Posts tagged sleep apnea

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.

An alarm clock with sheep (counting sheep) to denote the consequences of hypersomnia.

Hypersomnia: Causes and Treatment


Characterized as either excessive amounts of time spent tired or asleep during the day, hypersomnia affects around 0.5% of Americans each and every year. Although this doesn’t sound like a huge amount, it accounts for 1.6 million people and this is only the number that seek treatment (the amount who don’t seek medical treatment is thought to be significant). In fact, the National Sleep Foundation believes 40% of us to experience the symptoms of hypersomnia to some degree.

In terms of the health condition itself, the sufferers have trouble staying awake through the day whether it’s at work, at home, or even while driving. While the problem is purely related to sleep, it has all sorts of side-effects such as a lack of energy and trouble concentrating on even simple tasks.

Causes of Hypersomnia

When looking for causes, it’s hard to look past two other sleep conditions; narcolepsy and sleep apnea. While the former is related to daytime sleepiness once again, the latter deals with interruptions within the normal breathing patterns as you sleep. Both of these issues lead to hypersomnia and make it hard to stay awake during daylight.

After this, we could also point to the following:

  • Being Overweight
  • Alcohol or Drug Abuse
  • Lack of Sleep (Night)
  • Prescription Drugs (Antihistamines or Tranquilizers)
  • Neurological Diseases (Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis)
  • Depression
  • Genetics

With so many different causes, it’s important to see a medical professional who can assess the issue and ask the right questions. While the internet and fantastic guides like this can give you an overview, we can’t provide you with personalized advice. In truth, your hypersomnia could be a combination of these causes.

A sleeping man on an orange background, to suggest hypersomnia in the daytime hours.

Hypersomnia can be caused by many different issues so it’s important for a healthcare professional to assess what they are and provide you with the treatment you need.


When you first spot the pattern of drowsiness throughout the day, this is where your doctor should come in. Initially, they’ll discuss your personal life, including your sleeping habits, to get a better idea of why this might be happening. In addition to your sleep, they might also ask whether you’ve been through a stressful situation recently or whether you’re currently taking any drugs (prescription or otherwise).

If they can pinpoint the issue immediately, they’ll start working towards a solution as soon as possible. If not, they may take blood tests, a CT scan, and even a polysomnography; this is a sleep test where your brain waves are measured alongside your heart rate, breathing, and oxygen levels within the blood. If necessary, an EEG (electroencephalogram) could examine your electrical brain activity.

Depending on the cause, the doctor will take appropriate steps as a solution and this could involve stimulants, Provigil, Xyrem, or antidepressants. As mentioned, the applicable treatment will entirely depend on the issue.  Sleep apnea, for example, may require a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). With this treatment, you’ll wear a small mask over your face and this goes directly into a machine. Through the night, you’ll be provided with a flow of air to the nostrils which counteracts the condition. As the air flows into the nostrils, it keeps the airways open and you shouldn’t wake up in the night.

If you’ve been offered medication in the past and this didn’t work, don’t worry because they can switch your dosage or try a different solution. Sometimes, people need a heavier dose or a slightly different drug if the first didn’t have the intended reaction within the body. Often, people try medication once, feel disappointed with the results, and then forget the doctor altogether but this doesn’t have to be the case.

As we’ve seen, hypersomnia can also be caused by weight issues and a lack of sleep at night; sometimes, we get into the habit of staying up until 2am before the alarm then goes off for work at 6am. Although we all need different levels of sleep to operate, a sleep pattern of this nature won’t do any good at all. If your issue is one of these two causes, your doctor will recommend an adjustment to your lifestyle. Once again, it all depends on the cause but your solution might be a reduction in caffeine, more sleep at night, a diet to lose weight, less alcohol, etc.

If you’re currently suffering from hypersomnia, be sure to get medical attention because you don’t want to self-diagnose and then choose the wrong treatment. Instead, get assessed and have yourself back up to full health as soon as possible!

Man is snoring in bed due to sleep apnea, which is suspected to lower life expectancy.

How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Your Life Expectancy?

Man is snoring in bed due to sleep apnea, which is suspected to lower life expectancy.

Can sleep apnea put your life expectancy in jeopardy?

