Diabetes Prevention, Lifestyle Coaching

How Quality Sleep Can Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes for Your Lifestyle Clients

Realizing DPP
November 9, 2022

If you were to ask your participants what a regular night’s sleep looks like for them, how do you think they would respond?  

Your participants' answers will likely depend on their age range, as sleep patterns often change depending on how old you are. However, how do you think they would respond if you told them that getting quality sleep every night can actually help prevent Type2 diabetes? 

As a Realizing DPP lifestyle community member, you’re already aware of the main factors that lead to the development of Type2 diabetes: lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and obesity. It turns out that there may be an additional way you can work against developing Type2 diabetes — getting enough sleep each and every night. 

In this article, we’ll explain the meaning of “quality sleep,” how it can reduce the risk of developing Type2 diabetes, and some tips to share with your participants on how to get better sleep. 

How Inadequate Sleep Can Contribute to the Development of Type 2 Diabetes

Lack of sleep can cause imbalances in the body's hormone levels — included in this category is the wake-promoting hormone cortisol. When you don’t sleep, cortisol levels rise, and elevated cortisol levels may be accompanied by a rise in blood sugar levels. 

Although this does take place to some extent naturally within the body, what we eat is a major behavioral driver of this change. When our stress hormone levels are consistently high, we start to crave sweets and other high-calorie foods. When we don't get enough sleep, we often reach for sweets and drinks with a lot of sugar because we feel like they'll help us feel more alert. Over time, eating more of these foods will lead to weight gain and high blood sugar, both of which are risk factors for developing Type II Diabetes.

The Link Between a Lack of Sleep and Insulin Resistance

When you consume more foods that are high in sugar or carbohydrates, your pancreas will try to compensate for the rise in blood sugar by producing more insulin to metabolize the extra sugar you've consumed. Because of the increased production of cortisol, insulin has a more difficult time doing its job, leading to insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels. Your pancreas will tire from trying to maintain healthy blood sugar levels for too long. 

Another reason that a lack of sleep on a regular basis is associated with an elevated danger of developing Type2 diabetes is because sleep deprivation reduces the amount of insulin released in the body after a meal, reducing insulin's ability to regulate blood sugar levels and keeping you awake through the secretion of stress hormones. 

High blood glucose levels are associated with an increased risk of developing Type2 diabetes. Additionally, increased blood sugar levels can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart if insulin production is impaired.

It may be worth noting to your participants that not only will improving their sleep quality reduce their risk of developing Type2 diabetes, but it will also simply put them in a better mood! 


What Is Quality Sleep?

The ability to fall asleep within 30 minutes of lying down, to sleep undisturbed throughout the night, and to get the recommended number of hours of sleep for one's age group are all hallmarks of quality sleep. People between the ages of 26 and 64 should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

Maintaining good sleep hygiene is one of the simplest ways to raise the standard of your sleep quality. Good sleep hygiene involves maintaining a bedroom environment and routines that promote regular, undisturbed sleep. This also includes things like sticking to a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedroom environment free of distractions, performing a calming pre-bed ritual, and adopting healthy habits throughout the day.

Individual preferences and sleeping conditions can be accommodated by modifying one's sleep hygiene routine. Doing so can help your participants form good routines that make it easier to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night, allowing them to wake up feeling refreshed.

By simply adhering to these guidelines, your participants will be able to improve their sleep hygiene and provide their body with the quality rest it needs night after night.

Prioritize Sleep

It's easy to let sleep slide in favor of other activities like work, school, socializing, or working out, but getting enough shut-eye is crucial. If your participants have a set time for waking up each morning, have them use that to determine when they should be in bed, and then encourage them to try their best to get to sleep at the same time every night.

Start Small

Modifying your sleep schedule should be done gradually rather than all at once. Encourage your participants to modify their schedule by as little as two hours at a time so that they can adjust to the new schedule and feel comfortable with it.

Improve Your Bedroom

Beyond routines, the environment in which you sleep is an important part of good sleep hygiene. Your bedroom should be a haven of peace if you want to fall asleep quickly and easily. Investing in a high-quality mattress and pillow can help your participants drift off to sleep without any aches or pains. 

It's also important to have sheets and blankets that are comfortable for you and that you like touching when you go to bed, so don’t be afraid to stress the importance of buying bed sheets your participants thoroughly enjoy.

Sleep Disorders Connected to Type 2 Diabetes

Though sleep issues are common in people with Type2 diabetes, they may not be the direct result of diabetes symptoms. Rather, a separate sleep disorder may be the cause of your participant’s low-quality sleep. These common sleep disorders are often found in people with Type two diabetes. 

Sleep Apnea

For people who have diabetes and are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea is the most prevalent sleep disorder. 

When breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep, a condition known as sleep apnea occurs. Researchers found that 86% of people with diabetes who participated in the study also suffered from sleep apnea. People with Type2 diabetes have a higher prevalence of sleep apnea because the majority of people in this demographic tend to be overweight, which increases the risk of breathing difficulties.

In addition to snoring, common symptoms include daytime fatigue. Having a family history of sleep apnea or being overweight increase your risk of developing the condition. Teaching your participants to adopt a healthier lifestyle and encouraging them to lose weight can make a significant difference in their sleep apnea symptoms. Additionally, wearing a special mask while they sleep can increase air pressure in their throat, making it easier to breathe.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Constantly feeling the need to move one's legs is a hallmark symptom of restless leg syndrome (RLS). These symptoms often manifest themselves in the evenings, making it difficult to get to sleep or stay asleep. 

A lack of iron in the body has been linked to RLS. Other warning signs of RLS include elevated blood glucose levels, issues with the kidneys, and conditions affecting the thyroid. 

Always encourage your participants to schedule a visit with their primary care physician if they are experiencing symptoms they believe may be related to RLS. If they have a history of anemia, this is of utmost importance. It’s also worth noting that tobacco use is also associated with RLS. 



Problems getting to sleep and staying asleep are some of the most common signs of insomnia. If someone’s stress levels and blood sugar are both consistently high, they may find it difficult to get to sleep at night. Encourage your participants to investigate the potential causes, such as a stressful job or emotional conflicts at home, if they show signs of insomnia. 

To better understand the root of the issue, it may also be helpful to consult a medical expert such as a trusted therapist or mental health professional.

How Much Sleep Is Recommended for Adults? 

It's not uncommon for people to get less sleep than they need so they can get more done, attend to family matters, or catch up on a show they've been meaning to watch. However, if sleep deprivation is a chronic problem in someone’s life, they may be at a higher risk for developing health problems like being overweight or developing Type2 diabetes. A lack of sleep, even for one night, can have repercussions the following day. Sleepiness increases the likelihood that you will experience negative emotions, perform poorly at work, and be in an automobile accident.

Adults over the age of 18 should get at least 7 hours of restful sleep each night, as recommended by the CDC. It’s understandable to want to spend more time with friends or work late on a fun project, but it’s vital your participants understand the risk of sacrificing sleep. When they forgo quality sleep, they put themselves at risk for not only developing Type2 diabetes but many other serious conditions as well.

Help Your Participants Find Better Sleep with Realizing DPP

Sleep is a crucial part of our bodies' ability to operate smoothly and effectively, and neglecting this crucial aspect can result in not only the development of Type2 diabetes but many other serious conditions too. Help your participants live healthier lives and prevent the development of Type2 diabetes by joining Realizing DPP

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