Diabetes Keeping You Up All Night?

The Gist of It

  • Sleep problems for Type 2 diabetics include Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Restless Legs Syndrome, constant trips to the bathroom and more.
  • Lack of sleep can affect your blood sugar levels.
  • Read on for tips on improving your sleep.
Source: bdherald.com

People with diabetes usually have poor sleep habits like difficulty falling asleep or even staying asleep. Some may jest that this is useful during football season but the long-term effects of this can be harmful both physically and mentally. Some people get too much sleep on the other hand while others have problems getting just the right amount.

There are several causes of sleep problems for people with Type 2 diabetes such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, pain or discomfort, Restless Legs Syndrome, constant trips to the bathroom, and other issues. People who are exhausted will feel lethargic and will eat more because they want to get energy from something. This could mean consuming sugar or other foods that can raise blood sugar levels.

Here some of the common sleeping problems:

1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Source: dictate.uk.com
Source: dictate.uk.com

Sleep apnea involves pauses in breathing during sleep. The short periods of when you stop breathing are called apnea which is caused by an obstruction of the upper airway. You may have low oxygen levels in the blood because the blockages prevent sufficient air from getting to the lungs. The low oxygen levels also affect brain and heart function.

Apnea can be interrupted by a brief arousal that does not awaken you completely and you won’t even realize that your sleep was disturbed. This condition can alter your sleep cycle and stages of sleep, affecting your rest. The most common sign of sleep apnea is loud and constant snoring but not all who snore have it.

If your sleep was measured in a sleep laboratory, technicians would record changes in the brain waves that are characteristic of awakening. Since we all can’t be lab rats, test yourself here to see if you have OSA at this link.

2. Peripheral Neuropathy

Source: uratex.com.ph
Source: uratex.com.ph

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition where the nerves in the feet and legs are damaged and is another cause of sleep disruption. This nerve damage can cause a loss of feeling in the feet or symptoms such as tingling, numbness, burning, and pain. The sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful and can keep you up all night.

3. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Source: coeliacsmatter.com
Source: coeliacsmatter.com

Restless legs syndrome is a type of sleep disorder that causes an intense and often irresistible urge to move your legs. This sleep disorder is often accompanied by other sensations in the legs such as tingling, pulling, or pain, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Some people may experience a sudden urge to get up and walk about or a strong sense to fidget around.

4. Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia

Source: positivemed.com
Source: positivemed.com

Both hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can affect your sleep. Hypoglycemia may occur when you have not eaten for many hours or if you take too much insulin or other medications. Some people have trouble getting 8 hours of sleep because of this and may sometimes have to wake up in the middle of the night to snack.

Hyperglycemia happens when your sugar level rise above the normal readings. This may occur after eating too many calories, missing medication, or having an illness. This is quite common during festive seasons when food from open houses is abundant and you might miss a dosage or two from all the running about. Emotional stress can also cause your blood sugar to rise so go easy on those Korean dramas.

5. Constant Urination

Source: catsofaustralia.com
Source: catsofaustralia.com

When your blood sugar is high, your body automatically assigns your kidneys to dispose of it via urination. This means you’ll probably be making a few trips to the loo with one eye open. The only solution for this is to keep your levels in check and try not to consume too much liquids 45 minutes before bed. A few sips here and there is fine. Worse comes to worst — adult diapers.

Sleeping Better

Here are some general tips on how to get better sleep but just like pillows; it varies from individual preferences. So be sure to test what works for you and stick with it!

Keep your blood glucose under control. Eat properly throughout the day and your blood sugars should be under control by nightfall.

  • Your bed should be large and comfortable enough for you to move about, preventing your body from being stiff from a single position. Comfy pillows placed at a comfortable height are a definite must.
  • Try to ensure your room is cool and well ventilated to prevent heat from keeping you up.
  • A room that is dark and free from noise is good but if this is not possible then you may want to try a sleeping blindfold or ear plugs.
  • Daily exercises also help to tire the body while regulating the blood flow. A good sweat followed by a yummy meal and cool shower should knock you out.
  • Stick to a regular bedtime so your internal clock and body is synced.
Source: diabeteswa.com.au
Source: diabeteswa.com.au

HealthWorks is currently running a series on diabetes, click here to read more on this silent killer.


 What’s the biggest problem you have getting a good night’s sleep? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!


Persatuan Diabetes Malaysia 
Global Diabetes Community 
American Sleep Apnea Association
American Diabetes Association
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

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