Sleep for a Good Cause

Man in bed, sleeping

Getting good sleep is important for your mind, your body, and your diabetes.

There are many reasons to get a good night’s sleep. If you have diabetes, there are even more. Learn how sleep affects your diabetes management.

A good night’s sleep can feel like a luxury. Balancing school, work, physical activity, and your family may cause you to go to bed later than you’d like. One in three US adults isn’t getting enough sleep, and over time, this can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.

If you have diabetes, too little sleep negatively affects every area of your management, including how much you eat, what you choose to eat, how you respond to insulin, and your mental health.

Proper rest isn’t just important for your diabetes management—it may also put you in a better mood and give you more energy!

How Much Do You Need?

Being well rested is important for people of all ages to stay in good health. How many hours of sleep you need changes as you age. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Children and teens need more.

Learn more about how much sleep you need.

Complications From Lack of Sleep

If you get less than 7 hours of sleep per night regularly, your diabetes will be harder to manage. Too little sleep can:

  • Increase insulin resistance.
  • Make you hungrier the next day and reduce how full you feel after eating.
  • Make you more likely to reach for junk foods—those that are high in carbs and sugar.
  • Make it harder to lose weight.
  • Raise blood pressure and seriously increase the risk of a heart attack.
  • Make your immune system less able to fight infections.
  • Increase your risk of depression and anxiety.

Tips to Get More Zzz’s

Get Good Sleep

Sleep quality is as important as how many hours you get. Signs you aren’t getting good sleep may include:

  • Not feeling rested even after sleeping enough hours.
  • Repeatedly waking up during the night.
  • Having symptoms of sleep disorders (such as snoring or gasping for air).

It’s common to stay up late and get up early during the week, then sleep in on the weekend. You may hope to catch up on the hours you missed, but your brain can’t use these added hours.

One of the best things you can do is to wake up and go to bed at around the same time every day, even on weekends, making sure you get enough quality sleep consistently. These tips can help:

  • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, relaxing, and cool. Experts recommend a temperature of 65 degrees for your best rest.
  • Remove electronic devices such as TVs, computers, and smartphones from the bedroom.
  • Get some physical activity during the day.
  • Mentally unwind and relax before bedtime.
  • Have a routine that gets you ready for bed, like taking a shower, reading, or writing in a journal.
  • Get in bed only when you’re tired.

And here are a few things to avoid:

  • Afternoon and evening caffeine. It can affect your body for up to 8 hours.
  • Alcohol in the evening. It can affect how you breathe when you sleep. It can also wake you up and affect your sleep quality.
  • Large meals late at night. Eating late can cause indigestion and higher blood sugar levels overnight.
  • Naps after 3 p.m. This can make you less tired when it’s time for bed.
  • Nicotine. It acts like caffeine.

If you still have problems getting a good night’s rest, talk with your doctor.

Page last reviewed: December 10, 2020