Tips to help people with diabetes sleep well

Today I am sharing a guest post from Alicia Potts the founder of The Deep Sleep Co.  I reached out to Alicia because as someone living with diabetes the biggest challenge I have is managing my sleep. I love her doable tips and I hope you will too.

Take it away Alicia…

Beautiful Afro American Woman

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There is no doubt that good sleep is vital for good health.  It is generally believed that a human can go longer without food than they can without sleep.  Although, I’m pretty sure they haven’t tested that on someone living with diabetes!

Recent research by the Australian Sleep Foundation found that 33% to 45% of adults are either not getting enough sleep, or getting a poor quality of sleep.  This means that more than a third of us are going about our day feeling exhausted not performing at our peak.

If you are one of the millions of Australians who aren’t waking up refreshed and ready to conquer the day, then read on.

Diabetes and Sleep

The relationship between diabetes and sleep is complicated and multifaceted.  Both insomnia and lethargy can be related to blood sugar control.  According to Diabetes.co.uk “Sleep can affect your blood sugar levels and your blood glucose control can also affect your sleep.”  The symptoms of diabetes can make it harder to sleep and lack of sleep can make diabetes symptoms worse.

Unfortunately, sleep problems are more common in people with diabetes than people without diabetes.  Having diabetes raises the risk of sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea.  In turn, sleep deprivation can increase the likelihood of developing diabetes or intensify the symptoms in someone who already has diabetes.

Your sleep can be affected by a variety of things from hypos at night, to high blood sugars to painful neuropathy.  Waking up during the night to check blood sugar levels or frequent bathroom trips, cause broken sleep which can leave you feeling tired in the morning.  Having techniques to get back to sleep quickly and promote deep restorative sleep can make all the difference.

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Tips to promote better sleep

Maintain proper blood sugar levels. This one goes without saying, but keeping your blood glucose levels under control, as much as possible, will help you sleep better at night.

Keep the room cool. Sweating and hot flushes can be a problem during the night.  Keeping the room cool can help to prevent these and allow you to react to them quickly by removing layers.  Experts suggest a bedroom temperature of around 18°

Make your room as dark and quiet as possible. If your environment is unavoidably bright or noisy, invest in a sleep mask and earplugs.

Eat right and get some exercise each day. Obvious? Maybe. Important? Definitely! Diet and exercise have a profound effect on your quality of sleep.  Try not to eat or exercise just before bed, though.

Cut out the afternoon coffee. Studies have shown that consuming caffeine late in the day stimulates your nervous system which prevents you from relaxing at night.  The actual amount of time caffeine stays in your system varies from person to person.  However, sleep experts will tell you not to have coffee after about 3pm if you don’t want it to affect your sleep.

Have a tech-free time before bed. Working late on your computer or scrolling through your phone in bed sends light cues to your brain telling it that it is time to be awake.  Try cutting out technology an hour before bed to see what a difference it can make.  It might be time to pick up that book you keep meaning to read.

Use relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep or go back to sleep after waking during the night. This is the part where we suggest yoga to help you sleep.  Yoga Nidra is a relaxation tool that helps calm the mind and body and is great for assisting sleep.  Other techniques to try are meditation, hypnosis, visualisation and controlled breathing.  I like the 4-7-8 breathing technique, but there are lots of other good ones, so do what works for you.

Don’t be a clock watcher. You know that moment at 3am when you think ‘even if I went to sleep right now, I’d only get 3 ½ hours sleep’.  Watching the time as you are trying to sleep makes you anxious about not being asleep.  If possible, turn the clock face away from you at night to promote more relaxing thoughts.

Keep a regular routine. Last, but actually, the most important sleep tip is to have a sleep/wake routine. Sleep psychologists agree that the most powerful thing you can do for your sleep health is to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.  This trains your mind and body to expect sleep at certain times and preserves your natural circadian rhythm.

The tips above are meant as a guide only.  If you are worried that you may have a sleep condition, such as sleep apnea, see your doctor as soon as possible.

alicia-pottsAlicia Potts is the founder of The Deep Sleep Co.  She is a mum of two from Sydney, with a degree in Social Science. Alicia is passionate about helping people find the value of quality sleep.

 

 

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