What is sleep and insulin resistance
type 2 diabetes

What is sleep and insulin resistance

Do you have difficulty sleeping at night? Do you toss and turn or wake up in the middle of the night as a result of your insomnia? You’re not alone if that’s the case. Insomnia is a prevalent issue that affects millions of individuals each year. Did you know, however, that there may be a link between sleeplessness and insulin resistance? People who have sleeplessness are more likely to have insulin resistance and other metabolic diseases, according to studies. In this blog article, we’ll discuss how sleep deprivation contributes to insulin resistance and how to get better sleep tonight!

What sleep disorders are common in people with diabetes?

Individuals with type 2 diabetes are more prone to have the following sleep issues: restless legs syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea.

  • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that affects one in five people with diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy, which is an illness characterized by tingling or other unpleasant sensations in the extremities that prevent them from sleeping, is also prevalent among diabetics. When nerve damage damages nerves, another disorder called peripheral neuropathy occurs. Because peripheral neuropathy has to be treated to avoid long-term nerve damage, individuals who are suffering from these symptoms should immediately visit a doctor.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person’s breathing is frequently interrupted during sleep. The afflicted are usually unaware that he or she is gasping, although a bed partner may notice snoring and gasping. Because of these respiratory issues, the natural phases of sleep are impeded, as well as the quality of sleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnea

How does diabetes affect sleep?

type 2 diabetes

Poor blood sugar levels (high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia) and reduced blood sugar levels (low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia) at night can cause sleeplessness and the following day tiredness. Anxiety about the sickness itself may keep you awake at night, as might many long-term illnesses.

When blood sugar levels are high, the kidneys overreact by causing you to urinate more frequently. These frequent trips to the restroom throughout the night disrupt your sleep. High blood glucose levels can also cause headaches, increased thirst, and tiredness that make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Sleep apnea is an uncommon sleep disorder in which breathing becomes briefly interrupted during sleep. Low blood sugar levels at night are another possible consequence. When you wake up, you may have frightening dreams, feel nervous or irritated while sleeping, or feel dazed or disoriented when you come to your senses.

Contact your healthcare provider if you’re feeling tired, having difficulties sleeping, or have any other concerning symptoms. They can help in the investigation of the condition and assist you in maintaining better blood sugar control.

How does poor sleep affect blood sugar levels?

Sleep disturbances, like diabetes, may worsen one another. Poor sleep or reduced restorative slow-wave sleep has been linked to higher blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and prediabetes. However, it’s uncertain whether one causes the other. Because of its effect on insulin, cortisol, and oxidative stress, sleep deprivation is thought to alter blood sugar levels.

Sleep deprivation raises the risk of diabetes and contributes to one-quarter of people with diabetes sleeping less than six hours or more than eight hours each night, putting them at a higher risk of high blood sugar. Sleep deprivation also increases the chance of insulin resistance developing as a result of raising blood glucose levels in those who already have diabetes. This link becomes apparent by early adolescence.

Sleeping habits that are late or irregular have been connected to greater blood sugar, even in non-diabetic persons. However, there may be additional reasons at work here, such as the fact that those who suffer from sleeplessness consume an erratic diet more frequently.

Sleep deprivation raises levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone while lowering leptin, the fullness hormone. Individuals who sleep poorly are more likely to seek comfort in foods that increase blood sugar and are risk factors for obesity, putting them at danger of diabetes as a result of their compensating for reduced energy levels.

Adults with type 2 diabetes who have disturbed sleep or frequent nighttime awakenings are less likely to follow other standards of diabetes self-care, such as getting enough exercise and closely monitoring blood glucose levels.

In the short term, insufficient sleep has the potential to harm blood sugar levels. According to certain research, individuals with type 2 diabetes who don’t get enough sleep are more prone to psychological stress. There is preliminary evidence that those who don’t get enough sleep may be at an increased risk of cognitive deterioration later in life.

