Diabetes and Sleep: The Connection Between the Two

Adult Sleep Problems, Sleep Apnea

Risky Relationship Between Diabetes and Sleep Apnea: How Sleep Apnea And Diabetes Affect Each Other

Which comes first, obstructed sleep apnea or diabetes? Having obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can result in diabetes. Having diabetes can also lead to sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea affects 18 million people in the United States while 29 million people in the country have diabetes. Both OSA and diabetes are serious diseases that can result in life-threatening complications when left untreated.

How are sleep apnea and diabetes connected to each other? Here is the relationship between the two that can help you manage them in the long run.

Sleep Apnea Can Cause Diabetes

Sleep apnea can be a risk factor for diabetes. 1 in 3 patients with OSA can develop diabetes.

During a sleep apnea episode, your body struggles to breathe. When the body is low on oxygen, the brain sends messages to your body to breathe. Since obstructive sleep apnea is blocking the airway, your body releases stress hormones that can increase your blood glucose levels.

This sleep disorder also causes a pause in your breathing as you sleep. An episode can lead to a cut off in the body’s air supply for ten seconds or longer. This can increase your blood’s carbon dioxide levels leading to insulin resistance.

Diabetes occurs when your cells do not properly use insulin or your body does not produce enough insulin. When insulin is not properly used in your body, high blood sugar levels start to build up resulting in diabetes.

Sleep apnea can lead to diabetes because of the increase in blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and lack of insulin in the body.

Diabetes Can Lead to Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Diabetes can result in obstructive sleep apnea. According to the Risk of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus study, patients who have type 2 diabetes have 50/50 chances of having sleep apnea. People with Type 2 diabetes are often obese and have a lot of visceral fat.

Visceral fats are the fats in the body that surrounds your organs. Having extra visceral fats in the body can cause your neck and throat tissues to block the airway, resulting in an obstructive sleep apnea episode.

Diabetes causes the occurrence of extra visceral fats in your body. This can cause the blockage of the airway leading to obstructive sleep apnea.

CPAP Can Manage Sleep Apnea and Diabetes

Obstructive sleep apnea and diabetes caused by OSA can be managed by using continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines.

CPAP is a treatment that keeps your airway open by using mild air pressure. Using a CPAP machine is a crucial tool in managing OSA while you sleep.

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Chicago entitled Eight Hours of Nightly Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Improves Glucose Metabolism in Patients with Prediabetes. A Randomized Controlled Trial showed that using a CPAP machine for 8 hours every night for two weeks helped manage the glucose metabolism of people diagnosed with pre-diabetes and OSA.

Using CPAP machines as a cure for sleep apnea helped people to breathe better as they sleep, resulting in a full night’s rest.

People with sleep apnea and diabetes should be vigilant. If you notice diabetes or sleep apnea symptoms, diagnosis at a healthcare facility is a must. Seek the help of a medical professional, specializing in sleep disorders, to identify and treat your condition.

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