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There's nothing that sleep wont help with... and 3 ways to improve sleep!

There is not one thing in your life with type one diabetes that won't improve if you get more and better quality sleep, your blood sugars, insulin resistance, weight, energy, your mood and mental health, your skin, hair, nails, your dental and gut health and all of your aches and pains that you currently might be experiencing will all benefit from improved and better quality sleep!


Sleep is real life magic and we should really be prioritizing it. And I want to dive a little bit deeper into these different areas that could be improved with better sleep.


Let's start with number 1 - blood sugars and insulin resistance.

With Insulin being a hormone, it is therefore influenced by other hormones in the body, especially cortisol.

Cortisol is the stress hormone and that therefore influences insulin resistance. So when you don't sleep enough or in a quality way, then you are going to have raised cortisol for the following day and possibly days after. So for 24 to 48 or possibly even 72 or more hours after a crappy nights sleep (depending on whether you then improve your sleep or get more sleep thereafter), you will have a noticeable increased blood sugar effect.

So whether you are a new mom, whether you're just struggling with your blood sugars in general, maybe you're being woken up by constant cgm alarms, highs and lows. Maybe you are just so stressed out that you can't even fall asleep properly, or your blood sugars are stopping you from falling asleep properly, or you just don't allow yourself to get to bed on time.


All of these are going to affect your blood sugars and therefore your overall insulin resistance. You're going to require more insulin, you're going to struggle to get your blood sugars down with a single correction. You are going to just overall feel like your blood sugars are not budging and that insulin is water.


And this is something I see very commonly with my clients, and it's something that we can actually start to improve very simply. And I'll get into a few things that you can do at the end of this. But for now, we are going to move on.



Another area that is going to be impacted by poor sleep is your weight.

If you have been struggling with your weight, maybe you've been trying to diet, maybe you've just been trying to eat healthier and you aren't seeing those results, sleep is most likely one of the top factors that are holding you back. When you don't sleep enough or properly, as I mentioned before, your cortisol levels rise, and a a rise in stress in your body will therefore delay the ability for you to lose weight because your body is not interested in trying to lose weight. When you are stressed, your body is trying to just reduce that stress. It is not functioning optimally. You are also going to have, along with the higher cortisol levels, you're going to have an increase in the signals that tell your body that you are hungry. Plus, a reduction in the signals that tell your body that you are full! So not only are you goint to feel hungrier, you're going to find it difficult to stop eating!

So in general, when you aren't getting enough sleep, you're going to want more food, more often, you're going to want to eat more each time. This makes losing weight extremely hard and you're just not going to see those results that you want. So getting good quality sleep and getting enough sleep every night definitely plays a key part of your ability to lose weight, and that is why we focus on sleep so much in my program. When you work with me 1on1 in my Hybrid Coaching Program, we focus in on sleep and that is extremely crucial. So if you haven't focused on your sleep before and you have been trying to lose weight, then that is something that you really should be doing.


But moving on to the next section of what you can actually affect with poor quality sleep.


Your overall energy

Obviously, needless to say, (but we should probably should put it in here anyway) is the fact that your energy levels are going to be affected by your lack of sleep.


When you aren't sleeping enough, everything is going to feel so much more difficult. You're not going to want to look after yourself. You aren't going to care what you are eating, even though deep down your goal might be to improve your diet, to be healthier, to lose weight, to feel better about your body, to feel better about yourself, do better for yourself.. you aren't going to have the energy to do that. You're not going to look after your blood sugars. You're not going to care. So sleeping enough is going to actually make you have more energy and more interest in the things that you want to achieve, the goals that you are wanting to achieve. So set yourself up right and make sure that you're getting enough sleep.


And again, we'll go into different ways you can do that at the end.



Mood and your mental health

So along with your energy, your mood and your mental health are going to plummet when you're not getting enough sleep. And so it really is true that if you are struggling with your mood, the best thing to do is often just to take a nap.


