The Link Between Diabetes & Sleep Apnea

by / / Tips

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects over 20 million adults in America. Unfortunately, it is a common occurrence and disrupts a good night’s sleep for many people.

What may not be well known about it is that it shares a link to another common health problem, diabetes. Despite how different they may seem this link is actually quite well known and documented in the medical community.

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So how could these serious health problems be linked? What can you do if you suspect you have diabetes or sleep apnea? Let’s take a closer look.

Patients with Diabetes & Sleep Apnea

Of those who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s estimated that close to 40% could eventually develop diabetes. Sadly, 20% of those diagnosed with diabetes could have, or eventually develop, sleep apnea.

In response to these alarming numbers, the World Health Organization (WHO) has focused on the rapid rise of these diseases in the developing world. By 2030, it’s estimated that diabetes will be one of the top causes of death.

What is the Link?

You may be wondering how sleep apnea can cause diabetes. While the exact answer is not known, it is thought that being overweight can contribute to the development of both diseases.

Some studies have demonstrated that diabetes seemed to get better in people once they started CPAP therapy. This leads one to the conclusion that having sleep apnea could contribute to the development of diabetes just by itself.

The Studies

A recent study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical care was conducted to understand the link between the two.

It involved 39 middle-aged participants who were overweight or obese. The participants were also pre-diabetic and had sleep apnea.

The participants were divided into two groups with the goal being to see how treating sleep apnea with CPAP would have an effect on blood sugar levels.

One group received eight hours of CPAP treatment each night for two weeks. The remaining participants were given a placebo pill that was taken before they went to bed for two weeks.

CPAP therapy works by producing a steady stream of air through a face and tube mask into a person’s airway while they sleep. Because people with sleep apnea can have disrupted airways, this helps them breathe better by keeping their airways open.

The study took place in a lab where the subjects were recorded and monitored while they slept, & the participants took glucose tolerance tests to evaluate blood sugar levels.

At the end of the study, the participants who received the CPAP treatment had improved sensitivity to insulin and improved blood sugar levels overall. Those who did not receive the CPAP treatment, demonstrated higher levels of stress hormones and higher blood pressure than those who did.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Sushmita Pamidi, concluded that using CPAP in patients with pre-diabetes lowers the risk of the disease advancing into full-blown diabetes when the machine is used for eight hours.

What Can You Do?

If you have diabetes or sleep apnea, there are several things you can do to help yourself feel better.

CPAP therapy is definitely a useful intervention. It has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in patients who use it and in some cases, can reverse insulin resistance.

Those who have diabetes should be vigilant about identifying the development of any sleep breathing disorder or snoring. It is important to identify these two health conditions because treating both simultaneously has helped many patients.

Sleep apnea and diabetes patients can also greatly benefit from nutrition services. Since many patients who suffer from these two conditions are often overweight or obese, this can help them lose weight and gain control of the diseases.

If you are often tired and struggle to get going in the morning, you may want to get tested for sleep apnea or diabetes. Getting diagnosed and receiving help is the first step on the path to a healthier life. At Sleep Rite, our mission is to assist you in your goal to getting sound, healthy sleep. Contact us today!

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