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Lack of Sleep and Its Effect on Blood Sugar Levels


More than 29 million Americans suffer from diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with millions more falling into the “prediabetes” range. Keeping blood glucose levels under control is essential to good health, both for people with diabetes and those who do not have the disease. Although most people know that dietary choices and exercise affect blood sugar levels, many do not realize that sleep can also have a dramatic effect on glycemic control. Failing to get enough sleep or getting poor quality sleep can have serious effects on your blood sugar. This is unhealthy for all individuals but particularly dangerous for those with diabetes or prediabetes.

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Infographic: Sleep deprivation in the Evergreen State

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Learn more about sleep deprivation here

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Ways that sleep deprivation can impact your holidays

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

The holidays may leave us with images of children struggling to fall asleep at night in anticipation of a visit from a certain jolly man in a red suit, but the reality of lost sleep at this time of year is far more sobering. 

Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on anyone, anywhere, at any age, and at any time of year.

Let's consider the holidays and the added challenges they bring.

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When sleep loss leads to weight gain

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

We lose sleep for all kinds of reasons. We also gain weight for all kinds of reasons. 

However, when it comes to either concern, there's a well-established association between insufficient sleep and obesity.

While there are a multitude of factors that determine whether these two are linked for any particular individual, the odds still suggest that losing sleep is one of the main reasons why we are overweight. 

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Seattle Public Schools launch new start times

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Seattle teens are making history when they start school this September.

The Seattle Public Schools board of directors decided last November to delay bell times for teen students in response to local concerns from medical professionals, parents, educators, and students regarding the rising epidemic of sleep deprivation nationwide.  

This fall, all of the district's high schools and most of its middle schools will start school 8:45am, with many elementary schools flipping to a 7:45am start time. A few elementary and K-8 schools will also start later, at 9:35am. 

Last year, dozens of medical professionals, including our very own sleep specialist, Dr. Gandis Mazeika, contributed to a 37-page recommendation report researched by the Seattle Public School (SPS) district's Bell Times Analysis Task Force.

Published in July 2015, it was instrumental in inspiring the change toward later school start times for teens in Seattle schools, a decision that is still controversial for many.

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FAST FACTS: 10 clues you might be sleep deprived

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Sleep deprivation doesn't always show up in obvious ways.

The constant yawning, need for naps during the day, and struggle to get out of bed in the morning even after a full night of sleep are clear signs of sleep deprivation. But they aren't the only ones.

Here are ten other signs of underlying sleep deprivation that you might not be aware of: 

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Hypertension and Lack of Sleep

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Today (May 17, 2016) is World Hypertension Day.

Hypertension (otherwise known as high blood pressure), affects at least a third of all adults, according to the most recent data published by the Centers for Disease Control. 

Most people don't inherently feel like they have high blood pressure, which is one reason why it's considered a silent killer.

You can only really know if you have high blood pressure by measuring it; numbers consistently above 140/90 indicate hypertension.

What does hypertension have to do with sleep? More than you think.  

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Lack of Sleep and Mood Disorders: A Connection

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

Of the many things that a healthy sleep process achieves, one of them is the regulation of mood.

As we sleep, we process emotional information and experiences so that they, in turn, become memories.

When we don’t get enough sleep, we shortchange ourselves this process, leading to the likelihood we will encounter emotional problems as a result.

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How much sleep do I need?

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

With the welcome light of longer days, warmer temperatures, and even some sun breaking through our Pacific Northwest cloud cover on occasion, it’s easy to find inspiration to launch a new diet or ramp up a fitness schedule.

However,  a third practice—getting enough sleep—cannot be ignored if these other goals are to be met with success. Even with healthy eating and exercise, we still cannot thrive without adequate sleep. 

In 2015, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) made revisions to its guidelines listing recommended hours of sleep by age. Where do you and your family fall on the chart?

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The hazards of Daylight Saving Time: risks and tips

Tamara Kaye Sellman, RPSGT, CCSH

The switch to Daylight Saving Time (DST) has come and gone. If you’re like most Americans, you didn’t plan for it, and now you’re feeling sluggish and wonky.

Why time changes make us tired

What’s one lost hour? It doesn’t seem like much. In fact, for average Americans, the amount of sleep loss that correlates with the springtime change is about 40 minutes, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

You can expect to feel a little slow and sleepy until midweek following the time change, although the NSF points to a subset of Americans who may require an entire week to make the adjustment. There are two reasons why:

  1. Less light in the morning leads to body clock confusion. Morning sunlight cues your body to shut down melatonin release to encourage wakefulness. Waking up in the dark confuses the body clock, which wants you to keep sleeping.
  2. At night, later light can delay melatonin release, confusing the body clock into thinking that it’s not bedtime yet.

Gradually, of course, we adjust through a forced reset of our circadian rhythms, and the days naturally lengthen. Still, a confused body clock means we will need a few days to prompt our circadian rhythms to play along with the schedules we live our lives by. 

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