Dr Stacey Simon Explains Effects of Type 1 Diabetes on Sleep


Behavioral and physiological components of type 1 diabetes and its management can contribute to worsened sleep and health outcomes, which can vary by age, according to Stacey Simon, PhD, sleep psychologist and associate professor, University of Colorado Denver, Children's Hospital Colorado.

Adolescents with type 1 diabetes (T1D) who don't get enough sleep are at higher risk for more severe cardiometabolic risk factors, said Stacey Simon, PhD, sleep psychologist and associate professor, University of Colorado Denver, Children's Hospital Colorado, at SLEEP 2022.


What short-term and long-term effects can T1D have on a person’s sleep?

Individuals with type 1 diabetes are at increased risk for sleep disturbance. That could be due to both behavioral and physiological aspects of both diabetes itself and its management. For example, they may be woken up in the night and need to treat their low or high blood sugars, their glucose monitors may alarm in the night, waking them up and causing extra disruption. So it can definitely have an impact that way.

How do these effects change based on the patient’s age?

The research that we did looked at sleep and health outcomes in both adolescents and adults with type 1 diabetes. What we found was that, for adolescents who got less than 7 hours of sleep per night, they had some greater cardiometabolic risk factors, so higher BMI, worse insulin sensitivity, things of that nature. But we didn't see that same relationship for the adult population.

We know that adolescence is a really critical period in terms of both overall health and development as well as for sleep, so there's so much growth and development going on. But then also, with regards to sleep, we know that adolescents tend overall just to get insufficient sleep. They're often going to bed really late, but have to wake up very early in the morning for school. It seems like it's definitely something really important to do further research on in patients, particularly with type 1 diabetes.

Are there also inversed effects, where sleep can affect T1D?

It's a really interesting question and something that we're hoping to answer in future research. We're really interested to know if sleep might impact blood sugars or glycemic control the next day.

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