Individuals who are suffering from Type 2 diabetes should realize the fact that they are a greater risk of developing a dangerous sleeping disorder, known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which people experience regular pauses in their breathing patterns when they are asleep. In most cases, the breathing of sleep apnea patients gets disrupted for around a minute, but it can be more than one minute in some cases.
A recent study conducted by sleep analysts and experts in the field of medical science revealed that people who with Type 2 diabetes have a greater chance of developing sleep apnea at some point in their lives. The Director of the Diabetes Translational Research Center at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis and the President of healthcare and education at the American Diabetes Association, David Marrero, Ph.D., shared a few valuable points on the connection between Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.
He said that people who have fallen prey to sleep apnea should understand that the sleeping disorder would not just worsen diabetes, but also lead to many other serious health conditions such as cardiac problems, high blood pressure, and even stroke. Dr. Marrero said, “Untreated sleep apnea is associated with increases in glucose and poor quality of life stemming from chronic fatigue. It’s also associated with cardiovascular disease, which is why it’s so important for people to get their sleep apnea diagnosed and treated.”
Another interesting thing to note is that Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea often coexist in some people due to shared risk factors including obesity. As per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the level of glucose control in untreated sleep apnea patients will be poor. So, if you or your partner is suffering from sleep apnea, get in touch with a healthcare provider to get proper medical assistance as soon as possible.
The Risks of Sleep Apnea
As mentioned, sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing when you are asleep. These breathing pauses or episodes, which are called as apneas, might wake up the person, as he/she is gasping for breath. This will lead to chronic tiredness and poor sleep, which will gradually affect your performance at school or office. Moreover, you will fall sleepy throughout the day, which increases the chances of accidents.
OSA or Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. The airways of individuals who are suffering from OSA will be very weak and will collapse during sleep to block free flow of air. Some of the commonly reported symptoms of OSA are loud snoring, morning headaches, daytime sleepiness, mood changes, and reduced libido.
A recent survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation identified that more than 18 million people in the United States suffer from sleep apnea. The survey also pointed out the fact that thousands of such cases go undiagnosed, as people are not seeking help for their sleeping disorders. According to Dr. Marrero, this is because “many people aren’t aware that they’re struggling to breathe at night. Unless you recognize your symptoms, you can go for years without knowing you have it.”
The Link between Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes
Dr. Marrero said that the culprit behind sleep apnea and how it links to Type 2 diabetes actually has a lot to do with obesity. Several people who are suffering from Type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant, obese, and they usually have large deposits of visceral fat in their body. This extra weight forces the tissues in the throat and neck of such patients to fall during sleep, which in turn blocks the airway.
As per Dr. Marrero, sleep apnea may also considerably increase the blood sugar level in patients due to the stress associated with abrupt awakenings when they are asleep and chronic sleep deprivation. He said, “When you get stressed, your body releases stress hormones that can do things like release stored glucose into your liver.” He also stated that the rise in blood sugar levels of patients might also lead to insulin resistance.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Another study conducted by expert healthcare providers revealed that sleep apnea episodes, which happen during the REM or rapid eye movement, had relatively more detrimental effects on the long-term blood sugar control of patients. However, the good news is that studies have also found that wearing an anti-snoring mouthpiece for approximately 8 hours will considerably reduce the chances of diabetes and it will improve the blood sugar levels in your body.
If your snoring or sleep apnea related issues are not that severe, then making a few lifestyle changes and avoiding alcohol at least a few hours before going to sleep will help you to reduce or stop snoring. However, it is best to seek the help of an experienced healthcare provider to find out the right treatment plan for you.