The quality of our sleep is closely linked to any health conditions we have – if we’re not feeling our best, we’re not sleeping our best. Diabetes is no exception. Sleep can affect your blood sugar levels, and blood glucose control can affect your sleep.1 This leads to trouble sleeping. If you have high or low blood sugar levels throughout the night, you could feel tired during the day.2 So, what exactly is the relationship between diabetes and sleep?

What Is Diabetes?

People who have diabetes do not produce insulin the same way as others. Your body converts the food into glucose (sugar) as an energy source. This is done with the help of your pancreas, which produces insulin – a hormone that takes the glucose in your blood and stores it into your cells for energy. People with diabetes either can’t produce enough insulin or can’t use insulin well. When you have diabetes, the sugar in your blood – or blood sugar – is dangerously high. This can lead to a range of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, nerve damage, and eye damage.3

There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. If you have Type 1 diabetes, your pancreas isn’t producing insulin, so you’ll have to take it on a daily basis. If you have Type 2 diabetes, your body can make some of its own insulin, but not enough. Your body can’t use insulin correctly. Type 2 is more common than Type 1, with around 90% of adults with diabetes in the UK having Type 2.4 Symptoms of both types are the same, and they can include:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Urinating more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Thrush that keeps coming back
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts and grazes that aren’t healing

What’s the Connection Between Diabetes and Trouble Sleeping?

When your body has extra glucose, it draws water from your tissues. This can make you feel dehydrated, prompting you to get up for regular glasses of water.5 Also, Lynn Maarouf, education director of the Stark Diabetes Centre at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, highlights that, when your blood sugar is really high, your kidneys “try to get rid of it by urinating”. When this is the case, you’re likely “getting up and going to the bathroom all night long – and not sleeping well”.6 These constant disruptions to your sleep – whether it’s getting up for a drink or to go to the bathroom – will damage your sleep quality. As well as this, symptoms of low blood sugar, like shakiness, dizziness, and sweating, can affect your sleep.7

Unfortunately, diabetes and sleep problems often go hand in hand. Diabetes can cause sleep problems, and there’s evidence that not sleeping well can increase your risk of developing diabetes.8

People with diabetes can develop sleep disorders, too.

Sleep Apnoea

Sleep Apnoea (SA) is a sleeping disorder that’s typically accompanied by loud snoring. Someone with SA will stop breathing for a brief moment while they’re sleeping. This will wake them up, but their breathing will resume, and they’ll go back to sleep. While someone with SA won’t remember having woken up at all, this can happen many times through the night. These constant interruptions to their sleep will make them tired during the day and sleep deprived. You can read more about SA here.

SA is the most common sleep disorder that people with diabetes can have – especially Type 2 diabetes. Part of this is because people with Type 2 diabetes can be overweight. This can lead to the air passage being constricted. Also, the increased carbon dioxide in your blood that’s a result of SA can lead to insulin resistance, worsening your body’s struggle with using insulin correctly. This can also increase your blood sugar levels, making sleep even more difficult.9


Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult for you to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get up in the morning. You can read more about insomnia here. You’re more at risk of struggling with insomnia if you have high stress levels, as well as high glucose levels. It’s a good idea to find out why you’re not sleeping – you could be stressed or anxious, or it could be because of your blood sugar levels being too high.10 Talk to your doctor to find out how you can help yourself get a good snooze.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that’s characterised by an irresistible urge to move or stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. It usually interferes with your sleep. You can read more about RLS here. Risk factors for RLS include blood glucose levels and kidney problems, both of which can be a result of diabetes.11

How Can A Lack of Sleep Affect Your Diabetes?

Experts associate a lack of sleep with an altered hormone balance that can affect food intake and weight. If you have diabetes, you face a challenging circle. It’s common to compensate for a lack of sleep by eating an excess amount of food. The reason for doing this is to gain energy through the calories. However, doing this can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. This’ll make it harder to achieve a decent amount of sleep at night. And then, you’ll find yourself in the same sleepless situation.12

A lack of sleep also increases the risk of obesity. Obesity can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.13 Clearly, sleeping poorly while experiencing symptoms of diabetes can be a hard cycle to break.

Help Yourself Get A Good Sleep

Getting a good sleep is key to reducing the symptoms of diabetes, and it’s also key to preventing diabetes leading to other health problems. We’ve gathered a handful of tips for how you can help yourself get a good snooze.

Avoid screens

Watching TV or using your phone, laptop, or tablet in the evening can harm the quality of your sleep. This is because of the blue light that’s emitted from these screens, which can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. This can delay your sleep, and it can also keep you from drifting off to a deep, restful sleep that your body needs after a long day. Keeping away from these screens for about an hour before you go to bed is a great way to get a better sleep. Read a book instead or listen to relaxing music. You can read more about this in our article, ‘Technology’s Impact On Your Sleep‘.

Have a regular sleep schedule

Going to bed at the same time every night, and waking up at the same time every morning, is a good way to promote a healthy sleep pattern for yourself. It’s recommended that adults get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, so work your schedule around what time you have to get up in the morning – especially if you’re getting up for work or school. It’s important that you’re consistent with this – keep the schedule for weekends, too!

