For me, health revolves around 4 main factors. Fitness, nutrition, stress management and sleep.
Everybody out there knows that sleep is incredibly important – but with our world becoming ever more busy and stressful, it seems it is now the norm to survive on less and less sleep and reaching for more and more stimulants to help us get through the next day.
According to Dr Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkley; “Sleep, is the single most effective thing people can do every day to reset their brain and body health”.
Getting a poor nights sleep can affect your blood sugar levels whilst poor glucose management can also affect your sleep. If you have high or low blood sugar levels overnight, you’ll probably find out you’re pretty exhausted the next day (especially being low, it’s like an horrendous hangover) and sleeping for less than is recommended can affect your levels the next day – it can be a complicated cycle.
Sleep loss may be associated with significant health problems, such as:
– Depression: Several studies have shown that sleep loss isn’t just a result of mental health problems; it can be a significant risk for the development of depression.
– Headaches: Headaches can interfere with sleep, but sleep loss can also provoke headaches.
– Impaired Heart Functioning: People with disrupted sleep schedules, such as shift workers, may be more prone to cardiovascular problems.
It is also worthwhile being aware that diabetics can also suffer a bad night’s sleep because of:
– Sleep Apnea: this is when you pause for a breath whilst sleeping. These gaps are called apnea which are caused due to an obstruction in the airway. This is due to low oxygen levels in the blood, affecting the proper function of the body. It may not be enough to wake you, but definitely disturb your sleep.
– Damage to the Nerves: Peripheral Neuropathy – essentially nerve damage in the hands and feet. Tingling, pain or numbness can affect you relaxing.
– Restless Leg Syndrome: Specific disorder that can cause an intense urge to move your legs.
– Obesity: Being an individual which is overweight can lead to a whole range of health complications such as heart problems, arthritis, type two diabetes, sleep apnea and in some cases hypertension.
Trust me, I’ve been a massive culprit of sacrificing sleep in order to put other things first. Getting a good nights sleep on a regular basis has made the world of difference in my life and am positive has helped with my overall management of my condition.
For those of us gym goers looking to maximise their performance – sleep is one of the biggest weapons in your arsenal to recover fully. You break down muscle in the gym, fuel it in the kitchen and recover and rebuild overnight ready for the next day. If your CNS (central nervous system) is fatigued then your strength and power output will usually drop 10-20%. You will feel it, you’re just not 100% there.
Cutting through all the jargon, sleep is incredibly essential for our body’s biological functions such as endocrine, immune, neurological, musculoskeletal and digestive systems and ultimately our general health and well being.
“People who don’t get enough sleep often have higher levels of chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. Lack of sleep also can increase production of cortisol (the body’s primary stress hormone), impair memory and reflex time, elevate blood sugar, and increase appetite — ultimately promoting weight gain” says Carol Touma, M.D., an endocrinologist at the University of Chicago who focuses on sleep research and metabolism.
In order to give us a helping hand, here are 8 tips which I’ve found over the years to help you get the best nights sleep possible and give you a better chance of keeping your levels under control during those 7-8 hours of zzz’s! It may not change your diabetes control massively, but I bet it’ll make dealing with it all much easier!
Let’s start with an obvious one. If you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and make this a consistent routine – your body clock will soon start to follow suit making it easier to fall asleep at night. Do your best to stick to this as much as you can! I tend to try and be getting ready for bed by the latest 9:30pm so I’m ready to close my eyes by 10pm ready to be up early the next day. Also, it goes really without saying for diabetics – check your levels before bed, make sure you’re in a good range so you’re not going to bed high or at risk of going low.
2) Turn Off the Electronics:
Turn off all electronic devices an hour or two before your head hits the pillow! Artificial light can have an effect on the neurotransmitter adenosine just like caffeine inhibits the effects of adenosine. Basically, if it buzzes, beeps or radiates blue light – switch it off – it can wait. I’m a big fan of the bedroom being a TV and computer free environment as it’s just a huge distraction from what is actually needed. The bedroom is meant for sleep and sex. Keep it that way.
If you really can’t get away from your computer during the night – then check out https://justgetflux.com/
3) Switch Your Body Off:
Just before bed, spend 15-20 minutes in silence and alone to relax your mind. Get rid of all distractions – TV, phone, tablet, music, kids, partner. Use this time to practise some yoga, pick up a book or just sit down and try some meditation. This small amount of time will completely relax you physically and mentally.
4) Switch Your Mind Off:
Going to bed with your mind racing full of ideas, thoughts or worries will only mean you take more time to fall asleep. Give yourself some free headspace and get a notepad and jot down everything for the next day ready for you to tackle. Keeping them in your head will only lead to an interrupted nights sleep.
5) Keep Your Room Cool:
Your body will be able to move into its sleep cycle far easier if the room you’re in is cool. So maybe open a window an hour or two before you go to bed, pull back the covers in evening or have a fan/ cooling system in your room.
You’re supposed to spend at least 2,555 hours a year sleeping. That’s 106 days. Make your bedroom environment one that is designed to make you relax and send you to the land of nod. You essentially want to be sleeping in the quietest, comfiest and darkest environment you can. Buy some black out curtains, get an alarm clock so you’re not using your phone to see what the time is and get an awesome mattress and pillow.
Best to stop heavy fluid intakes from 8pm onwards otherwise you’ll be up in the night! If you’re also sensitive to caffeine – best to avoid anything with it in from 1pm onwards as caffeine can stay in the blood for up to 6 hours!
Supplementing with magnesium has shown improvement in sleep patterns, especially those with a sleeping disorder. ZMA has long been used in the fitness industry but a magnesium bath before bed is also beneficial. Gym go-ers, I’d highly recommend investing in a magnesium based recovery supplement like those sold at http://transdermaltechnology.co.uk/
Some foods which are high in magnesium include dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, oily fish and avocado.
Ultimately, sleep is incredibly essential for our bodies biological functions our health.
Make sure you take the time to give yourself the best opportunity to rest.
For anyone who sleeps with an insulin pump – this forum on the Diabetes.co.uk website has other users experiences on this matter: http://www.diabetes.co.uk/forum/threads/how-do-you-sleep-with-a-pump.20020/