Can Lack of Sleep Cause Diabetes?

can lack of sleep cause diabetes

Can Not Getting Enough Sleep Really Cause Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that many people in the United States knowingly, or unknowingly, suffer from.  Type 2 diabetes is when your body has accumulated too much sugar, also known as glucose, in the blood and has difficulty converting the sugar in the blood to energy. This conversion happens thanks to insulin and diabetics often develop a resistance to insulin, or have trouble producing it. Sleep deprivation and diabetes often can be explained as the cause and a result. If you are asking yourself, can lack of sleep cause diabetes? The answer is: it could.

Although sleep deprivation is not a direct cause for diabetes, it does play a large role in the development of it. Below we’ll dive deeper in to this often misunderstood subject.

Sleep and Diabetes Type 2: Hormones and Diet

The National Sleep Foundation has come out with an article that talks about the link between sleep deprivation and diabetes. Lack of sleep is a downward spiral that affects not only your health but the way you function.  When you deprive yourself of sleep, it causes your hormone levels to change, and one very important hormone in the body is insulin.

Insulin is released into the body when you finish eating and if your body is not functioning at its highest level, it’s probable that a lesser amount of insulin will be released into your body due to lack of rest. At the same time, if you are sleeping less, you are probably more stressed and when you experience stress the hormone cortisol is released into the body making you stay awake longer. Cortisol ultimately affects the way insulin does its job. When insulin isn’t doing its job correctly too much sugar can build up in the blood, leading to type 2 diabetes.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, especially after experiencing a few nights with little sleep. The good thing about sleep is that it can be regenerative. If you go a few days, or weeks, without sleeping much, but then return to a normal sleep schedule, any damage that you’ve done can be revered as long as you keep up the normal sleep routine. If, on the other hand, you are sleeping less than 6 hours a night, you are not allowing your body to reach the deep, REM, sleep that it needs to function correctly.

Sleep deprivation can also allow for changes in what you eat, and how much you eat of it, creating cravings for unhealthy foods such as carbs and sugars. Eating an unhealthy diet and being overweight is one of the main causes for developing type 2 diabetes. So if you’re wondering again, can lack of sleep cause diabetes, we pointing out how it can play a large role. If you are eating an unhealthy diet, not sleeping the right amount and are overweight, you run a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Avoiding Type 2 Diabetes

If you are someone that works incredibly hard and doesn’t spend a lot of time getting the rest that you need, take a few moments to sit back and assess your risks. Think about your health, what you’re eating, your weight, physical activity and amount of rest time.

The best way to help avoid sleep deprivation and diabetes is to regulate your sleep. Make sure you are sleeping at least 8 hours a night and if you get off track, get back on track as quickly as possible. On top of that, make sure you are eating foods that are low in carbohydrates and sugar and composing your meals of protein and vegetables.

It’s OK to cheat every once and a while but if you’re concerned about your risk of type 2 diabetes, take care of yourself. At the end of the day if you are noticing any signs or are worried that you may develop diabetes, speak to a medical professional about your risk.


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