Here’s something truly worth considering if you have either Type 2 diabetes or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

You may have both!

The International Diabetes Foundation has found that 58% of diabetes patients may have some form of sleep disordered breathing. The IDF stated this year “The possibility of OSA should be considered in the assessment of all patients with Type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.” Further, the IDF reported earlier this year that 40% of OSA patients have diabetes.

And the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort, reporting on an 18 year study which included 1,387 subjects, showed a significant link between OSA and Type 2 diabetes.

The consequences of OSA should be of concern to every person with diabetes: insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke and depression.

Physiological stress associated with OSA may be involved in insulin resistance due to one or more of the following biological mechanisms:

  • Increased level of sympathetic nervous system activation
  • Increased levels of cortisol
  • Direct effects of oxygen desaturations (hypoxia)
  • Increase in leptin/decrease of adiponectin
  • Abnormal sleep architecture

Fortunately, a common and non-invasive treatment for sleep apnea appears to be helpful. People who use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for 4 hours or more per night, show an improvement in insulin sensitivity and a significant reduction in hemoglobin A1c levels (an important factor in determining how well the patient is managing their diabetes).

So, if you snore at night and feel exhausted during the day, it could be sleep apnea … and it could be your diabetes getting worse. Click here for more information about diabetes and sleep apnea.

Talk with your doctor or diabetes educator.

Steve Gardner