Posts tagged diabetes

Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea are closely related - this man wearing a CPAP mask should probably get tested for type 2 diabetes.

Correlations Between Type 2 Diabetes and Sleep Apnea


You may already know that sleep apnea is a breathing issue that actually affects over 22 million Americans in some form or another. However, what you may not know is that sleep apnea can be an early sign of diabetes developing within the body.  This ultimately comes down to the concentration of oxygen within the bloodstream. Below, we’ve compiled all the details you need to know regarding type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea how presence of each disease affects the other.

Type 2 Diabetes

Firstly, this is a chronic condition that increases the blood glucose levels to unnatural highs. Over time, the body becomes immune to the effects of insulin or it fails to use the store your body offers and this leads to several consequences. At first, the pancreas will step in to make up for the extra insulin. However, this isn’t a sustainable solution and not enough insulin is produced to maintain natural levels. Unfortunately, the condition is actually largely preventable which means our lifestyles are to blame including obesity and history of the disease in the family.

Sleep Apnea

Also known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), this is a sleep disorder that directly affects the breathing during the night. With snoring and sudden wakefulness as the two main symptoms, OSA can actually lead to several health complications including heart disease and, of course, diabetes. In addition to this, it can impact people who are obese or have a history of the issue in the family, much like diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea can both be triggered by obesity and stress. This man is lying down with a CPAP mask on, and he has sleep apnea.

Obesity and stress are the two most common causes of both type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.

The Correlation Between Type 2 Diabetes and Sleep Apnea

Scientists have actually known about the correlation between type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea for three and a half decades. Proving a significant percentage of diabetics also suffered from sleep breathing disorders, interest grew and we’ve been learning more about the relationship ever since.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 26 million people suffer from diabetes with up to 95% of these people having the type 2 variety. Of this huge number, 7 in every 10 also have OSA and one study even suggested a total of 72%, which is significant.

Why? Most commonly, the issue starts with sleep apnea. A certain percentage of people don’t manage this condition very well, making it very difficult for our bodies to control the blood sugar levels. As the condition gets worse and we still don’t manage sleep apnea effectively, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea will both cause more complications as a result.

In addition to this, there’s also a link between the two with excess stress and body fat. When we wake up during the night due to sleep apnea, this causes frustration and stress because we aren’t able to relax before we fall asleep (knowing it will come during the night), leaving us feeling tired the next day. With this interrupted sleep, our bodies are strained beyond comfortable levels and this will further increase blood sugar levels.


As we saw previously, obesity is commonly involved in both these issues. For people who are overweight and develop sleep apnea, any excess fat around the neck will actually obstruct the airways and exacerbate the problem. Overnight, your breathing will be interrupted further and this leads to less sleep and increased stress. In turn, this causes a higher risk for both type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.

Does it Work in Reverse?

With this in mind, can it work the other way where diabetes causes sleep apnea? Ultimately, people with diabetes tend to have poorer sleep than most anyway and this is because the high glucose levels lead to the kidneys excreting excess sugar during the night. In addition to this, diabetes sufferers can struggle with leptin resistance which depresses the respiratory function and causes a destabilization in breathing patterns.

For this reason, people with either condition will automatically be checked for the other because they’re so closely related. As one occurs, it will lead to the other, with each disease causing a positive feedback loop in the other, and your body will continue on a negative spiral until treated.

Careful Management

All things considered, the best solution to both problems will always be careful management after diagnosis. With OSA, the doctor is likely to recommend a CPAP machine while type 2 diabetes needs to be controlled via blood glucose levels and diet, exercise, and injections (if necessary). Thanks to a recent study at the University of Chicago, we actually know that CPAP machines can reduce blood glucose levels which cuts off this negative spiral and prevents the conditions from worsening.

Man in his forties (40s) snoring in bed with type 2 diabetes and OSA.

Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes Prove a Deadly Combination

Man in his forties (40s) snoring in bed with type 2 diabetes and OSA.

Blindness is a big risk for those with type 2 diabetes and OSA.

Of the 29 million adults with diabetes, 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases have type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC. Another large percentage of adults with this disease also have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which may or may not be the cause of type 2 diabetes. OSA is a condition that makes it hard to sleep, causing snoring and interrupted breathing during the night. These symptoms occur when you have a blockage in your throat during sleep, due to a large neck or small airways. Overall, OSA makes it difficult to breathe at night.

Researchers continue to look for the link between type 2 diabetes and OSA through several studies. The most recent study looking into the connection between the two reveals a startling discovery. Left untreated, people with both type 2 diabetes and OSA are at greater risk. These patients can develop a condition that causes blindness.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Around 40 to 50 percent of patients with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy, the most common form of diabetic eye disease. In fact, this condition is the leading cause of blindness in the western world. High blood sugar levels can cause damage to the blood vessels in your retina. When this occurs, the blood vessels will either:

  • Swell and leak
  • Close, stopping blood flow
  • Or grow abnormal blood vessels

You can find out more from the American Academy of Ophthalmology by clicking here.

