Preventing Nocturnal Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar attacks at night, how to prevent low blood sugar overnight, What happens if blood sugar gets too low while sleeping?

What is nocturnal hypoglycemia?

This is HYPOGLYCEMIA WHILE ASLEEP. People may not even be aware that they experience night time hypos. It is GOOD to be able to spot the SIGNS and SYMPTOMS.

It is most common in insulin users but can also happen to people who take oral antidiabetic drugs.

Preventing Nocturnal Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar attacks at night
Preventing Low blood sugar attacks at night.

The symptoms include:

– waking up with a headache
– seemingly unprovoked sleep disturbance
– feeling unusually tired
– waking up to a damp bed clothes and sheets from sweating
– sudden nervousness
– unexplained fatigue
– headache
– hunger
– shaking
– difficulty sleeping
– skin tingling
– trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
– loss of consciousness

The causes are:

– too high level of basal insulin
– alcohol consumption
– missing out dinner
– physical activity during the day that increases insulin sensitivity
– following a period of illness if basal insulin was increased
– absence of night time snack when one is usually taken

Other causes of low blood sugar attacks at night:
– certain medications, such as quinine
– some medical conditions, such as hepatitis or kidney disorders
– a tumor that produces excess insulin
– endocrine disorders, such as adrenal gland deficiency

To manage night time hypos, take 10-15g of a quick acting sugary food.

Complications of nocturnal hypoglycemia:What happens if blood sugar gets too low while sleeping?

Low blood sugar attacks at night can lead to:

Irreparable brain damage or injury
Memory loss
Loss of consciousness (insulin shock)
Recent studies have linked severe hypoglycemia as a risk factor for dementia, falls, fractures, and heart attacks.

Nocturnal hypoglycemia can be prevented:

– test blood sugar levels before bed
– ensure basal insulin dose isn’t too high
– speak with your HCP if sugar level drops too low at night
– taking some carbohydrates before bed
– not missing out dinner or any snack you usually have

Written by:

Oluseyi Adenowo MPSN @DiabetesCareIn3
Pharmacist and Diabetes advocate


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