Low Blood Sugar At Night Is A Common Danger For People With Diabetes It Is Important For Both You And Your Sleep Partner To Know The Warning Signs And Have A Plan For Treatment
Untreated hypoglycemia can lead to a seizure and be life-threatening.
You know it is important to have tight control of you blood sugar with diabetes. Tight control is how you prevent diabetes complications. One of the dangers of tight control is letting your blood sugar get too low, called hypoglycemia.
The most dangerous time for hypoglycemia is when you are sleeping, a condition called nocturnal hypoglycemia. Up to 50 percent of diabetics may have episodes of nocturnal hypoglycemia. In fact, almost 50 percent of hypoglycemic episodes occur at night and more than half of dangerous episodes occur at night.
What If Im Experiencing Hypoglycemic Episodes Even Though My Doctor Has Confirmed That Im Not Diabetic Or Prediabetic
If you have low blood sugar and don’t have diabetes or prediabetes, it can be a sign of another serious health issue such as a tumor, hormone deficiency, kidney disorder, anorexia, or other eating disorder, all of which can cause dangerously low blood sugar.
Anorexia has the highest mortality of any psychiatric disorder, and the cause of death can be hypoglycemia, so take your illness seriously and seek help if you suspect your eating disorder may be progressing to the point where it is causing you to faint or experience other signs and symptoms of dangerously low blood sugar. The National Eating Disorders Association has resources on how to identify the signs that you may have an eating disorder, a hotline for help, as well as easily accessible information on everything from how to know when you need help to how to find quality treatment options in your zip code.
“People who are not diabetic don’t spontaneously have hypoglycemia for no reason,” explains Dr. Christofides. “It’s often an indication of another underlying issue, such as a hormone deficiency or eating disorder, so it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause in order to prevent complications.”
Common causes of hypoglycemia in people without diabetes include:
- Pancreatic tumor
- Medication that inhibits the proper production of insulin
- Hepatitis or kidney disorders
- Hormone deficiencies
- Anorexia and other eating disorders
Steps For Treating A Person With Symptoms Keeping Them From Being Able To Treat Themselves
Don’t hesitate to call 911. If someone is unconscious and glucagon is not available or someone does not know how to use it, call 911 immediately.
- Inject insulin
- Provide food or fluids
What Causes Blood Sugar To Drop Rapidly Apart From Too Much Insulin
Clearly, then, too much insulin is what causes blood sugar to drop rapidly. But there’s more to it than simply taking too much insulin.
Skipping meals or eating less than what you’re used to will also mean having too much insulin in the body.
In addition, the body’s sensitivity to insulin can change throughout the day. The greater the insulin sensitivity, the less insulin the body will need. If insulin sensitivity has increased, this will often be due to the combination of exercise and diabetes.
Fasting. Aside from not taking in any carbs for the insulin to displace, fasting can also lead to not having enough nutrients, which can hinder the body’s digestive abilities.
Similarly, illness can impact the body’s response to glucose. Illness will usually increase blood sugar but it depends on what kind of illness and how your body responds to it – which can give low blood sugar. Read more on this topic with Diabetes and the Flu.
Meanwhile, sleep itself may not lower blood sugar, but you can still get low blood sugar in the night – for the same reasons you would in in the day.
The only difference is that you can’t treat it as effectively because you’re… well… asleep. So, do have carbs ready by your bed, just in case. Read more on Diabetes and Sleep.
What Extreme Conditions Can Occur If Hypoglycemia Is Left Untreated
Although severe episodes which can trigger potentially life-threatening comas are rare, they require immediate emergency room care, so it’s best to make sure you are tracking your blood sugar so that you never have to worry about getting to that point. A drop in blood sugar means less fuel for your brain, so it’s critical for your body to receive enough glucose. “Hypoglycemia that leads to extended, reduced brain function is the biggest concern, as this can lead to seizures and loss of basic bodily functions controlled by the brain, which can ultimately lead to death,” explains Dr. Dyer.
What Are Some Tips To Prevent Nighttime Blood Sugar Level Dips
Are There Any Newer Technologies To Prevent Hypoglycemia
“We are lucky that in this day and age, we can predict hypoglycemia and prevent it through technology like continuous glucose monitors,” explains Dr. Shah. Additionally, he notes that there are newer insulins available to help decrease episodes of hypoglycemia.
