Life for people with Type 2 diabetes can be pretty complicated. They have to be very diligent about their diet, take their insulin regularly, and stay in constant communication with their doctor. It’s well documented that it can have negative effects on cardiovascular health, but did you know it can exacerbate problems like sleep apnea as well? These two conditions actually influence each other more than people think, and seeing how the rates of both are currently skyrocketing, those with either one need to keep these three connections in mind.
1. Sleep Deprivation Makes Insulin Resistance Worse
Several studies have been published showing that a lack of sleep (as in less than 7 hours each night) has been strongly associated with increased insulin resistance. This is thought to be the case because sleep plays a vital role in the body’s ability to regulate hormones. If someone with type 2 diabetes is not getting enough sleep or poor quality rest due to something like sleep apnea, they could be making life harder on themselves even if they are doing everything right during the day.
2. Constantly Getting Up in the Middle of the Night
Most of the time, a person with sleep apnea won’t fully wake up when they briefly stop breathing, but because these disturbances can literally happen hundreds of times a night, there’s a good chance a person will wake up at some point. They often just go to the bathroom to urinate, and that’s why frequent urination throughout the night (coupled with loud snoring and exhaustion) is considered a telltale symptom of sleep apnea.
Do you know what also causes frequent urination that disturbs sleep? Elevated blood sugar levels, which is often a result of type 2 diabetes. These two conditions together can end up causing a person to wake up several times throughout the night to go to the bathroom, which can easily contribute to the first point made above.
3. Harder Diet Management
In addition to regular exercise and consuming a diet that is low in added sugar, getting enough sleep each night is vital to maintaining a healthy diet. Why? As mentioned earlier, adequate sleep is needed to regulate your hormones, including hunger hormones like leptin and ghrelin. Basically, when you don’t sleep enough, you get hungrier and require more calories to become full because these hormones are thrown out of balance. Even worse, studies have shown that the extra calories people consume when sleep deprived tend to be highly processed, high-calorie, low-satiety foods.
This not only contributes to a leading risk factor of sleep apnea (obesity), but it also makes living with diabetes much, much harder. It can sap someone’s willpower to avoid foods they know they shouldn’t eat often because their body’s internal mechanisms are driving them toward less healthy options.
A Light at the End of The Tunnel
While sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes can easily get someone into a cycle of perpetually worsening health, the good news is that both conditions are relatively easy to manage with professional help.
Insulin and diet management can largely nullify the effects of diabetes, while simply visiting a sleep dentist can enable someone to finally get the rest they deserve. This type of dentist can provide a custom-made mouthguard that a patient wears to bed, and it will allow them to breathe (and rest) throughout the night without interruption.
If you’re having trouble with your diabetes, sleep, or both, be sure to reach out to your doctor as well as a sleep dentist. With their expertise, you can have peace of mind that you’re doing right by your health whether you’re awake or catching up on much-needed rest.
About the Author
Dr. Jeff Rodgers is a long-serving sleep dentist who has served the Dunwoody/Atlanta area for over two decades. A graduate of the University of Alabama School of Dentistry, he went on to complete several hours of advanced training focused on sleep dentistry. Today, he is a Diplomate of both the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and the American Sleep and Breathing Academy. To get started regaining control of your sleep, you can complete our quick sleep assessment or schedule a screening with Dr. Rogers directly by clicking here or calling (770)394-4310.