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    Sleep Apnea Treatment May Help with Blood Sugar Levels

    Posted: July 23, 2021

    Studies suggest that sleep apnea treatment with CPAP therapy may help reduce blood sugar levels for those with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Several studies indicate that CPAP therapy may help with better diabetes management and blood sugar control. We’ll discuss the findings, how sleep apnea and diabetes may be linked, and why sleep is so important for keeping blood sugar in check. 

    Sleep Apnea Treatment May Help with Blood Sugar Levels

    man falling asleep in chair needs sleep apnea treatment

    Untreated sleep apnea can increase your blood sugar levels, but sleep apnea treatment with CPAP may help keep them in check.

    Sleep apnea (S.A.) has been linked with elevated blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. This can increase the risks for complications like heart disease, kidney disease, and even death. S.A. can make diabetes management more difficult. It’s been associated with insulin resistance and high blood sugar. Also, symptoms such as fatigue can make it hard to make healthy lifestyle changes like exercising regularly.

    However, new research suggests that sleep apnea treatment with CPAP therapy may help reduce these risks. Several studies indicate that using a CPAP device to help treat S.A. can help with blood sugar levels and glycemic control. 

    One study from the University of Chicago found that using a CPAP for just one week helped reduce the average 24-hour blood sugar level. They also noticed that the patients had better glucose response after meals. 

    Other studies have found that CPAP therapy may help reduce insulin resistance. This reduction may help those with diabetes use insulin more effectively to control blood sugar levels.

    Also, those with prediabetes and S.A. may also benefit from sleep apnea treatment. Other research about the effects of CPAP on prediabetes suggests treatment may also help reduce the risks of developing type 2 diabetes for prediabetic patients. In the study, the researchers found that participants who used their CPAP device for eight hours a night had better blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. They also noticed other positive health effects like lower levels of stress hormones and lower blood pressure. 

    Therefore, if you think you may have sleep apnea, it’s important to address your concerns with one of our medical professionals. Our providers can help create custom treatment plans for sleep apnea as well as diabetes management.

    Those with Diabetes and Prediabetes May have a Higher Risk for Sleep Apnea

    Many studies have found that diabetes and sleep apnea may go hand-in-hand. Generally speaking, if you have one condition, you have a higher risk for the other. Experts are still studying this relationship. As of right now, it can be like a chicken or egg question: it’s tricky to answer which comes first. Both have some common risk factors and both conditions can worsen the effects of the other. So, it’s hard to say if one causes the other or not or if one typically happens first.

    However, we do know that S.A. is a big risk for those with diabetes or prediabetes. Current estimates are that two out of three people with type 2 diabetes have sleep apnea. Also, we know that sleep apnea may worsen blood sugar levels. One study even found that those with prediabetes and S.A. had a 1.35 fold higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Therefore, if you have diabetes or prediabetes, it’s also important to consider if you might have S.A.

     Some common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

    • Snoring
    • Daytime fatigue
    • Choking or gasping sounds while sleeping
    • Insomnia
    • Morning headaches
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Irritability
    • Sore throat in the morning
    • Waking up with a dry mouth

    In addition to knowing the symptoms of S.A., you can also take our sleep apnea risk quiz to help determine your likelihood for having this common sleep condition.

    Because S.A. can negatively impact diabetes management and blood sugar levels, it’s important to talk to one of our providers if you have S.A. symptoms or any concerns about your sleep health. S.A. treatment may help reduce additional risks for those with both diabetes and sleep apnea. 

    What is the Link Between Sleep Apnea and Blood Sugar?

    Researchers have known for quite a while that there is a link between sleep apnea and diabetes. We’ve mentioned that many people have both conditions. Both also have similar risk factors and complications. For example, obesity is a common risk factor for both S.A. and diabetes. Also, cardiovascular disease is a common complication for both conditions. More and more research indicates that sleep apnea may also increase blood sugar and reduce glycemic control.

    You might be wondering what sleep apnea has to do with blood sugar and diabetes. It turns out that sleep can play an important role in keeping blood sugar levels healthy. While researchers are still studying the effects of sleep on blood sugar, there are a few theories as to why untreated S.A. might negatively impact blood sugar levels. 

    S.A. is a condition that causes you to stop breathing or breathe shallowly as you sleep. In response to the lack of oxygen, your body works to wake you up and help you breathe. Therefore, this sleep condition can cause extra stress on your body and lead to sleep deprivation. These health concerns can also affect blood sugar levels, particularly if you have diabetes or prediabetes. However, sleep apnea treatment with CPAP therapy may help reduce these effects for both sleep and blood sugar.

    Increased Stress on the Body

    During an apnea event, your body works hard to make you wake up and breathe normally. One way to achieve this is to release stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones can help increase heart rate, blood pressure, and cause other effects to help wake you up. This increases stress on the body and the amount of stress hormones in your bloodstream.

    Stress hormones can also increase blood sugar levels. This makes sense for a fight or flight response, as it can help give your body energy to get yourself out of danger. However, if your body is chronically stressed from untreated S.A., this may mean high blood sugar levels that can be difficult to control. 

    Over time, extra stress on the body from stress hormones can also increase insulin resistance. This means that your body doesn’t use insulin very efficiently. Since your cells need insulin to use blood sugar and turn it into energy, insulin resistance can mean increased blood sugar levels.

    Not Enough Deep Sleep

    Another potential reason S.A. can affect blood sugar levels is that it can fragment your sleep and prevent you from getting enough deep sleep, particularly REM sleep. 

    The relationship between sleep and blood sugar is a complex one, and we’re still studying the effects. However, several studies have found that lack of REM sleep may significantly affect blood sugar. For instance, one study looked at glucose control for people who had apnea events during REM sleep. The results were that apnea events that prevented or interrupted REM sleep caused worse effects for long-term blood sugar control. This may be why several studies have recommended using CPAP for sleep apnea treatment for at least eight hours per night to help with blood sugar levels – to help improve REM sleep. 

    Getting plenty of REM sleep may help your body regulate hormones, including those that help with insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, or how well your body processes blood sugar. During REM sleep, blood sugar levels also decrease by an average of about 5%. So, lack of REM sleep from S.A. might also help explain why untreated S.A. is associated with higher blood sugar levels. 

    Whatever the explanation, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that sleep apnea treatment with CPAP therapy can help your health in many ways, from lowering blood sugar, improving diabetes management, lowering cardiovascular risks, and also helping improve energy and mood for quality of life. 

    Comprehensive Sleep Apnea Treatment from our Men’s Health Clinic

    There’s no time like today to start prioritizing your health. Schedule an appointment at our men’s health clinic for a comprehensive health assessment to see if you have sleep apnea and learn how our team can help you achieve your health goals. At Low T Center, we’re dedicated to providing convenient, quality health care for men. Find a location near you and visit us today to learn how we’re reinventing men’s health care.

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    Disclaimer: This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Low T Center. You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.