Today on Type 1 Thursday we’re talking about the importance of SLEEP!
How can sleep improve your health? And what on earth does it have to do with diabetes and blood sugar management? 🤔
Find out in the sleep video below, check out my graphic for my top sleep tips or read the information below.
My questions for you: Do you get enough sleep? What are your best sleep tips? Share them with me in a comment!
The graphic I’m talking about in the video, is this one. It’s a quick reminder of the things we can do to prepare, invest and do for great sleep. Share it with someone you think would need it!
Do you prefer to read about just how important sleep is for your health and blood sugar management?
Great Sleep, Great Health!
This super exciting topic actually has a lot to do with blood sugar management and diabetes, although we might not think about it. I asked on my Instagram Stories if I should do a Type 1 Thursday on sleep and the importance of sleep and an overwhelming amount of people thought that was a great idea!
We have to really step away from this old notion of that “we can sleep when we’re dead” or “we can sleep later” or “we can catch up on sleep later”. No, we really cannot. Healthy, proper sleep is actually super important for us, for our health, and for our well being. So no more pushing it til later! You should invest in your sleep and you should definitely make it a priority, because it is “no backsies” as Sheldon Cooper in Big Bang Theory would say. You can’t take it back and you can’t make up for it later. So it’s very important that you handle that.
Sleep science is growing exponentially right now and it is showing that sleep is actually essential to your health and to your performance. Even though we might not feel like it, or think we can push through and all these stupid things that we tell ourselves. No, sleep is actually super important for our health and performance.
How much sleep?
So how much sleep do we need then? Actually, we need seven to nine hours a night, not a week, not anything else. We need it a night in order to function properly and to reap all the benefits that sleep does have because it is quite astonishing. This is when sleep becomes restorative, when it becomes rejuvenating. I’ll go through a couple of types of sleeps, or sleeping patterns a little bit later. But first of all, please don’t think that you can survive on less than six hours of sleep a night (unless you are one of these 5% of the population that have a genetic mutation, which makes them able to survive on less than six hours sleep). Otherwise, it will lead to a lot of problems, such as cognitive dysfunction, and your immune system won’t work fully. The brain is trained actually to disregard sleep deprivation so you might not even notice if you are sleep deprived or not, or have had too little sleep.
Benefits of great sleep?
So what does enough sleep do? What are the awesome features that come with enough sleep? Well, one of them is of course, which is super important right now, is immune function. Your immune system cannot function without proper sleep. So if nothing else, it is very important for you to get proper sleep right now so that your immune system is on 100% and on top. Your energy and strength, that goes without saying and of course also blood sugar control. Yes, it does help with your blood sugar management because lack of sleep is a huge stressor for the body. And as I say all the time, stress is the blood sugar killer number one. So try to eliminate as much stress for the body as possible.
Also, it can aid in weight loss because your hormones are regulated when you sleep properly. It also leads to better skin, for example. And of course, things like coordination and flexibility are increased when you do sleep enough. As I mentioned, hormone regulation but not just hormone regulation in terms of weight loss, but also in terms of stress management, in terms of emotional regulation, in terms of everything. So sleep really helps there as well.
And it also leads to better recovery because your hormones are regulated, You can drain yourself and then recover better if you sleep better. And enough sleep helps with focus and creativity and this leads to better performance as well which is quite an important thing.
As I already said, emotional regulation, we react in a different way when we have slept properly than when we haven’t, I’m sure you recognise this! And sleep helps with longevity as some studies actually show that when we sleep better, we live longer and healthier. So that’s a good thing to keep in mind. Also, our resilience grows a lot when we sleep properly. So it’s not a bad idea to actually prioritise your sleep.
Something that is very in the air right now is that proper sleep also helps your metabolic function and there is a lot to do with the immune system right now, but also metabolic function and metabolic syndrome. So maybe there is something to the fact that you are not sleeping properly if you are suffering from something like that? This can, in turn, if your metabolic function is not optimal, lead to insulin resistance, both Type 1 and Type 2. So if you haven’t slept properly as a Type 1, you can get insulin resistant, or if you don’t have Type 1, you can actually start developing functionally insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. By the lack of sleep, and of course, other co-founding factors, but it can be a contributor. Lack of sleep makes you produce a lot of cortisol. As long as cortisol is high, it cultivates a bad gut bacteria in your gut and that can also be a problem because that leads to poor health and that’s poor immune system and it all goes in a circle.
