Do you know the impact sleep has on your blood sugar? (photo credit:

Do you know the impact sleep has on your blood sugar? (photo credit:

While the link between sleep and diabetes is still being researched, there is no question that when we don’t get enough sleep, we are at a greater risk for developing diabetes.  For those with the condition, getting enough sleep also plays an important role in blood sugar management.

According to a study in the Annals of Epidemiology, getting less than six hours sleep on a regular basis can make you three times more likely to have elevated blood sugar levels.  In fact, you only need one sleepless night to interfere with your body’s ability to regulate glucose levels.  This means that in addition to eating right, exercising, and taking the medications prescribed by your doctor, you need to make sure you are getting enough sleep every night.

Many people with diabetes can struggle to get the sleep they need.  But there are things you can do to improve your overall sleep quality.  If you find that you are not getting the recommended seven to nine hours each night, start by following these steps for checking on your sleep hygiene.

1.     Do you go to bed and get up at the same time almost every day?

If not, you should make this a priority.  Keeping a set sleep schedule, even on weekends, can help keep your biological clock on track making it easier to fall asleep and get the sleep you need.  Figure out what time you have to get up on the earliest morning you have and then count back the hours so that you can get the amount of sleep you feel you need to determine your new “bedtime”.

2.     When are you exercising?

Most experts agree that it is best to exercise in the early part of the day because exercising too close to bed time can raise your body temperature and make it difficult to sleep.  One of the things that happens internally to signal your body that it is time to sleep is that your body temperature decreases, if it is raised from working out, your body won’t send the right signal and you may not be able to fall asleep.

3.     How much caffeine are you drinking?

Caffeine can stay in your system for as many as eight hours which means that having an afternoon pick-me-up that is full of caffeine may keep you from being able to fall asleep.  Caffeine is also a diuretic which can contribute to dehydration which can impact your sleep.  Make sure you are limiting your caffeine and drinking enough water to stay hydrated.

4.     Are you eating late at night?

Experts recommend finishing dinner at least two hours before bedtime so that your body has time to digest before bed.  Eating a lot too close to bedtime can make you uncomfortable and impair your ability to sleep.  When you can’t sleep or are sleep deprived, you are more likely to eat more food, especially carbohydrates, all of which is bad for blood sugar management.

If you are struggling with sleep, you need to discuss your concerns with your doctor to ensure there are no other medical or sleep disorders keeping you up.