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Review: Type 2 Diabetes Increases Risk & Complications of Sleep Disorders

Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen on February 4, 2023

A 2021 review has underlined the prevalence of sleep disorders among patients with type 2 diabetes and its impact on health outcomes in this patient population.


According to the study, sleep disorders are an important but less-known risk factor for the development of type-2 diabetes. Their negative effect on sleep duration and quality has been found to cause detrimental effects on glucose metabolism and weight regulation. However, because currently, the detection and treatment of sleep disorders is not part of standardized care for people with type-2 diabetes, the authors set out to review the literature to highlight the association. The review also examined how treating sleep disorders in people with type-2 diabetes can improve specific health outcomes. These include glycaemic control, microvascular and macrovascular complications, depression, mortality, and quality of life.


The review of the literature focused on studies published on PubMed from its inception until January 2021 regarding the prevalence, treatment, and health outcomes of sleep disorders and type-2 diabetes. The researchers found that insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome were more common among people with type-2 diabetes than the general population. In reviewing several cross-sectional and prospective studies, they also found that sleep disorders negatively affected health outcomes in at least one diabetes domain.


However, the authors could not find conclusive evidence that showed that directly treating sleep disorders can improve health outcomes for people with type-2 diabetes. A lack of randomized controlled trials was cited for this. Nonetheless, they pointed to the effectiveness of conventional therapies such as weight loss, sleep education, and CBT in improving sleep and health outcomes for patients with type-2 diabetes.


Most first-line treatments for sleep disorders seem effective in people with type 2 diabetes, comparable with the general population, but with additional positive effects on type 2 diabetes and other health outcomes,” the authors said. 


They concluded their review by recommending that treating and diagnosing sleep disorders in people with type-2 diabetes could prevent the progression of their condition. This approach, they felt, could ultimately improve patient health and quality of life.


Written by Chaim Ford

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