Not a Sweet Spot: The Co-relation Between Type 2 Diabetes & Sleep Apnea
One in six people with diabetes in the world comes from India. That isn’t a number to be proud of, but it’s true. As of 2019, India was home to 77 million diabetics, only behind China that has 116 million diabetics. (Source)
What causes diabetes? A poor unhealthy diet is only a part of the problem. Lifestyle issues including not getting enough exercise, centripetal obesity, hereditary factors and not getting adequate sleep have been factors that cause Type 2 diabetes i.e. non-insulin-dependent diabetes.
Recent studies have also shown that diabetic patients tend to have obstructive sleep apnea, which may be a part of metabolic syndrome Z. Interestingly, non-diabetics with obstructive sleep apnea have pre-diabetic-like conditions, which include borderline fasting blood sugar levels. Almost 58% of type 2 diabetes mellitus individuals have associated obstructive sleep apnea. (Source)
The challenge, experts say, is that sleep apnea can worsen the diabetic status, which leads to further complications such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks, stroke, etc.
Experts point out that untreated obstructive sleep apnea is associated with poor blood glucose control, and poor quality of life–a condition that arises due to lack of sleep.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Type 2 diabetes often co-exists with obstructive sleep apnea because of the shared risk factors. The more severe the obstructive sleep apnea in a person with Type 2 diabetes, the poorer their levels of glucose control.
But what happens in obstructive sleep apnea? It is a condition where a patient’s breathing involuntary stops due to over-relaxation of the throat muscles. This relaxation of throat muscles blocks the upper airway and the individual cannot breathe in while he is sleeping. As result, the individual frequently wakes up, something that is known as micro-arousals and the overall sleep quality deteriorates. This phenomenon can happen several times during the night, with patients suffering from severe sleep apnea.
As mentioned earlier, non-diabetics with sleep apnea become borderline diabetes cases. This is because obstructive sleep apnea increases blood sugar levels due to oxidative stress associated with poor quality and quantity of sleep. This oxidative stress leads to insulin resistance, impaired glucose metabolism, and chronic inflammation of insulin-producing beta-cells leading to Type2 diabetes mellitus in long run.
Diabetics, suffering from sleep apnea also tend to have excessive daytime sleepiness, unexplained fatigue, morning headaches, etc.
Fortunately, there is more awareness about sleep apnea and the need to get it treated before treating other conditions. As a wise man once said, a good night’s sleep, which includes deep sleep, does more good for your body than all the medicines in the world.
Doing everything to manage your diabetes? You need to take another step to manage it better.
Start with a sleep test and learn the relation between sleep health and diabetes.
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