The average life expectancy is 78.8 years, according to the CDC. The advancement of modern medicine and technology has made living this long possible. However, bad habits and diseases continue to fight against the progress we have made. That’s why it’s important to know what diseases and conditions lower your life expectancy.

Even conditions that prove to be a minor inconvenience can have a long-term impact on your health. Sleep apnea, for instance, is a troublesome condition that is often overlooked. Now, scientists are concerned that disorder’s influence on your quality of life can also affect how long you live. (more…)

A man in bed, laying down, with a sleep apnea condition.

Disposable Patch Identifies Sleep Apnea Condition

A man in bed, laying down, with a sleep apnea condition.

There may be a new way to detect your sleep apnea condition.

One of the most difficult aspects of the sleep apnea condition is identifying it. This disorder often goes undiagnosed, as no blood test exist to indicate if an individual has sleep apnea. Even worse, apparent symptoms, like snoring or pauses in your breath, only occur during sleep. Unless a person with sleep apnea is being monitored after they go to bed, they are otherwise unaware of their symptoms.

While sleep apnea may seem like a harmless condition but over time it significantly effects the body. Left untreated, sleep apnea leads to an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. The disorder can also lead to an increased chance of having work-related or driving accidents. With an early diagnosis, patients can avoid these comorbidities from developing. A new disposable diagnostic patch hopes to make identifying the condition a reality.

Detecting One’s Sleep Apnea Condition

The skin-adhesive diagnostic patch (known as the SomnaPatch) monitors several factors to determine if a patient has a sleep apnea condition. By measuring nasal pressure, blood oxygen saturation, pulse rate, respiratory effort, sleep time and body position, doctors have several variables to work with.

“Our study provided clinical validation of a new wearable device for diagnosing sleep apnea,” said principal investigator Maria Merchant, Ph.D., CEO of Somnarus Inc. “It was most surprising to us how well this inexpensive miniature device performed in comparison with in-lab sleep studies.”

Another impressive aspect of the patch is how accessible it is for patients.174 who subjects participated in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s analysis. Using simultaneous polysomnography and patch recorders, they were able to discover signs of the disorder. Afterward, subjects took a home usability study, which determined that 38 of the 39 users successfully used the patch without any issues. Following the instructions, they were able to activate and collect a little more than 4 hours of sleep data.

“Most home sleep diagnostic devices are difficult for patients to use and are disruptive to patient’s sleep,” said Merchant. “Our study showed that this wearable home sleep monitor is very comfortable, easy to use and does not negatively affect sleep.”

Dr. Merchant explains that her team wants to put these positive results to good use. The researchers hope to present the patch and gain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Detecting Sleep Apnea

This technology is still in the process of approval. If you live with a family member or life partner, have them monitor your sleep. They should tell if you are snoring loudly, restless, or wake up unexpectedly during sleep. You should also pay attention to how your body feels during the day. A lack of energy, sleepiness, morning headaches, and other symptoms are telltale signs of the condition.

You should see a doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms. See an otolaryngologist, who treats conditions that affect the ears, nose, and throat. They can perform certain procedures, like Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery and Balloon Sinuplasty, to improve your breathing and help you sleep better at night.

A young child aged around 3, 4 or 5 fast asleep, with untreated sleep apnea.

Untreated Sleep Apnea: The Harm to Your Child’s Brain Cells

A young child aged around 3, 4 or 5 fast asleep, with untreated sleep apnea.

Untreated sleep apnea can lead to a decrease in brain function.

There are several key signs of sleep apnea that you should look for in your child. For example, snoring may seem like a common occurrence, but it is usually a sign of something obstructing the airways. You may also want to look out for recurring daytime sleepiness. Untreated sleep apnea can cause your child’s health to deteriorate over time. In fact, scientists have found that the disorder has the potential to harm a child’s brain cells if left unchecked.

Untreated Sleep Apnea and Developing Conditions

Conditions that affect your breathing often seem like a minor inconvenience rather than a pressing matter. However, the truth is that sleep disorders affect you over an extended period of time. The longer you wait to treat the problem, the worse your symptoms become. The disorder can even develop into chronic diseases. Some researchers have even associated untreated sleep apnea with diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression.

Brain Cells Affecting Mood and Cognition

At the University of Chicago Medical Center, scientists performed a study examining the sleep and brain patterns of children with and without severe sleep apnea, both ages 7 to 11 years old. The children stayed overnight at the university’s pediatric sleep laboratory while undergoing neuro-cognitive testing and MRI scans.

