Sleep Apnea

What Sleep Disorders are Common in People with Diabetes?


Topics: Sleep Apnea, Insomnia

Celebrated on the 14th of November, World Diabetes Day aims to raise global awareness around diabetes. The health condition occurs when your blood sugar gets too high. It happens because your body fails to produce or effectively utilize insulin to move sugar from the blood to cells for producing energy. 

The theme of World Diabetes Day 2022 is ‘Access to Diabetes Care.’ Its goal is to educate people about the necessity of ongoing care and support for diabetic people because of the complications resulting from this health problem. Aside from the damage caused to the nerves, eyes, and kidneys, the health condition can also make you susceptible to developing certain sleep disorders. So, for diabetic patients who are experiencing trouble with sleep lately, here is some information on the link between the two. Here you go!

Does diabetes affect your ability to sleep?

In short, the answer to the question of whether sleep disorders and diabetes are related is yes. It is so because the latter health condition impacts your ability to rest at night. In a study conducted in the year 2012, it was revealed that sleep disturbance and diabetes are linked. Here, sleep disturbance refers to your inability to fall or stay asleep through the night.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that having diabetes necessarily means you will experience sleeplessness. But, most diabetic patients have confessed to tossing and turning in bed at nighttime. In addition, the research also revealed that sleep deprivation is a risk factor for diabetes, which can be controlled in most cases.


Which sleep disorders are linked with diabetes?

People with diabetes often toss and turn on their beds throughout the night, hoping that sleep would eventually come. However, in most cases, rest evades them. But why does this happen? Is sleeplessness a typical symptom of this condition? Are type 2 diabetes and sleep disorders related? Well, the answer to this is a little trickier than that.

Although poor-quality rest is a common symptom of diabetes, a different medical condition, namely sleep disorders, is the root cause of your restless nights. A few sleep problems that are common in diabetic patients include:

Sleep Apnea

Some studies show that there might be a link between diabetes and sleep apnea. The latter refers to a condition where breathing stops briefly and disrupts sleep at night. The Research Society for Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI) recommends type 2 diabetes patients get screened and diagnosed for OSA to potentially lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease. The reason why these conditions are linked can be obesity which is a common risk factor for both health problems.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Restless leg syndrome, caused due to iron deficiency, is yet another common sleep disorder in diabetic patients. The condition is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move legs, especially in the evening. The risk factors for this condition are high blood glucose levels, kidney problems, and thyroid disorders.

Diabetic patients are at an increased risk of acquiring RLS because uncontrolled blood sugar can cause nerve damage and lead to diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Any harm caused to the nerves of your feet or legs because of it can contribute to RLS.


Insomnia is a condition that makes it impossible for you to fall or stay asleep through the night. The reasons for the lack of sleep can be many, like stress related to work, less physical activity, depression, anxiety, chronic body pain, or some other medical condition. Individuals who have diabetes are likely to develop insomnia due to the symptoms associated with this chronic condition. These include:

  • Diabetic patients complain of symptoms like shakiness, dizziness, and sweating. If you experience these problems around bedtime, they may disrupt your sleep.
  • High blood sugar leads to frequent urination. So, if you have diabetes and your blood sugar is high, you are likely to get up several times through the night to use the washroom.
  • Your tissues may draw excess water because of extra glucose in your body. This can make you feel dehydrated, prompting you to drink a lot of fluids at night.

Can lack of sleep impact diabetes?

It has been revealed that sleeplessness impacts your food intake and weight. So, if you have a sleep disorder, you may over-compensate for your lack of sleep by eating in excessive amounts. This attempt to gain energy through calories can hike your blood sugar levels and make it hard for you to rest well. Thus, diabetes and sleeplessness form a vicious circle that can negatively impact your health if proper care is not ensured.


By and large, diabetes is a chronic condition that can make your life difficult. Besides causing damage to the nerves, kidneys, and eyes, the disease can also impact your sleep and keep you from resting well. Diabetes is a risk factor for sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome. So, if you have high blood sugar levels, get a sleep test as a precautionary measure.

Disclaimer: The facts and information contained in this article are obtained from reputed medical research organizations and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & beliefs of ResMed. The content here should not be taken as medical advice. It is for informational purposes only, and because each person is unique, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for any medical queries.

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