Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.
Sleep is a critical component to good health and is especially important to monitor when you have diabetes. Many of us don't get enough sleep, even though a good night's rest may be just what the doctor ordered.
How much sleep does one actually need? It appears that seven to nine hours of sleep on average for adults is the magic range, according to recent sleep research in the Wall Street Journal.
So, what is preventing you from getting that sleep your body needs? Here we'll discuss two of the possible culprits and solutions for you to try.
Hormones of stress
Stress and its partner cortisol go hand in hand, silently hacking away at the down time we should be using for rest and relaxation.
Stress causes “a surge in adrenal hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that increase alertness, making it more difficult to relax into sound sleep,” according to Adrenalfatigue.org. As stress hormone levels rise, so do blood sugars. This makes it more difficult for people with diabetes to rest at night too.
Decrease those pesky stress hormone levels
To get a better night’s sleep, do the following to help your hormones be at the optimal level:
• Monitor and decrease caffeine intake, especially in the evening.
• Limit vigorous evening exercise.
• Explore meditation and relaxing yoga poses.
• Talk with a close friend or therapist about your worries and stressors.
• Exercise daily to increase feel-good hormones.
• Power down stimulating electronic devices prior to sleep.
Believe it or not, sleep apnea and diabetes are closely related to one another.
According to researchers at the National Institutes of Health, sleep apnea increases one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They found that up to 70 percent of obese people with type 2 diabetes also live with sleep apnea.
Quantity of sleep is only part of the equation. Sleep apnea also hinders our quality of sleep.
Do you have bags under your eyes? Are you always tired? Do people tell you you’re a loud snorer or does your spouse tell you that you stop breathing regularly at night? If any of this sounds familiar, ask your doctor about being tested for obstructive sleep apnea by a sleep specialist. Constant awakenings are stressful experiences, serving to increase cortisol levels and exacerbate other health conditions.
You may be fitted with a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP) to sleep with at night.
Use an app to measure your sleep
Those who experience sleep deprivation tend to severely underestimate their sleep problems. Therefore, getting some insight from external sources like healthcare professionals is important in identifying sleep issues.
And while sleep tracking devices can’t take the place of sleep lab studies, apps can help in pointing out that you have a true problem at hand that may need further probing.