Sleep & Diabetes - Who Knew?

by Patricia Briest, MS, FNP-C, St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center

Doctors have known for a very long time that getting enough sleep is an important part of staying healthy. Lack of sleep contributes to general malaise, lack of energy and concentration, and can make you more prone to accidents. Recent research on sleep deprivation points to another risk – diabetes!

In a research study of healthy volunteers over a 39 day period, shortened sleep and changing bedtime, designed to mimic habits of a typical working adult, revealed some interesting information.  Participants received no more than 5.6 hours of sleep each night. Those with sleep deprivation had impaired glucose regulation and metabolism, which can lead to diabetes. Resting metabolic rate (rate at which we burn calories) was decreased by an average of 8% - that can lead to a 10 pound weight gain in one year without changing eating habits! While it is true that older adults may not need as much sleep as they did when they were younger, a restful night’s sleep is important for all of us, regardless of age. A minimum of 7-8 hours each night should be a goal.

Quality of sleep is important as well. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, there is help for you. The Sleep Laboratory at St. Joseph’s Hospital is one local resource (talk to your doctor about a referral) that has helped many with quality of sleep. Exercising and maintaining healthy weight can help with quality of sleep and prevent diabetes as well (Take Shape FHS can help with weight management – call 458-7171 for information).

Your Mother was right – getting enough sleep is indeed an important part of total health and wellness. The importance of getting enough Z’s is even greater than we thought. How well do YOU sleep?

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