Health Tips: Is diabetes disrupting your sleep? Why it’s important


When NFL offensive lineman Ryan Jensen was waking up more than 13 times a night, he developed mood swings, fatigue and lost weight -- jeopardizing his career. Once he was diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea, he was back on track. But he’s not alone; it’s estimated that 33% to 50% of elite athletes are poor sleepers. That’s about the same number of folks with Type 2 diabetes who have sleep problems and that threaten to derail their life too.

Diabetes is associated with sleep issues because out-of-whack blood sugar levels can cause frequent urination (when too high), anxiety, even nightmares (when they too low). Then poor sleep, especially less-restorative slow-wave sleep, interferes with insulin regulation and blood sugar levels -- and it goes round and round.

A study in the Journal of Sleep Research lays out the consequences: Participants who had diabetes and also experienced frequent sleep disturbances were 87% more likely to die of any cause (car accident, heart attack, etc.) during the nine-year study follow-up than people who didn’t have diabetes and slept well, and were 12% more likely to die than those who had diabetes but no sleep issues.

If you have diabetes and sleep issues: Get your glucose levels under control 24/7. Consider using a continuous glucose monitor to keep track and ask your doctor for a referral to a diabetes educator. Talk to your doctor about the new diabetes-control medications that are available. And then ... get evaluated for sleep disturbances. You can turn this around!

Supertasters dodge a bullet while dodging important nutrients

When you think of supertasting, what favorite food do you fantasize about? For Dr. Mike, it’s salmon burgers. But for true supertasters, with the supertaster gene that makes them highly sensitive to bitter and strong flavors, it’s more about avoiding foods than longing for them.

Around 25% of folks are supertasters, and although they’re food-wary (is that you?), they do get one major reward: Research has found that they are far less likely to contract COVID-19 and, if they do get it, they’re not headed for the hospital.

On the other hand, if you’re a supertaster, unless you find a way to pleasingly prepare foods that seem nasty-tasting, your health disadvantages are going to outweigh that benefit. Many of the “bad-tasting” foods, such as broccoli, spinach and cauliflower, are loaded with essential nutrients that help protect you from chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

The solution for some supertasters? Healthy fats, like olive oil, and salt counter bitter tastes -- and making a nondairy-based soup with the veggies, blending them with whole grains or sauteing them in extra-virgin olive oil makes them tasty.

Side note: Not all adults who avoid certain healthful foods because of their “unpleasant flavor” are legit supertasters -- they’re taste-bud-killers, because they’ve spent a lifetime eating fat-filled snacks, red meats and sugary foods and beverages. If that’s you, we suggest you adopt an “add a new flavor every week” campaign. And for both supertasters and taste-bud-killers, Dr. Mike’s “The What to Eat When Cookbook” dishes up great suggestions.