The Relationship Between Sleep & Diabetes And Why It Matters
Diabetic Living Australia|May - June 2021
DL dietitian and diabetes educator Dr Kate Marsh explains why you should prioritise getting enough sleep and what you can do to improve your sleep habits
Dr Kate Marsh

Getting enough sleep is important for your health (including blood glucose and insulin levels) and your weight. Lack of sleep can worsen insulin resistance, increase blood glucose levels, and impact hormones that affect your appetite and weight.

The link between sleep and diabetes risk

Several studies have shown that both short sleep duration and poorquality sleep can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. While the mechanisms are not completely understood, poor sleep has been shown to worsen insulin resistance, the underlying problem in type 2 diabetes, and impair glucose tolerance. Lack of sleep also affects appetite hormones and weight, and carrying excess weight is a strong risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Sleep apnoea and diabetes

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a condition where a person’s breathing repeatedly stops during sleep. It occurs because of partial or complete blockage of their airway while sleeping. Someone with OSA may stop breathing for anywhere between a few seconds and 90 seconds at a time. These episodes (known as apnoeas) can occur up to hundreds of times each night, depending on the severity of the problem. OSA occurs more commonly in people with diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) and untreated OSA can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Common symptoms include snoring, pauses in breathing while asleep (often noticed by others), waking up gasping or choking, morning headaches, waking with a dry mouth and excessive daytime sleepiness. If you think you might have sleep apnoea, it is important to see your doctor, who can refer you for further investigations.

How diabetes can affect your sleep

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