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Fight diabetes in your sleep

Published On: Feb 28 2013 02:10:32 PM CST
Woman sleep, sleeping

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By Pure Matters

The connection between sleep and blood sugar is solid. A growing stack of medical studies shows that a good night's sleep not only makes you feel refreshed and energetic, it can also help keep blood sugar under better control.

When sleep researcher James Gangwisch, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York City, analyzed the health and lifestyle habits of 8,992 women and men, he found that those who averaged five or fewer hours of sleep a night were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as those who got seven to eight hours. (Getting nine or more hours of shut-eye also raised risk; researchers suspect it's due to poor-quality sleep.)

Researchers from the University at Buffalo report that people who sleep less than six hours per night may be four and a half times more likely to develop pre-diabetes than those who get six to eight hours per night. The study followed 1,500 people for six years.

Never Too Late to Get Better Sleep

For people who already have diabetes, a sleep deficit can make long-term blood sugar control more difficult. In a University of Chicago study of 161 people with type 2 diabetes, researchers found that those who regularly slept poorly or rarely got enough sleep had significantly higher A1C levels (an important measure of long-term blood sugar control) than those who slumbered well. Experts believe that shorting yourself on sleep reduces insulin sensitivity so cells don't respond to insulin's signals to absorb blood sugar.

What's Your Snooze Number?

Most of us truly need seven and a half to eight hours of sleep per night -- it's the rare and lucky few whose bodies and minds are nourished by five to six hours of shut-eye. But as the national nightly sleep average drops to six hours and 40 minutes, it's clear that more and more of us are trying to live as if we were "short sleepers."

How much sleep do you need? Keep a sleep diary for a week and find out. Note how long you spent under the covers and how awake and alert you felt when you woke up. If you're getting less than seven and a half to eight hours a night and are dragging during the day, hit the hay a half-hour earlier and see how you feel. Still tired? Add another half-hour. Keep adding to your sleep time every night until you're able to wake up refreshed.

But if you're still tired even with eight to nine hours of sleep, you may have obstructive sleep apnea. See your doctor for an evaluation.



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