People with diabetes have a higher risk for sleep apnea, a condition in which your breathing stops and starts many times during the night. As this prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep, it puts you at a high risk for sleepiness during the day, memory and attention problems, insulin resistance, and even heart disease. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of this condition, and it usually affects people who are older or overweight. The good news is that a recent study found that people with OSA can manage the condition well by changing their lifestyle.
The study, which was published in CHEST Journal, looked to see whether losing weight with certain lifestyle changes helped people with OSA feel more awake during the day. The Chinese researchers tracked 104 people with moderate to severe OSA. For one year, they were either given the standard treatment, or extra help from a dietitian. Those in the dietitian group were able to work with healthcare professionals specifically to change their eating and exercise habits.
By the end of the study, the subjects in the dietitian group lowered their BMI and had a more balanced meal plan that included lots of protein and fiber. Most importantly, their OSA was improved. They woke up fewer times each night compared to the control group, and felt less sleepy during the day. The results came quickly, too. Most of the subjects in the dietitian group started to feel better and lose weight after just 4 months on the program.
While more research is needed to confirm these results, they show that there is hope for people with OSA to feel better fast. If you have sleep apnea, talk to your healthcare provider about seeing a dietitian to help you change your eating habits.