You have been experiencing prolonged symptoms of daytime sleepiness, heavy snoring, and difficulty in breathing at night. Chances are you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). But that’s not all. Research indicates that sleep apnea and diabetes are related, with the prevalence of diabetes being 15%-30% higher in OSA patients than people without OSA.
Particularly among males aged 30-69 years and females aged 40-65 years, patients diagnosed with OSA have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes or worsening the condition if they already have it.
How are Diabetes and Sleep Apnea Correlated?
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that messes up the way your system absorbs sugar or glucose. So a type 2 diabetes patient’s body either resists the effects of insulin or doesn't produce adequate insulin to maintain a balanced level of glucose in the body.
Sleep apnea makes it more difficult for you to manage your diabetes. It tends to incite a state of severe insulin resistance. As a result, this can lead to compensatory hyperinsulinemia, and increase the requirement for higher doses of exogenous insulin. Prevalence of this condition can worsen or even lead to the development of type-2 diabetes in sleep apnea patients.
Another link between OSA and diabetes relates to the increase in carbon dioxide in the blood when the airway is completely closed. This leads to:
Insulin resistance, so that the body doesn’t use insulin effectively. This causes more sugar in the blood stream leading to high blood sugars
Chronic elevated blood pressure
Increased incidence of heart problems or cardiovascular disease
Early morning headaches
Sleepiness can also cause people to forget to take their medication and may lead to further diabetes complications.
A third correlation is with obesity. Several research studies reveal that approximately 48% of individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have displayed symptoms of sleep apnea, while 86% of obese people with type 2 diabetes are diagnosed with sleep apnea.
Thus, people who have poor sleep habits are at greater risk for becoming overweight or obese and developing type 2 diabetes. Obesity increases the risk of sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, and stroke.
What Should You Do?
The first thing to do here is to be aware. Are you a diabetic? And do you also showcase symptoms like daytime sleepiness, irritability, morning headaches, heavy snoring and difficulty in breathing during sleep?
It is best to conduct a sleep assessment to learn if you have sleep apnea. It will also decrease your chances of developing diabetes if you have one.
Next up, start treatment of your sleep apnea. The benefits of treating OSA show positive results on its comorbid conditions too. Studies show that CPAP treatment for OSA can improve glycemic control and insulin resistance and thus improve diabetic conditions of patients.
The link between diabetes mellitus type 2 and sleep apnea has important clinical, epidemiologic, and public health implications. Proper treatment of OSA can help prevent serious health problems, whether it is diabetes, weight gain, or other cardiovascular diseases.
So if you, or a loved one is living with diabetes, it’s good to check for sleep apnea. You can take a Home Sleep Test to determine if you have sleep apnea. Based on the results of your test, following CPAP therapy can help you regain a good night’s sleep, and have a positive impact on controlling blood sugar levels..