Poor Sleep and Glucose Metabolism
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Poor Sleep & Glucose Metabolism

Sleeping is a natural part of our normal activity. Sleep can be defined as a state of the body when the consciousness is reduced to a minimum. During sleep, the body muscles are relaxed. However, the brain remains active during sleep which means that the body is not completely inactive when asleep. When asleep during the night, your body tends to act in different ways and can be attributed to the following Two Types

1. Rapid eye movement sleep (REM)

2. Non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM)

What is Glucose Metabolism?

Glucose metabolism can be defined using the following steps

--> Carbohydrates enter our bodies when we consume food.

--> After entering the body, the carbohydrates get broken down into sugar.

--> Sugar turns into glucose.

--> Glucose flows through our blood to various cells.

--> Once there is an accumulation of glucose around the cells, the pancreas starts to produce insulin.

While we sleep at night, glucose is released by the liver into our blood. The liver functions as the storehouse of our glucose and supplies us with glucose till we have breakfast the next morning. In an ideal situation, the amount of glucose released by the liver should be at par with the amount of glucose used by the body. If the glucose supply and usage remain matched, the sugar level in our blood remains stable. A healthy glucose metabolism would mean sound metabolic health supporting us in withstanding many adverse physical conditions.

What happens if Sleep is insufficient?

Our sleep is primarily controlled by circadian rhythms. In simple terms, circadian rhythms work as the master clocks in our body. It guides the brain in terms of the periodicity of our sleep. The related endocrine processes and sleep timing are controlled by circadian rhythms. If you do not have sufficient sleep, the circadian rhythm of the body gets disturbed, which has a direct effect on your metabolic health.

If you have insufficient sleep, which is not as per your circadian rhythm, your blood sugar levels can increase. Even deprivation of sleep for a single day may increase the sugar level in the blood as there is a scope of an occurrence of insulin resistance. People with irregular and deprived sleeping run a much greater risk of getting type II diabetes mellitus. A situation may worsen in cases of chronic insufficient sleeping habits.

The Relationship between Sleep and Glucose Metabolism

Sleep and glucose metabolism are associated. Unfortunately, because of the stress due to our modern life, sleep insufficiency has become a common occurrence. In the hustle-bustle of our daily lives, we tend to forget that metabolic health is of utmost importance. If we are healthy from within, we shall strive more and achieve more in life.

If your sleep is insufficient, the body shall be secreting a stress hormone called cortisol. An aggressive secretion of cortisol results in the production of glucose from even non-carbohydrate sources; this situation is called gluconeogenesis. If your body happens to get to the state where this stress hormone is getting released due to lack of sleep, the glucose regulation in the body goes out of the window.

Studies have proven that if you have six days of sleep deprivation, cortisol tends to get secreted. This results in a rapid reduction of glucose intake in the muscles. The sleep compromised state gives rise to insulin resistance and ultimately causes spikes in the sugar levels in the blood.

The duration of your sleep also has a bearing on the glucose metabolism in your body. If you are not having complete sleep, the two hormones controlling appetite get disturbed. These two hormones are leptin, which helps in subsiding hunger and ghrelin, which incites hunger.

If due to insufficient sleep, the functioning of leptin and ghrelin gets affected, symptoms of metabolic irregularities start occurring in your body. The symptoms like loss of appetite are a sign of stress hormones getting disturbed in your body. If you happen to have a prolonged condition of less than sufficient sleep, it often results in the onset of diabetes.

A person having a sleep disorder such as insufficient sleep can experience obstructive sleep apnea, which is a disorder emanating from metabolic disruptions. The condition of obstructive sleep apnea is extremely harmful and damages your body’s glucose metabolism, and also impacts the energy balance in your body.

All that was discussed above points toward the direct correlation between your sleeping habits and their ramifications on the glucose metabolism of your body. Lack of sleep eventually builds up insulin resistance in your body and may lead to you becoming obese. For diabetes, fighting obesity is a challenge faced by the doctors; lack of sleep can invite such a situation.

How to get enough Sleep?

Following are some of the tips for you to get a healthy and sufficient sleep:

1. Exercise Well

Follow an exercise regime during the time of the day most suited to you regularly. This will help in tiring out your body and have sufficient sleep.

2. Food Habits

Do not consume alcohol or a very large meal just before bedtime.

3. Use of Gadgets

Please refrain from using gadgets such as mobiles, laptops and even television before going to sleep.

4. Sleeping Environment

Try to keep the bedroom environment relaxed, with a controlled temperature and dark.


One thing very evident from all that has been discussed above is that sleep is of cardinal importance to keep all your physiological functions running smoothly. If you have a sleep cycle, which is not sufficient, it will have a domino effect on all your bodily functions.All the biochemical functions of the body are dependent on the amount of sleep that you give yourself. Therefore for the overall healthy functioning of your body, sleep is a key factor.

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This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.