What they found was a significant difference between the two groups of kids. Those with moderate to severe sleep apnea had reductions in grey matter, a major part of the central nervous system. The children who slept with trouble showed no signs of reduced brain activity.

“The images of gray matter changes are striking,” said one of the study’s senior authors, Leila Kheirandish-Gozal, MD, director of pediatric clinical sleep research at the University of Chicago. “We do not yet have a precise guide to correlate loss of gray matter with specific cognitive deficits, but there is clear evidence of widespread neuronal damage or loss compared to the general population.”

Grey matter is brain cells that aid in a variety of essential functions. These functions include the brain’s ability to control movement, memory, emotions, speech, perception, decision-making and self-control. Grey matter is found in several regions of the brain including the frontal, prefrontal, and parietal cortices, as well as the temporal lobe and the brain stem.

Are Their Consequences to Lost Grey Matter

“MRI scans give us a bird’s eye view of the apnea-related difference in volume of various parts of the brain, but they don’t tell us, at the cellular level, what happened to the affected neurons or when,” said co-author David Gozal, MD, professor of pediatrics, University of Chicago. “The scans don’t have the resolution to determine whether brain cells have shrunk or been lost completely,” he added. “We can’t tell exactly when the damage occurred. But previous studies from our group showed that we can connect the severity of the disease with the extent of the cognitive deficits when such deficits are detectable.”

This study brings up a lot of questions. The scientists hope that more advanced brain scanning methods can help them measure if the lost grey matter has any effect on children. Future will determine definitive answers.

An exhausted couple who is suffering from a lack of sleep.

How a Lack of Sleep Affects the Immune System

An exhausted couple who is suffering from a lack of sleep.

How is a lack of sleep affecting your body’s ability to fight infection?

It’s important to take care of the immune system. After all, it’s function is to protect your body from infection and disease. If you have any unhealthy habits, you’re making the immune system’s job even harder. What people fail to realize is that a lack of sleep is one of those unhealthy habits. It causes the immune system to become weaker, inviting disease into your body. Scientists are now proving how a lack of sleep is making us sick.

What people fail to realize is that a lack of sleep is one of those unhealthy habits. It causes the immune system to become weaker, inviting disease into your body. Scientists are now proving how a lack of sleep is making us sick.

A Lack of Sleep and the Immune System

The study performed by the University of Washington has taken a unique approach. By testing 11 identical twins, they were able to find the answers they needed. Each twin had different sleep patterns and through blood samples, researchers were able to determine that the twin who slept less had a weaker immune system.

“What we show is that the immune system functions best when it gets enough sleep. Seven or more hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health,” said lead author Dr. Nathaniel Watson, co-director of the UW Medicine Sleep Center at Harborview Medical Center.

There is a special reason why Dr. Watson and his team used several groups of identical twins to help them in their study. Genetics, combine with environmental factors, determine how long we are able to sleep for. The twins’ similar genetic structure help them form a better control group and see how a lack of sleep affects the body in similar subjects.

While the immune system usually responds when the body has not received enough sleep, chronic short-term sleep may be different. If short-term sleep becomes a frequent occurrence, the immune system may not respond at all. Hopefully, this study will show more people the importance of maintaining sleep health. Without enough sleep, you leave yourself vulnerable to viruses and illness.

A doctor examining a little boy's throat for infection, which many patients solve with tonsillectiomies.

Tonsillectomies: Are They as Effective as We Think?

A doctor examining a little boy's throat for infection, which many patients solve with tonsillectomies.

Do tonsillectomies get the job done?

More common in children than adults, tonsillectomies are performed to resolve tonsillitis or strep throat. The procedure also helps with breathing problems like snoring and sleep apnea. However, it’s a costly, as it removes the tonsils. Patients often undergo a tonsillectomy after dealing with several bouts of tonsillitis or throat infections. However, are they as effective as we think?

Why Are Tonsillectomies Are Being Called Into Question?

The Vanderbilt University Medical Center conducted an in-depth systematic review of four papers on the subject regarding tonsillectomies. This study focused on how effective the procedure was towards helping children with sleep-disordered breathing and throat infections.

