Insulin and glucagon are hormones that help your body regulate blood sugar level. The level increases with the secretion of glucagon and decreases with the release of insulin, advises the “Journal of Clinical Investigation.” The amount of sleep you get affects your body’s release of glucagon and insulin. Regulating your sleeping patterns helps to keep your blood sugar levels within normal parameters during your waking hours.
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Blood Sugar Levels
Your blood sugar levels rise and fall during your waking and sleeping hours. After at least eight hours of not eating, your blood sugar level is between 70 to 100 mg/dL, MayoClinic.com says. The level elevates after you eat, but drops to less than 180 mg/dL two hours after eating.
Sleep and Blood Sugar
Your blood sugar level starts rising in the evening and peaks about three to four hours after you fall asleep, notes the “Journal of Clinical Investigation.” Your body releases glucagon while you sleep, which causes your blood sugar level to rise. As it elevates, your body releases insulin to lower your blood sugar level. The rise and fall of blood sugar levels during sleep occurs regardless of whether you sleep during the day or at night. While sleeping during the day causes your glucose levels to peak about 30 minutes earlier than sleeping at night, the difference is not significant. Overall, your blood sugar levels are lower after an eight-hour sleep cycle.
Sleep-deprivation and Other Effects on Blood Sugar
Consistently sleeping less than six hours over six years increases the likelihood of impairing your fasting glucose levels by almost 5 percent compared to people who sleep for eight hours, according to EurekAlert.org, a service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A study conducted between 1996 and 2003 determined that short-sleepers have a significantly higher risk of developing impaired fasting blood sugar than regular sleepers. Other factors such as age, gender and family history of diabetes are important indicators that help determine your level of risk.
Sleep and Diabetic Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetes impairs your body’s capacity to regulate your glucose levels. Getting adequate hours of sleep helps ensure fasting blood sugar levels are between 80 to 100 mg/dL, MayoClinic.com explains. Diabetics who suffer from insomnia have fasting blood sugar readings 23 percent higher than those who sleep normally, Medline Plus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, notes. Their insulin resistance is also likely to be 82 percent higher, making it more difficult for them to keep their blood sugar levels under control.
- American Heart Association; Short-sleepers May Develop Blood Sugar Abnormality That Can Lead to Diabetes; Karen Astle; March 2009
- Mayo Clinic; Know Your Blood Glucose Target Range; Nancy Klobassa Davidson; October 2010
- Medline Plus; Poor Sleep Might Worsen Diabetes; Kristen L. Knutson; May 2011
- The Journal of Clinical Investigation; “Modulation of glucose regulation and insulin secretion by circadian rhythmicity and sleep.”; Eve Van Cauter; September 1991