Lack of sleep can increase blood-sugar levels

Sound sleep advice

It never ceases to amaze me how simple lifestyle situations can have dramatic health implications.

I always wondered why nurses seemed to have issues with weight. Yes, they do get gifted with food by many an appreciative patient, but their job is also very labor intensive. Now, a recent study may explain it.

This study showed that those who work on a shift schedule often get a shorter amount of sleep on a disrupted schedule. This was shown to significantly increase blood-sugar levels. And of course, we know what that leads to…obesity and diabetes.

The study found that otherwise-healthy adults who were both sleep deprived and sleeping on schedules that put them at odds with their biological clocks made 32% less insulin than they do when they are well rested.

This decrease in insulin production led to a rise in fasting blood sugar approaching pre-diabetic levels. And the number of calories burned at rest decreased by 8% leading to a weight gain of 13 pounds with absolutely no other change in their behavior.

I certainly don’t have to tell you that sleep disruption doesn’t occur in just shift workers. So many of my patients have sleep issues…trying to juggle careers, families, and the everyday pressures of modern life. Well, guess what? Our bodies don’t respond well to this metabolically.

We do know that blood sugar goes up after a night of poor sleep because the body’s muscles become less sensitive to insulin. Insulin resistance, in my opinion, may be this country’s biggest killer. It leads to obesity, diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, heart disease, and cancer.

Now this new study found that too little sleep also appears to prevent the pancreas from making enough insulin to meet the body’s energy demands. That’s two strikes against you–insulin resistance coupled with a dysfunctional pancreas can only lead to one thing–diabetes.

I always tell my patients that sleep has to become a priority. There are just too many risk factors associated with too little sleep. Eating poorly is one of them. If you are sleep deprived, you are more likely to crave more snacks and sugary drinks.

With our economy and our hectic lives, getting sleep is a tricky proposition but one that plays an enormous impact on health. If you need it, there are many all-natural sleep aids that can help, such as melatonin and 5-HTP. But sometimes, even a few simple changes can make a big difference. You may just need to work on settling in sooner. Keep TV watching out of the bedroom and try making it as dark as it can be.