My Counting Sheep Fell Asleep, Why Can’t I…?

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You reach the end of your day, change into comfy jammies and curl into a familiar sea of blankets. You lie there, staring at the ceiling or perhaps thumbing your smart device in the hopes of getting tired enough to fall asleep. Of course, using your smart phone or tablet can actually inhibit your sleep.

Image from The Simpsons

But that sleep never comes. You toss and turn, try different positions and even get up and walk around a bit but none of it helps. Then the morning comes and you feel exhausted, despite having EVENTUALLY fallen asleep.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Proper sleep plays an integral role in the control of blood sugar. Proper control of blood sugar also plays an integral role in getting a good night’s sleep. The two go hand in hand.

Studies have shown that blood sugar levels tend to spike during the night as we sleep. For normal people, the excess glucose can be absorbed. But for someone with Type 1 Diabetes, insulin may not be working in your favour the way it should, especially with the rise and fall of specific hormones your body produces during the night. This is why doctors will often recommend testing blood glucose at 3 am when trying to establish a pattern. So here are a couple of issues involving the important relationship between blood sugars and sleep.

High Blood Sugar: When your blood sugar spikes and rises, it places your body in a state of stress. This can make it extremely difficult to fall asleep as the stress will keep your body in an increased state of alertness. This can also be one of the causes of the “restless legs” syndrome (besides damage to the nervous system) you may experience on some nights while trying to get to sleep. I know I personally hate the feeling of being unable to settle.

Low Blood Sugar: If you have low blood sugar, your body responds by releasing adrenaline and cortisol to help you compensate. These hormones will wake you and energize you in order to ensure you can seek out food for your low. Not to mention that eating in the middle of the night causes all sorts of issues for your body as your circadian rhythm hasn’t accounted for it.

Lack Of Proper Sleep: It can very well be possible that you can’t fall asleep for reasons unrelated to Diabetes. Perhaps you have something on your mind, you’re dealing with a lot of stress, etc… Some of the things you can do to increase your chances of a good night’s rest include eating regular meals, following a consistent sleep schedule and incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Meditation is also a great tool, as the deep breathing and calming effects can help send you off to dreamland.

There needs to be a respected balance between sleep and proper blood sugar. That way, you don’t spend the majority of your day walking around in a caffeine-fuelled haze of exhaustion like I’m doing today. Diabetes UK webpage has a decent article on the subject:

And don’t forget that ensuring proper sleep means getting to the root cause of why you can’t sleep. And caffeine is only a band-aid and isn’t a replacement for a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams. ☯

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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