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How Are Type 2 Diabetes and Sleep Apnea Connected?

May 10, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — drdernick @ 12:22 pm
Eyeglasses on paper with words diabetes type 2

Do you or a family member have type 2 diabetes? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes affects more than 37 million Americans, with type 2 diabetes accounting for over 90 percent of all cases. Although diabetes is very common, few people are aware that sleep problems can make it more difficult to manage. Keep reading to learn more about the surprising connection between type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea, and how a dentist can help.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder affecting approximately 18 million people. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 80 percent of sleep apnea cases are undiagnosed. People affected by sleep apnea experience short breathing pauses while they sleep. These lapses, which can occur hundreds of times each night, cause the body to partially wake up in order to restore proper breathing. As a result, sleep apnea prevents people from getting the deep, restful sleep their body and mind needs.

Sleep Apnea and Managing Diabetes

Sleep apnea can also make it more difficult to manage diabetes. Every time a person’s breathing pauses while they sleep, there is an increase in carbon dioxide in their blood. This contributes to insulin resistance, which reduces the body’s ability to use insulin effectively and, as a result, leads to higher blood sugars.

In addition, fatigue from lack of quality sleep can lead to less motivation to exercise or eat healthy foods. Adding extra weight can increase your risk of both sleep apnea and diabetes. Obese people are about six times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those at a healthy weight. Obesity is also strongly correlated to sleep apnea, with 70 percent of adult sleep apnea patients estimated to be obese.

Finally, daytime drowsiness caused by sleep apnea can lead people to forget to take their medications and lead to further diabetes complications.

How Your Dentist Can Help

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is the most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea. However, according to the American College of Cardiology, as many as 50 percent of people with CPAP machines never use them. Many folks find the machines to be too noisy or they don’t feel comfortable falling asleep while wearing the CPAP facemask.

Fortunately, more dentists now provide an effective alternative to a CPAP machine: oral appliance therapy. An oral appliance is a small, custom-made mouthpiece that is worn while you sleep. The oral appliance gently repositions your jaw to keep your airway open at night.

If obesity is contributing to your sleep apnea, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly to lose weight may also help reduce your symptoms.

If you believe you are affected by sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist. Taking proactive steps to overcome your sleep disorder can boost your overall health.

About the Author

Dr. Robert Dernick has over 40 years of experience in the field of dentistry. The proud University of Texas alumnus provides safe, effective, and non-invasive sleep apnea therapy in The Woodlands using custom-made oral appliances. To learn more about the connection between type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea, visit Dr. Dernick’s website or call 281-783-3419.

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