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Diabetes Health Center

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Type 2 Diabetes and Sleep

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Sleep Problems and Type 2 Diabetes continued...

Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia

Both hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can affect sleep in those with diabetes. Hypoglycemia may occur when you have not eaten for many hours, such as overnight, or if you take too much insulin or other medications. Hyperglycemia occurs when the sugar level rises above normal. This may happen after eating too many calories, missing medication, or having an illness. Emotional stress can also cause your blood sugar to rise.


Obesity, or too much body fat, is often associated with snoring, sleep apnea, and sleep disturbance. Obesity increases the risk of sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, and stroke.

How Are Sleep Problems Diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you about your sleep patterns, including whether you have trouble falling or staying asleep, are sleepy during the day, have difficulty breathing while asleep (including snoring), have pain in your legs, or move or kick your legs while sleeping.

Your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist who may do a special sleep study called a polysomnogram to measure activity during sleep. The results of the sleep study can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe an effective and safe treatment.

How Are Sleep Problems Treated in Type 2 Diabetes?

There are several treatments for sleep problems in people with diabetes, depending on the condition:

Sleep Apnea

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may suggest that you lose weight to help you breathe more easily.

Another potential treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). With CPAP, patients wear a mask over their nose and/or mouth. An air blower forces air through the nose and/or mouth. The air pressure is adjusted so that it is just enough to prevent the upper airway tissues from collapsing during sleep. The pressure is constant and continuous. CPAP prevents airway closure while in use, but apnea episodes return when CPAP is stopped or is used improperly.

Peripheral Neuropathy

To treat the pain of peripheral neuropathy, your doctor may prescribe simple pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, antidepressants such as amitriptyline, or anticonvulsants such as Neurontin, Topamax, or Gabitril. Other treatments include Lyrica, lidocaine injections, or creams such as capsaicin.

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