Call it what you like. Low blood sugar at night, night-time hypos, or nocturnal hypoglycemia (if you want to sound fancy). Regardless, it’s something that many will know well: Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that nearly half of occurrences of hypos happen at night when sleeping.
Following on from our blog post about high blood sugar at night, we want to continue the theme with best practices for low blood sugar at night.
When it comes to diabetes and sleep, that snooze can make quite a difference to blood sugar levels. Here’s some advice to keep, and which will get you back to sleep!
General low Blood Sugar Symptoms
As many with diabetes will know, low blood sugar or – more specifically – hypoglycemia is where blood sugar levels drop to below 70 mg/dL or 4 mmol/L.
Hypos can usually come with insulin use (since insulin lowers blood sugar). Some of the general symptoms of hypos are:
- Feeling confused and/or anxious
- Blurry eyesight
- Difficulty concentrating
Low Blood Sugar at Night Symptoms
The above symptoms are often experienced whilst awake. Clearly, when you’re asleep you don’t tend to experience things in the same way. In fact, it’s quite possible that you sleep through low blood sugar at night and wake in the morning with the following signs:
- Damp bed sheets from sweating
- Feeling unrested
- Low blood sugar in the morning
You may also wake during the night because of hypos, which can come with their own night-time signals.
At the same time, however, the possibility of sleeping through a hypo means that it could be a good idea for friends or family who live with you to be aware of the signs. So, both you and those close to you can keep an eye out for these signs of low blood sugar at night:
- Fast heart beat
- Irregular breathing
- Moving a great deal whilst sleeping
Treating low Blood Sugar at Night
Treating low blood sugar at night is just the same as treating it during the day. So, the good news is that it doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that!
It’s a good idea to be prepared beforehand by keeping something with carbs by your bedside. Then, take the standard steps when looking into how to fix low blood sugar – namely, the rule of 15.
The rule of 15 involves first taking 15 grams of fast-acting carbs (like three glucose tablets or a small carton of orange juice) and waiting 15 minutes.
If your blood sugar is still too low after that period, then take 15 grams of slow-acting carbs (like three digestive biscuits) and wait to see if your blood sugar rises.
You can get more information on the rule of 15 by downloading our info sheet in PDF right here!
How to Prevent low Blood Sugar at Night
When it comes to preventing anything with blood sugar levels, it’s always a good idea to check your blood sugar levels. Check your blood sugar before bed (and before brushing teeth – just in case you need to eat carbs!).
If your blood sugar is too low, then you’ll know you’ll need to correct it before going to sleep.
But what if you still get low blood sugar at night, even when your blood sugar seems fine before bed? You could try some of the following:
- Avoid exercising too soon before bed. Does exercise lower blood sugar? Yes, often it can (if it’s aerobic exercise). It’s worth thinking about when you’re getting your sweat on.
- Make sure to have your evening meal – so that your body won’t be running low on carbs
- In consultation with your doctor, try adjusting your basal insulin, in case it’s too high for you during the night.
- Eat a snack before bed, especially if you’ve had alcohol. The combination of diabetes and alcohol can make your blood sugar go slightly haywire. Try to get the balance back with a snack.
You might not want to try all of these at the same time because that could make your blood sugar go too far in the other direction. See these suggestions more as trial-and-error steps on your path to finding what works best for you.
Making your Blood Sugar work for you
When you’re disturbed during the night with low blood sugar, it may feel like diabetes rules over your life.
But when you start trying different ways to keep that blood sugar in check, it becomes a matter of you ruling over your diabetes. You deserve a full night’s sleep, and you can be in control of that.
At Hedia, we think that there are always possibilities for getting your diabetes under control. And that’s what our app is all about really: taking care of the smaller diabetes details to allow you more freedom (or more sleep).