Sleep and Blood Sugar

Well, this is interesting:

I have had a lot of trouble with sleep the past few months. I have a sleep disorder, common to those of us with ADHD, called Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. What this means is that my body messes up night versus day, and my cortisol -- stress hormone -- levels start rising at bed time, instead of falling, telling my body that it's morning, and time to wake up. Sometimes it's pretty well controlled, other times I have trouble sleeping for weeks, even months, on end.

I had a lot of trouble sleeping in the second half of the summer. At the same time, I also was running high morning blood glucose, despite medication and keeping my carb intake very low. My doctor says that my high morning blood sugar isn't from diet, it's comorbid, as we say, to my sleep disorder. The same high cortisol levels that keep me from sleeping also signal my liver to crank out glucose. I don't run high blood sugar during the day.

The past few nights I have combined my usual sleep medication -- currently Lunesta -- with melatonin, and it has worked beautifully. I have slept long and well. And in the mornings, after I had a good night's sleep, my blood sugar was stone normal.

This is not scientific proof of anything, but it is very hard for me not to conclude that my sleeping well and running normal fasting blood sugar are related. I think it's likely not so much that getting enough sleep lowers my BG, but rather that the melatonin is reducing my cortisol, both improving my sleep and preventing the runaway gluconeogenesis.

I will, of course, continue taking the melatonin along with my Lunesta.* I will also, naturally, keep testing my fasting blood sugar when I get up. If this pattern vanishes, I will report back. But right now, I am very hopeful and very pleased.

Not to mention well-rested.

* To forestall the inevitable suggestion, I have tried melatonin on its own -- that's why I had the stuff on hand -- and it is not sufficient to get me to sleep. Yes, I have also tried 5-HTP, valerian root, Calms Forte, etc, etc, etc. I'm a life-long insomniac who used to run a health food store. I've swallowed everything that purports to be a natural treatment for sleeplessness. I resisted prescription sleep meds for a long, long time. There's only so long you can go on 2-5 hours a night before you give in and take the prescription stuff.

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Happy I'm not alone out here

I can't believe that there are others that have this same problem. I have searched so much only to feel like my abnormal was abnormal. I sleep parasomnia with abnormal activity in my REM sleep and high fasting glucose almost every modrning. The rest of the day and evening, my glucose is on the low side of normal. My Dr. wants to start me on Bydureon injections, but the cost is $350.00 a month that my ins. does not cover. I now have a place to start to improve my quality of life.

Sleep and Weight Loss

I remember reading somewhere that the body will halt weight loss by elevating blood glucose when sleep deprived.

This makes perfect sense when we consider that the body has built-in defense and survival mechanisms.

When sleep deprived, the body does not know why it's deprived.
It does sense being sleep deprived and releases fuel (glucose) into the blood to "sustain" itself at those times.

So by all means, get your sleep!
It's every bit as important as our food and activity levels to our health and weight loss.

Insomnia-induced Diabetes

I have several sleep disorders that cause blood sugar problems every morning. I have delayed sleep phase, alpha-delta syndrome, and sleep apnea. The worst is the alpha-delta syndrome, which causes alpha waves to disturb delta waves as I am falling asleep, so I literally wake up over 100 times per night. This is the signature of Fibromyalgia. Ambien, 5-HTP, and Melatonin help me to "sleep," but the sleep is not restorative. I have eaten low-carb, free-range, and organic for over 10 years, but nothing helps the erratic blood sugars. I am on long-term and short-term insulins, which make me crazy, because tests have shown I have plenty of insulin in my blood stream. I am also on metformin. Once I get the sugar down, it is normal during the day.

My doctor called this insomnia-induced diabetes. There is very little information about this condition to be found.


OMG, Dana!!! I love you, love you, love you! That's IT!!!! It has to be.

I truly believe you have revealed the culprit in my problem, will verify over the next few days.

Long story short (I will try). I, too, have been a long-term insomniac. Long time to get to sleep, and frequent awakening. I had been on Ambien for several years to get more than a few hours sleep. I've never been diagnosed with delayed sleep etc, though.

I re-started low carb in mid-June and within a 3-4 weeks I was actually sleeping better (or so I thought, anyway) and stopped taking the Ambien (and Prilosec for GERD). I really wanted to get off that stuff. No, I never sleepwalked or did anything crazy, lol. That I know of, anyway!

Somewhere around 6 weeks into the diet, I hit a stall, and my fasting glucose bumped up to just over 100 and has stubbornly been there most days since. Grrr! But my later in the day glucoses were in the 80's-90's only a few hours after food. A major point of going back on the controlled carb diet was to keep from being diagnosed diabetic (and to be healthy, of course) and here I am. I Googled my tail off. Tried all kinds of supplements that are supposed to help regulate glucose. Experimented with exercise timing. Craily enough, exercising in the morning while fasting would raise glucose. I was beside myself. What the heck was going on?

Although lack of sleep causing cortisol release, triggering glucose elevation occurred to me, I thought I was getting enough sleep. But if I am honest with myself, although I am getting to sleep faster than before, I am waking frequently during the night. I am probably not getting enough REM sleep to suppress the cortisol.

So - I am going back on the Ambien for a few nights, and take melatonin with it (of course I have that, lol, and same as you it doesn't work alone) and see how my glucose does in the mornings.

Thanks so much!!! If it works, I will post back.

Hope It Works!

