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Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

In my opinion, there is nothing quite like a good night of sleep to feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day. While we all are aware of the importance of good sleep, many of us may not know that suboptimal sleep quality can negatively impact blood sugar control. If you have a condition known as, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA/sleep apnea) you may unknowingly be getting suboptimal sleep.

A recent article from the Diabetes Spectrum journal, Sleep Apnea in Type 2 Diabetes, reported that sleep apnea alters glucose metabolism, promotes insulin resistance and increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.1

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is defined as one or more pauses in breathing while asleep or short breaths while asleep. Pauses in breathing can range in length from a few seconds to a few minutes.  Sleep apnea takes you out of deep sleep and into a lighter sleep, preventing you from getting a good night of rest.

Sleep apnea causes intermittent hypoxia (hypoxia is a lack of oxygen reaching body tissues) and sleep fragmentation, both of which, according to research from the Diabetes Spectrum journal, are associated with insulin resistance.

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea:

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), major signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud and chronic snoring
  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Depressed or irritable mood
  • Dry mouth or sore throat in the morning after waking up
  • Waking up frequently at night to urinate

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms make sure to discuss such symptoms with your physician. 

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

Your doctor will review/complete the following:

  • Symptoms
  • Medical history
  • Family history
  • Physical exam
  • Sleep study results (There are several kinds of sleep studies. A Polysomnogram (PSG) is the most common sleep study used to diagnose sleep apnea. This study is typically completed at a sleep center by a sleep specialist.)

What are some risk factors for sleep apnea?

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Men are at greater risk than women
  • Age (risk increases as you get older)
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Small upper airways

How is sleep apnea treated:

  • Use of a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, is the most commonly used treatment for sleep apnea. A CPAP machine uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open, preventing the airway from collapsing or becoming blocked. It involves wearing a mask over the nose and mouth. The mask is connected by tubing to a machine that blows air into the tubing. ** According to recent research reported in the Diabetes Spectrum journal, the use of CPAP machine improves glucose stability in patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • Weight loss
  • Surgery: ear, nose and throat surgeries to improve the upper airway opening.

How else can sleep apnea impact my health?

Sleep apnea may increase the risk of the following:

For more information:

Are you currently being treated for sleep apnea? Please share your story with the community.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Doumit, J, Prasad, B. Sleep Apnea in Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Spectrum 2016; 29:14-19