After age 45, your risk for type 2 diabetes skyrockets.
And while the disease isn’t a “normal” part of aging one study found that between the ages of 55-74 folks are seven times more likely to develop diabetes than those in the 20-34 year old range. In fact, according the ADA 25 percent of seniors 65 plus will end up with a diagnosis.
In other words, it’s time to get serious about preventing blood sugar problems before it’s too late. And researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have stumbled onto one surprisingly simple way we may be able to reduce our risk.
Incredibly, it boils down to fixing a lighting mistake many of us make.
It turns out if your bedroom isn’t completely dark at night you could be triggering the insulin resistance which paves the way for type 2 diabetes.
Understanding insulin resistance
Insulin, as you know, is a hormone created by your pancreas. Its primary job is to help the glucose in your blood enter the cells in your muscle, fat and liver to be used for fuel.
But when your cells become insulin resistant, they stop responding well to the hormone. And they have trouble effectively taking up the glucose from your blood.
Your pancreas tries to help by pumping out more insulin. And if it’s able to make enough to overcome the cell’s problem with absorbing the glucose, your blood sugar stays in the healthy range.
But when your pancreas fails, your blood sugar can start to rise. And while your numbers may still fall within the normal range, you’re now prediabetic and just one step away from a type 2 diagnosis.
Sleeping with a light on triggers insulin resistance
For the new study, researchers randomly divided twenty adult volunteers into two groups. The Dark-Light group slept for eight hours in the dark on night one. And then with an overhead light of 100 lux (equal to about a 15 watt bulb) on night two. Meanwhile the Dark-Dark group slept in total darkness on both nights.
Everyone gave hourly blood samples to check melatonin levels. Standard sleep study tests measuring brain waves, oxygen levels, heart rate, breathing and eye and leg movements were done on both nights. And on both mornings, oral glucose tolerance tests were taken.
The researchers found the folks who had slept with the light on had significantly higher insulin resistance than those volunteers who slept in total darkness.
In other words, just a single night of sleeping with a light on can cause major metabolic changes. So you can imagine the havoc sleeping in a bedroom that isn’t dark night after night could have.
Reducing your insulin resistance risk
Now I’m betting you’re thinking, “I don’t sleep with the light on. So I’m safe.” But if your bedroom isn’t truly dark, you may still be at risk.
Keeping a light on in the hall or a connecting bathroom can cause problems, for example. And keeping electronic devices such as digital alarm clocks and televisions and computers with LED lights on them can contribute to light in the bedroom. And if you live in an area with streetlights even the light coming through your windows could be an issue.
When you turn in for the night, to reduce your risk for insulin resistance…
- make sure to turn off all lights
- use blackout shades in your windows
- ban the electronics from your bedroom
If you sometimes need to get up for bathroom runs and need a little light to find your way do what we did in my house. We added some cheap motion-sensor nightlights in strategic spots. Now when either of us has to get up, we instantly have to light we need.
Turning the lights off when you sleep isn’t the only move you can make to improve your insulin sensitivity. Following are three other changes which can help you battle insulin resistance.
1. Stop sitting so much:
Researchers say sitting for long periods can trigger insulin resistance. When your muscles aren’t moving, glucose isn’t passing into your cells as effectively. Just one day of sitting can have a huge impact on your metabolic health. So get up a move. Pace the floor, while watching TV. Stand at your desk. Walk around the house while talking on the phone. Just move MORE.
2. Target belly fat:
Insulin resistance and belly fat go hand in hand. According to researchers changes in the way the fat functions once it settles around your middle triggers resistance. And pot bellies are linked to type 2 diabetes too. In other words, if you have a spare tire you should work on losing it. Exercises that target your core such as seated side bends and leg lifts can help.
3. Focus on magnesium:
Magnesium deficiency can trigger insulin resistance. Your body requires the mineral to move glucose from your blood into your cells. Eat more magnesium rich foods such as spinach, whole wheat, almonds, cashews, black beans and peanuts. And talk with your doctor about taking a supplement.
Head off blood sugar problems before they start with these simple solutions for fighting insulin resistance.