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Why Sleep is Essential for Blood Glucose Regulation

Many integrative practitioners focus on diet to reduce the risk of diabetes in patients. While diet is essential, recent research suggests that something even more critical needs attention: sleep.

'Eat less and Move More' ...?

The most recent cohort study published in JAMA examined the potential link between maintaining a nutritious diet, duration of sleep, and the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. The study revealed that individuals consistently sleeping fewer than six hours per day faced a notably elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes, irrespective of their adherence to a healthy diet.

The most recent research affirms that the traditional counsel of 'eat less and move more' lacks adequacy in the contemporary, hectic, and stress-filled environment. Effective glycemic regulation and the maintenance of consistently healthy blood sugar levels are intricately tied to both the duration and quality of sleep an individual receives. Both the quantity and quality of sleep play pivotal roles in influencing glycemic control.

This study had a large cohort, of almost a quarter of a million people. This latest study aligns with a 2023 review of 11 studies showing that poor sleep quality and lower sleep duration were associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance, increased glycated hemoglobin, and metabolic syndrome.

Importance of Sleep

The researchers of this latest study explain how a lack of sleep may contribute to type 2 diabetes, including impaired cellular insulin sensitivity, skeletal muscle energy metabolism shifting toward non-glucose oxidation, increased sympathetic nervous system activity, and altered gut microbiota.

At PIH, our practitioners advise patients that each night's slumber serves as a remarkable opportunity for the body, mind, and soul to rejuvenate. During sleep, as we enter a fasted state, our blood sugar levels have the chance to reset to optimal levels, promoting sustained health. Insufficient sleep disrupts this process.

Additionally, our practitioners have found that many of their patients with sleep apnea eventually develop type 2 diabetes; which may be due to the disruptions of sleep caused by sleep apnea. Research does demonstrate that sleep apnea increases a patient’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

An Integrative Approach

We recommend that patients go to bed at a similar time each night and wake up at a similar time each morning, including on the weekends. She also helps them create a calming wind-down routine that sets the stage for sound sleep. Our MD and NP have also used supplements as a way to support restful sleep.

Certain supplements, like Zenbiome Sleep and melatonin, to be effective at improving both quality and quantity of sleep. Just like anything else, melatonin does not work for all people in all situations, and its effectiveness can vary. According to a recent review, not only is melatonin safe, but it also has positive health effects beyond sleep. While melatonin was initially understood to only regulate circadian rhythms, recent studies indicate that it has a far-reaching effect on various organs and physiological systems such as immunity, cardiovascular function, antioxidant defense, and lipid hemostasis.

In addition to utilizing natural substances to enhance both the quality and quantity of sleep, integrative practitioners have many successful sound sleep strategies. This latest research helps confirm that by focusing on sleep, patients will be able to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


Questions? Call PIH at 609.512.1468 for more information.