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Can type 2 diabetes cause sleep problems?

Is a lack of sleep and diabetes type 2 linked? If you live with type 2 diabetes or are experiencing symptoms connected to the condition you may find yourself asking more and more questions about the quality of your sleep. If you’re looking for answers, we’ve put together some information about sleep and diabetes type 2 that you may find useful.

How is sleep and diabetes type 2 connected?


I’m not sleeping - Is this linked to my type 2 diabetes?

Lack of sleep, in this instance, is often linked to unstable blood sugar levels caused by a diet that is not keeping your energy levels consistent throughout the day. Perhaps you have a dip in energy during the day and turn to unhealthy snacks that will give you a boost of energy in the short term. This can subsequently leave you with unstable glucose levels, causing you to wake throughout the night to urinate, as your kidneys work overtime to try to lower those blood sugar levels that may have spiked.

I’m sleeping too much – is this linked to type 2 diabetes?

Sleeping all the time with type 2 diabetes? High levels of fatigue can be linked to diet as well. If your blood sugar levels are not kept consistently under control it’s likely that hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels are wreaking havoc on your energy levels.

Everyone needs glucose to be transferred to their cells to give them energy, but for people with diabetes this isn’t as straightforward. As cells require insulin to absorb glucose from the blood, people with diabetes type 2 may not be able to do this as effectively. So when not enough glucose is transferred to cells, that leaves you feeling sluggish and much more likely to oversleep.

Can a lack of sleep cause type 2 diabetes?

Studies have found that if you’re not getting enough sleep (and this may vary from person to person) then you could be at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. An article from the Cleveland Clinic Journal of medicine states that “people who sleep less than 6 hours per night are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes”. The lack of sleep can impact your hormone levels, more specifically, insulin. When your insulin levels are lowered and stress levels increase, releasing cortisol, your ability to regulate your blood sugar levels in your body diminishes, leaving you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

But don’t worry. Sleep disturbances can be caused by a lot of different factors. Maybe you’re under a lot of stress? Or your sleep temperature isn’t quite right. But if you’re concerned, make sure you check in with your doctor if you’re having trouble sleeping to narrow down the reasons why your sleep is affected.

What can you do to improve your sleep and reduce risks connected with type 2 diabetes?

  • Try to get your blood sugar levels under control. Focus on a diet that will help you maintain a slow release of energy throughout the day. This may help you avoid shifting glucose levels that lead to a bad night’s sleep.
  • Monitor your weight. Being overweight contributes to the risk of developing and worsening symptoms of diabetes, so developing health habits and keeping your weight at a healthy level will help you control your glucose levels further.
  • Regular exercise. This will not only help your blood sugar management but it will also boost your mood, reducing stress hormones and helping you to relax before bed.
  • Take a closer look at your sleep environment. Are there devices lying around? Do you have a pillow that’s supportive enough? Do you have enough natural light coming through in the morning? And is your bedding at a cool and comfortable enough temperature? Assess your surroundings and make sure that this isn’t contributing to your sleep problems. In particular, if you find that excessive sweating at night is an issue for you, read our article on diabetes and night sweats for more information.

Having trouble sleeping when you live with type 2 diabetes is not uncommon. But there are many factors to take into account when your sleep is being affected by your condition. Hopefully, we’ve helped demystify some of your questions about sleep deprivation and diabetes type 2. But whatever you try out to encourage a healthier night’s sleep, always remember to check in with your physician as they may have further advice on the specifics of your condition.