Episode 196 – How Sleep Affects Your Blood Sugar This is Blaine’s StoryPosted on October 17, 2016
You can’t argue with the importance of sleep, but I think most people still underestimate how important it really is or can’t tangibly say what’s so good about it even though everyone knows that amazing feeling of waking up after a phenomenal night’s sleep. Today we have Blaine’s story, of course that’s not his real name, but he is a real person and there are aspects to his story that everyone can relate to and we’re going to especially zoom in on how sleep has effected him in a very tangible way, so here we go.
I’ve been working with Blaine for about seven years. Initially he was kind of thrust into training by his wife and I wasn’t sure how committed he was going to be. Initially he missed a lot of sessions for work and didn’t really do anything outside of our sessions together. Despite being Type 2 diabetic and being on cholesterol medication even low levels of activity and minor modifications to his diet would have been really helpful for him.
Then after a couple of years he decided to take his training to the ‘next level’ and yes even for relatively regular middle aged men there is a next level. He shifted his training to three times a week with me which really meant two and sometimes 3 times a week, because of his work schedule, but I still saw it as progress or a step in the right direction.
Then once this 2 or 3 time a week pattern became consistent, we released our app and he started getting points for his exercises and at around the same time he got a fit bit to track his steps, this was the tipping point for his motivation, now he had something tangible he could look at and definitively say, yes I took this many steps and yes I got this many points.
He started by setting a yearly goal for points and steps then he broke it down to quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily, point and step goals. He created his own excel file so he could graph not only his improvements, but also his trajectories to make sure he was on pace for his overall goals. He created realistic goals and stretch goals and when they become obviously too easy he adjusted them. This was an incredible transformation, because he set his goals so high it forced him to start working out on the road, this started with walking and eventually turned into workouts, he even started building his own strength workouts with exercises he really liked, even though I had already designed a couple dozen specificly for him. One day I was looking through all his programs and saw one that didn’t look like something I designed, because the exercises didn’t follow any kind of logical order and weren’t in a way that made any sense at all. So I asked him where it came from, and he said ‘Oh, I designed it myself.’ to which I responded, ‘that’s why this program doesn’t make any sense, but I do admire your effort and interest in all of the changes you’ve made.’
This has been going on for over two years now so I would say that with some effort all of these positive changes should stay permanent and brings us to the second part of this story.
At the beginning of the summer during one of our session’s Blaine said, ‘you know what, I’m going to try and get more sleep,’ but he said it in a kind of way that I knew he hadn’t given it a tonne of thought and it was just something he was carelessly throwing out there. Being the type of person that likes to seize these types of opportunities I asked him ‘how he was going to do that.’ Being the reflective person he is he said, he would get back to me in a couple of weeks. Quite honestly I thought that was the last we were going to talk about it, then a couple weeks later he just told me, I’ve been sleeping for an hour or two more every night, I’m going to bed between 10 and 11 and sleeping in until around 7. I was curious how he managed such a dramatic swing in a short period of time of course if you’ve been listening up until this point you already know the answer, he started tracking his sleep, every morning he wakes up and puts the number of hours in a spreadsheet and every night before bed he makes a note about how he felt and how productive he was that day. After about a week he noticed something really interesting, he started to be more productive during the day, so just that had him hooked. But, after about a month he noticed this, his morning blood sugar had been steadily dropping from low 7s and high 6’s which is safely in the diabetic range to the high 5’s and low 6’s and now more recently the mid 5’s and high 4’s or what the medical community would consider pre-diabetic, not diabetic. Now his A1C or monthly average has dropped from 6.9 ish to 6.2 ish since he started sleeping more so it’s trending in the right direction, and gives Blaine a good grasp on how good and necessary sleep really is.
He not only gets points for steps and exercises, he also gets points in the form of lower blood sugar, which as far as I’m concerned are the types of points that matter the most when it comes to your real life.
If you know someone that is analytical and you think the same type of approach to fitness would benefit them, please share this with them. Although Blaine didn’t take the most direct route he still managed to make changes, and I attribute a good portion of that to his ability to not only experiment but also use very real and measurable feedback as his motivational tool.