How the Condition Develops With Type 2 Diabetes and Sleep Apnea

The study at the University of Birmingham is the first to look at the impact of OSA on diabetic retinopathy. It also leads towards the theory that OSA can cause or worsen your diabetes. The researchers tested 230 patients with Type 2 diabetes, accessing them for both OSA and diabetic retinopathy.

“Firstly, we showed that sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy was more common in patients with both Type 2 diabetes and OSA compared to those with Type 2 diabetes but without OSA,” states Doctor Abd Tahrani. Dr. Tahrani is the corresponding author of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Metabolism and System Research.

“However, more importantly, we have shown that patients with OSA and Type 2 diabetes, compared to those with diabetes only, are at increased risk of developing advanced diabetic retinopathy over a period of three years and seven months.”

Researchers found that the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy was 42.9 percent in those with OSA. This is higher than the prevalence in those with just type 2 diabetes. Meanwhile, after reviewing the patients 43 months later, the researchers discovered that those with OSA were 18.4 percent more likely to develop a moderate to severe case of the disease.

“Our findings are important because improved understanding of the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy is important in order to identify new treatments,” states Dr. Tahrani.

“Following our research, it is important that clinicians treating patients with Type 2 diabetes are aware that their patients who also have OSA are particularly at increased risk of developing advance retinopathy and, hence, appropriate preventative measures should be put in place.

Gestational diabetes mellitus equipment, including an insulin pen and glucose level blood test.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: The Link to Pregnancy and Insufficient Sleep

Gestational diabetes mellitus equipment, including an insulin pen and glucose level blood test.

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a serious problem within the Asian population.

According to the CDC, “Research has found that insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes.” For years, scientists have worked tirelessly to find out what that link is. New research is done every year, and every they become closer to finding the answer. In a recent study, scientists in Singapore have discovered the association between a lack of sleep during pregnancy and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) Among Asians

Unfortunately, Asians are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people with European ancestry. Even worse, 60% percent of the world’s diabetic population are Asians and more than half of them go undiagnosed.

Singapore is especially a problem area. The country has the second-highest proportion of diabetes and one of the highest rates of gestational diabetes mellitus among developed nations. For this reason, scientists decided to conduct a study on the disease in this country.

GDM in Pregnancy

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a common problem among women who are pregnant. It can lead to pre-term labor, obstructed labor, birth trauma, high blood pressure for mothers, and increased risk of mother and fetal deaths. This is due to GDM causing high and unhealthy blood glucose levels.

In an extensive study that involved 686 women, Associate Professor Joshua Gooley from Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) and Dr. Cai Shirong from the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, were able to find answers. The women all took sleep questionnaires and had their glucose levels measured.

What they discovered was that women who received less than six hours of sleep were more likely to have GDM than those who received the standard eight recommended by the CDC. This proves that getting the necessary sleep you need lowers your risk of developing GDM and eventually Type 2 Diabetes. Hopefully, scientists can develop better methods to prevent this and reduce the disease among the Asian population.

A man is sleeping bed next to his alarm clock. Bad sleeping habits like oversleeping can increase the risk for diabetes in men.

Bad Sleeping Habits Linked to Diabetes Risk in Men

A man is sleeping bed next to his alarm clock. Bad sleeping habits like oversleeping can increase the risk for diabetes in men.

Oversleeping or sleep deprivation can increase the risk of diabetes in men.

Diabetes mellitus is a disease affecting more than 22 million people in the United States. For some time, the condition has been linked to sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea. Scientists have yet to discover why the connection exists, but research into the matter is ongoing. One of the studies researching the link between the two disorders has found that bad sleeping habits in men can lead to a higher risk for diabetes.

Bad Sleeping Habits: Too Little and Too Much Sleep

This cross-sectional study was performed by the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam. They tested and analyzed 788 healthy adults ranging in age from 30 to 60 years old. With this study, scientists hoped to discover whether the amount of sleep one receives correlates to his or her risk for diabetes. According to the CDC, for adults, 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day is recommended.

Testing included measuring the patient’s sleep and physical activity using a device called a single-axis accelerometer to track movements. Simultaneously, using a device called a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, researchers tested how effectively the body used the hormone insulin, which processes sugar in the bloodstream. Their findings presented interesting results.

Disparity Between Men and Women

“In a group of nearly 800 healthy people, we observed sex-specific relationships between sleep duration and glucose metabolism,” said Femeke Rutters, PhD, and the study’s senior author. “In men, sleeping too much or too little was related to less responsiveness of the cells in the body to insulin, reducing glucose uptake

and thus increasing the risk of developing diabetes in the future. In women, no such association was observed.”

Men were less likely to be able to process sugar in their blood stream due to their bad sleeping habits. However, the women who participated in the study seemed to have no such problem. In women, regardless of their sleep habits, their bodies produced more insulin due to their enhanced beta cells. Their bodies were also more receptive to the insulin.

Hopefully, the results of the study will prompt more men to consider how much sleep they are getting each night. A healthy amount of sleep has shown positive results in people. However, bad sleeping habits can have a negative effect on your health and lead to other disorders.

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