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Easy bedtime routines for people with diabetes

Having diabetes can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, but there are things you can do to improve your bedtime routine.

Managing diabetes, whether you have type 1 or type 2, is more than a full-time job. Your status doesn’t end at 5pm when you’re ready to take a break. Juggling blood sugar checks, medications, exercise, and eating habits are all part of managing blood sugar.

The mental burden does not stop in the evening. There are things you can do before bed to help your blood sugar levels stay stable overnight. There are also strategies that can improve your sleep.

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Sleep is important for everyone, especially if you live with diabetes. lack of sleep it can increase insulin resistance and affect mood and appetite.

For some people, living with diabetes can affect sleep. Blood sugar can drop or rise during the night, disrupting sleep.

Before you set the alarm and settle under the covers each night, here are some bedtime to-dos. They can help you feel more in control of your diabetes at night and sleep better.

Regular blood sugar checks are an important part of diabetes management. You may already be checking your blood sugar at different times of the day, including in the morning before you eat, before all meals in general, and 1 to 2 hours after a meal.

Bedtime is another good time to try. It’s a good idea to keep our bedtime blood sugar goal in the 80 to 180 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) range.

It is natural for your blood sugar to be on the higher end of this range if you have eaten a meal within the last 2 hours. If it’s on the lower end of that range, you might consider having a snack to keep your blood sugar from dropping too low.

Bedtime testing for at least 1-2 weeks may allow you to see some patterns.

If your blood sugar is high before you go to bed, it is more likely to stay high overnight and be above target in the morning. Anyone with diabetes can occasionally experience high blood sugar before bed.

If you start to notice that your blood sugar is often above target before bed, there are things you can do. Talk to your doctor about managing your blood sugar at this time of day.

Here are some steps that can help lower blood sugar at night:

  • Change the type, timing, or dose of medication or insulin.
  • Eat dinner first.
  • Reduce the amount of carbohydrates at dinner or in the snack before going to bed.
  • Increase the amount of protein in your dinner or bedtime snack.
  • Go for a walk or do another activity after dinner.

When you live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you may experience something experts call the “dawn phenomenon” or the “dawn effect.”

Early in the morning, often between 2 am and 8 am, blood sugar can rise. This means that your blood sugar can be high in the morning, even before you eat anything.

A few things can cause this rise in blood sugar, including:

  • early morning hormone release that increases insulin resistance
  • lack of insulin or medication in the body from the night before
  • high consumption of carbohydrates at dinner or before bed
  • release of glucose into the blood from the liver

Foods can affect blood sugar in different people in different ways. If you’re curious about how a particular bedtime snack might affect your blood sugar, you can do some additional testing.

Management of the dawn phenomenon

High blood sugar in the morning often has nothing to do with what you ate the night before. Medication or insulin changes may be the best way to manage the dawn phenomenon. Medications and insulin are important parts of diabetes management. It’s only natural if your body needs extra help from these treatments.

It can be helpful to first know what your blood sugar is doing at night. There are a few ways to do this. A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) makes constant blood sugar checks and collects this data for you to review. If you don’t use a CGM, talk to your health care professional about trying one.

Another option is to check your blood sugar before going to bed, wake up around 3am to check it again, and test it first thing in the morning when you wake up. If your blood sugar is on target at bedtime, but starts to rise overnight and is high in the morning, it’s likely dawn phenomenon.

For some people, a low blood sugar overnight can cause a rebound high in the morning. This is called the Somogyi effect. Checking your blood sugar around 3 am will detect if your blood sugar drops at this time. Your body may release some stored sugar when this happens, causing a high blood sugar level in the morning.

Insulin pumps can help keep your blood sugar stable overnight. You can adjust your insulin dose with an insulin pump to match the rise in blood sugar due to the dawn phenomenon.

If you take long-acting insulin or medications in the evening and your blood sugar is high in the morning, the dose may not be enough to get you through the night. Talk to your doctor about how to adjust your dose.

Avoid caffeine if it’s a few hours before going to bed. Sources of caffeine include coffee, some teas, chocolate and soft drinks. Caffeinated foods and drinks are stimulants and can keep you awake. For some people, having caffeine at any time in the afternoon makes it difficult to sleep later. Pay attention to how caffeine affects you.

Limit your alcohol intake, especially if you find it affects your sleep. For some people with diabetes, alcohol can raise or lower blood sugar levels. If you drink alcohol, it’s smart to do some extra blood sugar checks to see how alcohol might affect your blood sugar.

Exercise helps the body use insulin more efficiently. Activity can also be a way to reduce stress and calm your mind before bed.

Walking right after dinner or before bed can help keep your blood sugar more stable overnight. Exercising too close to bedtime can affect how quickly you fall asleep. However, this is not the case for everyone. Some people sleep well after a workout before bed.

Know your body and find what works best for you.

To optimize your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, it’s a good idea if your bedroom is quiet, cool, dark, and comfortable.

Set the thermostat between 60°F (15.6°C) and 67°F (19.4°C), the optimal temperature for sleeping.

Lighting matters. Our body produces a hormone called melatonin, which helps us sleep. Light delays the production of melatonin. The more light exposure you have, the less melatonin you produce and the harder it is to fall asleep.

Dim the lights as bedtime approaches. Close the blinds and curtains in your bedroom so that the rising sun doesn’t wake you up in the morning. Consider installing blackout or blackout curtains.

Noise can also disturb your sleep. Move your cell phone to another room or put it in a drawer so incoming texts and calls don’t wake you up. If you are sensitive to noise, use a fan or white noise machine, or use earplugs to block unwanted noise.

Many people in the United States do not get enough sleep. Experts recommend that adults have at least 7 hours to sleep one night about a third of adults in the United States don’t get enough.

Many things can affect your sleep. Nerve pain, frequent thirst, the need to urinate, and hunger can keep you awake. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor if you have any of these concerns. One way to maximize your sleep hours is to get into a bedtime routine.

Just before bed, do something to relax your body and calm your mind to prepare for sleep. Try the following:

  • Take a warm bath or shower.
  • Do some gentle yoga or stretching.
  • Read a book.
  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • Try a guided meditation

Keep the lights low. Limit connection time. Screens emit a type of blue light that can stimulate the brain and make it harder to fall asleep.

If you can’t fall asleep right away, leave the room and read or do another quiet activity for 15 minutes, then get back into bed and try again.