What is the connection between sleep apnea and diabetes?

type 2 diabetes

Although not causing diabetes directly, sleep apnea is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and has been observed to worsen insulin resistance even in non-diabetic and non-overweight persons. According to the American Diabetes Association, up to one-fourth of people with type 2 diabetes have OSA, while another quarter of type 2 diabetics have another sleep-related breathing issue.

Obese and overweight persons are at an increased risk of both obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and type 2 diabetes. Obstructive sleep apnea, on the other hand, seems to have an impact on insulin resistance and blood sugar management even after taking into account obesity. Obstructive sleep apnea not only disrupts sleep; it also periodically cuts off the body’s oxygen supply. These impairments contribute to insensitivity to insulin and glucose metabolism deterioration.

Short-term treatment for sleep apnea has been shown in several studies to lower blood sugar levels, while long-term CPAP therapy improves blood sugar and insulin resistance. However, other research found no change in blood glucose levels after treating OSA, suggesting that the relationship could be due to additional factors such as obesity.

There is no firm evidence that sleep apnea causes diabetes, but much more study is needed to learn more about the relationship. It’s apparent that good physical health plays a significant role in sleep apnea and diabetes. For people with type 2 diabetes, losing weight and using a CPAP machine together might be the most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.

How can people with diabetes cope with sleep issues?

This may assist people with type 2 diabetes sleep better. Furthermore, given the connection between diabetes and sleep deprivation, maintaining good blood sugar control is especially vital. Daily and nighttime activities such as:

  • Keeping blood sugar levels in check by eating a diet that is tailored to your needs and helps you maintain control.
  • Regular exercise is important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Establishing a regular sleep schedule is important.
  • Before going to bed, avoid stimulants such as coffee or cigarettes.
  • Keeping the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet

If your doctor thinks it’s necessary, he or she may be able to assist you in obtaining sleep aids for diabetics or other ways to improve your sleep. They might choose to undergo a polysomnogram, also known as a sleep study, to determine whether sleeping difficulties are caused by a sleeping disease. If secondary sleeplessness is discovered, specialized therapies such as a CPAP machine can be used to treat it.

Sleep itself affects insulin activity and blood sugar

type 2 diabetes

Insufficient and poor-quality sleep has been linked to reduced insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance in studies, suggesting that they can lower blood sugar levels (a measure of how quickly and effectively the body removes glucose from the circulation). These harmful effects don’t take months or years to show.

One night of total sleep deprivation reduced insulin sensitivity by more than six months on a high-fat diet, according to research in 2016.

Partial sleep deprivation—the sort of chronic sleep debt many individuals endure on a daily basis—affects the body’s ability to utilize insulin properly and keep blood sugar levels steady. Insulin sensitivity was diminished in healthy males after a week of sleeping 5 hours each night, according to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Sleep deprivation can lower glucose tolerance and make the body less efficient in converting glucose to energy. Sleep deprivation also affects the body’s ability to maintain blood sugar levels throughout the day and night.

We don’t know much about the impact of oversleeping on insulin and glucose levels. However, there are several recent research suggesting that getting too much sleep is bad for your insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.

Sleep affects other hormones that influence metabolic health

type 2 diabetes

Sleep deprivation, in addition to lowering good sleep quality and quantity, increases cortisol levels, making cells more insulin resistant. Sleep loss also alters other hormones, such as thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and testosterone, resulting in less insulin sensitivity and increased blood sugar levels.

Melatonin, which is responsible for keeping our circadian clocks in sync and aligning our sleep-wake cycles, has been found to impact insulin. We’ve known for several years that particular gene variations linked with melatonin receptors are strongly associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Higher levels of melatonin have been shown to decrease the ability of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas to release insulin–and those genetic variants have a stronger influence on this effect.

Sleep and circadian rhythms are associated with changes in metabolism, as well as other hormones that affect it. These sleep-related modifications, as well as others that influence metabolism, occur in healthy and non-diabetic people alike; they bring them closer to prediabetes and eventually diabetes. Individuals who have diabetes experience these sleep-related changes, making the illness more difficult to treat and control.

