SLEEPtember Speaker Series Recap: Diabetes

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By Eugena Brooks

SLEEPtember Speaker Series once again offered us another winning entry with a dialog about the connection between sleep apnea and diabetes. Diabetes is a progressive disease that you want to put in check quickly. As brought up in the conversation these two conditions, diabetes and sleep apnea, are co-occurring in 20% of survey respondents. Joining the conversation with Host Justine Amdur, was Kim Samford, a patient dealing with both sleep apnea and diabetes.

Lisa Graham RN and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) also participated and pointed out that early stages of diabetes can sometimes have little or no significant symptoms. It’s only after the blood sugar levels (A1C) increase that symptoms become pronounced. Lisa also gave us an overview of how A1c levels are impacted not just by sugar but also carbohydrates that when digested breaks down into sugar that can’t be absorbed to give energy. A normal A1C level is below 5.7%, a level of 5.7% to 6.4% indicates prediabetes, and a level of 6.5% or more indicates diabetes. Within the 5.7% to 6.4% prediabetes range, the higher the A1C, the greater the risk is for developing type 2 diabetes.

Theresa Shumard, a Community and Education Manager, pointed out how she, working as a sleep technician during that time, didn’t recognize the signs of diabetes. The symptoms of sleep apnea and diabetes mirror each other, but at the time she attributed the fatigue to sleep apnea and shiftwork.

SLEEPtember Takeaways for Diabetes are:

Diabetes is marked by chronic fatigue, dry increased thirst, increased hunger and excessive or late-night urination.

Sleep apnea and diabetes have certain similarities such as extreme fatigue, dry mouth and excessive sleepiness.

There is a connection between sleep apnea and diabetes, and it appears that those with sleep apnea have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Those with type 2 diabetes often experience sleep issues and develop sleep apnea.

Sleep impacts good health across the board. Sleep apnea not only comes its own issues but can also lead to or impact so many others. At the end of the day, as pointed out by Lisa Graham, the key is education and prevention. Inform yourself and be proactive about being and staying healthy. You can start by reviewing the speaker series.