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Managing Sleep Issues with Type 2 Diabetes

Managing T2D

September 29, 2022

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Guille Faingold/Stocksy United

Guille Faingold/Stocksy United

by Stefanie Remson

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Marina Basina, M.D.

Medically Reviewed

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•••••

by Stefanie Remson

•••••

Marina Basina, M.D.

Medically Reviewed

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•••••

When you live with type 2 diabetes, low sleep quality may seem routine — but it doesn’t have to be. Try these tips to feel better rested throughout the day.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you’re probably already aware that people with the condition tend to have higher rates of sleep disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea.

Diabetes and sleep go hand-in-hand. Good sleep can prevent diabetes, and also help to manage it

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The connection between diabetes and sleep

According to research in 2012, both poor quality of sleep and short length of sleep — less than 6 hours a night — were associated with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

How long you sleep is important in managing type 2 diabetes and your overall health. Most adults should get an average of 7 or more hours of sleep each night.

Getting less sleep than what’s recommended may lead to higher hemoglobin A1C levels and poorer glycemic control.

Quality of sleep is also important. Yet people with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of having low sleep quality.

Besides feeling sleepy during the day, poor quality sleep can have dramatic effects on your life. In fact, people with type 2 who reported poor sleep quality felt it worsened their “already worsened” quality of life due to their chronic illness.

Sleep disturbances can also lead to glycemic dysregulation. This means that you can do everything right during the day for your type 2 diabetes, but if you don’t sleep well at night, your glucose levels may still not be well managed.

The timing of sleep is just as important as length and quality. The human body naturally follows a circadian rhythm — a 24-hour cycle that signals humans to sleep at night and nocturnal animals to sleep during the day. Any disruption of your circadian system can increase your chances of adverse metabolic outcomes, which means poor blood sugar control.

Getting good sleep can dramatically improve your overall health and help you better manage your blood glucose levels.

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Tips for getting a good night’s rest

Now, how does one get good sleep?

Behavioral approaches are usually the first step in getting better sleep. Sleep hygiene is a common term used to describe the behaviors you can take to ensure quality sleep.

Here are some expert tips to fine-tune your sleep hygiene practices:

  • Prioritize sleep: It really is that important!
  • Establish a regular bedtime and waking hour: This will help train your brain to turn off at the same time every night and wake up around the same time each morning.
  • Make your sleeping environment as comfortable as possible: Use comfortable bedding and set temperatures where you’re most comfortable.
  • Turn off all lights: This includes all of those little lights that stay on all of the time on most small electronic devices. If you can’t turn the light off, cover it with a small piece of electrical tape.
  • Use blackout curtains during long daylight hours: If the sun pokes through your windows before you’re ready to wake up or when you’re trying to sleep, blackout curtains can be a game-changer.
  • Establish a regular bedtime routine: Wash your face, brush your teeth, read, or listen to music at the same time and in the same way each night before bed.
  • Put your cell phone away at least 30 minutes before bedtime: Charge your phone away from your bed or in another room if possible. This will help you avoid the temptation to check social media, send e-mails, or play a game.
  • Turn off sounds and notifications on your cell phone while you sleep, if possible.
  • Get some movement in during the day: Exercise can improve sleep quality. Getting in a little bit of movement every day can lead to optimal sleep at night.
  • Talk with your doctor about a sleep aid: Some people may benefit from sleep aid medications. There are over-the-counter and prescription options available. If you have tried everything and still can’t get a good night’s sleep, ask your doctor if these are right for you.
  • Manage your other health problems as best as possible: You may have worse sleep quality if you have another medical diagnosis other than type 2 diabetes. It’s especially important to manage sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and neuropathy to optimize sleep quality. Be sure to talk with a healthcare professional about how you can better manage your conditions to improve your sleep.

The bottom line

Sleep is important for everyone, but for anyone living with type 2 diabetes, it’s even more important to practice good sleep hygiene in order to effectively manage blood sugar levels.

Creating a bedtime routine and improving your sleep environment are just a few ways to reduce sleep disturbances and feel better rested throughout the day. If you’re still having sleep issues? Reach out to a doctor for additional support.

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About the author

Stefanie Remson

Ms. Stefanie Remson MSN, APRN, FNP-BC is the CEO and founder of RheumatoidArthritisCoach.com. She is a family nurse practitioner and is a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient herself. She has spent her entire life serving the community as a healthcare professional and has refused to let RA slow her down. She has worked with The Arthritis Foundation, The Lupus Foundation of America, Healthline, Grace and Able, Arthritis Life, Musculo, Aila, and HopeX. You can learn more at her website and on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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