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Exploring the Link Between Diabetes and Sleep Apnea

Last updated 3 years ago

Patients with diabetes have been found to have a higher occurrence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This chronic sleep disorder can have life-threatening consequences if left untreated, much like diabetes itself. If you suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, wake up frequently during the night, or your partner complains of frequent snoring, it’s time to consult a sleep medicine doctor to determine if you could have sleep apnea.

How OSA May Lead to Diabetes
The link between diabetes and sleep apnea appears to be a two-way street. OSA may increase the risk of developing pre-diabetes. Likewise, having diabetes may place you at risk of sleep apnea. Since patients with OSA fail to get a restful night of sleep, they tend to suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can cause problems in the body that mimic insulin resistance, which is the precursor to diabetes. If you have insulin resistance, your body cannot use insulin as effectively, which causes high blood sugar levels.

How Diabetes Can Lead to OSA
Patients who are diabetic may have a higher risk of OSA because they are sometimes overweight or obese. Individuals who are overweight have extra fat deposits around the airways. This can obstruct a person’s ability to breathe properly, causing OSA.

How You Can Get Help
Fortunately, there is help available to you. Evidence shows that treating OSA can help you control your blood sugar levels; likewise, treating diabetes by losing weight can help you improve your sleep apnea. Work with your diabetic care team to get your blood sugar levels under control. Additionally, visit a sleep disorders center for a sleep study. If you do have sleep apnea, you can benefit from CPAP treatment to keep your airways open during sleep.

The board-certified doctors of Sleep Services of Maryland understand how sleep apnea can interfere with your quality of life and jeopardize your health. We work closely with sleep apnea patients and those with other types of sleep disorders. Call our sleep disorders center at (240) 912-4683 and ask us how we can help you successfully treat your sleep apnea.


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