How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep with Diabetes
Diabetes has to be managed 24 hours a day. Even while we sleep.
During the day we have stress, activity, food and other factors adding variables to our blood sugar management. At night, we do have the disadvantage of being asleep though and are often unaware of how our blood sugar is fluctuating. However, if we manage to figure out what works for us in terms of steady nighttime blood sugar levels we can try to recreate those conditions most every night.
We spend a large portion of our lives sleeping and if we can improve our blood sugar levels during that time, we can take advantage of the long-term overall benefit to our health and relish in better sleep.
Here are a few tips to help you get a good night’s sleep with diabetes:
- Refine your basal rate. Whether you use an insulin pump or inject a long-acting insulin, you will still need to make sure that your basal rate (the insulin needed to keep your blood sugar steady when you aren’t eating or correcting blood sugar) is accurate. Of course, there will be days when unplanned activities or events throw off your basal rate but if you can find the rate that works for you most of the time, you will increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep. Here are a CDE’s instructions for testing your basal rate.
- Try not to go to sleep with active insulin/insulin-on-board. The way to do this is to test a few hours before bed and to correct high blood sugar with fast-acting insulin at that time versus having to do so right before bed. Also, avoid eating any carbohydrates that require giving fast-acting insulin, as well. If you do this you’ll be able to go to sleep easier, knowing that you will be able to count on your tried and true basal rate instead of worry if your fast acting insulin will fall short overnight or perhaps be too much and leave you with an overnight low blood sugar.
- Exercise first thing in the morning. There are two reasons this helps. First, the blood sugar influencing effects of exercise will be strongest during the day when you are awake and most easily able to cope with them as opposed to exercising in the afternoon or evening and dealing with the effects into the night. Second, you will find that if you choose to commit to morning workouts then you will want a stable blood sugar level upon waking (otherwise it will be difficult to be consistent with workouts first thing in the morning). This reality will serve as extra motivation to work at getting the right basal rate and not going to sleep with active insulin and with generally keeping very steady blood sugar levels at night.
Being able to keep mostly steady blood sugar levels at night can have a huge impact on your A1c and overall health. Sleep is best when we don’t have to wake up from a sickening high or a scary low. The combination of quality sleep and improved bloods sugar management is worth the extra effort.
Not to mention, the best way to start any day is with a blood sugar level we can be happy about.