Blood sugar changes throughout the day, depending on the food we eat, our overall hydration, and daily activity. Oftentimes, the blood sugar rises while we sleep, as a result of our natural clock. It may fluctuate between going up and down, and that is perfectly normal if you don’t have any chronic conditions. However, too big fluctuations both up and down can compromise your sleep quality and even deprive you of much-needed sleep.
Blood glucose levels should always be above 70 mg/dl, even when you sleep. If that level drops below this threshold, it is said that you have low blood sugar in sleep.
This condition is also known as nocturnal hypoglycemia and it can affect people who were exercising too vigorously, have a low-sugar diet, tend to skip dinner, or have a chronic condition that affects the glucose levels in the body.
Sleep plays an important part in maintaining your blood sugar, especially the number of hours you spend sleeping. If you continuously experience nocturnal hypoglycemia, you are potentially exposed to a dangerous condition.
Luckily, it can be easily managed and even prevented if you consult a doctor and make some lifestyle changes following the doctor’s prescription.
Still, it’s important to consult the doctor as soon as possible, when you notice these changes in your sleep and provide thorough training for your family or roommates that live with you.
In this article, we’re going to detail the safety of sleeping with low blood sugar, while also highlighting the risks and effective ways to prevent it. Continue reading this article to get more information and react thoroughly in case you or someone you know sleeps with low blood sugar.
Hypoglycemia defines as a condition that can occur at any time of the day when the blood sugar drops below the permitted threshold. If it occurs while you sleep, it’s called nocturnal hypoglycemia, as it happens mostly at the night.
People who occasionally suffer from hypoglycemia need to read their blood sugar frequently and consult a doctor for the necessary changes in lifestyle, activity, and nutrition.
However, it is more likely to happen at night if you have imbalanced A1c hemoglobin readings or you’ve already lived with diabetes for a few years, usually from 5 to 10.
Sometimes, it can happen because you’ve skipped your meals, or exercised too vigorously at a close time to your regular bedtime. Hypoglycemia can be dangerous, especially if the case is severe and your blood glucose level drops below 50 mg/dl. According to a study, more than half of severe blood glucose drops occurred during the night.
Unfortunately, this condition often goes unnoticed and even if you do notice some symptoms, you may think that something else may be causing it. That’s why communication with roommates is super important and teaching them how to react.
Is It Safe to Sleep With Low Blood Sugar?
As mentioned earlier, due to a lack of exact symptoms, oftentimes nocturnal hypoglycemia goes unnoticed until it starts happening frequently and causes some severe consequences. Some of the symptoms you may notice first in the night are:
- Inability to fall asleep or frequent waking up
- Hot flashes and sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
- Slower breaths
- Racing heart rate and heart-sinking
- Having vivid dreams that often turn into the nightmares
Most people may sleep through their hypoglycemia. However, some symptoms may persist in the morning and you can notice the side effects like feeling confused, having headaches, being nervous, intense sleep inertia, wet bed sheets, and others.
No matter whether you already have diabetes or suffer from nocturnal hypoglycemia occasionally, it’s of paramount importance to talk to your doctor because some other conditions may affect your sleep. Your doctor will run tests and recommend you the best therapy.
People who have type 1 diabetes, should immediately consult their doctor and discuss if there are some other types of insulin they can take. More importantly, you can discuss different timings for your insulin and other medication. Finally, you can consult with a dietician who can give you a special diet plan to manage your symptoms.
If your hypoglycemia is extremely severe, you can end up with a seizure or loss of consciousness, both conditions which can be fatal if not managed in time.
That’s why it’s of utmost importance to manage your symptoms thoroughly and help your household members recognize if there are fluctuations in your blood sugar. The right reaction in case of severe hypoglycemia can save your life and prevent serious heart or brain damage.
No condition that makes your heart skip a beat and race is good for you, especially if it happens continuously. Symptoms that are managed at the right time will allow you to balance your sugar to normal values will allow you to get enough restless sleep and prevent severe organ damage.
How to Manage & Prevent Nocturnal Hypoglycemia Symptoms
The most comforting bit about sleeping with low blood sugar is that the symptoms are completely preventable if managed on time. Certain lifestyle changes can also help, in combination with changed therapy and nutrition. Read below about the steps you need to take to manage and prevent symptoms.
Don’t Skip Meals
A lot of people are led by the belief that skipping dinner will allow them to tone down the extra weight and look good in the summer. Whether you have diabetes type 1 or you simply want to lose weight, there’s a lot to be said about skipping meals and going to bed hungry.
Your organism shouldn’t be left hungry the whole night, because not only can growling stomach and guts leave you sleepless during the night, but it can also disrupt your blood sugar levels and lead to nocturnal hypoglycemia which is much worse.
