Hit the Hay to Prevent Prediabetes

FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites

More than one out of three American adults gets too little sleep (1). In the long term, a sleep debt increases the risk of several chronic health problems including type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Even in the short term, failing to get adequate sleep increases insulin resistance in both healthy people and those with diabetes and prediabetes. Prioritizing sleep is an important tool to prevent prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes. 

Sleep is not a luxury. We’re actually meant to spend about one-third of our lives snoozing. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that adults aim for at least 7 hours of sleep nightly (2). But too many of us are having too much fun or struggling to get more done, so we ignore our basic need for sleep. 

Sleep and Blood Glucose are Linked Directly

Insulin resistance is an underlying cause of both prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. When the muscle, liver, and fat cells don’t respond adequately to their supply of insulin, blood glucose levels rise. Many factors affect the presence of insulin resistance and an individual’s degree of insulin resistance. Along with diet, physical activity, and body weight, we now recognize sleep as one of those factors. For example, researchers found that restricting sleep for a single night to 4 hours impaired insulin sensitivity by 19–20% among healthy people (3). Additionally, population studies find that people who sleep 7–8 hours nightly are at reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (4).

And Indirectly

Sleeping too little may also boost the risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes less directly. Sleep deprivation is linked to higher levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone, and lower levels of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone. When sleep debt unbalances these hormones, calorie intake goes up, particularly with nutrient-poor choices. As weight goes up, so does the risk of high blood glucose. Finally, being overtired wears you out both physically and mentally, which can easily impair your judgment and distract you from your self care efforts.

Make tonight the night you commit to getting a full night’s sleep every night. 

By Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, and author of Prediabetes: A Complete Guide.


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html
  2. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/excessive-sleepiness/support/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need
  3. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/95/6/2963/2598810
  4. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/38/3/529
Become a premium member today and get access to hundreds of articles and handouts plus our premium tools!

Upcoming Posts

November 2022


Strategies for Managing Processed Foods in Your Eating Pattern

UP NEXT IN Food and Health, Prevention
Ultra-Processed Foods Promote Colorectal Cancer in Men

New Products Available Now

Published on Categories articles, nutrition, practitioner ideas and news, prevention, food news, food reviews, nutrition education resources, food shopping, food and health, ingredients, diet and cancer, PremiumTags , , , , , , , , ,