News | April 2019

dQ&A® Diabetes Research Suggests Millions of People with Diabetes are Kept Awake at Night Due to Diabetes

Research shows that well over half of all people with type 2 diabetes have difficulty sleeping, and a third have a diagnosed sleep disorder. The root cause is most often linked to the symptoms, complications, and co-morbidities of diabetes, such as neuropathy or sleep apnea. 

SAN FRANCISCO, California, April 30, 2019 — dQ&A Market Research Inc., the leader in diabetes patient research, released selected results from its quarterly American research study of people with diabetes. The data show that people with type 2 diabetes very commonly suffer from significant sleep problems that are less prevalent among members of the general public. This issue impacts a large number of people in the USA; about 22 million American adults have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Via a quantitative study of 3,200 people, dQ&A established that more than half (55%) of people with type 2 diabetes not taking insulin (T2NI) have difficulty sleeping or feeling well rested. The figure for people with type 2 diabetes who take insulin (T2I) was even higher at 61%. Typically, people who take insulin have a longer duration of diabetes, and therefore have a higher risk of complications that negatively impact sleep quality. dQ&A also found that about a third of these groups, approximately 7 million people, have a diagnosed sleep disorder.

“Our recent study led us to predict that over 12 million Americans with diagnosed diabetes have significant trouble sleeping,” said Richard Wood, dQ&A’s CEO. “We have also been able to gain insight into two key reasons why – pain (from diabetes complications) and sleep apnea.”

A breakdown of the key reasons why people with diabetes can’t sleep gives us the following insights:

Factors contributing to sleep difficulty in people with type 2 diabetes Percentage of those people who reported sleep difficulties Estimate of total people affected in the USA
Pain, achiness, or numbness 51% 6 million
Stress and anxiety from diabetes 12% 1.5 million
Symptoms of high or low blood glucose 18% 2 million


dQ&A’s research shows that pain at night is linked to diabetes complications, such as neuropathy. 70% of those people who reported nerve damage as a consequence of diabetes had sleep problems, and nearly 80% of those reported pain at night. People with neuropathy typically have pain every night, and the pain is often worse at night than during the day. Additionally, three quarters of those reporting either depression or foot problems had trouble sleeping, and over 60% of each of those groups reported pain at night.

Finally, dQ&A asked those with recognized sleep disorders to break down their diagnosis. Sleep apnea was extremely common in this group.

Diagnosed sleep disorder in people with type 2 diabetes Percentage of those people with a sleep disorder Estimate of total people affected in the USA
Sleep Apnea 89% 6 million
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) 16% 1 million
Insomnia 18% 1 million


Sleep apnea is a common co-morbidity of diabetes and obesity, characterized by frequent pauses in breathing while asleep. It is more prevalent at higher body mass index (BMI). In the research, a third of all people with BMI above 40 kg/m2 had diagnosed sleep apnea. The American Sleep Association states that around 25 million people in the USA have obstructive sleep apnea.

It’s clear that there is a crisis of sleep difficulty and disorder among the diabetes community. Lack of sleep is bad enough – not only does it worsen quality of life and negatively impact productivity, but it also makes diabetes management harder. Understanding that millions of people with diabetes are kept awake on a nightly basis by stress, pain, and sleep apnea should make us all pause for thought.

Please contact dQ&A’s CEO Richard Wood at for more information about this piece of research, or for inquiries into dQ&A’s industry-leading services.

dQ&A would like to express its sincere gratitude to all of the community members who participated in these research studies.


About dQ&A

dQ&A is a social enterprise that’s committed to making life better for people with diabetes. We harness patient voices to help develop better products, services, and policies, answer key business questions, and improve health outcomes for people with diabetes. For ten years, we have focused exclusively on understanding what life is like for those with diabetes. We are trusted by patients because of our independence and commitment to them. And we are endorsed by industry leaders because we deliver high quality answers quickly and efficiently, through the use of our proprietary community. Our team has decades of experience in quantitative and qualitative research and a deep knowledge of diabetes. Many of our lives have been touched by diabetes, so we have a personal stake in our work.

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