Researchers at the University of Chicago found that sleep apnea can worsen blood sugar control in people with Type 2 diabetes.
The findings provide another good reason for people with sleep apnea to wear a CPAP mask that helps assure uninterrupted breathing, the standard treatment for the condition, throughout the night. It is well known that sleep apnea, which causes breathing pauses and dangerous drops in oxygen during sleep, sharply raises the risk of Type 2 diabetes. More severe cases of sleep apnea are generally associated with poorer blood sugar control in diabetics
As originally reported on the American Diabetes Association web site (and published in Diabetes Care), disruption during the REM phase of sleep had the most detrimental effects on long-term blood sugar control. The problem, says Dr. Babak Mokhlesi, an author of the study “Association of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Rapid Eye Movement Sleep with Reduced Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes: Therapeutic Implications”, is that most REM sleep occurs in the early morning hours before waking, at a time when many patients remove their CPAP mask.
“In type 2 diabetes, OSA during REM sleep may influence long-term glycemic control,” writes Mokhlesi, director of the sleep disorders center at the University of Chicago, in the study’s abstract. “The metabolic benefits of CPAP therapy may not be achieved with the typical adherence of 4 h per night.”