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What We’re Reading: Sleep Apnea

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Scott Johnson of Scott’s Diabetes Journal recently blogged about his years of sleep troubles. Loud snoring and daytime fatigue had become the norm for him. In November, he began to wonder whether his symptoms pointed to a more serious problem and decided to go in for a sleep study.

What’s a sleep study? The picture at the bottom of Scott’s post tells the story. A person who goes in for a sleep study is hooked up to various sensors and instructed to sleep for a while in a quiet room. There, the sensors monitor his brain wave activity, muscle movement, heart rate, and breathing, checking for any abnormalities.

One of these abnormalities is a condition called sleep apnea. A person with sleep apnea has restricted airways and stops breathing during sleep for longer than 10 seconds at a time (and may wake up hundreds of times during the night). As would be expected, sleep apnea can lead to sometimes-debilitating fatigue. It can also put people at greater risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. (See “Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes: A Vicious Circle” for more information on the connection.) Being tired may also make it more difficult to maintain a healthful diet and follow through with a diabetes management program.

When Scott went to get his sleep study results late last month, the diagnosis was sleep apnea. The test results showed that he woke up almost once a minute during the night and stopped breathing for long stretches. He was instructed to start using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which sends a continuous stream of air through the nose and down the throat. So far, Scott says the results of his therapy have been promising.

This blog post was written by Assistant Editor David Golann.

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