Sleep Please if You Have Diabetes

Poor sleep associated with high insulin resistance in diabetics

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Getting a good night's rest is a major part of staying healthy. Sleeping well is especially important if you have health problems. Now, researchers found that diabetes patients who don't get good sleep have a harder time controlling their disease.

People with type 2 diabetes who sleep poorly may have worse control over their blood sugar levels, which can lead to more diabetes-related complications.  Poor sleepers with diabetes had 23 percent higher blood sugar levels in the morning and those with diabetes had 48 percent higher blood insulin levels in the morning.

"Diabetics need to better manage their sleep."

When diabetes patients have poor sleep, they have a lower quality of life and a lower life expectancy, says Kristen Knutson, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago and lead author of the study. Compared to normal sleepers with diabetes, poor sleepers had 82 percent higher insulin resistance - meaning that their bodies could not use sugar for energy.

Knutson says that researchers should take these study's findings and see if improving sleep for diabetes patients helps them control their disease. Poor sleep was measured with activity monitors and from participants' reports about how often they had trouble falling asleep or woke up during the night.

According to Even Van Cauter, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago and co-author of the study, treating poor sleep could be as strong a treatment for type 2 diabetes as some of the most common anti-diabetes drugs.

The Study

  • Researchers kept track of the sleep of 40 people with diabetes over the course of six nights
  • The study's participants reported if they generally had problems with sleep, such as insomnia, snoring, or sleep apnea
  • Researchers took blood samples from participants to measure blood insulin and sugar levels
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Review Date: 
May 3, 2011
Last Updated:
May 6, 2011