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How Are Diabetes and Sleep Apnea Connected?

  • Category: Sleep
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
How Are Diabetes and Sleep Apnea Connected?

Are you waking up a lot at night? Are you keeping others awake with your snoring? Does fatigue slow you down during the day? Difficulties getting good sleep is common for many of us, but for people with type 2 diabetes, the chance for poor sleep is much higher because of unstable blood sugar levels and other diabetes-related factors. What needs a closer look, though, is if your poor sleep could be caused by sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that causes brief interruptions in breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is when the upper airway is obstructed, and air can’t flow into or out of the nose or mouth while breathing. It can happen to anyone of any gender or age, but it is more common in people who are overweight, smoke and are over 40. People with type 2 diabetes can run a higher risk of developing a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. The American Diabetes Association estimates that a quarter of people with type 2 diabetes also suffer from OSA.

If you are prediabetic or already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea can make managing your symptoms more difficult. It raises the levels of CO2 in your blood and hinders your body’s ability to use insulin effectively. Plus, the poor sleep can lead to a lack of motivation to exercise or eat right and can even make you forget to take your medications. You may want to talk to your doctor about doing a sleep study if you are experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea such as daytime fatigue, depression, snoring, sexual dysfunction and irritability.

On the flip side, sleep apnea can also be a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Experts have found OSA to be a determining factor in the development of insulin resistance. OSA can alter your glucose metabolism and disrupt the balance of insulin and glucagon in your bloodstream, a balance needed to keep your blood sugar from getting too high.

Typically, treatment for OSA includes behavioral changes such as losing weight and improving your diet. Even a 10% weight loss can make a big change. Another way to treat OCA is with CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure. It is one of the best ways to treat sleep apnea and it is effective at improving your blood sugar. While treatment for sleep apnea can go a long way in helping you get a good night’s sleep, it can also help you manage your type 2 diabetes.

Our Sleep Center specialists help you manage your sleep disorder and get back your quality of life.