Chicken, egg or CPAP? You be the judge.


Lose weight! Prevent diabetes! Improve your sex life! Stave off depression! Is it a miracle drug? The fountain of youth? Not quite. It's the humble CPAP.

Don't get me wrong. I understand that CPAP is invaluable in alleviating a variety of what ails you. I also understand that there are many interrelated issues and concerns here. For example, being overweight is a factor for sleep apnea but CPAP is a factor for people to lose the weight. Kind of a CPAP chicken-and-egg scenario, if you will.

But I am beginning to wonder if the awareness of the importance of sleep, and it's impact on overall health, is starting to get, well, a little convenient.

What tipped me over the edge this morning? It was this headline: Sleep apnea may cause diabetics to crave carbs. 

In a study presented at the recent annual conference of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston, researchers looked at whether sleep deprivation could cause carb cravings, which, in turn, make diabetes worse. Of 55 participants, half had diabetes, and of that half, 82% had OSA. In that group, carb cravings were twice as high.

Maybe people who crave carbs develop diabetes and then OSA because if you eat lots of carbs, you are likely consuming excess calories. Again, it's the chicken and the egg (both excellent sources of protein).

Researchers say that sleep deprivation may lead to hormonal changes that regulate appetite and hunger.

Maybe they are right. Maybe they are wrong. Maybe it was just a bad headline. But what it gets down to for me is what it gets down to often when I am on my healthcare soapbox. I am a big believer in addressing the cause of the problem, not treating the symptoms, simplistic as that idea may be. There are all kinds of treatments and therapies and medications that can help alleviate certain aches, pains and conditions. That's great but it should be a first step.

Simply blaming everything on the next big thing allows us to ignore how far off track we have gotten, with our priorities, our health, and our lifestyles. Which in turn, is a big part of what is wrong with our health care system. And that costs everyone money.

Theresa Flaherty