Individuals who have diabetes and sleep poorly may have a harder time controlling their blood sugar. That’s the finding of a new study that is the largest of its kind. The findings, which were published in Diabetes Care, suggest that poor sleep may contribute to worse outcomes in people with diabetes.
For the study, researchers monitored the sleep of 40 people with diabetes for six nights. The subjects also reported if they generally suffered from symptoms of sleep disturbances like insomnia, snoring or sleep apnea. At clinical examinations, they gave blood samples to allow researchers to measure insulin and glucose levels.
The subjects wore monitors on their wrists at night, which measured their wrist movements while the subject slept. Poor sleep, or insomnia, was determined by both poor sleep quality based on the activity monitors and the subject telling the researchers that they often had a hard time falling asleep or woke up during the night.
Among the diabetics, poor sleepers had 23% higher blood glucose levels in the morning, and 48% higher blood insulin levels. Using these numbers to estimate a person’s insulin resistance, the researchers found that poor sleepers with diabetes had 82% higher insulin resistance than normal sleepers with diabetes.
Researchers say further study to definitively determine whether the lack of sleep led to lower blood sugar, or perhaps vice-versa, is needed.