- To improve your sleep habits in ways that will improve your diabetic health.
- To determine your optimum amount of sleep needed, and to do whatever possible to get that amount of sleep.
Time Frame: Every night.
There is a definite connection between sleep and diabetes, according to sources that we have researched. Too little sleep can raise your diabetes risk. If you already have diabetes, sleep loss can undermine blood sugar control. Studies have shown that sleeping too long, as well as not enough each night, can increase the risk for diabetes. (References to these and other studies can be found in our chapter on “Rest” in “The 8 Laws of Health.”)
Most of us, especially if we are working full-time, probably do not get enough sleep. I think that we need to listen to our bodies better than we do. In much the same way as we should eat when we are hungry (and not eat when we are not hungry), I believe we should sleep when we are sleepy. There’s nothing worse than “going to bed early” (or whenever we think we should go to bed) and then lying there awake, tossing and turning, for two or three hours! If you are not asleep within 20-30 minutes from when you get in bed, you should get up and do something else (in another room) for a while. Of course, what you do matters. You should do something quiet and low-keyed like reading, writing in your Gratitude Journal, or listening to soothing music. You could also practice meditation with (or without) mindful breathing. But be ready to go back to bed when you get sleepy. Don’t fight sleep (like babies and toddlers do)!
Make sure your sleeping room is conducive to sleeping (cool, dark, and quiet). Don’t take your phone or tablet or laptop to bed with you. If you depend on your cell phone for an alarm the next morning, set the alarm and put the phone face down on your nightstand.
Should you read in bed? Well, there are pros and cons. If reading something boring will “put you to sleep,” you may decide to do that. On the other hand, don’t read something (like a story) that you get intensely interested in and can’t stop with “just one more page” or “just one more chapter.” I need to keep my Kindle in another room for that very reason! Also because I have word games and puzzles on my Kindle and tend to be tempted to play too long before I go to sleep.
And, oh, yes, be sure to check your bedtime blood glucose, especially if you are taking diabetes meds or insulin.
How Long Should I Sleep?
Until you wake up—without an alarm clock—the next morning. Well, that would be ideal! You could test out this on a long weekend, provided other circumstances are reasonably the same.
When I was in college, I figured out that the minimum amount of sleep I could get and still be functional was 6½ hours. During summer vacations when I was home, my “natural” amount of sleep was 8½ hours. During my working years, it was the same as college: 6½ hours. Now that I’m semi-retired (meaning I still have a few web clients), it’s back to 8½ hours.
Once you figure out what the optimum amount of sleep is for you, then strive to get that amount every night if at all possible. Try to go to bed and get up at approximately the same time every day, even on weekends. Of course, if you have small children, this will happen quite naturally!