Unbeknownst to many of us, we’re walking around with an underlying metabolic issue. We chalk up our mood swings, poor sleep, cravings, and energy dips to “being busy” or “hormones” or “stress.” And while these responses aren’t inherently wrong, there might be something else at play. Dysglycemia. Dysgly—what? In essence, blood sugar instability. This is due to chronically mismanaged glucose. Although dysglycemia is a broad term for intense blood sugar swings, it encompasses what experts are now calling the silent epidemic. Unfortunately, unbalanced blood sugar can lead to a variety of side effects. Including, poor sleep. In today’s article, you’ll learn how blood sugar impacts sleep and what you can do to keep your blood sugar stable.
What Is blood sugar?
Before we dive into how blood sugar impacts sleep, let’s cover the basics. Blood sugar, or glucose, is our main source of energy. It’s a type of sugar we get from the foods we eat. From carrots to cake, our body uses that sugar for energy. As it travels through our bloodstream to our cells, it’s called blood glucose (or blood sugar). Our bodies break down—or convert—most carbohydrates into glucose. With the help of a hormone called insulin, glucose travels into the cells of the body where it can be used for energy.
Normal Ranges for Blood sugar
In terms of a normal range for blood sugar/glucose, this will vary from person to person. However, generally speaking, it’s between 80mg/dL and 120 mg/dL. The best experts in the space may even say 110 mg/dL (tested two hours after eating). Other schools of thought may say that anything below 140 mg/ml is considered normal; however, the tighter the window, the better. Although normal blood sugar is the goal, most people experience low and high blood sugar throughout the day. So, what’s the difference between low and high blood sugar?
Low blood sugar
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) occurs when an insulin surge causes too much blood sugar to be transported out of our blood. Some of these symptoms include sweating, hunger, sleepiness, irritability and anxiety. As a result, we crave sugar and carbohydrates. This is a safety mechanism, given that they’re quick sources of energy. In reality, eating these foods starts the cycle all over again. And, in the process, our body stores more fat.
High blood sugar
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) occurs when the insulin is unable to transport enough blood sugar out of our blood. Some of these symptoms include dry mouth, weakness, frequent urination, headache, and frequent thirst.
When to Talk to Your Doctor About Blood Sugar Issues
Think of these symptoms as warning signs. If you experience them frequently, chat with your doctor or work with a Registered Dietitian to get your blood glucose in check. Unfortunately, these highs and lows can eventually lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, wrinkles, weight gain, and more. Therefore, maintaining a consistent blood sugar level is a key component of optimal health. Luckily, managing your glucose levels isn’t rocket science.
what happens to blood sugar while you sleep?
Blood sugar levels surge while you’re sleeping, usually around 4 to 8 a.m. for someone with a normal sleep schedule (this is called the dawn effect). In a healthy person, insulin can handle the surge by telling muscle, fat, and liver cells to absorb the glucose from the blood. This keeps your blood sugar levels stable. For those who have diabetes—or experience chronically mismanaged blood sugar—insulin can’t do it’s job very well. Thus, in the middle of the night, blood sugar levels rise.
But when blood sugar is managed throughout the day, restorative sleep is much more likely. However, even partial sleep deprivation increases insulin resistance. In turn, this can increase blood sugar levels. As a result, a lack of sleep has been associated with diabetes, a blood sugar disorder. Main takeaway? Balanced blood sugar leads to restful sleep, and restful sleeps leads to better managed blood sugar. It’s a two-way street.
6 lifestyle tips to balance Blood Sugar
To help mitigate how blood sugar impacts sleep, consider your daily habits. Ultimately, these affect how quickly you fall asleep and the quality of your regenerative sleep. Don’t fret. While elevated insulin causes a slew of issues, there are simple, effective habits you can instill to balance blood sugar.
don’t cut carbs
First and foremost, don’t cut carbs. There’s no need to go keto. In fact, I don’t recommend keto (long-term) for women. Instead, keep your plate balanced. When having a bowl of pasta, try to choose 100% whole grain pasta, or an alternative, like a chickpea or lentil-based pasta. Additionally, add protein and healthy fat. This could look like having grilled chicken on the side, sautéed shrimp, as well as a pesto-based sauce. Protein and fat don’t cause the same blood sugar spike as carbs, so they’re helpful to have on your plate. Watch this video for blood sugar-balancing snack ideas!
Manage your stress
Secondly, manage your stress. Chronic stress causes blood sugar to increase. Beyond implementing mindfulness practices during the day, figuring out your stress triggers, etc., consider taking a relieving supplement. This is my favorite blend of adaptogens to help fight stress. And this is my daily de-stress app.
Move your body
Last but not least, move your body. This doesn’t mean you need to begin a daily HIIT routine. In fact, that may cause more harm than good. Instead, opt for 15-30 minutes of strength training, go for a brisk walk, unroll your yoga mat, or dance in your kitchen. Anything you can do to get your blood circulating and your muscle fibers firing will support your blood sugar.
Not only does spending long hours in the sun potentially cause a spike in blood sugar, but it can lead to dehydration, too. And dehydration also leads to higher blood sugar concentration. We need to be adequately hydrated to manage blood sugar.
Keep up your dental hygiene
Much like sleep, blood sugar imbalance leads to higher blood sugar (glucose) levels in your mouth’s fluids. This promotes the growth of bacteria that can cause gum disease. Additionally, infections from untreated periodontal disease can cause the blood sugar to rise and make it harder to control diabetes.
get quality sleep
To bring this article full circle, balanced blood sugar is linked to quality zZz’s. You’re likely no stranger to the power of restful, regenerative sleep. Good sleep leads to better performance, cognitive function, hormone health, mood stability, and balanced blood sugar. When possible, clock your zZz’s. Make it a non-negotiable. Getting quality sleep (7-9 hours) is essential. Skimping on these important hour causes cortisol and blood sugar to rise. If you need helpful ideas for a calm nighttime routine, I’ve got you covered. Along with doing a nighttime meditation, you may also benefit from taking an adaptogen or CBD tincture before bed. Oh, and be sure to limit blue light.
Images courtesy of Unsplash.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.