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The Link Between Poor Sleep and Type 2 Diabetes

by in Medical Care May 14, 2019

Sleep is an amazing process. Every night, our bodies work to repair and strengthen our vital physical systems. This restoration is critical to good health, and when time spent sleeping or the quality of sleep decreases, the cumulative effects can cause serious health issues.

Diabetes is a condition that impacts nearly one in three Americans (suffering from either diabetes or pre-diabetes). Most people are aware of at least some of the common risk factors for this condition, including obesity, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle and a family history of diabetes. However,   many people don’t realize that poor sleep can increase the risk for developing diabetes and make symptoms worse for those who already suffer from the disease.

Sleep and Metabolic Health

Diabetes is caused when the body can either produce no insulin at all (type 1) or when your body becomes resistant to insulin and your pancreas cannot produce enough additional insulin to overcome the resistance and properly regulate blood sugar (type 2).

An ongoing lack of sleep causes stress hormones like cortisol to increase as you body attempts to stay awake. Cortisol is known to have a suppressing effect on insulin, which causes blood sugar levels to rise.

The total amount of insulin your body produces can also be impacted by lack of sleep. Cells in the pancreas can become less productive when under stress caused by poor sleep, which causes the amount of insulin produced to drop.

Both of these factors can contribute to development of type 2 diabetes. (Type 1 diabetes is not linked to lack of sleep, because by definition the pancreas of a type 1 diabetic is producing no insulin at all. However, those with type 1 diabetes are often able to better manage their symptoms if they get adequate sleep).

Sleep and Other Diabetes Risk Factors

A lack of quality sleep can also increase other risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. People who suffer from chronic lack of sleep often crave carbohydrates and sugars as their body tries to stay awake during the day. This can lead to weight gain and an increased type 2 diabetes risk over time.

Sleep disorders like Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can also contribute to poor quality sleep and weight gain. In addition, the regular lack of oxygen cause by OSA can cause additional stress on the body, elevating cortisol levels and suppressing insulin.

Not only can having OSA can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, having either type 1 or type 2 diabetes can also increase your risk of having OSA! This fact makes treatment of OSA all the more critical in order to break the vicious cycle of symptoms.

Sleep Issues? Try Our Take-Home Sleep Study

If you’re having trouble sleeping, now is a great time to get tested to help avoid increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes (or to better manage symptoms if you already suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes).

Our take home sleep studies can be done in the comfort of your home and give you a lot information on the quality of your sleep as well as screening for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Want to learn more about the take-home sleep studies we offer or make an appointment? Give us a call at 865-524-1234!

May is “Sleep Month” at Apple Healthcare. All month long we’ll be helping you learn how to get great sleep to enjoy great health! Follow us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, or subscribe to our Newsletter for more information.