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Low blood glucose can happen at any time of day. But it may be more likely to happen during sleep, when you go for several hours without eating. It's also more of a risk early in your treatment, as your body adjusts to your new insulin regimen. Here are a few steps you can take to help prevent low blood glucose during the night.
Check blood glucose at bedtime. You need to make sure that your blood glucose is high enough to sustain you through the hours you're asleep. Most children and teens should aim for a bedtime blood glucose of over 100 mg/dL. If you hit this bedtime target, you can go to sleep as usual.
If bedtime blood glucose is less than 100 mg/dL:
- Have a nighttime snack. (If a snack is already part of your daily schedule, add some carbohydrate to the snack.)
- Recheck your blood glucose in one to two hours. You can go to sleep after the snack -- you'll just need to wake up to recheck.
Call your doctor.
You are in danger. If you’re dropping in your sleep you’re over medicated.
Successful diabetes treatment is a balancing act between medications and therapies that lower blood sugar on one hand, and our intake of food on the other hand. Once balanced, it works pretty well, but sometimes getting that balance right is quite a trick. If you are going low in your sleep, we haven’t figured out that magic balance yet (or something has changed—maybe you lost weight or are eating less).
Low blood sugar is always dangerous, but especially at night. You need to hook up with your medical team right away. In the meantime, eat a snack at bedtime as anti-low insurance. Half a peanut butter sandwich is a good choice. Unless you don’t like peanut butter. You want something that is somewhat high-carb, but also high in fat so that it lasts a long time. Chocolate is another good choice, except that your spouse will refuse to believe that it’s “medicine.”
You want to avoid super-fast sugars in this case. A glass of juice would be a poor choice.
But an evening snack is a patch. An emergency measure. It's unacceptable as part of your long-term therapy plan. You shouldn’t have to feed your medications.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.