When we sleep, our bodies take the chance to run processes necessary for our optimal health and physical functioning. When we have a night of poor sleep, or chronic sleep problems, this process gets disrupted. It can lead to various health problems of which one is an increased risk of getting diabetes.
Research studies have found that people who get less than six hours of sleep a night may have a higher occurrence of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the precursor to developing pre-diabetes and eventually diabetes. Not getting enough exercise and obesity can increase the risk even further. When we have a poor sleep pattern our hunger hormones become unbalanced. Leptin, the hormone that suppresses hunger is less, while ghrelin, the hormone that increases hunger, is higher. This means you wake up feeling hungry and tired. You are more likely to overeat on foods like carbohydrates that give an instant energy boost. This in turn leads to weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes.
When we sleep our glucose levels naturally rises. Our bodies are normally adapted to deal with this, even when we sleep, by releasing insulin to store the glucose away. When we keep waking up through the night, or lay awake worrying about the next day, or just not sleep at all, there’s an increase in our stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol, in turn, suppresses insulin and the natural rise in glucose levels stay high.
A proper night’s rest, more that 7 hours, can help to reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes. If you are struggling to sleep, try to get into the habit of following a sleep routine. You also need to check that your mattress and pillow won’t contribute to your sleep problems. Your mattress should be firm to support your body so that you don’t feel uncomfortable or experience aches and pains that may keep you up at night. Remember, better quality sleep will always help you stay on the road to leading a healthier life.