Tips for Managing Nighttime Hypoglycemia
Many people with diabetes (both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes) experience hypoglycemia while sleeping—this is called a nighttime low (as in low blood glucose level). Many factors affect nighttime hypoglycemia, and you should learn about those so that you work to prevent nighttime lows. This article gives diabetics tips on preventing nighttime hypoglycemia.
If you frequently wake up with symptoms of hypoglycemia, such as a headache, nausea, restlessness, dry mouth, light-headedness, or sweating, start testing your blood glucose level when you get up. If you note that your blood glucose is often low—below 70 mg/dL—in the morning, you and your doctor need to takes steps to stop the nighttime hypoglycemia.
Strategies for Preventing Nighttime Hypoglycemia
To reduce the risk of nighttime hypoglycemia, you need to come up with a way of ensuring you have more glucose in your body during the last few hours of sleep.
You and your doctor may attempt to do this by having you eat a snack at bedtime made up of complex carbohydrates. Whole wheat bread, black or pinto beans, or a bowl of oatmeal just before bed may give you those slow-burning carbohydrates that you need to make it through the night.
Your diabetes treatment team may also decide to change your insulin regimen (if you’re using insulin, as all people with type 1 diabetes do and some people with type 2 diabetes do). If you change your dinnertime or bedtime insulin to trade more long-acting insulin for less short- or moderate-acting insulin with dinner or at nighttime, you may have the glucose you need during those final sleeping hours.
A continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump device may also help. Instead of injecting insulin with dinner or before bed, the device would provide you with small doses many times throughout the night. You could program it to administer the insulin so it gradually uses the glucose in your body.
You could also further manage your diabetes by electing to program the continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump to sound an alarm if your blood glucose drops too low. It would wake you so you could eat a glucose tablet or snack before dozing off for your final nighttime hours of sleep.
You can prevent nighttime hypoglycemia with a few steps—and avoiding overnight lows will get your day off to a better start!