“Sleep is that Golden Chain that ties Health and Our Bodies Together.” Charles Dekker
The creation and design of the human body continues to amaze and fascinate me as I explore the effects of its biological internal clock located in the brain known as the Circadian Rhythm. The switch located in the hypothalamus is literally turned on and off by Sun light (DAY) and Darkness (NIGHT) controls the overall health and wellbeing of us all.
Think about it, have you ever wondered why you become drowsy, relaxed and sleepy at night-that is your Circadian Rhythm at work. When darkness falls the brain send signals to your body to release the hormone Melatonin which in turn brings on feelings of relaxation and drowsiness. On the other hand, at sun rise daylight, Melatonin levels goes down, and the hormones Cortisol/Epinephrine is released as explained in the “Dawn Phenomenon” you get that boost of energy (wide awake). Simply put your Circadian Rhythm is an internal clock regulated by hormones that tells you when to sleep, and wake dependent upon lightness (Day) or darkness (Night).
Data indicate alterations or disruptions in this cycle results in devastating health results. This may very well be part of the reason why you are unable to lose weight, manage diabetes, control hypertension or have developed cardiovascular problems, depression and sleep disorders. A lack of proper sleep will lead to these health issues, in addition may also possibly be carcinogenic to humans according to NIH.
An estimated 22 million Americans work the Graveyard Shift (7:00 pm to 7:00 am or 11:00 pm to 7:00 am) placing them at an increased risk of health issues especially diabetics. Evidence shows especially with type 2 Diabetes; insulin resistant is increased and blood glucose control becomes difficult working at night. Shift work is not an ideal situation for diabetics, however as I have seen with some of my patients, it may be necessary.
Listed below are a few helpful tips for Diabetics if you are among the 22 million Americans working the Graveyard Shift altering your Circadian Rhythm:
- Make Sleep a Priority: when you get off: use ear plugs to get rid of noise, darken the room, keep the room temperature cool and comfortable.
- Monitor your intake: talk to your Dietitian about adjusting meal schedules to your shift, bring healthy nutritious meals from home, avoid junk, Limit caffeine especially toward the end of your shift, and record your meals and snacks to determine if glucose patterns are changing.
- Medication Schedule: Normally you may take your meds at breakfast or dinner, adjust according to when you will be eating those meals. Your largest meal may be at 6:00 p.m. if so have smaller meals throughout the night. Your bedtime snack may be at 7:00 a.m. or 6:00m. prior to your actual bedtime. If you take insulin adjust according to the amount of carbohydrates you will be eating. If you are on an insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio when you eat during the night that ratio may need to be higher.
- Monitoring: Self-monitoring your blood glucose can help spot irregular patterns in your glucose levels as it relates to your changing shifts, days off and the timing of your meals. Keep accurate records and share them with your Health Care Team to adjust if needed.
I ask, have you lost your Rhythm, timing is important, make sleep a priority because:
“Sleep is that Golden Chain that ties Health and Our Bodies Together”