Sleep Disorders Linked to the Onset of Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes and sleep loss are a vicious cycle. People that suffer from diabetes often experience sleep loss from difficulty in falling asleep and remaining asleep. On the other hand, studies have found that those who suffer from a sleep disorder are more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes. There are several types of sleep problems that are linked to the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. Here are four such disorders.


Sleep Apnea


Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that causes people to halt their breathing while they are sleeping. The period of time that their breathing has stopped is called apneas. These apneas result from the blocking of the upper airway. When such pauses occur, the oxygen levels in the blood dip due to the blockages that are preventing the lungs from breathing in air. These low oxygen levels also impact heart and brain function. Research has found that as many as two-thirds of people who suffer from sleep apnea are also overweight, as it changes the stages of sleep that they go through and so interferes with their sleep cycle. Studies have found a link between these changes in sleep stages and a dip in growth hormone, which plays a role in the body’s abdominal fat, muscle, and body fat. Due to this, there is a potential link between sleep apnea and the onset of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.


Restless Legs Syndrome


Restless Legs Syndrome is a particular type of sleep disorder in which sufferers feel an intense, usually irresistible urge to shift their legs. This sleep disorder often comes with other sensations such as pain, pulling, or tingling in the legs, making it tough for sufferers to stay asleep or fall asleep. Restless Leg Syndrome is also linked to the onset of diabetes.




Due to the fact those with diabetes are sensitive to chemical balances and blood glucose levels in the body, people that suffer from it can experience detrimental disruptions in their sleep cycle. Studies show that the development of diabetes is more rapid, and the symptoms are worse in those that get less than six hours of sleep every night. The loss of restful sleep is believed to undo the body’s hormonal chemistry and throw its blood glucose levels off balance. Researchers are not sure of the exact chemistry that occurs behind the link between diabetes and insomnia. However, studies have found that those otherwise healthy patients that suffer from chronic insomnia are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. This is because sleep loss throws off the body’s insulin balance, which causes it to resist insulin intake, which thus can cause serious medical issues such as Type 2 diabetes.




Although more people suffer from lack of sleep rather than too much sleep, oversleeping is considered a sleep disorder as well. Oversleeping is often caused by another disorder such as depression, which causes feelings of fatigue and lack of motivation, which makes it hard for the sufferer to get up in the morning. Oversleeping can be just as dangerous as under sleeping, especially as it produces the same effects on the body’s chemistry and thus throws off the blood glucose levels as well.


Other Reasons


Another reason sleep disorders are linked to diabetes is the fact that often people who feel lethargic because of too much sleep or lack of sleep will seek another energy source, namely food. Tired individuals tend to overeat to attempt to feel more alert, which usually means consuming carbs, sugar, and other foods that drastically increase blood sugar levels.