When you have diabetes, poor sleep can disrupt your blood sugar, your mood and your health.
An estimated 40 to 50 percent of people with diabetes say they don't sleep well, according to Dr. Kingman Strohl, director of the Sleep Disorders Program at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.
Since quality sleep is so important to well-controlled blood sugar, making adjustments to get better shut-eye should be a top priority if you have diabetes.
Here are six ways you can improve your nighttime routine and get better sleep:
1. Lose the extra weight
Carrying too much extra weight can lead to sleep apnea - a condition that causes disruptions in sleep patterns and drowsiness during the day.
One study in 2009 found that 86 percent of people with diabetes experience sleep apnea, yet the condition can usually be quickly reversed once a person loses weight.
Shedding extra pounds will also correspond with better nutrition and exercise habits, which will both help to improve your sleep.
2. Have a routine
Having a routine for your blood sugar management is important for diabetes control, but it's just as important to have a regular sleeping routine.
Humans are habitual creatures that have set biological rhythms. Oversleeping, lack of sleep or an erratic sleep schedule are all factors that can disrupt your biological clock and affect the ongoing quality of your sleep.
3. Get tested for neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy - a condition characterized by numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands or feet - could also be disrupting your sleep quality.
Restless leg syndrome, which may have similar symptoms to neuropathy, can also be caused by high blood sugar.
Ask your doctor to be tested for diabetic neuropathy and alert him or her of any symptoms.
4. Manage stress
Stress can directly interfere with quality and duration of sleep (as well as blood sugar management).
In addition to creating a routine for sleep, aim to make bedtime a relaxing experience. Shut off electronics a few hours before bed, sleep in a dark room, and unwind with a relaxing activity before you sleep, like a hot bath or a cup of tea.
5. Avoid alcohol
While drinking a glass of wine may seem like a good way to induce drowsiness, drinking too close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep - and also your blood sugar levels.
Avoid alcohol unless it's several hours before you sleep, and try to have no more than one to two drinks.
6. Quit smoking
In addition to the stimulating properties of nicotine that can disturb your sleep patterns, smoking can lead to all sorts of health complications that prevent a restful night, including poor glucose control, headaches and restless leg syndrome.
Smoking cessation can help you not only better manage your health, but also drastically improve your sleep quality.