If you can afford to, don't shame yourself for wanting to take a nap or for needing extra sleep, or go to bed earlier. In general, you should know and be aware that your mood and your mental health are definitely going to be affected by the way that you sleep.


And a lot of the time, you're not even going to notice it. So you're going to just think that everything else is the problem. And really, when you just have enough sleep, you're going to wake up the next day and realise half the things that you struggled with the day before are not as big of a deal as you probably thought.

There might not be a problem at all. So that is something to keep in mind.



Skin, Hair, Nails, Dental and Gut Health All of these aesthetic things that we care about are obviously really connected to the rest of our health.

We're learning more and more about these things over time, but your skin, hair and nails tend to be somewhere where you can notice any other problems that are going on in your gut, in your diet and in your sleep regime.


So overall, as I mentioned, by not sleeping enough - your cortisol will rise. This then sends all of these different signals through your body that says we need to focus on fixing this stress issue. When your body experiences stress, it doesn't realise what kind of stress or what is causing your stress. It just thinks that every single stressful situation is caused by the same level of stress. For example, when you've got a full inbox you need to get through at work, or you're dealing with customers that are really difficult, or your nasty boss, you might be dealing with family issues, or you might be dealing with blood sugar issues. Maybe your kids are driving you mad..


Your body perceives all of these different things as the same type of stress. So all it cares about is reducing that stress and it is not going to put the time and energy towards digesting your food properly, getting the nutrients out of the food that you are eating in order to put it towards things like your skin, hair, and nails and gut health.


Everything is going to start to deplete. Your nails are going to be brittle, your hair's going to be dry or falling out. Your skin might be either dry or very oily. You might have acne, you might suffer with psoriasis. All these different things are all an indication that sleep could be a problem, and you would know if you're really honest with yourself. You'll know when sleep is an issue.



Finally, general aches and pains.

If you don't have a reason to be sore and to be having all these random aches and pains in your body and you don't where they come from, you didn't have an injury ... it's most likely true that you are not recovering enough.


Recovery includes sleep! So often when we start to think about getting healthier, we do start to implement more exercise, more healthy eating, in general - we DO MORE. But we don't consider how we might benefit from the recovery aspect. Slowing down. DOING LESS of certain things, controlling stress etc. We want to do more rather than thinking about how we can do less in terms of sleep and recovery.


And so getting enough sleep in general is necessary, but when you have a chronic condition like type one diabetes, you have to sleep more. I don't know about you, but I need about 10 hours of sleep/night to feel great. If I can sleep 10 hours a night, my body is happy. So I allow myself to as often as possible. Obviously not everyone is in a position where they can wake up without an alarm, but if you can re-organize your life, you can aim to have as close to as much sleep as you need, as possible, each night, because everyone is different with how much they need.

But in general, if you have a chronic condition going on, like type one diabetes, you are going to need more sleep. It's just, it's just the short of it. You are going to need more sleep, more recovery. There is a lot more going on in your body. There are different processes, especially if you've had a day of high blood sugars or highs and lows, that is a huge stressor on your body, and therefore you require more sleep to recover optimally.

That's the end of my list for this blog post, but there are many more areas that a lack of sleep effect, these are just the major ones that I come across most often when working with clients.

So what can you do about your crappy sleep?

There are a lot of different steps that you can take, but I will list 3 below that are a good starting point for most people!


1. Focus on improving your blood sugars.

This might sound obvious but if you aren't focusing on improving your blood sugars, then it doesn't matter what you do, you will be impacted by the way that you are sleeping because of your blood sugars.

Say for example you experience hypos overnight. You are constantly going to have your sleep interrupted by those hypos or a CGM that is telling you that you are going low. So it is really worth looking into the way that you manage your blood sugars and getting a handle on that. And that is something that I can help you do in my one-on-one coaching program.


So as I said, if you want my help to work on your blood sugars and sleep, you put an application in here because it is a game changer when you can fix your overnight blood sugars. You are not only improving your blood sugars, but you're improving your sleep, which then improves your entire day thereafter tenfold.

