Too Little Sleep May Increase Risk for Dementia and Diabetes

Tossing and turning makes for a terrible night’s sleep, and if you’re experiencing sleep problems on a nightly basis, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans regularly struggle with sleep. However, just because disturbed sleep is common doesn’t mean you should accept it. Not only is disordered sleep frustrating; it’s also a health risk.

Getting too little sleep has long been associated with a lack of focus, decreased energy, reduced productivity and even an increase in stress and mood issues. On top of this, you may be surprised to learn that getting too little sleep may also increase your risk for developing dementia and diabetes.

Dementia is commonly associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common type of dementia. It is generally an impairment in thinking, remembering and mental processing in older adults.

Type 2 diabetes is an impairment in the way your body responds to its natural insulin. It typically develops after a period of chronically high blood sugar, usually caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, genetics and advancing age, along with lifestyle choices like alcohol intake and smoking.

The link between sleep, dementia and diabetes

Recent studies have drawn a correlation between getting fewer than five sleeping hours each night and an increased risk of multiple chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and dementia. The older you are, the greater your risk.

Additionally, sleep disorders like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and insomnia are also more common in older adults. In fact, it is estimated that about half of all older adults suffer from disordered sleep. Developing type 2 diabetes has been individually linked to disturbed sleep, and this combination of insufficient sleep and poor glucose management are significantly linked with higher likelihoods of developing dementia.

Whether chronic conditions cause poor sleep or sleep disorders cause chronic conditions, it’s clear that learning how to improve sleep can help you improve overall health and better manage chronic conditions.

How to improve sleep

Even if you don’t have a diagnosed sleep disorder, diabetes or dementia, establishing good sleep hygiene to improve sleep is an important step toward reducing your risks for chronic conditions.

Your sleep routine – Rather than watching TV in bed until you get tired, turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime. Set a regular sleep schedule even for weekends and engage in a relaxing activity to help you wind down.

Your sleep environment – Ensure your bedroom is cool and comfortable. Lights should be off or very dim, and any background noise or music should be quiet.

Your diet – Avoid spicy foods, heavy meals or alcohol near bedtime. If you are hungry before bed, choose a light, healthy snack.

Your overall health – If you have chronic medical conditions or a sleep disorder, work with your doctor to manage them. Because medications can also interfere with sleep, talk to your doctor about dosing or alternatives, if needed.

Complications associated with poorly managed type 2 diabetes and dementia bring many patients into Avail Hospital every year. We urge you to prioritize sleep right away in order to help you avoid becoming one of those patients.

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