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 bad 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
- 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 be 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 on 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 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.