How Sleep Apnea Affects Some Pregnant Diabetics

How Sleep Apnea Affects Some Pregnant DiabeticsWomen who have diabetes during pregnancy are faced with many problems. If they also have trouble sleeping, they may also have to deal with sleep apnea. As it turns out, blood sugar levels are closely related to the successful treatment of sleep apnea in those people.

Sleep apnea happens most often in type II diabetics rather than type I diabetics. Women who were type II diabetics before pregnancy may be plagued with even higher blood sugars after they are expecting. One thing that can help bring the blood sugar readings under control is to treat sleep apnea if it is present.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person’s airway becomes collapsed as they relax to sleep. They can no longer maintain a steady flow of air to their lungs. Their breathing will become irregular. In fact, they may even stop breathing for short periods of time.

Signs of sleep apnea are loud snoring and snoring consistently through the night. Then, the person will be tired during the day because of the lost or inadequate sleep. They will often nap or fall asleep during daytime activities. Women who are pregnant may not notice the daytime tiredness because that is not unusual for them. However, any hint that they are not sleeping normally is a possible warning.


A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine can be fitted to the pregnant woman by means of a sleep study. This study is perfectly harmless to the unborn child. It will help the woman’s doctor determine whether she needs help in breathing through the night.

As the air from the CPAP holds the airway open, the woman will be able to breathe freely. She will not be startled awake because she has stopped breathing. She will have her best chance of getting a good night’s sleep.

Research has shown that diabetics who have been given a CPAP to use for their sleep apnea have shown great improvement in their blood sugar levels. Morning blood sugars tend to go down with CPAP use. The average decrease in blood sugar levels after meals over the course of one study was 60 mg/dl.

One way the CPAP may work for pregnant diabetics is that it can lower the incidence of insulin resistance. When the pancreas secretes plenty of insulin, but the cells are not able to use that insulin, it is insulin resistance. This causes the blood sugar levels to go up since the cells cannot take the sugars into themselves.

The CPAP can balance hormone levels that affect the insulin response. Without proper sleep, the woman can experience a rise in hormone levels that keep the insulin from acting properly. By using the CPAP, the woman can get a good night’s sleep and help keep her blood sugar down at the same time.

Pregnant women always need to get adequate sleep, but if they have diabetes it is even more important. It helps to bring down the blood sugar levels and give the woman more energy during the day. Anyone who has signs of sleep apnea should discuss it with a doctor, especially if they are a pregnant diabetic patient.