Nighttime blood sugar drops are common among diabetics (type 1 and type 2). They can happen due to a number of reasons. Being familiar with their causes can help you prevent them from happening.
Some signs of nighttime lows are shakiness, irregular heartbeats, nausea, restlessness, dry mouth, light-headedness and sweating. If you find yourself waking up with these symptoms, start testing your blood glucose level as soon as you wake up. If you’re waking up to low levels regularly during the night and morning, you need to discuss steps of prevention with your doctor. To avoid these issues is extremely dangerous, so it is vital that you check your blood glucose levels every night and morning.
Make sure to keep up with the following to avoid nighttime dips:
- Don’t skip dinner. Skipping dinner or not eating enough for dinner is one of the most common causes for nighttime dips.
- Check blood sugar before bed. You should make it a routine to check your blood sugar before going to bed each night. Your blood glucose should read at least 140 mg/dl. If your blood sugar is low or you think you’re at risk, have a snack before you fall asleep.
- Know the signs. The symptoms of nighttime dips usually start when your blood sugar levels drop below 70 mg/dl and can include shakiness, light-headedness, confusion and more. You may wake up with these symptoms, but some experience what is called “hypoglycemia unawareness,” which is when you don’t feel the symptoms of the low blood sugar. Even though you don’t exhibit the symptoms, it is dangerous all the same. Talk to your doctor about detecting hypoglycemia if you’re having issues.
- Avoid late night exercise. While regular exercise is recommended, it is also recommended that you not exercise within two hours of going to bed. If you notice your blood sugar level is low (below 100 mg/dl), double up on your bedtime snack to prevent a dip.
- Limit alcohol before bed. The consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of a nighttime dip. While having an evening drink with your dinner can minimize the chance of alcohol causing low blood sugar while you sleep, it is recommended that you drink in moderation during the day.
- Be prepared. If you’re regularly waking up with nighttime dips, you may want to consider investing in a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). The CGM can sound an alarm if your blood sugar becomes too low during the night. Make sure to keep supplies accessible if this is a frequent issue, such as a snack, juice or a glucose tablet next to your bed.
Make sure that your nightly blood glucose reading is at least 140 mg/dl before you go to bed. If not, make sure to take the precautions recommended and have a snack on your bedside table ready for you. Nighttime blood sugar dips are not uncommon among all types of diabetics, but they are avoidable when you take the right steps to prevent them. If you’re struggling to manage nighttime dips on your own or think that you may be suffering from “hypoglycemia unawareness,” talk to your doctor.