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The Diabetes and Sleep Connection

Too little sleep can raise your diabetes risk. If you already have diabetes, sleep loss can undermine blood sugar control.

Diabetes and Sleep: Sleep Loss and Blood Sugar Control

If you already have type 2 diabetes, poor sleep may make it tougher for you to maintain good blood sugar control, Knutson says.

She was the lead researcher in a 2006 study published in Archives of Internal Medicine that followed 161 African-Americans with type 2 diabetes. Those who reported too little sleep or poor-quality sleep were more likely to have poor blood sugar control than the well-rested subjects, she says.

6 Tips for Better Sleep

Whether or not you have diabetes, experts offer these 6 tips to help you get enough sleep:

1. Keep Regular Bedtime and Waking Hours.

This is easier said than done in today's 24-7 society. But experts say you may have less trouble falling asleep if you stick to a regular bedtime and wake time -- even on weekends.

Be careful about napping too much or too late in the day, which can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Rather than napping, take a walk to refresh yourself, says Sheldon Gottlieb, MD, director of the Diabetes-Heart Failure Program at Johns-Hopkins, LLC.

2. Create the Right Sleep Environment.

Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and comfortable. Maintain the temperature between 54 F. to 75 F. Cut noise with earplugs or "white noise" machines. Also, keep the room dark. You can block light with heavy shades or curtains, or use an eye mask.

A comfortable mattress and pillow make sleep more restful. If your mattress is getting old, consider buying a new one that offers better support.

Keep pets out of your bed. They may wake you if you have allergies or if their movement disturbs you.

3. Reserve the Bedroom for Sleep and Sex.

Think "bedroom," not "home office." Use your bedroom only for sleep or sex, not for paying bills or tackling a pile of paperwork. Consider banning computers and televisions from the bedroom. That way, you'll cut the temptation to stay up Internet-surfing or watching old sitcoms.

Ultimately, you're trying to create a mental association between the bedroom and sleep. If you lie in bed awake for more than 20 minutes, get up and do a relaxing activity, such as reading, until you feel sleepy. Don't lie there staring at your clock. This makes you anxious, and sleep more elusive.

4. Don't Wind Up. Wind Down.

Going to bed soon? Not a great time to break out the kick-boxing exercise video. Sleep experts suggest that you finish exercising at least three hours before turning in. Exercise raises body temperature and heightens alertness -- two obstacles to falling asleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

At the same time, exercising earlier in the day may help to improve your sleep.

Instead of winding yourself up before bedtime, try winding down. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, which might include reading or taking a warm bath. Not only will the heat relax you, but afterward, your body temperature will drop in a way that partially mimics what happens when you fall asleep. That makes it easier to drift off.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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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.

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