Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.

Sleep all night but still have bags under your eyes in the morning? You may want to consider a workup for sleep apnea.

Many people living with sleep apnea are completely unaware that they have it.

Left undiagnosed, it can lead to exhaustion, blood sugar deterioration and other health conditions. In fact, endocrinologist Dr. Arvind Cavale refers 60 percent of his type 2 diabetes patients to a sleep lab for studying, according to Diabetic Living.

What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Apnea translates into "without breath" and sleep apnea is a disorder of breathing that occurs when you are asleep — more commonly diagnosed in men than in women.

Signs of sleep apnea include: loud snoring, obesity, daytime sleepiness, waking at night out of breath and/ or morning awakening with a dry mouth or headache, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.

With fatty tissue building up around the airway and neck, obstructed breathing becomes a likely risk. Dr. Greenberg in states OSA predisposes people to an increased risk for: " high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke… and may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes."

Who's at high risk?

Simply being overweight increases one's risk of sleep apnea ten fold states Dr. Henri Tuomilehto a sleep doctor in He goes on to say 70 percent of people with sleep apnea are obese.

Check out this test below from Diabetic Living to measure your risk:

If you answer "yes" to two or more of the following questions, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about sleep apnea.

S: Do you snore loudly? (Louder than talking or loud enough to be heard through closed doors.)

T: Do you often feel tired, fatigued, or sleepy during daytime?

O: Has anyone observed you stopping breathing during your sleep?

P: Do you have or are you being treated for high blood pressure?

Why does OSA cause high blood sugars?

Struggling for air all night long releases stress hormones which in turn increase blood sugars.

Recent studies mentioned in the New York Times point to the detrimental issues related to pauses (apnea) in breathing - especially during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep with long-term diabetes control complications.

You may also be advised to participate in a sleep study. A sleep study is a test ordered by your primary provider that takes place at a sleep center. Painless electrodes are placed on the scalp and measure brain waves that study your sleep patterns. Pulse oximetry is also used to measure oxygenation levels throughout the night by a simple clip placed on the finger.

How is OSA treated once diagnosed?

-Weight loss- This is first-line treatment if obesity is a factor — which most of the time it is; getting on a weight loss program is recommended. You can get two for the price of one by losing weight — both diabetes and sleep apnea will improve.

-Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine - This machine will be prescribed for those with moderate to severe OSA. The name says it all — it provides positive pressure through a mask over the nose/ and or the mouth at night to keep the airway open.

The impact of a CPAP machine is remarkable. Dr. Esra Tasali from the Univ. of Chicago states in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine: “Our study shows that CPAP treatment of sleep apnea across the entire night can improve glucose control and may in some patients have as much of an effect as an oral anti-diabetic medication,”

To learn more on this topic:
Know Your Risks: Sleep Apnea and Diabetes
The Link Between Diabetes and Sleep Apnea
Is Sleep Apnea Sabotaging Your Diabetes Control?