Overnight lows are a top safety concern for people with diabetes. Depending on which type of Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) you use, a major benefit is that it alerts you when your blood sugar level drops, even if you’re sleeping. This gives you the chance to wake up and take action before your blood sugar sinks to unsafe levels. If your blood sugar regularly goes low overnight, it is time to make some changes. Your Livongo coach can help you tweak your routine so you are more likely to stay stable 24/7.
Here are 6 ways to help you avoid and understand nighttime lows:
Don’t Skimp on Dinner. Eating too little or skipping dinner can lead to low overnight blood sugar. If you get stuck late at work, be prepared with a well-balanced frozen meal or something else you can make quickly when it’s time to eat.
Take Care If You’ve Exercised. Physical activity can lead to low blood sugar if you take insulin or certain medications. It’s also more likely if you have been active for a long time or done a strenuous workout. Talk with your Livongo coach about how to manage the impact of exercise.
Watch Alcohol Intake. Drinking alcohol can make low blood sugar more likely, especially if you take insulin. If you’ve had a few drinks, watch your blood sugar levels more closely. You may need to eat a meal or a snack before you catch some Zs.
Check Levels Before You Turn In. Depending on which CGM you use, it will alert you if your blood sugar gets low while you sleep. But, it’s still crucial to be aware of your pre-bed numbers. Take a look at your CGM at bedtime. If your blood sugar is low or trending down, a healthy snack is called for so your numbers don’t dip too low overnight.
Know Your Meds. Certain diabetes meds, like insulin and sulfonylureas, can cause low blood sugar. Talk to your doctor about how each of your meds work. One might put you at a higher risk for low blood sugar. If you’re not sure, call your doctor. Establish a plan to work with your doctor to adjust your meds if you are having frequent lows.
Time it Right. Taking your meds at the right time is just as important as understanding how they work. Make sure you take your meds as prescribed by your doctor. Doing so off schedule can cause your blood sugar to drop while you sleep.
It’s important to be prepared for low blood sugar overnight, even if you’re not expecting it to happen. If your nighttime blood sugar goes low two or more times in one week, let your doctor know and set up time to talk with a Livongo expert coach. Your diabetes treatment plan may need to be adjusted.
Here are some ways to be prepared if you have an overnight low:
- Stick with Dextrose. This fast-acting sugar is what’s used in most products made for treating low blood sugar. It’s the quickest way to raise blood sugar.
- Use Liquids or Gels. It may be hard to chew and swallow if you wake up to a low. Liquid and gel treatments are easier to get down.
- Prepare Ahead of Time. Remove wrappers and loosen caps for quick and easy access.
- Have Glucagon Handy. Glucagon is an injection that raises blood sugar by helping your liver release sugar. Be sure someone who lives with you is trained in giving this injection. If you can’t swallow, this will be your next step.