New research from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute discovers a little-known, or little-connected, factor that contributes to developing type 2 diabetes. Most of us know that exercise and a healthy diet low in sugars and grains are key diabetes-preventing life style “musts.” What is not often known is that the amount and quality of sleep is also vital in protecting against developing the disease, managing it and, in many cases, actually reversing it!
Yes, sleep deprivation directly raises your risk for developing and/or accelerating diabetes. In several studies, men who had sleep loss during the week were actually able to regain control over their insulin levels by simply making up for sleep loss during the weekends. During the study, men only averaged five to six hours. When sleep hours were increased to eight to nine, their insulin resistance greatly improved, as did their immune responses.
Extending hours of deep restorative sleep allowed their bodies to better regulate blood sugar levels and helped to keep excessive amounts of sugar from flowing into the bloodstream. Simply four nights of sleep deprivation is all it takes to “zap” your insulin sensitivity by a whopping 16 percent. What’s even more shocking is that one study demonstrated this apparently small amount of sleep loss lowers fat cell sensitivity to insulin by 30 percent. I rest my case for deep restorative sleep not only for diabetes but also for insuring maximizing immune responses. Additionally, clinical observations by Matthew Brady, senior study author and associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, stated, “These results amount to the equivalent of metabolically-aging someone 10 to 20 years from simply just four nights of partial sleep restriction.”
Feeding Your Fat Cells a Healthy Diet…
Yes, fat cells need nutrition and that equates to adequate amount of restorative sleep. Without it, they can’t convert glucose into usable healthy energy and, therefore, become lethargic—keeping blood sugar levels high, leading to insulin resistance and finally diabetes.
As if loss of restorative sleep isn’t enough, people who are tired have more food cravings for unhealthy foods— especially those containing sugar or carbs that convert to sugar. The body has a miraculous mechanism for survival and when these cravings occur, it’s your body’s way of making sure you get enough energy for what it needs to sustain it throughout the day.
Get a Good Night’s Rest by…
- Avoiding caffeine or alcohol, especially about four hours prior to bedtime;
- Blocking out all light in your bedroom to assist the body’s natural melatonin to do its job—even light from a digital alarm or cell phone is enough to disrupt the body’s natural ability to produce melatonin;
- Sticking to a sleep/wake routine when possible, even when traveling in different time zones;
- Making up lost sleep on weekends if weekdays are too demanding;
- Keeping your bedroom on the cool side rather than warm and achieve a comfortable sleeping temperature with bed wear and bedding rather than ambient air temperature.
Other Contributing Factors of Disturbed Sleep in Diabetes Patients
According to Elizabeth Bashoff, MD, at Joslin Diabetes Center, “The important thing to do is first to pinpoint why you are not sleeping.”
There are a wide variety of reasons for disrupted sleep in people with diabetes. Some of the causes of sleep problems can include:
• Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is increasingly common for everyone, but more frequent among those with type 2 diabetes. Sleep apnea is also linked to obesity, a risk factor for diabetes. Symptoms include daytime fatigue and exhaustion, and nighttime snoring or irregular breathing. Weight loss is by far the most effective treatment.
• Neuropathy and Leg Pain
Leg pain due to neuropathy is very common in people with diabetes and sleep problems. Considering a medical food specifically formulated to assist with neuropathy (Wholistic Medical Food for Peripheral Artery Disease and Circulation*) can be a tremendous help without the side-effects common with most prescription drugs. It’s easy to add to a protein shake morning and evening to assist in restoring blood supply to the extremities.
• Nighttime Blood Sugar Lows (Hypoglycemia)
Another reason many people with diabetes might have disrupted sleep is nighttime hypoglycemia. People with type 1, and those with type 2 who are being treated with insulin or sulfonylurea, are at risk. Symptoms include waking up suddenly with a feeling of impending doom, nightmares, night sweats or morning headaches—often the only symptom is high fasting blood glucose.
Women going through menopause may also experience drenching night sweats, which can be confused with nighttime hypoglycemia—it’s important to find out if the cause is menopause or a low blood glucose reaction.
The Way I See It…
Achieving that deep restorative sleep is often challenging, I know from personal experience. What I have found has provided most benefit is a professional product called Sleep Factors** that contains a multi-faceted blend of amino acid precursors and melatonin to promote sleep-inducing biological activity. Its ingredients are non-habit-forming and contain 15 ingredients including valerian, GABA, 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan, melatonin, and L-theanine.
This extraordinary complex provides an innovative blend of nutrients that promotes soothing and restful sleep. The unique ingredient combination was specifically chosen to promote healthy circadian rhythms and help relax tense muscles. While most medications cause morning sleepiness, Sleep Factors is designed to provide the patient with restful slumber and a rejuvenated body and mind upon awakening. Take 1–2 capsules about 30–45 minutes before bedtime. Make sure you create a peaceful, quiet, cool and dark environment in which to promote sleep.
*Wholistic Medical Food for Peripheral Artery Disease and Circulation and **Sleep Factors are available from the Health Matters Store at www.gloriagilbere.com.