Skipping the meals frequently is a recipe for a disaster, according to a study, so make sure to eat, even when you’re not that hungry because it’s more likely that later you will be. Even if your dinner will be a small snack, you shouldn’t skip on it and deprive your organism of the necessary nutrients just because you will sleep.
Editor’s notes: Having a smaller dinner or a larger is a great choice for managing the low blood sugar levels at night. Still, experts recommend for people not eat 2 to 3 hours before bedtime, so they won’t have difficulties falling asleep. In other words, don’t eat too close to bedtime.
Educate Yourself & Your Family About All The Possible Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar
As mentioned before, to manage the levels of your blood sugar at night, your roommates and family need to understand the behavioral changes that occur during sleep and act accordingly.
If they notice that you are struggling to fall or stay asleep, they should take the action to have you measure your blood sugar levels and prepare a sweet snack that can help pump it up. In case of severe hypoglycemia, they should be ready to call the ambulance or drive you to the closest ER in the vicinity.
Recognizing the symptoms that we mentioned above is super important, so if you notice on your own that you’re struggling to fall asleep, yelling or crying in sleep, and waking up to night terrors, make sure to check your blood sugar.
Editor’s notes: Oftentimes, hypoglycemia is silent, and you won’t notice the symptoms until you wake up. The good news is that your family or roommates can see those symptoms and act before the symptoms get worse and lead to fatal consequences for your health.
Monitor Your Blood Sugar
If you don’t have diabetes, but you suspect that your blood sugar is dropping during the night, it’d be best to start monitoring your blood sugar and get a better idea of what’s happening during sleep.
Before you go to bed, check it and see whether it tends to drop. Don’t go to sleep until your blood sugar is normal. If you have diabetes, don’t forget to take the necessary medication that will balance your insulin and sugar levels.
If you notice that your blood sugar is regularly lower when you go to sleep, you should visit a doctor and discuss the new medication and tests you could do to ensure that your blood sugar level is not dropping out of anywhere.
Editor’s notes: Sometimes, you will need to check your blood sugar several times during the day and observe different patterns that may occur with it. That way you can be sure whether your blood glucose levels tend to drop at night.
Change Your Diet
We discussed earlier that skipping meals can be bad for your overall health, including blood glucose. Eating inadequate food can feel just as bad as skipping meals like dinner. People eat food that is rich in saturated fats, refined sugars, starch, and too many carbs which can bring a hormonal disbalance to the organism.
You’d be surprised to know how much your diet can impact your blood levels, especially during the night when you’re supposed to be sleeping. Eating unhealthy food can causes severe blood glucose fluctuations which can give you vivid dreams but also add difficulties like waking up and being unable to fall asleep.
Try to find a dietician who works with diabetes type 1 and insulin resistance, run the food tolerance tests, and see what type of nutrients suits you the best.
Editor’s notes: Try eating protein-rich food as well as unsaturated fats and natural sugars in your diet.
No Vigorous Exercising in The Night
All health experts recommend exercising and doing a sports activity or two. However, any vigorous or strenuous exercise routine can a major drop in blood glucose over the night, according to American Diabetes Association. Same as with eating, you should avoid exercising two to three hours before bed.
It’d be also a good idea to control your blood glucose levels when you go to sleep. In other words, if you notice that your blood glucose levels dropped under 100 mg/dl after a strenuous exercise, try avoiding going to bed immediately, because your body may get shocked and cause you to get a seizure.
Editor’s notes: We know that everyone wants to keep their body in a healthy shape and that people who lead busy lifestyles have little to no time to exercise until later hours of the day or night. Luckily, you can do light exercises like yoga or meditation to allow your body to relax.
Sleeping and alcohol don’t go together, despite the popular belief that alcoholic drinks like beer will help you sleep easier. It’s no secret that alcohol can make your blood sugar low and cause you to fall into a coma during the night, according to scientists.
If you have diabetes or some other blood sugar disorder, you should only consider taking alcohol in moderation. Avoid excessive drinking so that your blood sugar levels wouldn’t fluctuate and cause severe hypoglycemia.
Change Your Medication
If there’s a need for you to change the medication, you should primarily talk about it to your doctor. Lead a journal where you detail how frequently you experience the hypoglycemia episodes and what are the most notable symptoms that you experience.
Your doctor will run the necessary tests to see if something changed with your health and propose a different medication that will work better with your body and metabolism. Sometimes, it’s necessary to try different medicines until you see which one works the best for you.
More importantly, it’s necessary to never attempt to do any of this alone because your doctor knows the best what things are allowed and what things are not allowed. Experimenting on your own can lead to worsening your current state.
Editor’s notes: Sometimes, your doctor will change your entire therapy and recommend you to change your nutrition. They’ll also propose to make a new blood sugar monitoring plan and focus on different therapy options and exercises.