Diabetes and Sleep Apnea: Understanding the Connection

Scientists have honed in on factors that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. It is clear that being overweight is a risk factor for diabetes.  There is also a strong correlation to another serious medical condition, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

With increased body weight, the risk of both conditions increases because of visceral fat deposits. Fat can be stored deep inside the body and surrounds the organs as well as around the neck. When laying down in bed, this fat can place excess pressure upon the airways causing them to slightly narrow. Then when airway muscles relax, the airway closes completely causing a cessation of breathing known as sleep apnea. 

Could This Sleep Disorder Lead to Diabetes?

The relationship between these two conditions is actually a two-way street, as obstructive sleep apnea can also contribute to an individual becoming diabetic. 

Sleep is a natural biological process intended to restore the natural balance of the body (known as homeostasis). However, this cycle can be dramatically disrupted if you have sleep apnea.  The repeated cessation of breathing during the night contributes to high levels of biological stress when blood oxygen drops.  

This stress leads to inflammation throughout the body.  As a result, the body will release more sugar into the bloodstream. Higher levels of blood sugar can often lead to insulin resistance if left unchecked. This is one of the precursors to becoming a diabetic. 

Pay Attention to Important Risk Factors

We can see that both of these conditions can pose serious risks to your health. This is why it is important to identify any factors that may place you at a higher risk. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Does my partner say that I snore very loud or my beathing pauses during the night?
  • Do I sometimes awaken gasping for air?
  • Am I tired and lethargic throughout the day?
  • Do I lead a sedentary lifestyle or am I currently obese?
  • Do I eat healthy foods — lots of veggies, lean protein?
  • Do I have family history for type 2 diabetes?

Be sure to seek treatment if you have already been diagnosed with OSA and you are at risk of also becoming a diabetic. So, what are some options which can help to limit the impact of both of these conditions?

Maintain a Healthy and Well-Balanced Lifestyle

A few lifestyle changes can make a difference if they are embraced on a regular basis. For example, be sure to maintain a healthy diet and to cut down on the amount of sugar that you consume. 

Focus on eating more fresh vegetables, lentils/beans, chicken, fish and seafood. 

Get physically active to lose weight and get fit. Some other professional suggestions include:

  • Calculate how many calories you consume on a daily basis.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine before going to bed, as this will disrupt sleep — which affects weight gain.
  • Reduce or eliminate your consumption of alcohol (too much sugar)

The good news is that there are effective treatment options for both diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea. 

Your Treatment Options

Lifestyle changes as well as medications can control diabetes and help you to lead a normal life. A primary care doctor is a good first step in understanding diabetes.

Is it possible you have sleep apnea? A consultation with a sleep specialist at Millennium Sleep Lab can guide you to getting answers, including at-home sleep testing. This is an easy way to learn if you would benefit from treatment. 

To speak with a sleep specialist, and start getting answers to your sleep problems, contact us at Millennium Sleep Lab.

The post Diabetes and Sleep Apnea: Understanding the Connection appeared first on Millennium Sleep Lab.

This content was originally published here.

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