniques to stay mentally calm, and monitored her levels of blood sugar on a daily basis. However, even after maintaining a proper schedule throughout the day, she found it extremely difficult to have an undisturbed sleep at night.

She sometimes woke up in the middle of the night or at times felt restless throughout the night and couldn’t sleep at all. When her condition did not improve, she rushed to see her doctor to find an immediate solution for improving her sleep patterns. After confronting her doctor, Pooja became more aware of diabetes and its relation to sleep patterns.

Her doctor specifically made her understand how diabetes and sleep have a two-way connection. So, without proper sleep, a person’s blood sugar levels might escalate. Such a situation would lead to unholy food cravings that would make diabetes management all the more difficult.

On the other hand, a higher level of blood sugar interferes with the sleep pattern imposing a serious threat on regulating blood sugar in the body. Here is a snippet of detailed advice given by the doctor to Pooja that will also benefit you in understanding the underlying causes of disturbed sleep patterns owing to diabetes. Things to understand

Causes of disturbed sleep patterns

The supremacy of social media in our lifestyle is not unknown to us. We are so engrossed in the world of smartphones that we neglect our sleeping patterns to a level that poses a considerable threat to our health. We now consider sleeping time as a leisure hour and scroll through our smartphones without being alert of the amount of time we are spending on the internet.

If a person is sleeping at 2 o’clock at night, and getting up the next day at 7 in the morning, do you think the body is getting proper sleep? Of course not, rather the following day, the person will be feeling tired, sleepy, and irritated throughout the day. Such a cycle will make the person less productive in the work field and various health issues will surface with each passing day. Research has shown that people who have inconsistent sleep patterns have a lower level of insulin sensitivity.

Also, present-day lifestyle has given rise to the chances of diabetes due to abnormality in sleep patterns. Insomnia is a common type of sleep disturbance that is seen in people diagnosed with diabetes. The other one is Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA which causes disturbance in peaceful sleep as a person faces periodic hindrance in breathing while sleeping.

Inconsistent sleeping patterns amplify the chances of diabetes

Various studies have highlighted improper sleep patterns as a major cause of diabetes. People who have insufficient sleep, wake up at regular intervals during the night, or sleep for longer duration are prone to developing diabetes. Another alarming fact is, that healthy people who are neither diagnosed nor show signs of diabetes can become intolerant to glucose if they go through a regular dismal sleeping pattern.

Also, inadequate sleep is a major cause of obesity, the enemy of diabetes. Thus, people who do not get 7 to 8 hours of sound sleep are prone to be impacted by diabetes even if other conditions like age, body weight, and sedentary lifestyles don’t cause them trouble.

Be aware of two sleeping disorders

As discussed earlier, people detected with diabetes, predominantly type 2 diabetes, have immense chances of having sleeping problems. Two types of sleeping problems are-

  1. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)– From the name, we can decipher that the condition refers to unusual irritation or tingling sensation in the leg that does not allow a person to sleep peacefully. Imagine, throughout the night your leg is itching. Will you be able to sleep peacefully? -No, rather such occurrences will disturb your sleep as well as your mental peace.
  1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – It is a type of sleep difficulty where a person faces trouble while breathing. People suffering from OSA, find it difficult to sleep peacefully during the night because of the experience of pause in breathing at frequent intervals while sleeping. The person usually is unaware of the signs of snoring or gasping for breath. Such abrupt breathing problem interferes with the quality of sleep.

Things to do

After gaining an understanding of the sleeping problems, Pooja now became determined to follow the techniques that her doctor recommended her to follow. She started following the following strategies diligently.

Routines before sleeping

Before going to sleep, Pooja ensured that her mind was free from all the worries of the world. Be it her career, her children, or her personal life, she knew that worrying was a waste of time and that a healthy body would eventually aid in solving all problems. So, she practiced meditation before sleeping. She took a bath in Luke-warm water, applied her favorite fragrances, and mindfully read a book every night before sleeping.

Scheduled a time-span

Most people fall into the trap of inadequate sleep as they have inconsistent time duration for sleeping. On weekdays they sleep according to their work schedule while on weekends or holidays, they sleep for a longer time. However, Pooja adopted a consistent time frame. She set her alarm and made it a point to keep the timing the same throughout the week to ensure regularity in the sleeping pattern.

Created a comfortable sleeping zone

A room that is filled with sound, light, and too many other disturbances hamper sleep. So, before going to sleep, Pooja organized the room and bed and made sure that the curtains didn’t allow the outside light to disturb her sleep. Also, she ensured that the mattress, pillows, and bedcover were clean and comfortable and they served as a cozy companion for her undisturbed sleep.

Minimized screen time

We all are surrounded by different devices that disturb our sleep. Whether it is a television, laptop, or smartphone, every device affects our eyes as well as our health. So, at least one hour before sleeping, Pooja stopped scrolling through her phone or watching any shows or web series on screen.

Regulated food habits

Apart from eating diabetic-friendly meals, Pooja gave up on food products that are made with caffeine. She gave up the habit of drinking coffee to ensure that the caffeine content did not affect her peaceful sleep.

Incorporated physical activities

Pooja started physical activities every day. Every morning she started practicing free-hand exercises at home. Earlier while coming home from the office, she used to take an auto from the main road.

Now, she walked down the lane for 10 minutes to stay active. She knew very well that if she stayed active throughout the day, her energy would drain out and that would initiate a peaceful sleep at night. An undisturbed sleep at night meant a fresh start and higher productivity the next day that would control her blood sugar and improve her overall quality of life.

Consistently taking timely medicines

A diabetic patient must take medicines on time as instructed by the doctor. However, some people forget to take medicines and then have sleepless nights thinking about the negative consequences on health.

Pooja started taking her medicines on time. She made it a point to take the medicines at recommended time intervals so that they control the blood sugar during sleep. Pooja’s health started showing remarkable changes as she diligently followed a changed schedule that complied with her body’s needs.

The first step she took was to visit a top Diabetologist in Bangalore and speak clearly of the problems of sleeping disorder that took a toll on her mind and body. Then, she followed the advice to regulate her sleep patterns and churned out the benefits in a minimum time span. We must remember that our health is our priority. No matter how much we worry, nothing will change. So, it is time for action.

Even diseases like Diabetes can be controlled and cured by listening to expert advice and bringing positive shifts in our lives. Let us eradicate our fears and mindfully build a society that will echo the songs of flourishing health and emotional well-being.