“One of our roles as your doctor is to educate every patient about the self-management of diabetes and to create a personalized care plan,” explains Dr. Shah. “By self-managing your condition you will really feel empowered enough to take control of your health.”
Dr. Shah is located at the Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group Diabetes Center, part of Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group. Call to schedule an appointment at the office in Old Bridge.
Our care network can help you better manage your health. Visit HMHMedicalGroup.org to find a practice near you.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.
What Else Can I Do To Help Manage My Blood Sugar Levels
- Keep track of your blood sugar levels to see what makes them go up or down.
- Eat at regular times, and don’t skip meals.
- Choose foods lower in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and salt.
- Track your food, drink, and physical activity.
- Drink water instead of juice or soda.
- Limit alcoholic drinks.
- For a sweet treat, choose fruit.
- Control your food portions .
The Importance Of Treating Low Blood Sugar Immediately
Always treat hypoglycemia right away. Even if an emergency doesn’t occur, a continued drop in blood sugar levels can affect your thinking – for example, you might not even realize you have to eat or drink something to bring up your blood sugar. That means you’ll have to rely on someone else tohelp you. If no one’s around, things can get much more serious. For instance, you might decide to drive, but because your muscles are affected by low blood sugar, you could be at higher risk to get into an accident.
If your blood sugar drops below 20 mg/dl you may lose consciousnses.This is an emergency situation and requires prompt care as it can leadto serious consequences such as heart attack or a seizure.
Teach people close to you what to be aware of and what to do in case you can’t treat yourself. You might also want to teach them how to test yourblood sugar.
Although it’s useful to know what to do when your blood sugar drops, it’s easier to prevent low blood sugar levels rather than treat it after it’s happened. Monitor your blood sugar levelsregularly with a or home testing kit. If you continue to have repeated episodes of hypoglycemia, talk to your healthcare professionals to discuss changes to your diabetes treatmentplan.
How To Treat Someone Who’s Unconscious Or Very Sleepy
Follow these steps:
They may need to go to hospital if they’re being sick , or their blood sugar level drops again.
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to lose consciousness.
What To Do When Your Blood Sugar Levels Drop Too Low
People who use insulin and other diabetes medications are at risk for hypoglycemia. Keep this action plan handy so you’re prepared.
If you take insulin or diabetes medication, you may be at risk of developing hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Without quick attention, hypoglycemia can lead to serious complications, so it’s important to know what to do if it happens to you or someone close to you.
“In very severe cases, hypoglycemia can lead to seizures or loss of consciousness,” says Marilyn Tan, MD, a clinical assistant professor of medicine, endocrinology, gerontology, and metabolism at Stanford Health Care, and chief of the Stanford Endocrine Clinic.
It’s possible to have hypoglycemia but have no symptoms, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases . On the other hand, symptoms can also come on rapidly. While symptoms vary from person to person, if you develop mild to moderate low blood sugar you may:
- Feel shaky or jittery
- Have a headache or be lightheaded
- Turn pale
- Be irritable or combative
- Have blurred vision or see double
“Some people feel tingling or numbness in their extremities too,” says Rodolfo Galindo, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology, metabolism, and lipids at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and chair of the inpatient diabetes taskforce.
Tips To Prevent Blood Sugar From Dropping At Night
Sulay Shah, M.D. contributes to topics such as Diabetes.
Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar or low blood glucose, occurs when blood glucose levels drop below normal—which is typically below a level of 70 milligrams per deciliter . With levels more commonly ‘dipping’ at nighttime, otherwise referred to as nighttime hypoglycemia, this condition affects mostly patients with diabetes.
How To Treat Someone Who’s Having A Seizure Or Fit
Follow these steps if someone has a seizure or fit caused by a low blood sugar level:
Tell your diabetes care team if you ever have a severe hypo that caused you to have a seizure or fit.
How To Raise Blood Sugar Levels Quickly And Safely
- To raise blood sugar levels quickly, eat or drink something containing about 15 grams of simple carbs for a quick boost to restore blood glucose.