Don't forget, you're also going to reduce your cortisol by sleeping better, and therefore you're going to reduce that next day's insulin resistance, and the list goes on. The cycle continues, and that is why it's so important to improve your blood sugars to be able to sleep properly.



2. Appropriate Light Exposure

If you weren't type one, the first thing I would suggest to improve sleep would be light exposure. But because you're type one, obviously blood sugars come first.


Number two would be light exposure because our bodies actually work on a circadian rhythm which is affected first and foremost by light. So that is why when it gets dark, we start to get tired. When it gets light, we start to wake up.


So if you have your blinds drawn in the morning as the sun comes up, if you have the sun directed through your windows, you are no doubt going to slowly wake up and those mornings without an alarm, you're going to wake up a lot more comfortably because that is how your body likes to wake up.


Your body is affected by sunlight and the lack of, and that is what is determining your sleepiness and wakefulness patterns. So if you can get back in tune with those patterns, you're going to inevitably improve your sleep quality and quantity! By that that I mean get exposure to sunlight first thing in the morning. So instead of looking at your phone when you wake up, you should be opening up the blinds. If your, if your bedroom isn't sun facing in the morning, then you should be getting outside and being in the sun, whether that's being active at the same time, or just stepping outside and letting the sun hit your face first thing in the morning. You should do that for a few minutes and that will help you start to reset your circadian rhythm each day


And then as the sun starts to set during the day, you should be doing the opposite. So rather than turning on all of the lights and blasting yourself with light and keeping your laptop in front of you all night, and then being in front of your TV all night and being in front of your phone, obviously this can be hard not to do! Obviously there's things we have to do in our lives. Obviously, you're not gonna walk around in the dark in your house, but try to limit yourself. So as the night draws to an end, the closer you get to bedtime, the less and less light you should be exposed to. Start to dim the light. Start to use candles. Even salt lamps are a great idea.


Basically reducing your light exposure and not to mention your exposure to your devices is the most important because that is extremely strong blue light that you are getting out of your devices, like your laptop and your phone, and they should be limited. That is going to affect your sleep so much in a negative way, and that also goes to say that the lights that you have in your bedroom, if you have any devices that are putting out a red or green light or any kind of light, you should be making sure you cover those up with some duct tape.

Now this might sound over the top or ridiculous, but it is going to improve your sleep so much.



3. Make sure you aren't eating too close to bed

And this is for a few reasons. Number one, blood sugars. It's just not ideal because your blood sugars are going to still be fluctuating as you're falling asleep while you continue to digest! But number two.. digestion-wise!


So when you are digesting while you're sleeping, you are not going to be sleeping properly. You are going to be in a light sleep. You're not going to be able to enter all of the different cycles of sleep that you need to go through for quality sleep.

You're going to wake up feeling really groggy, and you might have the indigestion, bloating etc. because you've eaten too close to bedtime.


I recommend at least three hours, but four to six hours between your last meal and bed is ideal. Obviously, if you have a hypo, you have to treat it, then so be it. But then we then want to work on blood sugars and make sure we're avoiding that in the future. But in general you want to leave as much space between your last meal and bedtime and that will improve your sleep.




So I hope that that helps you and you feel more empowered to improve your sleep with these suggestions!


If you have been struggling with not only your weight, your energy, your blood sugars, your mood, all of these different things. If you are just in chronic pain, I bet you sleep is a huge factor for you. And if you need help with this, please apply for my one-on-one coaching program. You can get so much out of working with me for five months alongside other women who are also working towards the same goals as you.


It just isn't true that type 1 diabetics can't sleep well or that we have to accept that good sleep is no longer possible for you. So, empower yourself, make some changes, and if you need the help, then reach out or apply for my program. And that's it for today. So I hope you learnt something and don't forget to share this blog post to someone who might need it!

If this blog inspired you and you're ready for change, you can apply to work with me here. If you like this blog please leave a comment below and share it with others!

You can also find me on Instagram @thet1dnutritionist, so come say hi!


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