Can Lack of Sleep Cause Diabetes? – Diabetes and Sleep Connection

We are all aware that hour family history, eating habits and weight can increase our risk of developing diabetes. But are you aware of the fact that chronic sleeplessness can also increase our risk for diabetes? In fact, diabetes and sleep go hand in hand. Diabetes is known to cause lack of sleep and chronic lack of sleep can up your risk for diabetes.

Here are some of the reasons why lack of sleep increases the risk for diabetes.


Affects hormones

Constant lack of sleep can affect our hormones, which can lead to type-2 diabetes. In fact, sleep loss causes less insulin to be released into the body after you eat. Stress caused by lack of sleep can put our body in fight mode. This leads to the rise in cortisol and adrenaline levels.

When cortisol levels rise in the body, it affects our sleep further and makes it harder for insulin to do its job. If too much glucose stays in the bloodstream, then it can lead to type-2 diabetes.

Can cause weight gain

Less sleep can also make you crave for high sugar and fatty foods. Over a period, these craving can lead to weight gain, which is a significant risk for type-2 diabetes.

Sleep deprivation also lowers the production of leptin, a hormone that signals satiety to our brain. All these factors increase our cravings for calorie-dense food that can give our body a quick boost of energy.

According to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people who slept for just eight hours in two days developed high levels of ghrelin and lower levels of leptin. This lead to almost 45 percent increase in their appetite for high-carb and high-calorie food.

Affects our ability to exercise

Lack of sleep can also lead to tiredness, which makes you reluctant to exercise. Exercise also helps keep blood sugar under control. Exercise enables our muscle cells to use insulin and glucose more efficiently.

This lowers the risk of diabetes. Lack of physical activity can make the muscle cells to lose their sensitivity to insulin, which controls the level of sugar in the blood.

Dangerous for people predisposed to diabetes

Chronic lack of sleep can be even more dangerous for people who are already at a higher risk for diabetes. If you are overweight or has a family history of diabetes, then lack of sleep will only add on the chances of developing diabetes.

Sleep well to avoid diabetes

How much sleep do you need to prevent diabetes? Well, the answer is 7 to 9 hours depending on your age. While younger people need more time to sleep than those in their thirties. Older folk also need to sleep more than their younger counterparts. If you exercise regularly, it improves the quality of your sleep. So, even lesser sleep will do for such people.

You can quickly reverse this sleep-diabetes connection. Shifting your sleep schedule by 30 minutes will do the trick. Opt for afternoon naps if you still feel groggy. Ensure that your naps are not longer than 30 minutes and that there is at least a six-hour gap between your nap and bedtime.

Early symptoms of type-2 diabetes

While we must ensure that we sleep well to avoid developing type-2 diabetes, we must also be aware of the symptoms of diabetes to watch out for.

Yeast infections

Both men and women with type-2 diabetes are prone to yeast infections. This infection can grow between fingers and toes, under breasts or around sex organs.

Slow healing of cuts

Diabetes can affect our blood flow making it difficult for wounds and sores to heal.

Numbness in legs

Nerve damage caused by diabetes can cause numbness and tingle in legs and feet.


Frequent Urination

You may feel the need to visit the toilet more frequently if you have diabetes.


Our bodies can recover from short sleep deprivation much more efficiently than a chronic sleep condition. Our body interprets this lack of sleep as a stressful situation, and this can increase the risk of diabetes. So, ensure that you sleep well, eat healthily and exercise regularly.


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