Choose your FREE gift for orders over $90*

What you need to know about sleep apnoea and diabetes

Posted by Blooms The Chemist on 3 May 2023

What you need to know about sleep apnoea and diabetes

Once you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea, there are a range of health conditions that you are more likely to get, including diabetes.

We explore how they’re related and how you can manage both your diabetes and sleep apnoea.

What type of diabetes is linked with sleep apnoea?

Type 2 diabetes, which develops gradually over years as your body’s insulin becomes less effective at managing your blood glucose levels, is linked to sleep apnoea1.

Sleep apnoea and diabetes are often found together.

When one condition is present, the other could be there in around 50 to 80% of patients2.

Does poor sleep impact my blood sugar levels?

 Yes, it does3.

Poor quality sleep has been linked to high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and prediabetes.

With many people who have diabetes reporting that they get less than six hours of sleep a night or more than eight hours a night, these sleeping habits can put them at risk of elevated blood sugar.

Poor sleep quality also raises the risk of developing insulin resistance3.

Why are obstructive sleep apnoea and diabetes found together?

 Obstructive sleep apnoea has a larger impact on your body than people think. Sleep apnoea deprives your body of oxygen, obstructs your airways and impacts your quality of sleep. It also alters your glucose metabolism4.

Sleep apnoea promotes insulin resistance in your body as you’re not getting the rest you need to help your body function properly, and can develop type 2 diabetes4 if left untreated.

It’s important to note that sleep apnoea does not directly cause diabetes, but is a risk factor and can increase insulin resistance in non-diabetic and non-overweight people5.

What is a risk factor and what are they for obstructive sleep apnoea and diabetes?

A health risk factor is known as an attribute, characteristic or exposure that increase the likelihood of a person developing a disease or health disorder6.

There are two types of health risk factors, which are:

  • Behavioural risk factors: These are risk factors that you are able to modify, such as losing weight or exercising more

  • Biomedical risk factors: These are risk factors that are bodily states and are often influenced by behaviourial risk factors6

The risk factors for sleep apnoea include7:

  • Being overweight or obese, as the fat on the inside of your neck surrounds your throat and can make it narrower

  • Your age, as people’s throat muscles relax more when they get older

  • How much alcohol you drink, as alcohol makes your throat muscles relax

  • Large tonsils and adenoids

  • Nasal congestion and obstruction

The risk factors for diabetes include8:

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Are aged 35 or older

  • Have a family history of diabetes

  • Are not physically active

How can I treat my diabetes and sleep apnoea?

There are a few things you can do to treat your diabetes and sleep apnoea.

It’s been recommended in research that getting high quality sleep if you’re suffering from sleep apnoea by using your Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine can help your body maintain your glucose metabolism4.

Some ways you can treat both diabetes and obstructive sleep apnoea include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight through lifestyle changes

  • Exercising more, as this can improve your sleep and reduce blood glucose levels

  • Reducing alcohol consumption if you drink

  • Maintaining good sleep habits, including avoiding large meals and caffeine

  • Using your CPAP machine for your obstructive sleep apnoea

  • Taking your Type 2 Diabetes medication

Unfortunately, there is no cure for both Type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnoea.

However, you may find symptom relief through following these lifestyle changes and the advice of your healthcare professional.


1Healthdirect, Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, accessed 11 April 2023

2Sleep Foundation Australia, Diabetes & Sleep, accessed 11 April 2023

3National Library of Medicine, Associations between poor sleep and glucose intolerance in prediabetes, accessed 11 April 2023

4American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Spectrum: Sleep Apnoea in Type 2 Diabetes, accessed 11 April 2023

5Sleep Foundation America, Lack of Sleep and Diabetes, accessed 11 April 2023

6Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Risk Factors, accessed 11 April 2023

7Better Health Victoria, What causes sleep apnoea?, accessed 11 April 2023

8US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes, accessed 11 April