- Frequent low blood sugar episodes can cause a potentially dangerous condition called hypoglycemia unawareness, where there are no warning signs until more severe symptoms, like shakiness and confusion, set in.
- This article was medically reviewed by Scott Kaiser, MD, geriatrician and Director of Geriatric Cognitive Health for Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Hypoglycemia is a condition where blood sugar levels drop too low and need to be restored fast. If the condition isn’t treated quickly, you risk symptoms and complications like shakiness, confusion, seizures, or even death.
Here’s what you need to know about the causes and symptoms of hypoglycemia and the safest ways to raise blood sugar quickly.
What Else Can You Do To Control Blood Sugar Levels
Yes. People with diabetes should wear identification stating they have diabetes and whether they have recurrent low blood sugar. Those at risk for the health condition should be counseled on checking blood sugars before they drive a car, operate heavy machinery, or do anything physically taxing. In addition, it is important to carry a quick-acting glucose source at all times, and keep a source in their car, office, and by their bedside. Efforts should be made to minimize the hypoglycemic effects of drug regimens and to avoid variable surges in exercise, activity, and drinking alcohol.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
Different people may feel low blood sugar levels differently. People with low blood sugar may:
- feel hungry or have “hunger pains” in their stomach
- feel shaky or like they’re trembling
- have a rapid heart rate
- feel sweaty or have cold, clammy skin
- have pale, gray skin color
- have a headache
- have seizures or convulsions
- lose consciousness
If you have diabetes, try to remember how your body reacts when your blood sugar levels are low. It may help you figure out when you’re having a low blood sugar level more quickly the next time.
Tips For Managing Diabetes & Alcohol Consumption
The best thing to do to help manage your diabetes and alcohol consumption is to speak with your doctor. They can give you personalized advice based on your condition and drinking habits.
Here are some tips that can help you manage your alcohol consumption if you have diabetes:
- One drink per day for women, and two drinks for men, is considered “moderate” drinking
- Never drink on an empty stomach, or when your blood sugar levels are low
- Choose light beer over heavy craft beers
- Avoid sugary drinks
- Read the labels and pay attention to the nutritional content for every drink you consume
Faqs Alcohol Consumption And Blood Sugar Levels
Does alcohol lower blood sugar in non diabetics?
Possibly. Alcohol may lower blood sugar levels in non-diabetics if they are in the fasting state . However, as each person is unique, the effects of alcohol on blood sugar levels will vary.
How long does alcohol affect blood sugar?
The amount of time that alcohol affects blood sugar levels will vary according to the amount of alcohol consumed, as
What is the best alcohol to drink for a diabetic?
Due to the potential effects of alcohol on blood sugar levels, individuals with diabetes face a higher risk of health problems. Alcohol may interact with diabetes medications, and even worsen side effects associated with such drugs. Individuals living with diabetes who would like to drink alcohol should therefore speak with their doctors first. Healthcare professionals can best determine the options available.
Can diabetics drink whiskey?
A standard drink of whiskey may not have any serious effect on blood sugar levels. However, it is best to consult a healthcare professional before consuming alcohol.
Causes Symptoms Diagnosis Treatments And Support
When you’re diabetic, a severe drop in blood sugar can strike even when you’re doing everything right. Glucose is your body’s main source of energy and fuels your brain, so it’s critical to recognize the early signs of an episode before it becomes severe enough to cause you to pass out or worse. We’re here to empower you with clear answers to all your pressing Qs.
What Complications Can Be Caused By Hypoglycemia
Passing out from low blood sugar because you have not recognized the early signs and symptoms is called hypoglycemia unawareness, and can be quite dangerous depending on where you are, explains Dr. Klonoff. As doctors are required to report such incidents to the Department of Motor Vehicles, it can also mean a suspended driver’s license.
If this is something you’re worried about, “Wearing a continuous glucose monitor with an alarm for hypoglycemia can alert a person who is prone to developing low blood sugar levels that their blood glucose concentration is becoming dangerously low, so appropriate preventive action can be taken before they lose consciousness,” explains Dr. Klonoff.
Its All About Balance Moderation And Consistency
The sugar high is all fun and games until the resulting sugar crash affects the quality of your day.
