It's past midnight. You're out of clean clothes, and you haven't finished
that report for work. Though the alarm clock will ring in six hours, you cram
in a load of laundry and spend another bleary-eyed hour at the computer. It's
the only way to stay on top of a busy life, right? While skimping on sleep may
seem like a good idea in the short run, it can have serious long-term
consequences. Scientists warn that too little shut-eye may raise type 2
diabetes risks. And if you already have diabetes, sleep deprivation may
undermine your blood sugar control.
Most adults require 7-8 hours of sleep per night to feel well rested,
according to the National Institutes of Health. Of course, some people require
more sleep, while others can get by on less. But many of us build up a sleep
debt by routinely getting only 5-6 hours a night.
How can you get your daily chocolate fix -- and eat less sugar or calories,
too? That's a million-dollar question that several companies are banking on
people asking. Over the past few years, the sugar-free and portion-controlled
chocolate market has exploded. There are all sorts of sugar-free versions of
favorite chocolate bars. And you can now buy individually wrapped chocolate
bars or sticks in 60- to 100-calorie portions, along with the ever-popular
To help you decide among all...
If you're among the legions of sleep-deprived Americans, take steps now to
improve your sleep and well-being, experts advise.
"Sleep is an important factor for your health, as much as diet and
exercise," says University of Chicago researcher Kristen Knutson, PhD, who
has studied sleep and diabetes.
Diabetes and Sleep: What's the Connection?
In the past decade, there has been growing evidence that too little sleep
can affect hormones and metabolism in ways that promote diabetes, Knutson tells
She cites a 1999 Lancet study by colleagues at the University of
Chicago. The researchers monitored the blood sugar levels of 11 healthy young
men who were allowed only four hours of sleep per night -- from 1 a.m. to 5
a.m. -- for six nights.
"That study showed that after only a week of short bedtimes, their
glucose tolerance was impaired. There could be dramatic effects even after only
a week," according to Knutson
After 6 nights of little sleep, the men had higher-than-normal blood sugar
levels. (The levels were not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, however).
The effects went away once the men were back on their normal sleep
Experts also believe that chronic sleep deprivation may lead to elevated
levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Elevated cortisol may in turn promote
insulin resistance, in which the body can't use the hormone insulin properly to
help move glucose into cells for energy.
"That is on the pathway to developing diabetes," Knutson tells
Further, research shows that sleep loss reduces levels of the hormone
leptin, an appetite suppressant, while boosting levels of ghrelin, an appetite
stimulant. That's a poor combination that may prompt sleep-deprived people to
And most sleep deprived people don't snack on fruits and vegetables, Knutson
points out. Instead, they tend to crave high-carbohydrate foods, such as salty,
fatty potato chips. This is not just bad for your waistline, but also your
"If you add overweight to the mix, you could possibly increase your risk
of developing diabetes," Knutson says.
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.