“It’s probably the most comprehensive study in tonsillectomy literature ever done,” said investigator David Francis, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of Otolaryngology. “We determined the lay of the land of what’s known and what’s not known about this extremely common procedure.”

After a thorough review of the illness rates in children who have had tonsillectomies versus those who waited for the infection to resolve itself, they found that the benefits of this surgery may not be long term. Schools experienced a reduction in absences due to throat infections during the first year after most kids underwent surgery, but that benefit did not last over time.

More studies found that the surgery was effective at treating sleep-disordered breathing, the risk was minimal and only a small amount of patients needed readmission overtime. However, what the researchers could not find is if these benefits were long-term. Most of the studies that do research into tonsillectomies do not follow patients after a long period of time.

There were too many questions left unanswered for the researchers to make a defined conclusion. Still, this procedure is the best course of action for children who suffer from tonsillitis frequently. See an otolaryngologist to learn more about the procedure and if it is right for you or your children.

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.

An image of an arrow pointing down on a chart because of the working population losing sleep.

The Cost of Losing Sleep

An image of an arrow pointing down on a chart because of the working population losing sleep.

The working population is losing sleep and it’s affecting the economy.

Everything has an impact in one way or another. Many of the studies that we come across detail the how a lack of sleep affects our health. However, how does losing sleep affect us economically? Apparently, the cost is high, at least in the United States.  Find out exactly how much money we lose because of sleep deprivation and why.

The Economic Impact

When we lose sleep,  we are not the same. Our health deteriorates, causing a domino effect which impacts other parts of our lives. Non-profit research organization RAND noticed the same thing and decided to look more thoroughly into the issue. What researchers found is significant. When the working population loses sleep, it costs the country up to $411 billion dollars a year. As you can imagine, this is not good news.

Losing Sleep Can Have Disastrous Consequences

There are several ways that sleep deprivation affects us. In their research, RAND discovered many ways losing sleep has cost the U.S. money. A lack of sleep can affect our performance in the workplace and in worse cases, cause terrible incidents. In fact, here are some of the recorded reasons why the country is losing so much money:

  • Lower productivity levels in the workplace.
  • Loss of working days due to sleep deprivation (1.2 million).
  • High mortality risk among the working population (7 percent).

The CDC recommends 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. The worst part is that this study reveals that the working population is affected the most. They are losing days of work and their lives are at risk since they cannot work at an optimal level.

There needs to be a change in how we work and how long. When our sleep habits are improved, we might end up seeing more positive results in our country. According to research lead Marco Hafner, we can do better. He states, “Improving individual sleep habits and duration has huge implications, with our research showing that simple changes can make a big difference. For example, if those who sleep under six hours a night increase their sleep to between six and seven hours a night, this could add $226.4 billion to the U.S. economy.”

The interior of a blood vessel with red blood cells and white blood cells, which are part of the immune system.

The Immune System and Sleep

The interior of a blood vessel with red blood cells and white blood cells, which are part of the immune system.

How does sleep affect the immune system?

A good night’s rest does more than make you feel refreshed in the morning. It keeps your body healthy. That is why sleep is part of living a long life. Scientists have found this statement to be more and more true over the years. In fact, a study has discovered that sleep affects the immune system in a rather interesting fashion.

How the Immune System Operates During Sleep

T cells are perhaps one of the most important aspects of the immune system. These white blood cells attack viruses and protect the body from any other harmful invaders. With sleep being an important part of health, researchers dove deep into finding out how a lack of sleep affects the body.

They started by testing how the immune system reacts to sleep deprivation by studying the “sleep-wake” of fourteen young males. The men participated in two separate studies. One study monitored the participants over 24 hours, allowing them to sleep between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., giving them the 7 to 8 hours of sleep recommended by the CDC. The other study kept the gentlemen awake for 24 hours straight.

Their study resulted in some surprising insights. After testing the blood of the volunteers during both studies, they found that the immune system’s t cells were reduced when patients went to sleep. On the opposite end, when the volunteers stayed awake for more than 24 hours, a high number of t cells remained in their body.

There are some theories as to why the t cells react like this during sleep. The chances of infection are fairly low during sleep. So perhaps the body reduces the amount it produces so that it has a chance to replenish the t cells during sleep. As for the high counts of t cells in patients that are awake, it could be that their risk of infection is much greater. This could cause these white blood cells to remain in the body as an added form of protection.

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