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Monday, March 14, 2011

Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes / Apnea

It is no surprise to me that there is a link between sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. I have never been technically diagnosed with sleep apnea, however my wife and those who have shared a hunting camp with me years ago, will tell you I had at least a touch of sleep apnea. This was years prior to my being diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic. The interesting thing to me is, "Which came first?, the chicken or the egg"? In other words, did the sleep apnea contribute to the incidence of diabetes or did early Undiagnosed diabetes contribute to the sleep apnea. There is evidence that it happens BOTH WAYS. The word apnea means without oxygen. OSA which stands for obstructive sleep apnea accounts for more than 80% of most sleep altered breathing problems. Approximately 40% of people with sleep apnea will also have diabetes. Approximately 23% of diabetics will have OSA and approximately 58% of diabetics will have some form of sleep interrupted breathing. OSA is implicated in the following:

  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Heart Failure
  • Interference with glycemic control / BG readings

Statistics indicate that diabetic men over the age of 65 have a 67% chance of having sleep apnea, and the numbers run 50% for women. Apnea causes night time sugar levels to rise because of the stress on the body. There is that stress related link to BG readings again. Stress whether physical or emotional has a negative effect on blood glucose levels.

It is estimated that over 12 million adults suffer from sleep apnea to one degree or another and MOST are not diagnosed yet. The cause of sleep apnea is not known, however there is a correlation between insulin resistance, being over weight and having visceral fat and a large waistline.


Loud snoring (like a freight train) and interruptions where you gasp for breath or jump like someone poked you with a stick, or make no noise at all where you have literally stopped breathing entirely for several seconds or up to a minute are definitive clues. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, or your family, spouse, significant other (someone who is around when you are sleeping or napping thinks you do), you need to get checked into a sleep center and be tested. It is NOTHING to fool around with. I personally knew two people who died from it and died young  One was grossly over weight and surprisingly the other was tall, and lean. Other tip offs might be chronic fatigue, high blood pressure and high BG readings.

If your apnea is mild like mine was, it will normally go away with losing weight. Another alternative is CPAP which stands for "continuous positive airway pressure" during which you wear a mask  while sleeping. The mask concept is not without its own side effects and many people cannot or will not wear it. Surgery is also another alternative. I would NOT suggest self diagnosing, especially IF YOU LIVE ALONE. If you are tired all day, distracted easily, etc. and live alone, you may want to go to a sleep center that specializes in diagnosing  sleep disorders. It could just save your life and in the process help with high blood glucose levels.


"Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear HIM, upon them that hope in HIS mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the Lord; HE is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in HIM, because we have trusted in HIS holy Name. Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in THEE." [Psalms 33:18-22]

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