How Sleep Affects Blood Sugar
Did you know that there is a connection between the amount of sleep you get and your blood sugar levels?
This can have significant impacts on your weight, your sleep quality and your overall, long-term health.
In a recent study, after 6 nights of only 4 hours of sleep or less, subjects had blood sugar levels that mimicked prediabetes. This means that just one week of disrupted sleep can be enough to undermine your overall health in a serious way.
Too often people are deprived of the sleep that their bodies need to function properly. This means that there are a lot of people out there at risk of diabetes, heart disease and other serious health concerns.
Are you one of those people?
High blood sugar levels can cause sleep disruptions
When your blood sugar levels are too high, your kidneys jump in to lend a hand to help alleviate the problem. This results in nighttime trips to the bathroom, so that the excess glucose can leave your body via your urine.
By interrupting your sleep, your body is stopping you from getting enough of each stage of sleep. This leaves you tired, causes brain fog, and has a number of consequences for your overall health.
Plus, if your blood sugar levels remain out of balance, your body might start burning the wrong kind of energy through the night.
LifeSpa.com explains: “Today, because of undetected blood sugar issues, many people never go into fat metabolism during the night at all, instead attempting to burn sugar and carbs through the night as they did during the day. With sugar and short chain carbs delivering only short, quick emergency bursts of energy, sleeping through the night becomes an insurmountable task.”
This imbalance can lead to insomnia because, while fat burns long and slow and allows you to sleep for the 8 hours you need, carbs and sugars don’t last. This means you will wake up through the night hungry and exhausted, as your body is burning the wrong fuel and not accessing the energy it needs to achieve quality sleep.
The vicious cycle continues, in that your body requires certain amounts of time in each stage of sleep (e.g R.E.M). Broken sleep, especially if that’s all you get on a regular basis, can continue to throw off your blood sugar balance and can hurt your body’s ability to release and process hormones.
SleepFoundation.org writes that: “In one experiment, scientists disrupted people’s sleep just enough to keep them from entering deep sleep (but not enough to fully wake them). After these nights of deep-sleep deprivation, the subjects’ insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance went down by 25 percent.”
From these studies, you can see that the longer you go without sufficient sleep, the harder it becomes for your body to regulate its natural processes.
This is another unfortunate pattern that people often fall into. Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, which can then lead to further blood sugar issues.
Often when people are lacking in sleep, they eat more to increase their energy to get them through the day. This alone leads to weight gain, but it isn’t the only factor.
DailyBurn.com explains that: “When you’re wiped out, your hormones go a little nuts, too, boosting levels of the ghrelin, which tells you when you’re hungry, and decreasing leptin, which signals satiety. In fact, sleep-deprived participants in one small study of 30 people ate an average of 300 more calories per day, according to research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And a larger study of 225 people found that those who only spent four hours in bed for five consecutive nights gained almost two pounds more than those who were in bed for about 10 hours, over the course of a week.”
On top of that, when your body is sleep deprived it has a tendency to go into survival mode. This slows down your metabolism to conserve energy and resources and causes you to gain weight instead of burning energy. This further increases your risk of becoming overweight.
On top of this, being overweight is a risk factor for insulin resistance. When your cells stop responding to insulin properly, your pancreas kicks into overdrive, producing more and more insulin. Over time this can wear out your pancreas, your blood sugar becomes chronically high, putting you at risk for type 2 diabetes and other serious health conditions.
Support your blood sugar levels by fixing your sleep
It’s not always easy, but ensuring that your sleep habits aren’t contributing to unhealthy blood sugar issues is really important.
For most people, it comes down to getting enough sleep — and making it quality, uninterrupted sleep if you can.
First, make sleep a priority. Schedule yourself enough time to get adequate rest. You might have to remove distractions and find ways to relax. This will make it easier to fall asleep.
Things to avoid include television, phones and computers. Try to put them away at least an hour before bedtime (ideally as much as three hours before).
Also, having lights on in your home and noise (from clocks, for example) can disturb your rest. If you usually sleep with your pets, you might need to find them a new place to sleep. Their movements can wake you from deep sleep and mess with your sleep patterns.
Also, try to monitor your sugar intake before bedtime. Eating healthier whole foods will help you keep your blood sugars in balance, help you lose weight and can improve your sleep.
If you tend to wake up in the night, try having a high-protein snack with some healthy fat before you go to bed.
Bear in mind, if you are eating a high-sugar diet, that is still going to be harmful to your overall blood sugar situation, but correcting sleep issues may be a good place to start and then you can go from there.
Who knows, maybe feeling more rested will help motivate you to make other changes too!
You can also try supplementing your diet to improve your sleep. Getting enough magnesium into your system can improve sleep immensely. It can also help prevent insulin resistance.
How to supplement with magnesium for better sleep
Magnesium can be found in many foods, like leafy greens, nuts and fish. But, getting enough of it from food alone is next to impossible.
Oral supplements can be helpful. The problem is the delivery method: dealing with your digestive system is an issue. Harsh digestive enzymes and stomach acids can destroy the magnesium. This means that not enough of it gets absorbed into your bloodstream.
To learn more about oral magnesium supplements, check out our recent blog post.
For better, faster results, try a topical magnesium spray, like EASE Magnesium.
EASE provides approximately 22 mg of magnesium chloride hexahydrate in each spray. Conveniently, it gets absorbed within 90 seconds. It’s delivered right into the bloodstream, so it can travel to where you need it.