Contributed by- Dr. Dhrity Vats
As the old Irish proverb says, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cure in a doctor’s book”. We all get a good dose of laughter either from the television or from social media jokes but getting a good sleep could be challenging if you are diabetic.
Diabetes and sleep have a physiological connection. They both go hand in hand. Your sleeping habits could change if you are diabetic. Since diabetics feel thirsty a lot and have frequent urge to urinate, this disturbs their sleep. When blood glucose levels are high, the kidneys form more urine and fill the bladder often. This causes excessive urination, which means that you have to get up (often, during the night) to use the bathroom. Even in low blood glucose levels or hypoglycemic condition, one sweats a lot during sleep, is shaky and shiver and feels hungry often, disturbing normal sleep.
Common Sleep Disorders
Diabetics can have a very varied range of sleeping problems. They can have sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome or insomnia.
What happens in Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a condition where the breathing pauses for sometime during sleep, causing you to wake up for some time and then falling back to sleep. This happens generally in men who are overweight. The throat muscles close off, there is a pause in breathing and blood oxygen levels drop. The individual may not even be aware of the breathing break but if someone observes the sleeping pattern the period of sleep apnea can be measured. Majority of people who have sleep apnea snore too. But if these episodes are regular, it can cause damage to the lungs and later to the heart and brain function. As soon as sleep apnea is treated, blood pressure goes down. Apnea also leads to increased insulin resistance. Treating sleep apnea improves insulin resistance very quickly.
What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Diabetics have a high risk of peripheral neuropathy. Here the nerves of the extremities can get damaged due to high sugar levels. The Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) can fall in the category of peripheral neuropathy. The uncontrollable urge to move the legs which have irregular twitching and cramping during rest id called RLS. The individual feels restless in the calf muscles and feels like moving or massaging them continuously. To get relief from RLS one can go for a warm bath before sleeping or exercising helps their symptoms. If symptoms occur almost every night, they can be treated with medications that help reduce the urge to move and the uncomfortable sensation.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a basket of all sleeping disturbances. It in simple terms means, poor sleeping habits or difficulty in sleeping or a tender sleep. It can be due to anxiety, medicines, fear, RLS or even regular episodes of sleep apnea.
Diabetes and Sleepiness
Those who have Diabetes and do not get enough insulin can have hypoglycemia i.e. low levels of blood sugar levels and can cause sleepiness. In such a case the person might feel giddy, disoriented, weak and sleepy. Such a situation should not arise if regular monitoring on sugar levels is done.
Can lack of sleep be a cause of diabetes?
Research shows that diabetes and deprivation in sleep can be linked. A good night’s sleep is important for our hormones to regulate a large number of the body’s processes, such as appetite, weight control and the immune system. If you have a disturbed sleeping pattern during the night you will have a sleepy day which in turn leads to an abnormal eating pattern. Eating comfort foods like junk that is easily available, will in return affect the sugar levels and can even make you overweight.
What to do?
If you have abnormal sleeping patterns and feel restless throughout the night leaving you drained the next morning, get yourself a basic diabetes package from Healthians.com. A doctor can help you understand these patterns better after studying your blood test reports, helping you to face diabetes and related complications more confidently. You can also follow few tips for better sleep.
Tips for a Goodnight Sleep
There are lots of things you can do to get a peaceful and calm goodnight sleep. Try a few of from the given list:
- Switch off all your electronic gadgets
- Get up from bed at the same time every day, irrespective of a holiday
- Exercise in the morning not at night i.e. close to sleeping time
- Do not take any caffeine products after evening
- Limit intake of alcohol
- Ensure your mattress pillows and blankets are comfortable
- Keep your room cool
- Keep noises away or use ear plugs.