Magazine article Science News

Sleep on It: Fitful Slumber Tied to Diabetes Risk

Magazine article Science News

Sleep on It: Fitful Slumber Tied to Diabetes Risk

Article excerpt

Many people have brief bouts of interrupted breathing during the night that cause fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rate, decreased concentrations of oxygen in the blood, and other effects. Small studies have implicated this disturbed slumber, known as sleep apnea, in the development of diabetes and other chronic diseases (SN: 7/14/01, p. 31).

Now, the results of a large study led by Naresh M. Punjabi of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions link apnea with two conditions--glucose intolerance and impaired insulin function--that are associated with the onset of type 2 diabetes. "We think the sleep problems are more likely contributing to glucose intolerance and diabetes instead of those conditions explaining the apnea," says coauthor Rachel Givelber of the University of Pittsburgh.

The findings, which appear in the Sept. 15 American Journal of Epidemiology, could have important implications for identifying and managing diabetes, says Givelber. "Based on this study," she says, "if you have glucose intolerance or diabetes, it might be wise to treat the sleep [apnea] because that may be contributing to the condition."

Sleep apnea, often accompanied by loud snoring (SN: 3/11/00. p. 172), occurs because the airways narrow as the surrounding muscles relax during sleep.

In their investigation, the researchers analyzed data on 2,656 of the people who participated in the Sleep Heart Health Study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blond Institute in Bethesda, Md. …

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