Quality Sleep and Diabetes

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Quality Sleep and Diabetes

Contributor: Barbara Eichorst, MS, RD, DCES, in partnership with ADCES.

Quality Sleep and DiabetesSleep is an essential part of our daily routine. It restores brain and body functions, helps with weight regulations, reduces stress, improves mood, and helps us think clearly. Good sleep lowers health problems and risks, like diabetes and heart disease. Despite that, people may experience sleep deprivation, meaning they do not get enough sleep or sleep at the wrong time. Evidence indicates that one-third of people with diabetes experience sleep disturbances like nocturia, hypoglycemia, peripheral neuropathy, restless leg syndrome, and disordered breathing. Poor sleep can negatively impact insulin resistance, immunity, skin, muscles, joints, gut, and reproductive system.

Here are a few strategies to get the best sleep you can:

  • Set a regular time for going to bed and waking up and stick to it.
  • Put your electronic devices away.
  • Set a bedtime routine with darkness, relaxation, and cool temperatures.
  • Use your bed for sleeping only.
  • Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
  • Get a good amount of sunshine and activity during your day.
  • Avoid napping after 3 p.m., as it can make you less tired at bedtime.

Inadequate sleep can also make us hungrier than usual and crave foods high in simple carbohydrates, which can impact both our diabetes management and our weight management. Having a good eating plan can also help us with our sleep health. Here are a few nutrition strategies to keep in mind when maximizing your sleep strategy:

  • Allow your digestive system to rest by going 10–12 hours a night without eating.
  • Stop drinking caffeine eight hours before sleep.
  • Minimize alcohol in the evening as it affects your breathing when you sleep, can wake you up, and affect your sleep quality.
  • Keep in mind that nicotine has a similar impact on sleep as caffeine.

Good sleep can be the best remedy for almost anything, especially our health. Formulate a solid sleep routine, and practice it, learn it, enjoy it! Make your bedtime story read, "Once upon a time, there was a woman with diabetes and sleep, and they lived happily ever after. The End."


Barbara EichorstBarbara Eichorst, MS, RD, DCES, is the Vice President of Health Programs at the American Diabetes Association. Prior to that, she was AVP of Clinical Practice and Research at CenterWell. Her work includes Healthy Interactions as VP of Clinical Care on a global program that involved over 120 countries. Barbara's experience includes work as an insulin education specialist, digital therapeutics clinical liaison, and at the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists as a program director. Her clinical work involves Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center, Northwestern Hospital, and Loyola University Medical Center. Barbara's focus is on behavioral interventions in disease management. She has contributed to multiple publications with her expertise in change activation, empowerment, and engagement.