That’s why sleep is so important. All of this goes in a circle and they go hand in hand. Good sleep also helps you become more effective when you think, improves your reaction time. Whether it’s sports or in traffic or just generally in life, your reaction time gets better. Sleep helps your memory function better.
Types of Sleep
So what are the types of sleep? Well, there are three main ones and we fluctuate between them all night every night. And that is light sleep, there is REM sleep, which is 20 to 25% of your total sleep, deteriorates with age and this is where you dream. This is where your memory improves. This is where you become or have creative thoughts because some of our dreams I can tell you, if you’ve ever paid attention to them, they are quite creative, if not crazy, but yes, a bit creative.
And then the third one is deep sleep, which is 0 to 35% of our total sleep, and it’s very individual depending on what you’re used to, and that’s where it’s very restorative and rejuvenating. And that of course is also needed for your body to regenerate.
Tips for better Sleep
So what are some sleeping tips? These are some sleeping tips that I came across myself and from other people. For example, no screens at least one hour before bedtime. This can be very challenging because what does one do without a screen nowadays? Especially when we may be on a lockdown, and we need to somehow entertain ourselves until it’s proper bedtime? What does one do? Read a book, read a magazine and do something just creative outside of the screen world. Make sure that you have a bedtime routine also on weekends. (I mean seriously, most of these tips make you sound like a really boring old person but I gotta say they do have a point to it because most of them actually aren’t that bad – they actually work!)
Make sure that the temperature in your bedroom and what you’re wearing and in your bed linen, like the thickness of your duvet is suitable to how you sleep the best. If we are too warm, we don’t sleep well and if we’re too cold we don’t sleep well. So we have to be like Goldilocks “just right” in terms of temperature in order to sleep well.
Don‘t have any big meals or a really strenuous exercise right before bedtime because that gets your pulse going. That gets your digestive system going if it is food and that it won’t have time to come back down in time for your sleep. So don’t have anything heavy to eat right before bed. And this also, of course, more diabetes specifically, helps with your blood sugar control throughout the night if you don’t do anything crazy, right before bedtime, and you know what the outcome is. Also, unwind, but that’s easier said than done in some cases, and especially now, but do unwind and make time for unwinding in the evening so that you can fall asleep swiftly and carelessly and get rocked away by your sleep.
Limit alcohol right before bed, especially and this of course also has a huge blood sugar benefit. Limit caffeine after 2pm, seriously, I sound like an old lady but this old lady has a point. It is very beneficial to cut the caffeine after 2pm and this also has a blood sugar benefit, like a lot of these tips actually do.
Move your body regularly, not right before bedtime but during the day and in the days regularly. Find out what you think is fun to do, and how you want to move your body and make sure that you get a little exhausted at times because that does help with your sleeping patterns.
Make sure that your bed is for two things: for rest and for romance, nothing else. Do not watch TV in bed, do not technically play with your phone in bed. It’s just for rest and romance. And you will thank yourself and maybe even your partner’s gonna thank you for having that new rule in your life. 😉
Yes, napping is fantastic, but they have to be well timed. So ideally not before 3pm so that it doesn’t impact your night’s sleep, either from the beginning or towards the end of your day. But naps can really help as well.
Use wearables. If you can measure your sleep, it’s actually quite interesting. You can do this with tons of providers out there but there’s for example the Oura ring. You can use Fitbit, you can use the Apple Watch, all of these things that you can track your sleep with so that you see how much you sleep and on which level and how you can improve it.
Now I want to hear from you: do you have problems sleeping or is sleeping a breeze for you? And what are your best sleep tips? Do share them with us in a comment somewhere on the interwebs. I’ll be happy to chat with you there.
The only purpose of this video is to educate and to inform. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This video is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. Instead, we encourage you to discuss your options with a health care provider who specializes in treating Type 1 Diabetes.
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