A study into Gestational Diabetes has found a new health link between short sleep during pregnancy and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM). The findings, published in the journal SLEEP, suggested that addressing sleep concerns during pregnancy could potentially reduce the risk of developing GDM.
What is Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition that can develop during pregnancy when the body is not able to make enough insulin. The lack of insulin causes the blood glucose (also called blood sugar) level to become higher than normal. Why is this an issue?
Why is High Blood Sugar a Concern
Cells within the pancreas (islet cells) normally produce insulin, a hormone needed to help the body regulate blood sugar and use that sugar as a source of energy. The two main types of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, the body produces no insulin and symptoms usually manifest early on in life. This condition is also referred to as juvenile diabetes, or early onset diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
In type 2 diabetes, the body fails to produce enough insulin to meet its requirements and/or the cells of the body do not respond adequately to the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas.
In gestational diabetes (GD), a pregnant woman’s blood sugar level is higher than it usually is, leading to too little insulin being produced. This means that there is too little insulin to stimulate adequate uptake of glucose from the bloodstream by cells and therefore the level of glucose/sugar in the blood remains high.
During pregnancy the placenta produces hormones that help the baby develop. However, these hormones also block the action of the mothers insulin (see video below). That is why, during pregnancy, the need for insulin is 2 to 3 times higher than normal. If the mother already has a level of insulin resistance, then her body may not be able to cope with the extra demand for insulin production resulting in blood glucose (sugar) levels being higher, and a diagnosis of GD.
Video – What is Gestational Diabetes
Note: When the pregnancy is over, and blood glucose levels return to normal, GD disappears. This insulin resistance, however, does increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes in later life.
Link Between Short Sleep and Gestational Diabetes
In the Singapore based study mentioned above:
Statistical analyses were run to assess whether exposure to short sleep, defined as less than 6 hours per night, was associated with greater odds of having GDM. The researchers found that short sleep was associated with increased risk of GDM, after adjusting for factors including age, BMI, and history of GDM. Interestingly, the frequency of GDM was highest (27.3%) in women who reported sleeping less than six hours a night and was lowest (16.8%) in women who reported sleeping between seven to eight hours a night.
Read the original article at news-medical.net.
Managing Gestational Diabetes
There are three basic components in effectively managing gestational diabetes:
- monitoring blood glucose levels,
- adopting a healthy eating pattern, and
- physical activity.
Gestational diabetes can often initially be managed with healthy eating and regular physical activity, however, some women may require insulin injections for the remainder of their pregnancy.
Adopting a healthy eating pattern and regular physical activity can also improve your chances of avoiding Gestational Diabetes in the first place. Checkout the books below, or search for more ideas on how to eat healthy to manage (or avoid) Gestational Diabetes.
If you’ve had any experience with GD, feel free to share your experiences below, including what you found to be successful when it came to managing GD.
Take care, and see you again soon.