Sleep Apnea & Diabetes Connection

Sleep Apnea & Diabetes Connection

Could Poor Sleep Be Complicating Your Diabetes?

Sleep Apnea & Diabetes Connection
Sleep Apnea & Diabetes Connection

The Surprising Connection between Type 2 Diabetes and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Does the following sound familiar? You wake up each day feeling restless and groggy only to find that your blood sugar levels are out of control. You’re too tired to exercise and instead find yourself reaching for junk food to give you a quick burst of energy. If this has become your routine, you’re not alone, and you might be surprised at what’s behind it.

American Diabetes Month

Each November, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) works to raise awareness of diabetes, a metabolic disease in which the body’s inability to produce any or enough insulin causes elevated blood glucose levels. The ADA notes that it is a disease on the rise, with 30 million Americans already diagnosed and another 86 million with prediabetes or at risk for developing the disease. The vast majority of these are cases of type 2 diabetes, which, according to the ADA, causes the body to either not produce enough insulin or not respond to existing insulin. During American Diabetes Month, the ADA focuses America’s attention on the “issues surrounding diabetes” and the “many peopleimpacted by the disease” (

Why Sleep is Important

Commonly cited risk factors for diabetes include obesity, family history and ethnicity as well as high blood pressure, aging and inactivity, according to the ADA. However, when was the last time you heard about the connection between poor sleep and diabetes? The truth is that the two often go hand in hand.

The National Sleep Foundation has known for years that inadequate sleep impacts the body’s ability to control hormone and glucose levels, meaning that not sleeping enough could put you at risk for developing diabetes or worsening existing diabetes. However, even getting a full night’s sleep doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk. If your sleep is disrupted or your sleep patterns are irregular, you could still be in trouble. There seems to be a connection between the amount of deep sleep a person gets and regulation of blood glucose levels. According to the National Sleep Foundation, when a person is in deep sleep, the brain uses less glucose and hormone levels stabilize. As such, it is very important that those already diagnosed with or at risk for type 2 diabetes get enough deep sleep.

Sleep Apnea and Diabetes

One sleep condition researchers have connected to type 2 diabetes is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A 2009 American Journal of Medicine study found sleep apnea to increase a person’s risk for developing diabetes. A 2012 study in Science Translational Medicine showed that sleep disruption decreased insulin secretion while increasing blood glucose levels. Additionally, researchers at the University of Chicago found that if someone has Type 2 diabetes, it is likely that this condition could worsen if they also have OSA. One of the reasons for this is that OSA disrupts the deepest stage of sleep. The condition is characterized by complete airway obstruction, which can occur when the tongue and muscles relax during sleep, the lower jaw falls back toward the throat or the airway becomes blocked. These obstructions may cause a person to stop breathing and briefly awaken hundreds of times a night. If you are diabetic or prediabetic, these sleep disruptions not only cause glucose levels to go haywire but also can leave you feeling overly hungry and too tired to exercise the next day.

Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea

If you currently have diabetes, or are at risk for developing it, and you are experiencing inadequate sleep and/or snoring, consider talking with your doctor about a sleep study, which can determine whether or not you have OSA. Treatment options may include lifestyle changes, surgery, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and Oral Appliance Therapy.

Oral Appliance Therapy has proven to be an effective, scientifically-based treatment option for snoring and OSA. The purpose of the appliance is to hold the jaw in a position that allows the airway to remain as open and firm as possible during sleep. Oral appliances are similar to athletic mouth guards but less bulky and completely non-invasive. Oral sleep appliances are covered by most medical insurance plans and Medicare.

Treating Sleep Apnea Could Lead to:

  • A better night’s sleep
  • Reduced stress
  • More stable blood glucose levels
  • Reduced insulin resistance
  • Improved energy
  • Increased motivation to exercise
  • Greater control over snacking
  • Better moods

For more information on treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea with oral appliance therapy call Koala® Center for Sleep and TMJ Disorders today.

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