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Want better blood sugar control? Start with your sleep

Posted on December 23rd, 2021

Yet another study (this one from the UK) has found a strong link between sleep quality and blood sugar control. The researchers fed subjects standardized meals to study how lifestyle and time of day affect metabolism. The meals included a balanced meal, a high-carb meal, a high-fat meal, and a high-protein meal.

Sleep affects how you use food

Researchers also tracked sleep, including how long people slept, how efficiently they moved through sleep stages, and when the midpoint of their night’s sleep was. People who had worse sleep had worse blood sugar control after breakfast. Oddly, poor sleep impacted their ability to metabolize the high-protein and balanced meals more than it impacted the high-carb and high-fat meals.

This may be one reason we crave unhealthy meals after a lousy night of sleep – they’re easier for us to use than healthy, balanced meals.

People who didn’t sleep for as long, who had frequent micro-arousals (due to sleep-disordered breathing or other causes), and who went to bed too late had the worst outcomes.

To improve glycemic control, improve sleep

If you’re prediabetic or diabetic, this study points to a clear way to improve your glycemic control and avoid damage: improve your sleep. But how? 

  • Get sleep-disordered breathing diagnosed and treated. Often, one reason that you are prediabetic or diabetic is the damage built up from years of microarousals, when you wake briefly because you can’t breathe. Get screened, get diagnosed, and get treated so you can get your blood sugar under control. Not sure where to start? Talk to your dentist or your primary care provider.
  • Go to bed by 10. The researchers found that people with later bedtimes had worse glycemic control. It is possible to shift your bedtime earlier. This article has some great tips about how to do it.
  • Try to sleep a full 7–8 hours a night. Your body needs time to heal and regulate hormones. When you skip out on sleep, you make conditions like diabetes and heart disease worse.
  • Learn more about sleep and sleep breathing and share it with your friends. Dr. Dassani’s book Airway is Life is a great place to start if you want to learn more about how sleep and sleep breathing impact your health.

Fixing your sleep can seem like a huge, impossible task. But you’ll see a rapid improvement in all of your health markers if you can fix that piece of the health puzzle.

Dr. Meghna Dassani has practiced dentistry for over two decades and is passionate about the role dentists play in whole-body health. You can learn more at her website:

Airway Is Life:

The Book Your Family Needs to Read Today


Healthy Sleep Revolution Podcast Cover

Healthy Sleep Revolution Podcast

Snoring? Tired all day? Trouble focusing?
So many think these symptoms are common in kids and adults when tired. Join us as we debunk some of these common myths and put the spotlight on Sleep Apnea. Discover what constitutes healthy sleep and how we can help ourselves and our kids get the best sleep ever.


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