Sleep is just as important as exercise and diet when it comes to decreasing the risk of developing diabetes or treating diabetes and managing weight.
Individuals who sleep six hours or less are twice as likely to develop diabetes in their lifetime as those who snooze 7-8 1/2 hours. If you are not getting enough sleep, even if you are slim and trim, you are seriously compromising your health. Just 3 consecutive nights of inadequate sleep can elevate a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes to roughly the same equivalent as gaining 20-30 pounds, according to a 2007 study at the University of Chicago.
What can result from sleep deprivation?
- Reduced metabolism rate
- Altered sympathetic nervous system (stress control center) and hormone levels (insulin, growth hormones, appetite hormones, melatonin, etc.)
- Fatigue further stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, decreasing the proper regulation of glucose in the blood.
- Trouble staying awake when you sit down
- Problems concentrating
- Grouchy or mood swings
- Lowered immune system
- Poor healing or recovery from illness or injury
- Decreased motivation to exercise or engage in healthy behaviors (just surviving the day)
- Insulin resistance
- Increased risk of high blood pressure
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of overweight or obesity
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Physical and psychological discomfort
- Decreased quality of life
Type 2 Diabetes is the result of insulin resistance; insulin is no longer able to properly carry the blood glucose from the blood into the cells. When you do not get enough sleep your body requires more insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. And a vicious cycle of insulin resistance begins; More insulin is produced, and the cells increase their resistance to insulin, so even more insulin is produced in an attempt to lower glucose levels, but the cells become more insulin resistant until blood glucose levels rise high enough to alert the doctor…Insulin Resistance is the root cause of type 2 diabetes, in most cases.
One thing that greatly increases the likelihood of insulin resistance is being overweight. But a lack of sleep only further compounds the insulin resistance. When you are tired your body produces more of the hormone (ghrelin) that stimulates appetite and less of the hormone (leptin) that turns the appetite off. Your body compensates for your tiredness by stimulating you to eat to increase energy…but you are tired, you do not have energy to fix a healthful meal, you need easy access calories, a quick energy boost, which usually turns out to be high calorie, high carbohydrate foods. The less you sleep the more likely you are to overeat to compensate for the lack of energy, and the average intake is a whopping 45% additional calories per day.
Some individuals will increase their caffeine intake to compensate for the lack of sleep. Caffeine totally interferes with proper sleep even when that cup of coffee or energy drink was 18 hours before you go to bed, because caffeine interferes with the optimal functioning of melatonin (a hormone that helps you relax and fall asleep).
We are a busy, “get ‘er done” society. We do not have time to sleep. What is the solution? Just as we plan appointments throughout our day, we must plan our sleep. And do it religiously, setting aside 8 hours for sleeping; Blocking that time off your calendar and allowing nothing to interfere with it.
How much sleep we need will vary among individuals and our sleep needs change as we age. The National Sleep Foundation suggest that school-age children need 10-11 hours of sleep daily, teens 8.5-9.5 hours and for most adults a minimum of seven but less than nine hours sleep is optimal. Shorter or longer sleep durations were associated with higher HbA1c levels (the average blood glucose level over the past 2-3 months) and higher rate of depression and disease complications.
What about napping? To keep naps from interfering with night sleep, limit adult nap time to no more than 30-40 minutes and at least 6 hours before bedtime.
Check out my post Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep
My wish for you is to sleep well, eat healthfully, and to keep on exercising. You can Start A New YOU! And you can have Abundant Health!