When NFL offensive lineman Ryan Jensen was waking up more than 13 times a night, he developed mood swings and fatigue, and lost weight, jeopardizing his career. Once he was diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea, he was back on track.
He's not alone; it's estimated that 33% to 50% of elite athletes are poor sleepers. That's about the same as the number of people with Type 2 diabetes who have sleep problems and that threaten to derail their lives.
Diabetes is associated with sleep issues because high blood sugar levels can cause frequent urination, and low blood sugar levels can cause anxiety or even nightmares.
Then poor sleep, especially less-restorative slow-wave sleep, interferes with insulin regulation and blood sugar levels — and it goes round and round.
A study in the Journal of Sleep Research lays out the consequences: Participants who had diabetes and also experienced frequent sleep disturbances were 87% more likely to die of any cause (car accident, heart attack, etc.) during the nine-year study follow-up than people who didn't have diabetes and slept well, and were 12% more likely to die than those who had diabetes but no sleep issues.
If you have diabetes and sleep issues, get your glucose levels under control 24/7. Consider using a continuous glucose monitor to keep track, and ask your doctor for a referral to a diabetes educator.
Talk to your doctor about the new diabetes-control medications that are available.
Then get evaluated for sleep disturbances.