Sleep Apnea Research

How Sleep Apnea Can Make You More Prone to Diabetes

Sleep Apnea and Diabetes

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common disorder affecting over 20 million American adults, but did you know that Sleep Apnea and diabetes shares an unexpected link? It is estimated that nearly 40% of those diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea may have or may develop Diabetes. Conversely, of those diagnosed with Diabetes, 20% could potentially have, or develop, Sleep Apnea. [1]

This year, the World Health Organization has chosen to focus on Diabetes to draw attention to the seriousness of the disorder and the rapid rise in its presence among people around the world. It is projected that Diabetes will be in the top 10 causes of death in 2030. [2]

But what is Diabetes?

Diabetes 101

In short, Diabetes is a condition where the sugar levels or glucose levels in the blood stream are not properly maintained. As glucose levels in the blood become unbalanced, varying symptoms can occur. [3],[4]

Diabetes Symptoms

• Thirst
• Frequent Urination
• Blurred Vision
• Numbness in the Hands or Feet
• Frequent Skin, Bladder or Gum Infections
• Difficulty Healing From Wounds
• Extreme Fatigue

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

With Type 1 Diabetes, the body no longer produces insulin due to the body’s immune system attacking insulin producing cells. Without insulin the body cannot control glucose levels in the blood stream. Those with Type 1 Diabetes must take insulin every day and carefully manage their diet to properly maintain a healthy level of glucose. [5]

Type 2 Diabetes

The most common form of Diabetes is Type 2. With Type 2 Diabetes the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or the insulin produced goes with little effect. In Type 2 Diabetes oral medications are used to help give the naturally present insulin a boost in its ability to regulate glucose levels in the blood stream. In some cases insulin injections are needed. [6]

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Diabetes: Connecting the Dots

Between the two types of Diabetes, Type 2 is most commonly found in those with Sleep Apnea or other sleep breathing conditions.

So, how are Obstructive Sleep Apnea and diabetes linked? Recent studies have shown the presence of OSA and its severity may indicate a resistance to insulin. To further examine this, a test was conducted by measuring the levels of glycated hemoglobin or HbA1c in the blood of patients with OSA. They found, as the severity of OSA in each patient increased, so did the presence of HbA1c. [7]

What does this mean? HbA1c is used as an indicator of Diabetes. High concentrations of HbA1c in the blood stream indicates the possibility of low levels of insulin or an insulin resistance.

Sleep Well, Stay Healthy, Live Happy

For those living with OSA, Type 2 Diabetes, or both, sticking with treatment is important and should be apart of your daily routine. You can also make dietary changes and add activity to your lifestyle which may increase your overall health. If you have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, it’s important to maintain your therapy to ensure you get adequate and restorative sleep each night. If you feel that you aren’t sleeping well for extended periods of time or have experienced any of the previously mentioned symptoms related to diabetes, please speak with your doctor.

For many CPAP users, the CPAP mask can be the biggest hurdle to overcome. Masks can be uncomfortable and can even leak air, negating the benefits of therapy all together. Selecting the right mask type in many cases is the first step in making therapy more comfortable and efficient. There are 3 main types of masks: Nasal, Nasal Pillow and Full Face. To learn more about mask types please visit our Mask FAQ page.

Choosing and purchasing a new mask can be a tough decision. Luckily we offer lots of popular masks with our Free Return Insurance policy. Buy it and try it for 30 days. If you don’t like it, send it back. Visit one of these three links to learn more about these top selling masks: Nasal, Nasal Pillow, Full Face.

Educate & Prosper

Health around the world is often an overlooked topic and in many places there is little awareness for serious conditions like Sleep Apnea and diabetes. By educating ourselves and our loved ones about these conditions we can help bring these topics to the forefront. To learn more about World Health Day and what you can do to help spread the word you can visit the World Health Organization website.


(1) “SLEEP APNOEA AND TYPE 2 DIABETES” – International Diabetes Federation, 2003 (source)
(2) “World Health Day 2016: Beat Diabetes” – World Health Organization, April 2016 (source)
(3) “What Causes Diabetes?” – New York Department of Health, January 2015 (source)
(4) “Common Questions about Type 2 Diabetes” – Joslin Diabetes Center, 2015 (source)
(5) “What is Type 1 Diabetes” – Diabetes Research Center, 2014 (source)
(6) “Type 2 Diabetes: The Basics” – WebMD, 2016(source)
(7) “Sleep Apnea Predicts Glycaemic Health” – European Respiratory Journal, February 2014 (source)

Aaron McCann has been working in the CPAP industry for nearly five years researching and learning about the latest and greatest in CPAP therapy and equipment. Aaron is committed to helping the CPAP community achieve better sleep and a better quality of life!

5 Comments

  1. It’s interesting how many health issues are correlated with diabetes, including type 2 diabetes. Sleep apnea, carpal tunnel syndrome (yep!, and other tendon related issues), blood pressure problems and even erectile dysfunction are all correlated. If we could ever figure out the underlying causation, we would learn a lot about human health and solve a lot of problems for people.

  2. John Sharo Reply

    Great info to start with, need as much update as I can get. Basically I developed Sleep Apnea, Type 2 Diabetes and Congestive Heart Disease right around 2004-05, plus I have a pacemaker and defib. which keeps me alive. 50% of people with congestive heart disease have a life span of 5 years, so I’m doing a lot better than average but at 68 yrs I can feel things slowing down and I need to get more physical activity in my life. My heart injection fraction ratio is less than 24. I take all the advise I can get, I would like to see 80 yrs.

  3. To what extent are sleep apnea patients also suffering with ENT issues?? They must overlap also or do they?

  4. Thanks for this informative article. I have recently been diagnosed with type II diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea.

    • @Pat No problem, glad it helpful! If you need any more guidance down the line call one of our CPAP experts at 1 800 356 5221.

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