Sleep’s role in diet and weight raise risks for diabetes

type 2 diabetes

Obese individuals are more prone to develop type 2 diabetes than people who are not. Over 90% of persons with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. The “twin epidemic” is the term used to describe the simultaneous increase in obesity and diabetes, according to scientists.

Sleep has a significant impact on appetite, exercise routines, food habits, and hormone levels that regulate hunger and fullness. Sleep’s influence on health is apparent in numerous ways, including its link to diabetes. Sleep has an impact on diabetes indirectly through its effects on insulin and blood sugar. Because of its effect on body weight, sleep also affects diabetes indirectly.

Poor quality and insufficient sleep alter hunger hormones

When we don’t get enough sleep, leptin levels fall. Leptin is a hormone that maintains our energy balance. It sends messages to the brain indicating that you’ve had enough calories because of your calorie intake, causing you to feel full. Leptin also aids in fat breakdown and fatty acid catabolism in the body.

Leptin levels are lower as a result of leptin deficiency. Sleep issues may also disrupt the appetite-suppressing effects of leptin. According to recent research, leptin also has an active role in managing blood sugar levels. Researchers are once again investigating leptin as a potential treatment for obesity and diabetes, not for the first time. Getting enough sleep is one way to naturally maintain your body’s leptin level.

During sleep deprivation, levels of another hormone involved in energy balance and weight control, ghrelin, rise. Ghrelin, often known as the “hunger hormone,” increases appetite and hunger and a desire to eat, throwing the body’s energy balance out of whack.

Leptin levels fall, and ghrelin levels increase when you exercise. Weight gain and diabetes are linked to decreased leptin and increased ghrelin, the two appetite hormones. It also makes it more difficult for people with prediabetes or diabetes to maintain a healthy weight.

Poor sleep makes us more sedentary

When you don’t get enough sleep—whether because you aren’t getting enough rest or your sleep is restless and disturbed—you burn less energy when active. Regular exercise can help you reduce your chance of diabetes, as well as better, control it if you have it.

We eat the wrong things at the wrong times

Sleep deprivation leads to cravings for high-fat and high-sugar foods, which can raise your risk of developing diabetes. When we don’t get enough sleep, the pleasure areas in our brains go into overdrive. We become less patient as well as less able to execute complex judgment and decision making, the cognitive processes that allow us to make healthy and sensible food selections. This causes us to eat more often.

Sleep deprivation can encourage us to eat more overall (one research claims we consume 385 extra calories each day!) and result in less healthy eating habits. Poor sleep also leads to a greater proportion of daily calorie consumption being focused towards the evening hours. People who have sleeping problems often eat more later in the day.

Sleeping late at night disrupts circadian rhythms, which might promote weight gain and insulin and blood sugar abnormalities. Sleeping during the night disrupts sleep, setting up a vicious cycle of disrupted sleep and eating patterns that lead to weight gain.

Frequently asked questions

Does lack of sleep affect the pancreas?

It has been shown that sleep deprivation can have a negative influence on the pancreas’ ability to secrete insulin. Insulin production is decreased when you’re sleep-deprived, and blood sugar levels are unstable. This raises the chance of developing prediabetes and diabetes.

How many hours of sleep should diabetics get?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this issue. You may require anything from seven to nine hours of sleep each night, depending on your sleeping habits. Some people with diabetes discover that they need more rest than usual in order for their blood sugar levels to stay stable. If you’re not sure how many hours of sleep you require each night, talk to your doctor.

Does the pancreas work at night?

Yes, the pancreas is not active at night. The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach that produces insulin and other digestive enzymes.

Can diabetes cause excessive sleeping?

Excessive sleeping, on the other hand, is not a typical diabetes symptom. If you are excessively tired and have additional indications of diabetes, you should consult your doctor.

How do you reverse insulin resistance?

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. Making modifications to your diet, exercise routine, and sleeping habits might be required to reverse insulin resistance. For expert guidance on how to reverse your insulin resistance, see your doctor.


  1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems
  2. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/features/diabetes-stat-report.html
  4. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0145721711400663
Share with

Leave a Reply

Start typing and press Enter to search