A large number of studies have confirmed that poor sleep is detrimental to the health of patients with diabetes. Sleep can affect diabetic's blood sugar levels, poor sleep will inhibit the secretion of insulin and increase blood glucose levels in diabetics.
Firstly, sleep disorders lead to a decreased effective sleep time, which will inhibit the secretion of insulin and increase the secretion of hormones that antagonize insulin, thereby resulting in insulin resistance in patients with diabetes. Secondly, sleep disorders will affect the normal circadian rhythm of hormones. For example, the elevation in the hormones that increase blood glucose levels (such as cortisol) can lead to increased insulin resistance in early morning, and prolonged secretion time of growth hormones can also increase the blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes. Thirdly, sleep disorders will alter the secretion of hormones in bodies that regulate the appetite and cause people to eat too much. Meanwhile, diabetes patients can show decreased activities at daytime due to drowsiness and fatigue, which can lead to obesity easily and aggravate insulin resistance.
Sleep disorders refer to the abnormal amount of sleep or abnormal behavior during sleep. The common sleep disorders include two categories:
1. excessive sleep, such as drowsiness or lethargy as a result of endocrine disorders or metabolic disorders.
2.lack of sleep or insomnia manifested as difficulty in falling asleep, proneness to wakening up or early wakening, and a duration of sleep less than 5 hours.
Tips for diabetics
The most common and most overlooked easily one among diabetes patients is OSAHS (Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome). Such diabetes patients seem to sleep well and snore loudly, but they can’t fall asleep actually. At present, the prevalence rate of OSAHS among patients with type 2 diabetes is between 25% to 75%, and more than half of patients suffer from other types of sleep disorders, such as insomnia and early wakening.
First of all, patients should limit their time of sleep during daytime and avoid sleeping during the day except for the elderly who can take a nap properly for a while during the day. Secondly, diabetes patients should develop good sleep and hygiene habits, develop a regular living system of life and maintain a normal sleep-wakening rhythm. Patients with diabetes should not read, watch TV or work in bed. In addition, Diabetes patients should avoid eating irritating substances 6 hours before going to sleep, such as coffee, alcohol, strong tea or smoking a large number of cigarettes. Diabetes patients should not do strenuous exercises before going to bed, or listening to stimulating music such as rock music, and instead, they can stretch themselves or count repeatedly for relaxation. When sleeping, diabetes patients can choose a comfortable position, such as lying on the right side, try to avoid stimulation like sound and light, keep calm, eliminate distractions and relax their moods. Finally, if symptoms such as insomnia persists after the above adjustment, diabetes patients should seek medical treatment in time and receive symptomatic treatment after doctors’ evaluations. If such symptoms as snoring occur, diabetes patients should undergo detection of thyroid function in time and treatment OSAHS induced or aggravated by hypothyroidism (function of thyroid decrease). If OSAHS is caused by hypertrophy of the mucosal tissue, diabetes patients can also choose to undergo surgical correction treatment. At the same time, patients with diabetes should pay attention to weight control, and overweight and obese individuals can lose weight under the guidance of doctors.
In addition, diabetes patients should pay attention to sleep safety. Both Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes patients may suffer from nocturnal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Studies have shown that type 1 diabetes patients are associated with a higher risk of nocturnal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and that the use of insulin and insulin secretion promoters can further increase this risk. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) occurs at a high incidence after falling asleep at night. Diabetes patients with suspected hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) should undergo nocturnal blood glucose monitoring, and receive dynamic blood glucose monitoring for verification if necessary. However, the monitoring does not need to be conducted for the whole night so as not to affect sleep. The manifestations of nocturnal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are varied among patients with diabetes. Some diabetes patients are manifested as easy to wake up, feeling dizzy, palpitation, chest tight and sweating, etc. after wakening up, while some are manifested as repeated nightmares and wakening at night. This group of population should also pay attention to not doing a lot of exercise before going to bed, and eating additional meals before going to bed after consulting doctors when necessary.
Besides, please note that patients with type 2 diabetes may suffer from nocturnal hyperglycemia owing to the dose shortage of hypoglycemic drugs, eating too much for dinner, and too little exercise after meals, etc., which will result in diabetes-related chronic complications like diabetic nephropathy if such conditions persist for a long time. A sudden increase in blood sugar can also lead to acute complications, such as diabetic ketoacidosis, affecting the living qualities of diabetes patients and their life expectancy. Diabetes patients with nocturnal hyperglycemia are prone to polyuria and thirst, which result in increased toilet use and water drinking and thus affect sleep. At this time, diabetes patients can consult with their doctors so as to improve their lifestyles and adjust their treatment regimens, thus controlling blood sugar to facilitate sleep.
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