Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes

By | October 22, 2016

I have been doing some reading up on the latest news regarding obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and some new research that shows there is an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes as a result of sleep apnea. Diabetes occurs when the body can’t make or produce enough of the hormone called insulin. Insulin, by definition, is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use. Insulin helps keeps your blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).

As we know, sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes partially or completely blocked when a person sleeps. This results in the person’s breathing stopping and starting throughout the night. Researchers have determined that about 13 percent of men and 6 percent of women have moderate to severe sleep apnea that has been undiagnosed and/or untreated.

 

airway illustration as a result of sleep apnea

Over the past twenty years there has been evidence to suggest that sleep apnea may be associated with insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and type 2 diabetes. Part of the problem in trying to link sleep apnea to diabetes was that previous studies were limited to a small number of people who participated in the study so the results were inconclusive. 

However, in another study that went on for many years, data was collected from over 1,400 participants. The average age of these people was 63 and all of them underwent an in-home sleep study and none of them had diabetes when this study began. After approximately 13 years, 285 of the participants developed type 2 diabetes and it was found that people in the study who had severe obstructive sleep apnea were about 70 percent more likely to develop diabetes than those who didn’t have sleep apnea. This increased risk remained even when the organizers of the study only included people who were obese.

The World Health Organization has said that about one in 10 adults have diabetes, with most of those having type 2 diabetes and now it seems that obesity increases the risk of both sleep apnea and diabetes.insulin and syringe for diabetes

This study and past studies are suggesting that there is a direct link between obstructive sleep apnea and diabetes, but it has not been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. This information underscores the need to prevent sleep apnea from occurring and to also screen for sleep apnea in patients who are at risk for developing diabetes as a result of being overweight and physically inactive. Healthy weight management and being active would simultaneously reduce the risk (of) developing sleep apnea and diabetes.

It has been recommended that people who have diabetes should also be screened for sleep apnea, and conversely, people with sleep apnea should be screened for diabetes.

It would seem that diabetes is another potential risk for someone who has sleep apnea, so it is imperative that if you feel you have a sleeping disorder, please go and get it checked out and if necessary, arrange for a sleep study to confirm if you have sleep apnea, so that you could begin your sleep apnea treatment sooner.

Please follow and like us:

22 thoughts on “Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes

  1. Jackie

    I’ve worked with several people who have sleep apnea. Most of them are overweight… Which is why they have type 2 Diabetes as well. I always encourage people to start there. Take the weight off and the Diabetes will heal and the sleep apnea will follow. The most common cause of sleep apnea is excess weight and obesity.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Jackie!
      Thank you for your comments. There definitely seems to be a connection there. My dad had sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. However, whenever he lost a significant amount of weight, the doctors said that his diabetes was reduced to almost nil. I am overweight but thankfully I don’t have type 2 diabetes yet. I definitely need to lose weight but having had a knee replacement makes it difficult to lose weight. Perhaps the bike will help.
      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  2. Jimmy

    A tricky one indeed!

    The report findings seem to indicate a connection between type 2 and sleep apnea. But as Jackie so rightly pointed out, what is essential is that a healthy lifestyle is maintained to help reduce the risk of any kind of affliction.

    I’d be curious to know if in the longer study, if there were any more similarities between those that developed sleep apnea.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Thank you for your comments Jimmy! There definitely does seem to be a co-relation, doesn’t there. Jackie is absolutely right in terms of trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle by watching what you eat and get regular physical exercise.

      I’ll have to check my research to see if it said that more people developed sleep apnea throughout the longer study.

      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  3. Gary

    A close friend of mine was recently diagnosed with diabetes and also has sleep apnea. She is also about 80 pounds overweight. Is there a relationship between weight and sleep apnea?

    My father also had sleep apnea, but he was not overweight and did not have diabetes. In the study you mentioned in your article, less than a quarter of the sample developed diabetes. Still, a large enough number to show a relationship.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Gary,
      I appreciate your comments. From what I have found, there definitely is a relationship between weight and sleep apnea. One of the main problems of being overweight is that the throat muscles tend to close at night which restricts your airflow, which can lead to sleep apnea. Most everyone I know who has sleep apnea is overweight but to be honest I don’t know if they are diabetic. I do know that both my dad and uncle had sleep apnea, were overweight and had type 2 diabetes. Towards the end of my dad’s life, he lost a lot of weight and was then told he was no longer diabetic, nor did he need to wear his CPAP mask, so from personal experience, there is definitely a relationship between weight and sleep apnea.
      I must say that your dad’s case of having sleep apnea but not being overweight or having diabetes is the first time I’ve heard of that, very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  4. dawn oconnor

    A really informative post, thank you. I’m going to be sharing this to a friend of mine who has sleep apnea. She is also over weight so im worried she may also be at risk of developing diabetes

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Dawn,
      Thank you for your comments. I appreciate you sharing my post with your friend. I hope that she finds it informative and hopefully she will see her doctor and get tested for diabetes. Hopefully she won’t have it.
      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  5. Fairweather Green

    Interesting connections here, especially as diabetes is often the result of being overweight, which is also a factor to trigger sleep apnea if I’m not mistaken.

    As if having breathing issues whilst sleeping isn’t cause enough for concern without having to worry about something as serious as diabetes 2.

    Thanks for sharing these findings.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Thanks very much for your comments. It seems that being overweight can trigger a host of ailments. All the more reason to eat healthy and live an active lifestyle. I have sleep apnea but thankfully I don’t have diabetes.

