Can Poor Sleep Be a Cause For Diabetes?

5 min readDec 18, 2020
Image Source: Shutterstock, purchased for usage

If you can’t get sufficient sleep due to some sleep disorder, then you could have a nasty surprise coming your way, Diabetes! When your body is deprived of the sleep it requires for peak performance, good health, and safety, you become a prime candidate for this silent killer disease.

What Cause Sleep Disruptions

The reasons for sleep disruptions are:

1. Sleep Apnea

This sleep disorder causes intermittent pause in your breathing when you sleep. It is a result of upper airway obstruction and the periods of paused breathing are apnea. Sleep apnea prevents air from reaching your lungs and leads to low blood oxygen levels. This, in turn, damages your brain and heart. It has been established that there is a link between sleep apnea and diabetes.

2. Peripheral Neuropathy

If you are experiencing a tingling sensation, burning pain, or numbness or no feeling in your feet, then you could be suffering from peripheral neuropathy. This results from nerve damage in your feet and legs and disrupts your normal sleep pattern.

3. Restless Legs Syndrome:

Have you been repeatedly feeling a strong urge to move your legs lately? Then, there is a chance that you may be suffering from restless leg syndrome. You might also experience associated symptoms like pulling, tingling, or pain. All of this leads to the disruptions in your sleep.

4. Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia

Hyperglycemia means high blood sugar, while hypoglycemia means low blood sugar. When there is a long gap between meals, especially overnight, or if you are on insulin or other medications, your sugar level falls, resulting in hypoglycemia.

If you have been on a diet of high-calorie junk food, forgetting your medication, suffering from some illness, or under excessive emotional stress, then you are likely to experience a rise in blood sugar levels leading to hyperglycemia. If you are diabetic, then both these conditions can disrupt your sleep.

5. Obesity

You are likely to snore, suffer from sleep apnea, and sleep problems if you are obese. You put yourself at a risk of other major ailments like stroke, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Sleep Problems

To provide you with a sleep solution, the doctor will ask you what your problems are. You will need to mention if you are having trouble staying or falling asleep, experience leg pain during sleep, or feel sleepy during the daytime.

For an accurate diagnosis, you will need to undergo a polysomnogram or participate in a special sleep study.

The following are the treatments for the various sleep problems:

1. Sleep Apnea

You would either have to lose weight or wear a CPAP mask, i.e. a continuous positive airway pressure mask to ensure that your airway remains clear.

2. Peripheral Neuropathy

For the treatment of peripheral neuropathy, you will have to take pain relievers or anticonvulsants. There are injections and creams that can cure this disease as well.

3. Restless Legs Syndrome

For restless legs syndrome, you will be prescribed pain relievers, anticonvulsants, or sleeping aids. You might also be asked to take iron supplements if you suffer from iron deficiency.

4. Primary Insomnia

When you have a sleep disorder like insomnia, it can be treated using antihistamines like Benadryl, sleep medications, or antidepressants.

Additional Remedies For Quality Sleep

Here are some ways for improving your sleep:

1. Relaxation Techniques

One effective solution for better sleep would be relaxation techniques. You could try autogenic training that helps you manage stress and improve your sleep. Visual imagery and verbal cues help you relax physically and mentally.

Another relaxation technique called biofeedback, uses sensors to monitor breathing, heart rate, body temperature, or muscle contraction and alerts you about signs of stress. Once you receive the signal, you can take appropriate measures.

Breathing exercises are also effective to ease your muscle tension and slow the breathing rate.

2. Regular Exercise

You need to have an exercise schedule to get better sleep. When you exercise during the day, you feel tired at the end of the day. This helps you get more deep sleep that helps in boosting your immunity and heart health.

When you exercise on a regular basis, endorphins are released, and these make you feel positive. This keeps your stress levels down, and therefore you feel calmer.

3. Sleep Environment

A good sleep environment also affects the quality of your sleep and varies from person to person. Your room should be dark with the curtains drawn, and the fan should be switched on to help cool the room down. Additionally, if you want to have an undisturbed sleep, switch off your mobile phone or keep it on silent mode.

4. Good Sleep Habits

Avoid surfing the net or watching television late at night. Just as you have an exercise schedule, stick to a sleep schedule. Try to sleep at the same time every night. Avoid caffeine, sedatives, or alcohol before bedtime. Make sure that you wake up at the same time every day too.

Don’t turn your bedroom into your office or living room. The bedroom is meant for sleep, and you should use it only for that. If accommodating this is an issue, then create spaces within your room that are meant to serve a certain purpose. For instance, maintain a study table where you do your office work, keep your bed area only for relaxing and use the other rooms/ spaces for other activities.

5. Sleep Position

Your sleep position also has an impact on your sleep quality. If you are a back sleeper, then try to change to a different sleep position and sleep on your side to see if your quality of sleep improves.

There could be problems with your mattress too. Find a mattress that you are comfortable on, that provides you with the right spinal support, has no motion transfer issues, and supports the contours of your body. There are a lot of top mattress companies that you can choose from.

6. Avoid Napping

If you nap during the daytime, it is likely to disturb your quality of sleep. Avoid napping, and you will feel sleepy during bedtime and have a better quality of sleep. Even though short naps of 20 to 30 minutes might not affect others, if you are suffering from insomnia, it’s best not to nap.

Sleep Right and Keep Diabetes Away

Poor sleep and diabetes are interrelated. If you have a poor quality of sleep due to some sleep disorder, you put yourself at a risk for diabetes. There are certain ailments that disrupt your sleep and if you suffer from any of the above-mentioned problems, make sure to see a doctor right away.

Develop a regular eating, sleeping, and exercise schedule. When you do this, you minimize the chances of ailments and ensure great sleep quality.

Get the right sleep and stay diabetes-free!




Wakefit is a research and innovation driven sleep solutions company founded with a vision to democratize sleep in India.