If you’re overweight or come from a family with a history of diabetes, it’s time to pay more attention to your sleep. Continue reading to learn why…

You’re probably aware by now that we are facing a huge public health crisis with diabetes – a disease in which your blood sugar levels get too high.

Over time, it can cause blindness, kidney failure, and lead to lower limb amputation.  It can also put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Millions of people living with early-stage diabetes and don’t know it…

In the US, the CDC says that over 30 million Americans have diabetes.

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Even scarier, a third of US adults have prediabetes and are mostly undiagnosed.

Think about it – over 80 million people walking around with early-stage diabetes and most don’t know it.

Around the world, over 400 million people have diabetes and it’s now the leading cause of death.

So, what are the symptoms?

According to the American Diabetes Association, common signs include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry even if you’re eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry Vision
  • Slow healing cuts or bruises
  • Weight loss even if you’re eating more
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in hands or feet

If you’re wondering why there are so many people with diabetes, you can look at genetics, obesity, and lifestyle.

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Some people have genes that might trigger the disease.  However, most people develop diabetes due to lifestyle – you’re more likely to get it if you are overweight and physically inactive.  (In the US alone, 40 percent of adults are overweight!)

Other risk factors for diabetes include age, high blood pressure, depression, and cardiovascular disease.

New Evidence For A Link Between Insomnia & Diabetes

Now, we come to the insomnia connection…

If you’re a chronic insomniac, your poor sleep could be increasing your risk for diabetes.

Since the early 2000s, researchers have suspected that insomnia is a risk factor.

More recently, Taiwanese researchers completed a huge population study where they analyzed the patient data of one million people.

They found that patients who slept more poorly did, in fact, have a significantly higher risk for the most common form of diabetes, Type 2.  Surprisingly, they also found that this risk was even greater for patients younger than forty.

How insomnia affects your chances of getting diabetes is not completely understood, but researchers think poor sleep may affect the body’s ability to use blood sugar.

And with 1 in 3 adults in the US alone dealing with insomnia, that’s a whole lot of people who could be increasing their risk.  If you’re also overweight, the cards may be stacked against avoiding diabetes.

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What Can You Do?

Whether you’re under or over 40 years old, the message is the same – make sure you’re getting quality sleep.

And let’s not forget that poor sleep has been linked to other health issues such as hypertension, heart disease, dementia, and depression.

And that sleep is critical for cognitive function, coping, and quality of life.

The link with diabetes is just more motivation to take sleep more seriously.

The good news is that there are things you can do to improve your sleep and prevent diabetes.

For better sleep, you should practice good sleep hygiene.  It’s what you do during the day and at night.

If you’re serious about sleep hygiene, you should:

  • Keep your wake up and sleep times consistent
  • Avoid naps
  • Exercise
  • Avoid large meals, alcohol, or stimulants such as caffeine before bedtime
  • Maintain a regular bedtime routine
  • Avoid using TVs, laptops, or other electronics before sleep
  • Keep your bedroom dark, cool, quiet, and relaxing

You should also see a sleep specialist as there may be underlying issues causing your problems.  (Would you believe that millions of people are living with undiagnosed sleep apnea?)

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Let’s talk about other things you can do to prevent diabetes:

See a doctor:  They can test your blood glucose levels, check for other warning signs, and give you suggestions.

Lose weight:  Being overweight is a major risk factor for diabetes.

Become more active:  Physical inactivity is also a risk factor for diabetes.  Exercise can help you lose weight and keep your blood sugar levels healthy.  You can start out with brisk walking.

Change your diet:  You should eat plenty of fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and nuts.  They’ve been shown to help improve blood sugar control.  Be sure to also reduce your intake of refined sugar.

There’s a lot you can start doing today to help you sleep better and avoid diabetes.

Want to stay heart healthy, avoid depression, and stay mentally sharp as you get older?  Many of the lifestyle and diet changes will be good for that too.

Lastly, if you have a friend or relative who may be at risk, be sure to get the word out to them.

With so many sleep-deprived and overweight people, someone you know is likely on the way to full-blown diabetes, even if they’re under forty.

4 Things To Do Today

1) Start practicing good sleep hygiene
2) Make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your sleep and diabetes risk
3) Get some physical activity
4) Eat more fruits and vegetables

 

Written by Chief Health

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