      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  6. John Printman

    I have Sleep Apnea. It is terrible to have because a person never has any energy, never feels good. I have tried to use a machine that helps you breathe, but this cure entails the wearing of a mask, and when I wear the mask, I get very little sleep. Catch 22. They now make a mouthpiece that is supposed to work, so I am considering trying it.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi John,
      I’m sorry to hear that you have sleep apnea as well. I remember before getting my CPAP machine how little energy I had every day, even after sleeping for 8 hours. I guess I am one of the fortunate people in that I don’t have a problem wearing the CPAP mask. In fact, if I don’t wear one, I have a difficult time falling asleep. I have also tried using a mouthpiece but unfortunately, I didn’t have any success with that. I hope you’re able to find something that will allow you to get a deep, restful sleep.
      Thank you for your comments.
      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  7. Mike

    I love the simplified way you describe insulin; you make it easy to understand.

    Please explain what type 2 diabetes is; or is it the type your talking about in your first paragraph?

    Wow! The statistics on untreated men and women who have sleep apnea is frightening and the statistics on the chance of developing diabetes because of it is also frightening.

    Great article; I’m going to look into this for my own health.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Mike,
      Thanks for your comments. If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.
      I also found it very interesting that there was such a strong co-relation between people who have sleep apnea and those who also develop type 2 diabetes. I know quite a few family and friends and I know that some of the family members also have diabetes. Thankfully I don’t have diabetes, but I would be interested to conduct a survey among my friends who have sleep apnea to see if they also have diabetes.
      Best regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  8. Rosa

    Hi Shawn,

    My husband snores while he sleeps, sometimes very loud but has not been diagnosed with sleep apnea. However, he’s not overweight nor has type 2 Diabetes.

    I’d never thought these two (sleep apnea & type 2 diabetes) would have been linked together. Good information. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Rosa,
      I remember my wife telling me that I snored, but I didn’t believe her. I then went and got tested for sleep apnea but they told me it wasn’t bad enough to warrant getting a CPAP machine. Then, over the next few years, my snoring got louder and eventually I started to wake myself up, so I got tested again and it was confirmed that I had severe obstructive sleep apnea. Now that I have my CPAP machine and wear my mask every night, my wife says that I don’t snore. Unfortunately, I am overweight but I don’t have type 2 diabetes.
      I never would have thought that sleep apnea and diabetes would be linked, but the doctors are finding more and more things that sleep apnea affects. All the more reason to get tested if you suspect that you have any type of sleep disorder.
      Thanks for your comments.
      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  9. Gomer Magtibay

    Hmnn. Your explanation is convincing. Something to ponder about. Diabetes also runs on our bloodlines, from my grand parents, to my aunties and uncles.

    I’ve been looking at similar information on the web, as my mother also suffer from sticky throat or throat dryness while sleepiness, shortness of breathing, and depriving him of the sleep she need. So, we suspected her of having sleep apnea. But then, upon consultation with a doctor, it was revealed that it is not actually sleep apnea, but instead, anxiety disorder. But I doubt, so I’ll be looking for more information about this sleep apnea problem.

    Checking out the recommended devices, I noticed they are too expensive. Can you make a review about the different devices to help sleep apnea, and their tag prices?

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Gomer,
      I’m glad to hear your mom doesn’t have sleep apnea but sorry to hear she has anxiety disorder. I hope she is able to find a suitable treatment for that.
      Yes, you are correct, CPAP treatment is costly. That’s why it’s important to have an insurance plan which should cover most of the costs. I have the Respironics Dreamstation Auto CPAP machine and thankfully my insurance plan covered the cost.
      Thanks for your comments.
      Shawn

      Reply
  10. Liz

    My brother has recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea. He recently had a stay in hospital over night where they put oxygen down his throat with some kind of mask thing. He said he woke up feeling like a completely new person. He is overweight, and there is diabetes in our family. He has not yet been diagnosed with diabetes, but I fear if he doesn’t make some massive changes he will be. So, he will be given a sleep mask to sleep with every night, and hopefully better sleep will help his depression which will therefore help him have more motivation to make some lifestyle changes. It is all interlinked. If there is one thing we could all do to keep ourselves the most healthy it is to get good sleep, eat good food and exercise. Pretty simple, but so effective if done consistently and as a lifestyle choice.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hi Liz,
      Thank you for sharing your brother’s story. I’m sorry to hear that he has sleep apnea, but the positive is that he can now use CPAP treatment for it. I know that from the first night I wore my CPAP mask, my wife said that I stopped snoring and I woke up refreshed in the morning with lots of energy. That hadn’t happened to me for a number of years as I was always exhausted. I do need to lose some weight but thankfully I don’t have diabetes, although it runs in my family as well.
      I hope that the CPAP treatment for your brother will give him increased energy and motivation to lose some weight which in turn will help him to feel better. You’re right, they are all interlinked, aren’t they.
      I wish your brother good luck and thanks for your comments!
      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply
  11. Gerard

    Hi Shaun. Interesting and well presented website. I have a question. I am sure some would like to read the read the study. What is the reference to the study showing sleep apnea could cause type 2 diabetes. Knowing more about the link would encourage more people who suffer from it to take preventative action.

    Reply
    1. Shawn Post author

      Hello Gerard!
      I appreciate you taking the time to look at my website. I will check my notes to see if I can find the reference to the study and update the page with the link. Thank you for your suggestion.
      Regards,
      Shawn

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *