A Diabetic Talks: Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is everyone’s joy, something everyone needs, loves and can almost never get enough of. For type 1 diabetics, it can sometimes be something that is hard to come by and for me, has been my never-ending battle and biggest negative with the disease. 

The goal always is to have in-range blood sugar throughout the day. I have always been pretty good at keeping it in-range when I’m awake. Although it does have its ups and downs, I have been pretty good at keeping it in range for the past three and a half years since my diagnosis. 

Where my problem lies is when I’m asleep. It seems the moment I go to bed my blood sugar can never just be nice to me and work in my favor. It almost always ends up rising to high levels which is very unwanted and occasionally goes low which is very dreaded. 

I never want to use my platform here to just complain; I want to raise awareness on big issues in the type 1 world. But today, I am fed up and burnt out. 

According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, diabetics receive 10 fewer hours of sleep than the average individual due to complications with the disease. They also found that less sleep corresponds with worsened blood sugar averages which can negatively impact your health down the line. 

Essentially, it becomes a lose-lose as diabetics get worsened sleep due to the disease which then makes the disease harder to manage down the line. 

Half the issue I face is I simply lose sleep — and a lot of it. This would aggravate the average individual and often affects the rest of my day. The other half is it can deeply affect my health in the future which becomes a looming presence in my head that causes anxiety and stress. 

When I wake up to a low blood sugar it is the worst feeling in my world. I wake up to a blaring alarm that startles me in my sleep. I then sit up to turn it off and instantly feel a wave of weakness and worry. I am more than likely profusely sweating as well as I scramble to find the nearest sugar. 

I can’t describe perfectly the way it feels to wake up in a state of hypoglycemia but the best way to describe it is it feels like the world is collapsing around me. Not to sound dramatic, but it feels like death. 

Once I drink or eat the sugar, I then play the waiting game. This is where the loss of sleep comes in. I have to sit and wait for my BGL to rise before going back to bed as it is very dangerous to sleep while having a low. This could be 30 min or an hour or more. 

Where my health would be at a true danger is from high blood sugar throughout the night. This sometimes wakes me up, sometimes doesn’t. What’s bad is when it doesnt wake me and I had high blood sugar all night. 

Prolonged high blood sugars have a serious long-term effect on the body and can be detrimental to long term health. This is a serious stressor and is something I try my best to avoid but can sometimes be very challenging. 

Often to avoid this, I stay up later than desired to wait for my insulin to kick in and bring down my BGL before bed. This can also take hours which results in me falling asleep in the very late hours of the night. 

This invisible disease often sucks. If I seem grumpy with you, mad at you or not attentive, it very well could be lack of sleep. If I seem tired or burnt out, it could be the disease and if I oversleep, miss class, am late to work or just need a couple extra Z’s, it is more than likely due to type 1 diabetes. 

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