4 Tips to Sleep Your Way to Healthier Blood Sugar
Losing quality sleep can put extra stress on the body, causing higher-than-average morning blood sugars. But don't worry— if you're struggling to fall or stay asleep, we've got you covered.
Related: 9 Foods to Help You Sleep
Search for Patterns
First, try to identify what's keeping you up. "If you keep a blood glucose log, mark the nights you didn't sleep well and why," suggests Linda Tilton, RD, a certified diabetes care and education specialist with the University of Vermont Medical Center. Were you watching the evening news in bed? Did neuropathy-related pain keep you up? You may start to see patterns forming, and this can help you take action.
Get Out of Bed
If sleep just isn't in the cards, the best thing to do is to get up. "If you try to force sleep to happen, you start associating the bed with a place of frustration, wakefulness, or worry," says Shelby Harris, Psy. D., author of The Women's Guide to Overcoming Insomnia (buy it: from $9.99, Amazon.com). If you find yourself awake in bed for more than about 20 minutes, go to another room and "pass the time with something that doesn't use screens, like reading, jigsaw puzzles, coloring—something old school," adds Harris. Then get back in bed when you're actually sleepy again.
When our bodies are quiet, our thoughts can run wild. To calm busy minds, Tilton suggests doing a brain dump to help you park any worries until the next day. "Keep a notepad by your bed and when you wake up anxious, write down why and what you can do about it tomorrow."
"I like to think about sleep hygiene like dental hygiene," says Harris. Just like flossing your teeth every night can help prevent cavities, a healthy bedtime routine can help prevent sleep problems. This includes powering down electronics and relaxing your body an hour before bed, limiting caffeine later in the day, avoiding alcohol, and having a consistent bedtime and wake time, which trains your body to rest when you want it to, explains Harris. And if you take naps, consider limiting your rest to 10 to 20 minutes. Your nighttime self will thank you!
If you don't see changes after three weeks or are waking up to snoring, choking, or gasping, you may want to see a sleep doctor. Ask your primary care doctor for a referral or visit Sleep.org for a list of accredited sleep centers.
Diabetic Living, Summer 2020