Type 2 diabetes early in life is commonly associated with obesity, but in many cases there may be another factor at play. Obstructive sleep apnea, a common untreated sleeping disorder in teens, can contribute to the onset of diabetes.
A study in the September issue of SLEEP reports sleep apnea worsens insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes as well as metabolic syndrome.
The link between sleep apnea and insulin resistance wasn’t fully clear until now. The presence of obesity and the onset of puberty complicated the relationship.
The study involved a group of 98 obese children of both genders. About half of the participating children had signs of sleep apnea.
Children were recruited from two age groups: pre and post puberty.
Each child was screened for obstructive sleep apnea using an overnight sleep study, and assessed for insulin resistance.
Results show children who tested positive for sleep apnea had worse insulin resistance, thus were at higher risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Sleep apnea isn’t the only sleep disorder that can lead to diabetes. A past study shows severe sleep loss from long-term insomnia can also worsen insulin resistance.