If you have diabetes, and you snore, the two conditions may be related. Some snorers suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Up to 90 percent of people who have OSA are unaware they have it -- and many of these individuals are diabetics. The link is solid: Individuals with OSA are nine times more likely to have diabetes than those without OSA.
Type 2 diabetics with OSA, who receive therapy for OSA, can lower their glucose levels. Obstructive sleep apnea (the cause behind much snoring) is a sleep disorder in which temporary airway collapse restricts or temporarily stops the breathing. Blood oxygen levels drop rapidly, and the individual wakes up, gasping for breath. Asleep again, the pattern will probably repeat in a few minutes -- and go on all night long.
The implications go far beyond an upset spouse, or a peremptory order to sleep in another room. The OSA sufferer is not getting "a good night's sleep," and his/her energy levels for the following day may well be affected, as will the normal hormonal/glucose rise known as the "dawn phenomenon." OSA can drive up your blood sugars as it lowers your energy. Getting control of your OSA can be good for your diabetes management -- and can improve your A1c numbers.
What can be done? CPAP, continuous positive airway pressure, the most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, involves wearing a mask that supplies a steady stream of air through the nose during sleep. The device's air flow helps prevent airway restriction or collapse, and brings an end to the snoring, gasping, and interrupted sleep. When OSA sufferers wore the mask for at least four hours a night, tests showed a significant reduction in their glucose levels, and, for some, a reduced need for medications.
What are the symptoms your health care team should look for? Loud, persistent snoring, excessive sleepiness, and diabetes; if these three occur together, you may be one of the 18 million Americans who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. And you can get help. Talk to your doctor.