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Diabetes 101: Sleep Disruption

by IBD Medical on June 27, 2023

Today we will put a spotlight on an article published by National Library of Medicine which explores how diabetes can impact sleep patterns and quality, as well as discusses various factors that contribute to sleep disturbances in individuals managing diabetes. (Zhu, B., Vincent, C., Kapella, M.C., Quinn, L., Collins, E.G., Ruggiero, L., Park, C. and Fritschi, C., 2017).

Sleep disturbance and sleep disorder are two distinct terms related to sleep-related problems. Here's the difference between them:

Sleep disturbance refers to any disruption or interruption in the normal pattern or quality of sleep dure to various external or internal factors. Sleep disturbances can result from external factors such as noise or environmental conditions, as well as internal factors like stress, anxiety, or certain medical conditions.

Whereas, a sleep disorder is a specific medical condition that significantly affects a person's ability to obtain adequate and restorative sleep. Sleep disorders can involve disturbances in the sleep-wake cycle, abnormal behaviours during sleep, or disruptions in the sleep stages and patterns. These disorders often cause significant distress and impact daily functioning, requiring medical intervention for diagnosis and treatment.

Key events or situations related to Diabetes and Sleep Disturbance:

The article by by National Library of Medicine provides the following insights regarding the correlation between diabetes and sleep:


  • Sleep disturbance can be influenced by the presence of diabetes
  • It was suggested that trouble sleeping can happen because of neuropathic symptoms like pain and a sensation of tingling or hot feet, which is often described as "burning soles."
  • People with diabetes often experience the problem of waking up during the night to go to the bathroom
  • When diabetes and sleep disturbance occur together, they create a harmful cycle that affects the regulation of various bodily systems. These include the sympathetic system (which controls the body's response to stress), the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (which regulates hormones related to stress and energy), appetite hormones, and inflammatory processes.
  • Fluctuations in blood sugar levels or poor glycemic control can contribute to sleep problems, especially for people with diabetes. Several studies reviewed in this article support the idea that managing glucose levels effectively can potentially help improve sleep quality.
  • Sleep problems may occur because of fluctuations in metabolic control, which refers to how well the body regulates its metabolic processes. Additionally, it is suggested that high levels of insulin in the body, known as hyperinsulinemia, could also contribute to sleep disturbances.
  • Both low blood sugar (nocturnal hypoglycaemia) and high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) can cause disruptions in sleep. 

Sleep disruption raises diabetes risk by impairing insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Detrimental to physical and mental well-being, it's vital to prioritise healthy sleep habits. Seek professional help for optimal health and well-being. Here are 10 tips for a good night's sleep: 10 Tips for sleeping better


Zhu, B., Vincent, C., Kapella, M.C., Quinn, L., Collins, E.G., Ruggiero, L., Park, C. and Fritschi, C. (2017). ‘Sleep disturbance in people with diabetes: A concept analysis’. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(1-2), pp.e50–e60. Available at :



Kelsie Patterson courageously faced her own diagnosis of type 1 diabetes with determination and drive, pushing her to pursue a multi-disiplinary approach to become a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Care & Educator Specialist, and Certified Personal Trainer. Her passion for helping others motivated her to start "The Diabetes Dietitian" where she works directly with people managing type 1 diabetes to gain control over their blood sugars in order to achieve any life goals.


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