Sleep disorders and diabetes: what are the connections between both pathologies?

Did you know ?

Did you know that there are close links between sleep disorders and diabetes?
People who have trouble sleeping are more likely to develop diabetes. Similarly, patients suffering from this disease can see their condition worsen as a result of unbalanced sleep. Here’s how it works.

Sleep disorders: increased risk of developing diabetes

Good quality sleep helps regulate metabolic and cardiovascular functions. Imbalances in circadian (biological) rhythms and poor sleep quality can disrupt the body’s functioning and encourage the onset of type 2 diabetes. In fact, sleep disorders have been shown to reduce the amount and effectiveness of insulin produced.
In addition, people who have difficulty sleeping tend to eat more, as the sensation of hunger is no longer attenuated by the secretion of leptin (the satiety hormone), usually produced during sleep. This increases the risk of obesity and diabetes in patients with sleep disorders.

How does diabetes affect sleep quality?

In contrast, diabetic patients are particularly prone to sleep disorders, as their glucose levels change rapidly during the night. For this reason, nocturnal hypoglycemia is common in patients with type 1 diabetes, and can lead to insomnia.
Other consequences of diabetes can also affect sleep quality: muscle and bone pain, frequent urination, nerve damage and restless legs syndrome. Finally, some diabetics suffering from retinopathy also unbalance their biological rhythm by withdrawing from daylight, which causes discomfort.

Sleep apnea treatment and its beneficial effects on diabetes

Studies show that treating certain sleep disorders – such as apnea – can have beneficial effects on diabetes. For example, using the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), a common technique for treating sleep apnea, has been shown to improve glucose metabolism in the body, as well as insulin sensitivity. It is therefore important for diabetics suffering from sleep apnea to be treated accordingly, to improve both the quality of their sleep and the management of their diabetes.
Likewise, patients suffering from sleep apnea are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and should be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
To find out if you’re at risk of sleep disorders, you can test your sleepiness level online.