October 12, 2020

How enough sleep can help you control your blood sugar

The demystification of why good sleep is more than just necessary.

In our past posts, we've told you about how Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) can help you improve your energy levels, develop a better state of focus, and improve your overall health and quality of life. In this post, we shall be diving into sleep and it's importance in our day to day lives. These facts have been derived mostly from scientific research which was focused on the relationship between sleep and blood sugar.

An average person spends 26 years of their life sleeping. The benefits of sleep are known far and wide, but still it's considered fashionable to pull all-nighters and forego the bedtime for all-night binges of Money Heist.

Insulin: The key to the lock that is glucose tolerance

Under normal conditions, glucose homeostasis (balance of glucose within the body) results from a tightly controlled balance between glucose production (from the liver in the post-absorptive state and from the gut in the postprandial state) and glucose utilization (1). Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that enables cells in muscles and tissues of the body to absorb glucose from the bloodstream, and be used for energy. In this way, insulin regulates blood glucose, helping maintain a glucose homeostasis that is neither too high (hyperglycemia) nor too low (hypoglycemia). (2)

The relation between blood sugar and sleep

Numerous studies have shown that too little sleep can lead to a slew of changes within the body including higher levels of cortisol (stress), increased inflammation, and changes in hunger hormones, which can all contribute to greater insulin resistance and higher blood glucose levels. (3)

It's been seen that sleep disruption has led to increased risks of type 2 diabetes. Studies have also shown that people with irregular blood sugar are much more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. Thus, it's no surprise that while 1/3 of Americans are diabetic or pre-diabetic, more than third of the population of USA routinely gets less sleep than they need. (4)

In accounts of more recent discoveries, scientists have found that, "Poor sleep changes how the body produces and uses insulin". These changes in production of insulin can in turn cause the cells of our body to become resistant to insulin, making them less able to absorb glucose from the blood. The malfunctioning of insulin can lead to persistently high levels of glucose (i.e., sugar) in the blood—which, in turn, triggers the body to increase production of insulin. Sometimes, the body under-produces insulin, which can also result in high blood sugar. Over time, this dynamic of high blood sugar and insulin resistance (or lack of sufficient insulin production), can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. (5)

Rethinking Priorities

Most of us dream of achieving that Greek-god-like physique and leading a healthy lifestyle, but it's still common to hear, "What difference would pulling a single all-nighter make?". However, as Chinese philosopher Lao-Tze rightly said,

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

A single night of total sleep deprivation can affect your insulin sensitivity more gravely than you might think. (5) (6) Lack of sleep can also down-regulate the satiety (feeling full) hormone leptin, up-regulates the appetite-stimulating (feeling hungry) hormone ghrelin, and increases hunger and food intake. (7)

Taking Control

There's countless options out there that can help you track your REM sleep, simulate sunrise for "optimum waking experience" and routines as elaborate as that of Tim Ferris's.

We, the team at Veri, believe in taking control by harnessing the power of trackable metrics, backed by scientific research. We envision a world wherein people will have access to tools to be in control of themselves, empowering them to change the world. Veri is a device that provides real time continuous glucose monitoring data in an instant, enabling you to calibrate your blood sugar via sleep and vice versa.

References

1. Knutson K. L. (2007). Impact of sleep and sleep loss on glucose homeostasis and appetite regulation. Sleep medicine clinics, 2(2), 187–197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsmc.2007.03.004

2. Fischl-Hess, A. (2017, April 7). What is insulin? Retrieved from: https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-1-diabetes/what-insulin

3. Denic-Roberts et al., “Subjective sleep disturbances and glycemic control in adults with long-standing type 1 diabetes: The Pittsburgh's Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications study,” Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2016

4. Mesarwi, O., Polak, J., Jun, J., & Polotsky, V. Y. (2013). Sleep disorders and the development of insulin resistance and obesity. Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America, 42(3), 617–634. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecl.2013.05.001

5. Lee, JA et al. (2016). The Effect of Sleep Quality on the Development of Type 2 Diabetes in Primary Care Patients. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 31(2): 240-246. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4729504/

6. Meek, TH and Morton GJ. (2016). The role of leptin in diabetes: metabolic effects. Diabetologia, 59(5): 928-32. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26969486

7. Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T., & Mignot, E. (2004). Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS medicine, 1(3), e62. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062

Needless to say, we're just getting started and are excited to share all our learnings in the future!

To optimal health,
Anttoni, Frans & Verneri

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