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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.

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.

5. Watch What You Consume.

A light snack or glass of milk before bedtime is fine. But avoid large meals within two hours of bedtime because they can cause indigestion. Too many fluids before bedtime can interrupt your sleep with the need to urinate.

Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that can disrupt sleep. Avoid caffeine, an ingredient in coffee, tea, chocolate and colas, for 6-8 hours before bedtime. Smoking before bedtime can make it harder for you to fall asleep. While many people consider alcohol a sedative, it actually disrupts sleep.

6. Seek Professional Help If You Need It.

How much sleep you get is important, but so is the quality. While everyone has trouble sleeping on occasion, you may need to consult your doctor or a sleep specialist about a possible sleep disorder if you have:

  • Regular difficulty with sleeping.
  • Tiredness during the day even if you've slept at least 7 hours.
  • Trouble performing daily activities.

A common and potentially serious disorder called sleep apnea can increase risk of diabetes, if untreated. With sleep apnea, your breathing stops repeatedly or becomes very shallow while you're asleep. Levels of oxygen in your blood may drop. Common symptoms include loud snoring, gasping, or choking.

Because the disorder disrupts your sleep, you may feel very sleepy during the day. If you have such symptoms, ask your doctor about testing and treatment.

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Reviewed on February 01, 2007

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