Lack of Sleep Linked to Poor Diabetes Control

A new study shows that not getting enough sleep or getting poor quality sleep may worsen diabetes control.

In the study, which was published in the September 18 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers interviewed 161 African-American adults with Type 2 diabetes about their sleep habits. They then looked at the participants’ medical records and noted the results of their HbA1c tests. (The HbA1c test is a measure of long-term blood glucose control.)

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On average, the participants got about six hours of sleep a night. Only 6% got eight hours or more, and only 22% got at least seven hours a night. Most of the participants—71%—reported poor quality sleep. The average HbA1c level among the participants was 8.3%. (The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes aim for a level of less than 7%.) Among participants who had at least one diabetes complication, poor quality sleep was associated with higher HbA1c levels. Among the remaining participants, those who got fewer hours of sleep had higher HbA1c levels.

The results of this study suggest that getting more sleep and improving quality of sleep may have a positive effect on blood glucose control in people with diabetes, but further research is needed to prove it. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to try to get enough sleep, since other research has linked sleep deprivation to heart disease, weight gain, and poor general health. Between seven and nine hours of sleep per night is recommended for most adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation. For tips on cultivating healthy sleep habits, check out our article “Getting the Sleep You Need.”

  • adavis

    I have found this to be true. I’m in grad school right now and am getting much less sleep of late. I’m on an insulin pump, and found that I have needed more insulin since I started this school year.

  • fran

    I wish my doctor had told me this instead of railing about my poor control. Poor sleep has been an issue all my life. He never suggested that better sleep control could help my glucose control. I finally learned of the connection thanks to “60 Minutes.”

    Fran

  • Mike

    I have had physicals all my adult life every year and diabetes has not even been close on the list. After develpoing a sleeping problem, I mean a major one that the doctors cant even figure out I can go days without sleeping. I good night or day for me is 4 hours. Anyway one year later I developed Diabetes 2. I am having a hard time controling it due to my sleep problem. I have been to two sleep centers and they want to shove a breathing machine which does not seem to work at all on me and let me go. Does anyone have any suggestions or info on Hospitals or test centers I can contact. It would be forever appreciated. I’d like to be around to see my teenagers grow up so. By the way I am totally unable to work now which is a bummer.
    Mike