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If you snore, snort, toss, turn, and make strange noises in your sleep, you may need to take steps to keep diabetes from becoming a part of your life. Here is why there is a connection and what you can do about it.

People who snore don't have it easy. Rejected by spouses and other sleeping partners and often the butt of jokes, snorers usually don't get good sleep. People who snort and snore and toss and turn all night long generally suffer chronic sleep deprivation and daytime fatigue. And even worse, people who snort and snore because of obstructive sleep apnea are at elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

The walls of the throat have to be flexible to allow us to swallow when we eat or drink but to keep foreign objects and water out of the lungs at other times. Sometimes the throat become so flexible that it collapses under the weight of the muscles and fat around the neck when the body is a lying-down, supine position. The flow of air from the nose or mouth to the lungs is interrupted for 1, 2, 10, even up to 60 seconds, until finally so much pressure builds up from the lungs that air is exhaled with a loud snore or snort.

There may be normal breathing for a few seconds to as long as a few hours, but for many people whose throats are obstructed by "floppy" tissue, breathing ceases hundreds of times every night. People who have obstructive sleep apnea usually don't completely wake up during the night, but often the people around them are unable to sleep at all.

Obstructive sleep apnea is an interruption of breathing during sleep caused by mechanical stresses on the throat. There is also a condition called central sleep apnea, which is caused by the brain's failure to send a signal to the diaphragm to breathe.

What Are the Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is more than just annoying. It's potentially deadly. Among the far-ranging symptoms of nocturnal sleep apnea:

  • Restless sleep, lots of tossing and turning.
  • Waking up in the morning feeling like just having gone to bed.
  • Morning headache.
  • Daytime sleepiness.
  • Dry mouth and lips.
  • Bad breath, caused by drying out of the mouth.
  • High blood pressure, caused by the heart's need to pump poorly oxygenated blood harder at night.
  • Getting up to urinate in the middle of the night, caused by the excess flow of blood through the kidneys caused by high blood pressure.
  • Short-term memory problems.
  • Hypercoagulation disorders, a tendency of the blood to form clots.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness, resulting in poor muscle coordination, bad judgment, and a tendency toward having accidents and

Type 2 diabetes and overweight. Losing weight usually relieves obstructive sleep apnea, and treating obstructive sleep apnea, whether by losing weight or by use of a CPAP machine, usually relieves the insulin resistance that causes diabetes.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • Cizza G, Piaggi P, Lucassen EA, de Jonge L, Walter M, Mattingly MS, Kalish H, Csako G, Rother KI
  • Sleep Extension Study Group. Obstructive sleep apnea is a predictor of abnormal glucose metabolism in chronically sleep deprived obese adults. PLoS One. 2013 May 29. 8(5):e65400. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065400. Print 2013. PMID: 23734252.
  • Gilardini L, Lombardi C, Redaelli G, Vallone L, Faini A, Mattaliano P, Parati G, Invitti C. Glucose tolerance and weight loss in obese women with obstructive sleep apnea. PLoS One. 2013 Apr 17. 8(4):e61382. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061382. Print 2013.
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