The term refers to the sudden drop in energy levels after consuming a large amount of carbohydrates. This can include pastas and pizza but is usually more common after eating simple carbohydrates, also known as simple sugars, such as desserts.
A sugar crash often causes undesired symptoms that can disrupt productivity and energy levels throughout the day.
Kelsey Herrick, senior dietitian at Sanford Health, suggests balance, moderation and consistency are the most effective ways to avoid these crashes. Herrick shares her knowledge on sugar crashes, how to avoid them and what to do if you get one.
Easy Ways To Lower Blood Sugar Levels Naturally
High blood sugar occurs when your body doesn’t make enough or effectively use insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose and helps it enter your cells for energy.
High blood sugar is associated with diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 13% of U.S. adults live with diabetes, and 34.5% have prediabetes (
This means close to 50% of all U.S. adults have diabetes or prediabetes.
Here are 15 easy ways to lower blood sugar levels naturally:
Correcting High Blood Sugar Levels With Insulin
If you take insulin, one way to reduce blood sugar is to inject insulin.
However, be careful as insulin can take 4 hours or longer to be fully absorbed, so you need to make sure you take into account how much insulin you may already have in your body that is yet to be absorbed by the blood. Insulin that is yet to be absorbed by the blood is called ‘active insulin’.
If you decide to correct with insulin, watch you don’t over correct as this can lead to hypoglycemia and can be dangerous, particularly so before bed.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia tends to present as a cluster of symptoms, and they often occur together. The most common signs of dangerously low blood sugar include:
- Dizziness, disorientation, light-headedness, and an inability to think clearly
- Hunger, especially if you’ve just eaten
- Heightened irritability, confusion, and anxiety
- Clamminess and sweating, with cold hands and feet
- Drastic mood swings
If you have one or more of these symptoms contact your doctor.
How Can I Pay For Tests And Diabetes Supplies
Medicareexternal icon, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans pay for the A1C test and fasting blood sugar test as well as some diabetes supplies. Check your plan or ask your health care team for help finding low-cost or free supplies, and see How to Save Money on Diabetes Care for more resources.
How To Treat A Low Blood Sugar Level Yourself
Follow these steps if your blood sugar level is less than 4mmol/L or you have hypo symptoms:
You do not usually need to get medical help once you’re feeling better if you only have a few hypos.
But tell your diabetes team if you keep having hypos or if you stop having symptoms when your blood sugar level is low.
All About Keto And Hypoglycemia With Meg Doll
My friend and holistic registered nutritionist, Meg is here to talk to us about keto and hypoglycemia! I’m thrilled to share her real food, self love, keto wisdom will all of you!
I am so grateful to be a guest blogger here on The Castaway Kitchen today! Cristina and I only recently became friends through Instagram a few months ago, but I am so grateful for our new friendship and her invite to have me on her blog today! For those of you who do not know me, here’s a little about me before we get into the goods of today’s topic:
I am Meg Doll. I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and have a fiery passion for guiding women to wake up every morning with that “holy-shit-my-life-is-so-good feeling”.
I swear from time to time when I’m fired up about a topic I love to talk about or educate others on and the reason why I want you to be so amped up about your life is because I know what it’s like to live in darkness. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I battled eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. Because of my journey, I am not your average nutritionist. I see food as a powerful tool to support our bodies in the healing process, but I believe all healing begins with you. Your mindset, your thoughts, your love.
How To Prevent Low Blood Sugars In The Future
There is probably no way to completely eliminate low blood sugars at night, but I have learned how to limit them quite a bit. What I do is pretty simple — I try to learn from my mistakes. If I have a low during the night, I’ll go back and see how my bolus and basal patterns were the day before, what I ate, and what I did.
For example, my last low blood sugar was at 4 am a few nights ago, and when I went back and analyzed the data, this is what I found:
Since it was 4 am and my last snack was at 11 pm, the low couldn’t be due to my last bolus. I also hadn’t changed my basal amount. However, I had moved my workout to later in the evening. So my conclusion was that to limit future nighttime lows, I should take less basal insulin before I go to bed if I work out later in the evening. That’s a pretty easy fix. I reduced my nightly basal and now I’m sleeping through the night again and waking up with perfect sugars.