Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee

Symptoms

High Blood Sugar

Problems with elevated blood sugar can have many different causes, one of which is untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). As part of OSA, our oxygen level is compromised at night. Our brain senses the drops in oxygen and releases a “stimulating” neurotransmitter (norepinephrine) into our bloodstream. The release of this neurotransmitter helps to arouse us from sleep to take a breath and raise our oxygen level back to normal.  However, norepinephrine is counterregulatory to insulin, and the end result of these repeated releases of norepinephrine into the bloodstream is elevation in blood sugar - particularly hemoglobin A1c. The elevation in hemoglobin A1c is often discovered as part of routine bloodwork, and patients will often get diagnosed as “insulin resistant” or “borderline diabetic” based in this finding. For patients with untreated OSA who have been diagnosed with diabetes, the elevations in hemoglobin A1c can result in poor diabetic control.