Type 2 diabetes means a person’s pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to regulate rising blood sugar levels. Many people do not realise they are living with the condition because the symptoms do not necessarily make them unwell. The earlier people spot the warning signs the better, however – early intervention prevents the risk of developing more serious health complications such as heart disease. One warning sign is a persistent tiredness.
Tiredness can be the result of a range of factors such as stress, hard work or a disturbed night’s sleep.
As a result, it is easy to dismiss the warning sign.
However, it could also be related to having too high or low blood glucose levels.
According to Diabetes.co.uk: “The tiredness is the result of having an imbalance between one’s level of blood glucose and the amount or effectiveness of circulating insulin.
If a person feels tired during the day, despite having slept well, it could be a result of either high or low sugar levels, the health body said.
As the health site explained: “Blood glucose levels go high when there is insufficient insulin or the insulin is not working effectively enough.
“To provide us with energy, insulin is needed to transport glucose from blood into our cells to be used for energy.
“When there is not enough insulin, or the insulin isn’t working effectively, it means the sugar in our blood cannot get into our cells and therefore our cells do not receive the energy they need. As a result, we feel tired.”
Testing blood glucose levels can determine whether the tiredness is indeed a result of having high or low sugar levels, noted the charity.
Persistent tiredness may be a symptom but sleep deprivation can also raise the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
A study conducted on mice suggested losing a single night’s sleep may affect the liver’s ability to produce glucose and process insulin, increasing the risk of metabolic diseases such as hepatic steatosis (fatty liver) and type 2 diabetes, according to findings published in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Sleep deprivation has been associated with eating more, moving less and having a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, a team of researchers from Toho University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, explained: “It was not clear whether glucose intolerance was due to the changes in food intake or energy expenditure or to the sleep deprivation itself.”
The researchers studied two groups of mice: One group was kept awake for six hours each night (“sleep deprivation”), while the control group was allowed to sleep as desired. The research team offered unlimited high-fat food and sugar water – mimicking lifestyle-related food choices that people make – to both groups prior to the study. During the sleep/wake period, the animals had limited opportunity for physical activity.
The researchers measured glucose levels and fat content of the liver immediately after the trial period.
Blood glucose levels were significantly higher in the sleep deprivation group than controls after one six-hour session of wakefulness.
Triglyceride (fat) levels and the production of glucose in the liver also increased in the sleep deprivation group after a single wake period.
Elevated liver triglycerides are associated with insulin resistance, or the inability of the body to process insulin properly.
In addition, lack of sleep changed the expression of enzymes that regulate metabolism in the liver in the sleep deprivation group.
These findings suggest that “intervention studies designed to prevent sleep deprivation-induced hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance should be performed in the future,” the researchers wrote.