Poor sleep is very common in adults and children with type 1 diabetes (T1D). We know that a poor night’s sleep can make it hard to control blood glucose levels the next day. When this happens for a long time, HbA1c levels may become higher than ideal. It is now possible to measure quality of sleep using wearable digital health technologies (such as “sleep monitors”). Using these devices can help measure glycemic variability – changes in blood glucose levels over time. It can be frustrating for people with T1D to have glycemic variability. Reducing glycemic variability improves both physical and mental health.
Overnight changes in blood glucose levels are common
Researchers recently studied the relationship between sleep and glucose variability in adults with T1D who used insulin pump therapy. In this study, researchers used continuous glucose and sleep monitors to measure sleep and glucose at the same time. Participants wore both monitors for14 nights in a row and then during 3 weeknights over a 2-month period for a total of 15 nights. Overall, 49% of nights were classified as poor sleep quality. Poor sleep quality was significantly associated with greater glucose variability. Much less glucose variability occurred on nights with good sleep quality. These findings were the same in participants of various ages and body sizes (body mass index). There was no link between sleep quality and time spent in the target glucose range, nor glucose levels above or below the target glucose range.
Speak with people with type 1 diabetes about sleep
These findings highlight the importance of targeting good sleep quality as part of self-management education for adults with type 1 diabetes. Similarly, health care providers should be aware of sleep disruptions. If a person has sleep disruptions, then providers should implement sleep interventions in personalized type 1 diabetes management plans.