Sweet dreams: how quality sleep can regulate blood sugar

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You might already know that a good night’s sleep is necessary to feel energetic and refreshed. But did you know it could also help control your blood sugar levels?

Yes, you read it right! New research from sleep scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, has found that deep sleep can increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin.

This, in turn, helps manage your blood sugar better.

According to Professor Matthew Walker from UC Berkeley, brain waves during deep sleep set off a chain reaction.

This process starts from the brain, travels to the heart, and finally alters your body’s blood sugar control. Specifically, it’s the collaboration of two types of brain waves, called sleep spindles and slow waves, that do the trick.

This is an exciting finding because sleep is something we can modify. We can use this knowledge to help people who have high blood sugar or Type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found another benefit as well. The deep-sleep brain waves can serve as a sign of a person’s blood sugar levels for the next day.

This method is even more accurate than traditional sleep measurements. So, the study suggests that we can use these brain waves as a tool to predict and map a person’s blood sugar control.

Earlier studies showed that the combination of sleep spindles and slow brain waves helps with learning and memory. But this new research suggests that these brain waves also play a crucial role in managing blood sugar.

The researchers examined sleep data of 600 people. They discovered that the duo of deep-sleep brain waves could predict how well a person could control their glucose levels the next day.

This prediction was accurate even when they considered other factors like age, gender, sleep duration, and sleep quality.

The Pathway to Better Blood Sugar Control

But how exactly do these brain waves help with blood sugar control? The researchers followed a series of steps to answer this.

They found that more frequent and stronger combination of deep-sleep brain waves led to a calming state in the body, known as the parasympathetic nervous system. They used heart rate variability as a measure to confirm this calming state.

The calming state then increased the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that helps absorb glucose from the bloodstream, thus avoiding harmful spikes in blood sugar levels.

The researchers double-checked their findings with a separate group of 1,900 participants. They found the same effects, which added more confidence to their results.

The findings are exciting because sleep is an enjoyable experience for most people. Unlike some diabetes treatments and lifestyle changes, good sleep is easy to achieve and maintain.

Although sleep alone won’t cure diabetes, it’s a step in the right direction.

The prospect of new technologies that can safely alter brain waves during deep sleep could help people manage their blood sugar better. And that’s a reason to be hopeful.

If you care about sleep, please read studies about the science on 3 traditional bedtime remedies, and this sleep supplement may help prevent memory loss and cognitive decline.

For more information about sleep, please see recent studies about how to sleep to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and results showing scientists find silent sleep danger for smokers.

The study was published in Cell Reports Medicine.

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