Avoid alcohol and caffeine

While the first cup of coffee will help to raise your alertness in the morning, drinking coffee during the day is bad for your sleep. It’ll keep you too alert and awake for when you want to be sleepy. You’ll not go to sleep when you want to, and you could take longer to drift off into the deep, restful sleep that you need after a long day. Also, you should avoid or limit your alcohol intake, too. Even though alcohol can make you feel sleepy, drinking it in the evening will actually harm your sleep. You’re more likely to wake up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet, and you could find it hard to get back to sleep.


Exercising is a great way to help yourself get a good sleep. Not only does it tire you out to make you feel sleepy at night, but it also keeps you healthy and reduces the risk of obesity. It doesn’t have to be a vigorous work out in the gym. You could take a walk, try yoga, or go for a swim. However, make sure that you exercise in the morning or earlier part of the day. Exercising in the evening will make you alert and awake – not how you want to feel when it’s bedtime. You can read more about how exercise helps improve your sleep in our article, ‘Five Ways Exercise Helps You Sleep’.

While the above are a few ideas for what you can do to get a good sleep, the best way to help yourself is to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will know your symptoms of diabetes, and they can also find any symptoms of a sleeping disorder you may have – this will help them make sure you’re getting the right treatment for the best sleep.

Treat Your Dad to A Good Sleep This Father’s Day

From sleep deprived nights after you were born, taking care of you when you were sick, checking for scary monsters under the bed, picking you up from parties when you couldn’t get a real taxi, educating you on the best bands from the 1970s into the early hours of the...

10 Tips For A Good Sleep Before Results Day

You’ve done the hard work – all those months of studying are behind you. After finally being able to close the textbooks and give yourself some peace for a couple of months, you may now be getting worried and nervous: tomorrow, you find out your results. Whether...

Give the Gift of Good Sleep This Mother’s Day

Flowers and chocolates are the go-to choices for how to treat your mother on Mother’s Day. While these are lovely ideas, there is a third option that your mum would love this Mother’s Day – the gift of a good sleep! What Good Does Sleep Do for Your Mum? Every mum...

Sleep Well Before Your Wedding Day

When the wedding day approaches, many brides and grooms may feel excitement bubbling up, as well as stress seeping in. With this mix of anticipation, restless nights can be inevitable. It may be one of the best days of your life, but that doesn’t mean that it will be...

What Is Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder?

We’ve all had those mornings where we struggle to get out of bed. We know it’ll be cold when we get up, or we feel like we haven’t had enough sleep, and we just want to sink back into bed and go back to sleep. But there are people who struggle with this every morning,...

Sleep Talking

After a long, loud day, everyone enjoys the quiet of sleep. However, when the person sleeping next to you starts to mumble or talk, it can be funny at first – and then it becomes frustrating. The person who’s talking in their sleep isn’t aware that they’re doing it,...

Make Getting A Good Sleep Your New Year’s Resolution

We’ve all been there. We make a New Year’s resolution, and we’re excited. We’re determined to see it through, to fight our way through January without dropping the new you. And yet, we’ve all let it slip away, bit by bit, until it’s suddenly December and we’re...

Do Lucid Dreams Affect Your Sleep Quality?

Getting a good sleep is important when it comes to our health and wellbeing. However, as lucid dreams can be stimulating or frightening, it’s natural to wonder if they can affect the quality of your sleep. What Is A Lucid Dream? When you sleep, your brain cycles...

Are You a ‘Night Owl’ or a ‘Lark’?

Your biological clock works on its own – a roughly 24-hour cycle called a circadian rhythm. This is influenced by light and the environment, regulating the clock so that we go to sleep and wake up on the same schedule. This body clock decides your sleep pattern and...

Four Reasons We Love Four Seasons Duvets

We all know the struggle of having to get a new duvet when the temperature changes. When the sun is out, we need a lighter duvet so that we can sleep peacefully. When the winds blow colder, a heavier duvet keeps us warm. And, when we find ourselves almost in the...

Everything You Need To Know About Sleep Tracking

   Sleep tracking comes in many shapes and forms, but how do you track your sleep? From DIY wearables and smartphone apps, to the old fashioned way of paper and pen, there are many different ways to follow your sleeping routine. Below, we’ll discuss these methods...

An Introduction Into Circadian Rhythm

Have you ever noticed that you tend to feel energised and drowsy around the same times every day?  This is caused by your circadian rhythm, but just what is it?   What is a Circadian Rhythm? Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is...

Our Most Common Dreams & What They Mean

Every night, each person dreams for ninety minutes, two hours, or more. Dreams are stories and images our mind creates while we sleep. They can be vivid and not always tell a simple story, leaving you feeling happy, sad or scared. Dreams happen anytime during sleep,...

Technology’s Impact on your Sleep

Technology's impact on your sleep can have detrimental effects on your health. Technology is everywhere; it has taken over every aspect of our daily lives, and now it’s set its sights on our bedroom. Instead of curling up in bed with a book, many people now opt for...

When things heat up in the bedroom

Playing it cool in the bedroom could be the secret of a happy love life. Sammy Margo, author of The Good Sleep Guide and The Good Sleep Guide For Kids, warns that turning up the heat in the bedroom can be a passion killer. She believes that bedroom temperature is one...


Share This