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The Shocking Sleep Disorder That Could Be Causing Diabetes!

2 August 2023 Categories: Better Health Author: Katrina Stubbs

Sleep apnea and diabetes may seem completely unrelated, but recent studies have shown a surprising connection. More than half of type 2 diabetes patients suffer from obstructive sleep apnea – OSA. Did you know that 8.9% of Canadians have been diagnosed with diabetes, and the numbers keep rising at a rate of 3.3%? 

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by interrupted breathing patterns during sleep. This interrupted breathing can decrease the blood’s oxygen levels and cause sleep disturbances. 

On the other hand, diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects how the body processes glucose. In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to the hormone insulin, which is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. As a result, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to various health complications.


How is Diabetes Linked to Sleep Apnea?

People with sleep apnea are at a higher risk of developing insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance, both of which are vital factors in the development of diabetes. It is essential to understand the connection between sleep apnea and diabetes because untreated sleep apnea can worsen blood sugar control and increase the risk of diabetes-related complications. Conversely, addressing sleep apnea through appropriate treatment can help improve glucose control and reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications.

If you or a loved one has sleep apnea symptoms, such as loud snoring, gasping for air during sleep, or excessive daytime sleepiness, it is crucial to seek medical evaluation. A healthcare professional can diagnose sleep apnea through a sleep study, which involves monitoring your sleep patterns and breathing during the night.

Sleep apnea treatment options may include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, oral appliances, lifestyle modifications, etc. By effectively managing sleep apnea, individuals can reduce their risk of developing diabetes and improve overall health.

Both sleep apnea and diabetes share common risk factors and symptoms, indicating their interconnectedness. By recognizing these factors and symptoms, individuals can be aware of their potential risk for developing these conditions and seek appropriate medical evaluation and treatment.


Additional Factors that Affect Sleep Apnea and Diabetes

  • Obesity: Obesity is a significant risk factor for sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. Excess weight and body fat can contribute to the narrowing and obstruction of the airways during sleep, leading to sleep apnea. Similarly, obesity is strongly associated with insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes.
  • Age: Both sleep apnea and diabetes are more common in middle-aged and older individuals. As individuals age, the risk of developing both conditions increases. Older individuals must know the symptoms and risk factors of sleep apnea and diabetes.
  • Physical lifestyle: Physical activity can increase the risk ofdeveloping sleep apnea and diabetes. Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, improves cardiovascular health, and can reduce the risk of both conditions.


Symptoms of Sleep Apnea and Diabetes

  • Snoring: Loud, persistent snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea. It occurs as a result of the airway becoming partially blocked during sleep. Snoring can disrupt one’s sleep quality and indicate potential underlying sleep apnea.
  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness: Excessive daytime sleepiness is another common symptom of sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea often feel exhausted and may struggle to stay awake or alert during the day, even after a night’s sleep. This excessive sleepiness can significantly impact daily functioning and quality of life.
  • Frequent Urination and Increased Thirst: Frequent urination and increased thirst are common symptoms of diabetes. When blood sugar levels are high, the kidneys work to remove excess glucose from the bloodstream, leading to increased urine production. This can result in frequent trips to the bathroom and increased thirst. Constant trips to the bathroom during the night can disrupt your REM cycle.
  • Fatigue and Weakness: Fatigue and weakness are common symptoms of sleep apnea and diabetes. Sleep apnea disrupts sleep patterns, resulting in poor sleep quality, which can cause fatigue during the day. Diabetes affects the body’s ability to effectively use glucose for energy, leading to feelings of fatigue and weakness.

It is important to note that these risk factors or symptoms do not necessarily mean an individual has sleep apnea or diabetes. However, seeking medical evaluation and diagnosis is crucial if you or a loved one experience multiple risk factors or symptoms. Early detection and treatment can help manage these conditions and reduce the risk of complications.


How to get Help!

Here are some strategies and lifestyle changes that can help individuals with both conditions.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy: CPAP therapy is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. Using a CPAP machine and mask during sleep helps keep the airways open and ensures proper breathing. Using CPAP consistently can improve sleep quality and reduce the risk of associated complications.

Glucose Monitoring: Regularly monitor blood sugar levels and follow prescribed diabetes management plans. Keep track of glucose levels and make adjustments as necessary in consultation with healthcare professionals.

Lifestyle Modifications: Adopt a healthy lifestyle to manage both conditions effectively. This includes: Regular exercise to improve overall fitness and help control weight. Follow a balanced diet and limit your sugary and processed foods, as they can negatively affect blood sugar levels. This doesn’t mean they must be completely cut out, but healthy habits should be created to stop binge eating.

By actively managing sleep apnea and diabetes, individuals can improve their overall well-being and reduce the risk of associated complications. Collaborating closely with healthcare professionals, following prescribed treatment plans, and making necessary lifestyle changes to manage both conditions effectively are vital.  Finally, staying positive and having a support system of family, friends, or peers can go a long way in helping individuals manage sleep apnea and diabetes.



Take charge of your health today! If you or someone you hold dear experiences symptoms of sleep apnea or diabetes, seek medical evaluation for early detection and effective management. Don’t wait – act now for a healthier future. Reach out to one of our dream teams at Snore MD to get a sleep evaluation so we can help!

Katrina Stubbs Sleep Clinician
Katrina Stubbs

Katrina Stubbs is a Regional Manager and Sleep Clinician at Snore MD and brings over 15 years of experience in the medical field. She prides herself in providing exceptional patient care and education, not only to her patients but to the entire team at Snore MD.

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