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: Available to subscribers at Does lack of sleep lead to diabetes?).
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.