Sleep matters

May 27,2010
by Mari M. Goldner, MD

One of the biggest factors affecting the quality of your life, your health and longevity is sleep.

Yes, sleep. Think of sleep as one long metabolic re-boot of your brain.

Without enough sleep or quality sleep, you’re more likely to experience other health conditions, including obesity, depression and cancer. And if you have diabetes, sleep matters even more.

Studies show that inadequate sleep takes a heavier toll on people with diabetes. Left untreated, sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea can cause elevated blood sugar levels and other diabetes complications.

Most people need eight hours of sleep each night. Some people a little less and others a little more. The biggest sleep problem by far is deprivation. If inadequate sleep is voluntary, it can be overcome by simply making time to rest.

The best time to sleep is at night, when our body clocks wind down. If you experience insomnia, try setting a regular sleep schedule and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Insomnia can also be treated without medicine by a psychologist.

Sleep disorders

A common sleep problem is sleep apnea, characterized by snoring and stopping breathing caused by an obstruction in the upper airway. When people wake up to “fix” the problem, it’s like an adrenaline alarm interrupting sleep. These adrenaline surges are linked to hypertension and elevated blood sugar levels. And the oxygen drops can cause the arteries to harden.

By treating sleep disorders, research has shown people with diabetes have better glucose control. In general, sleep disorders are very responsive to treatment, including weight loss, dental appliances for mild cases and wearing Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) masks. The masks might look funny, but CPAP therapy works.

So talk to your doctor if you have problems and sleep well!

Dr. Goldner is a specialist in the Sleep Medicine Department at The Corvallis Clinic and works in the Samaritan Sleep Disorders Center at Good Samaritan Regional Medicine Center in Corvallis. She can be reached at (541) 754-1268 or (541) 768-4855.