People who don't have insomnia just don't get it -- how life-sucking it can be. I very much hope the melatonin/Ambien combo works for you. Two thoughts: One, I've had two docs agree that it's good for me to cycle back and forth between Ambien and Lunesta, because I build a tolerance. And two, since my insurance company doesn't care to cover extended-release Ambien, and Lunesta doesn't come in an extended release formula, I keep a pill-splitter on my nightstand. I take a half a tablet with my melatonin at bedtime, and usually take the other half when I wake up around 3 am to pee. Though I will say that once split, Lunesta tastes particularly foul.

well, I'm hoping to avoid the

well, I'm hoping to avoid the diabetes issue, that's why I'm here. They tell me I'm pre-diabetic. You first heard of me when I had the horrible experience at my local diabetes clinic with a dietician that "did not agree with" low carbohydrate diets like Atkins. Upon further thinking about it, that's crazy as the clinic itself recommends a "modest" carbohydrate diet. Then I found out she was "on loan" from the eating disorders clinic... Anyway, they did finally give me a metre and I have noticed some stuff I can hardly wait to talk to the Doc about. My endo recommended low-carb and Victoza. AFter repeated attempts to lose weight were proving impossible unless I literally starved and/or exercised until I hurt. I started Atkins and Med. Sep 1. I didn't get the glucose metre until Sep 20. My fasting glucose has always been "the problem". I have had strange goings on with my metabolism for years...too long to go into here. my fasting glucose was 6.8 pre-medication and diet. (one test) Then, after 20 days on Atkins, and Victoza is was about 6.3ish. Then I increased the Victoza as per instructions and now it is in the low 5's (5.3) this morning. The trouble is....all my other readings are low....4, 5. Sometimes hit a 6 when I eat some carbs, it's back down to 4's in 2 hours. Before the Victoza increase, it would dive as low as 2.1, with no symptoms of hypoglycemia at all. Then I tested myself with a sample latte at starbucks that contained sugar...8, a homemade peanut butter cookie...6.9. These all seem normal or low to me....I don't know. Don't see the Doc until Oct 11. I've tried increasing the fat and food in general, but it is proving challenging because of the medication and the diet...I just am not hungry, but I endeavour to eat something every 2 - 3 - 4 hours anyway. So far, 10lbs, but have plateaued for the last week. What do you think of these glucose readings? I've kept meticulous records, since the 20th. I'll share every detail if you wish.

Very interesting

Thanks for posting this, Dana. I am a type-2 diabetic that has normal BG readings during the day (80-90s) and always over 100 Fasting BG. Just recently I have been wondering if I have evening cortisol issues since I seem to get "keyed up" in the evenings. I have just started using Melatonin the last two nights, and it hasn't been very successful so far in getting me to sleep.

I will be interested to hear if you continue to keep with the lower fasting BG numbers on your new routine.

That's very interesting. My

That's very interesting. My partner has ADHD with delayed sleep phase, and the same history of natural sleep aids working minimally at best. She's never tested her blood sugar at home, but we've been thinking of buying a glucose monitor and this just might be a very good reason.

Thanks for the post

I've long suspected that the fact that I tend to feel wide awake late at night was hormonal. It doesn't seem to be affected by anything I eat or do; if I go to bed, I just lie awake. It runs in my family--my mother and sister are the same way.

A low-carb diet has definitely decreased my need for sleep and the quality of my sleep (even on the bus). Luckily, I seem to get by on six hours a night (for awhile).

My insomnia started when I

My insomnia started when I was a kid. For school I found I needed the adrenaline-shot of a deadline to force myself to concentrate to complete projects and the whole not sleeping thing would come in handy. I could and did complete semester projects in 24 hours (no sleep of course) and you get the picture.

My insomnia is under control. But it isn't any one solution -- it's a culmination of lifestyle choices. But I also married someone with sleep problems (he sleeps pretty well now--been converting him). But I find myself facing it again with my daughter who was awake every night at 1am starting when I was pregnant. The nighttime wakings continued for 2yo until a morning preschool program and the cursed growth chart made me work to solve it. Slowly getting her sleep schedule under control (still have bad nights but it's SO much better)...what I found was that after we got her sleeping under control I finally got her to gain weight. Cortisol is getting headlines for preventing weightloss, but no one should forget about stress causing weightloss, or at least preventing weight gain in our case.

Long story short: even decaffeinated beverages are still too much caffeine. The more I drink the worse it gets. None is best but I can usually handle one cup. The problem is, the more I drink, the more I want and the worse it gets. Coffee/tea they've both given me problems and I love both. Dammit.

Low carb/low-no grain diet is a piece of the puzzle. Weight-training type exercise -- not cardio by itself...muscle-glycogen-depleting exercise helps.

Editing my life to remove stresses. Relaxation. Getting crud off my mind.

And lastly, a schedule. "I WILL get up by 7am and I WILL go to bed by 11". Melatonin has assisted with this but I don't take it regularly...mostly take it to bump up my bedtime. I also try to get sunlight first thing in the morning to help wake up. I've contemplated a sunlight lamp alarm, but can't do those things without mutual agreement from the bed partner.

Glad you posted this

As a fellow ADHD person who has trouble sleeping, I was glad to read of this. I've been using DreamBoost, which has a variety of things in it, including melatonin and 5HTP. Works far better for me than anything I've ever tried. It purports to "normalize sleep patterns", and it really seems to do that for me, at least as normal as I'm able to get to at this point.

I didn't know the connection between that, cortisol, ADHD and blood sugar. Thanks again!