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Sleep Matters: Explaining the Relationship of Proper Sleep with Successful Diabetes Management

Aug 14, 2016

SAN DIEGO – Regulating and maintaining healthy sleep habits may be a key to the successful management of diabetes, an expert told an audience of diabetes educators this week at the annual conference of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Terese C. Hammond, MD, with the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine; and Medical Director, Keck Hospital of USC Sleep Disorders Center, said that sleep matters: too little (less than seven hours) or too much (more than nine hours) is associated with a host of negative health outcomes, especially in patients with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes.

“Insufficient sleep has a profound effect on obesity, energy expenditure, and caloric intake, especially carbohydrate intake,” she said. “Behavioral interventions to address insufficient sleep can positively impact sleep duration and long term health outcomes.”

Sleep duration is associated with metabolic syndrome and high lipids, and insufficient sleep is associated with impaired glucose tolerance, obesity, changes in food desirability, increased food intake, decreased insulin sensitivity, and decreased leptin and increased grehlin (hormones that control appetite).

While sleep can be a major factor in diabetes diagnoses and management of the condition, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used effectively to restore optimal levels of sleep.

CBT addresses major factors tied to lack of sleep: Worry and obsessive thinking, attentional bias and monitoring for sleep-related threats, unhelpful beliefs about sleep, misperception of sleep and daytime deficits, and adherence to behaviors that maintain unhelpful beliefs about sleep. “The good news is that behavioral interventions to address insufficient sleep can positively impact sleep duration and long-term health outcomes,” Hammond said. 

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