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Feature Article

Does Sleep Affect Diabetes?

By Eileen Schramm, CDE

Question: Could by interrupted sleep affect my diabetes control?

Answer: Absolutely! Interrupted sleep could be a sign of sleep apnea, which can be a serious condition if not treated. Many people with diabetes suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a breathing disorder where the airway is blocked when the mouth and throat relax during sleep. Loud snoring is one sign of sleep apnea.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 100 million people worldwide have obstructive sleep apnea. Research shows that interrupted sleep decreases insulin sensitivity regardless of age, sex or how overweight a person is. Sleep apnea increases blood sugars and poor quality of life stemming from chronic fatigue. The risk for work-related accidents and driving accidents is also significantly higher in people with sleep apnea.

If sleep apnea is left untreated, it can lead to problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke. So talk to your doctor if you’re having trouble sleeping or staying asleep. Your doctor may recommend that you have a sleep study.

Eileen Schramm is a diabetes educator with Samaritan Albany General Hospital.

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