It’s estimated that 30 million Americans have Type 2 Diabetes. About 25 - 30 million Americans suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea. While those numbers are close only by coincidence, there is significant overlap between the two conditions. According to a 2014 study analyzing European Sleep Apnea Cohort Data, 71% of Type 2 Diabetics suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, while about 30% of those with severe sleep apnea have Type 2 Diabetes.
So what drives this connection? While the simplest explanation would be correlation due to the fact that obesity is a contributing factor to both conditions, it’s becoming more clear through recent research that there is a deeper connection. Obesity is not the only factor linking these disease states.
In recent clinical research, untreated sleep apnea has been associated with increased insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. According to the Cleveland Clinic, not only can OSA contribute to the development of Type 2 Diabetes, if left untreated, OSA will make Diabetes more difficult to manage:
If you have diabetes, sleep apnea can make it more difficult to manage your diabetes. This is because when your breathing pauses while you sleep, there is an increase in carbon dioxide in your blood. This leads to:
- Insulin resistance so that the body doesn’t use insulin effectively. This causes more sugar in the blood stream leading to high blood sugars.
- Chronic elevated blood pressure.
- A higher incidence of heart problems or cardiovascular disease.
- Early morning headaches.
Inadequate rest or sleep can also lead to lack of motivation to exercise or plan meals. This often leads to irritability, which can affect relationships with family, friends and coworkers. Sleepiness also can cause people to forget to take their medications and lead to further diabetes complications.*
Given the correlation between these two conditions and the negative impact that OSA has on Diabetes Patients, it is imperative those who suffer from Type 2 Diabetes work with their healthcare providers to understand their risk of sleep apnea. Better sleep through treating OSA will promote better general health as well as aid in the treatment of diabetes.
According to Daniel Einhorn, President of the American College of Endocrinology:
“Patients may be apprehensive about treatments for OSA, but the reality is that doing so will improve many aspects of health. Treating OSA can improve glycemic control and insulin resistance and help with CVD markers and weight gain.”
- * https://health.clevelandclinic.org/sleep-apnea-can-make-managing-diabetes-more-difficult-what-you-need-to-know/)
- Kent, B.D., et al., (2014). Diabetes mellitus prevalence and control in sleep-disordered breathing: the European Sleep Apnea Cohort (ESADA) study. Chest, 146(4), 982-990.