Everyone has different snacks that they like to eat when they are feeling hungry. Diabetics have to be careful about what snacks they choose because the snacks can affect their blood sugar levels throughout the night and in the morning. In this blog post, we will discuss some snacks for diabetics; what would be a healthful snack? A hard-boiled egg or low-fat cheese is an excellent choice!

In this Diabetic & Me article you will learn about:

  • How do glucose levels change overnight?
  • How to avoid low blood sugars?
  • What are the best bedtime snacks for diabetes?

How do glucose levels change overnight?


As you sleep, your body is still working to regulate the fluctuations in your blood sugar levels from the day before.

The reason for this change in your blood sugar levels is the Somogyi effect which happens when someone with diabetes has too much insulin and it drops during sleep. The person also wakes up with higher blood sugar levels because of this phenomenon. Another reason is the Dawn phenomenon where people experience an increase in their blood sugar levels around the time that they wake up on any given morning. Eating your bedtime snack which can help regulate these changes and prevent too much fluctuation throughout the day and into the mornings.

Here are some tips for ensuring you have a restful night and don't wake up feeling groggy-eat meals with healthy carbs at dinner time, eat a light snack before bedtime, or try to turn off electronics around two hours before bedtime.

Why does your blood sugar drop at night?

There are multiple reasons why your blood sugar can drop during the night. Being physically active before sleeping, releasing hormones, drinking alcohol before sleeping, eating low to no carbohydrates, or taking too much insulin before sleeping can affect your blood sugar levels. Eating a bedtime snack can prevent this from happening and can get your blood sugar levels stable during the night if it is done correctly. A variety of bedtime snacks definitely fit into a balanced, healthful diet.

A few months ago I had a low sugar in the early morning at 7 am. My girlfriend heard me crying in my sleep. She woke me up and I couldn't move and I was hallucinating. She right away tested my sugar via my CGM, gave me a sugary drink, ran downstairs to get my glucose meter to prick my finger and see what the actual result was. This was a first and very scary moment for both of us. 

I try to eat something small before I sleep but mainly test my blood glucose before sleeping and adjust my insulin pump levels.

How to avoid low blood sugar at night

A good first step to try and prevent low blood glucose levels is to test your blood glucose levels before bed using your CGM or blood glucose meter. If you know your levels before going to bed you can easily adapt to them. This can help to prevent blood glucose levels drop significantly. Going to bed with stable blood sugars is highly recommended.

If you suspect hypoglycemic episodes overnight, conduct a blood sugar test at 3 am and compare it with your before bed and first thing in the morning tests. You can also adjust your insulin dose according to what you eat. Always consult your doctor before adjusting your insulin yourself.

It's important to have proper nutrition before hitting the hay. Prevent high blood sugar by taking some carbohydrates before bedtime, and prevent low blood sugar by eating a bit of protein.

To control blood sugar levels before sleeping and preventing low blood sugar you can also:

  • One factor that can affect blood sugar glucose levels in diabetics is basal insulin dosage; it's important to reduce the nighttime administration of this medicine.
  • Lower the long-acting insulin that you take at night before going to bed by 50%.
  • When you went out for an evening or night of drinking it's important to eat something that contains carbohydrates
  • Test your blood sugar before going to bed

What is the best thing a diabetic should eat before bed?

A good choice for diabetics would be to have some hard-boiled eggs or low-fat cheese. These two options contain protein and fats that can help balance blood sugar levels overnight. The low-fat cheese has fewer carbohydrates than regular cheese, which will also be helpful in balancing those levels during sleep. But of course, these aren't the most appealing snacks you can have before going to bed. Let alone brushing your teeth after some cheese or eggs in the late evening.

Some other options include fruits such as bananas or grapes (watch out though because these are high on the glycemic index), hummus, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers slices with yogurt dip, celery sticks with peanut butter or almond butter (these options have lower glycemic index scores). Experimenting until you find what works best for you usually takes time but it's worth it to see what does raise blood sugar levels and how to limit blood glucose spikes. Avoid fatty and carbohydrate-rich foods like; pizza, chips, fried food, ...

Some great bedtime snacks for diabetes are;

1. Handful of mixed nuts

A handful of nuts is a healthy snack because it doesn't have any added sugars and fats that are unhealthy. Nuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can help protect against heart disease and other types of cardiovascular issues.

Eating nuts before bed is a good option for diabetics because it can help to lower blood sugar. Eating some nuts such as almonds, walnuts or cashews could be an excellent choice if you are looking for a snack before going to sleep. They also contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are beneficial. Eating a handful of nuts before bed is also helpful for blood sugar levels because it provides protein to help balance the carbohydrate intake.

handful of mixed nuts

2. Low-fat cheese and whole-wheat crackers

A great bedtime snack for people with diabetes is low-fat cheese and whole-wheat crackers. This combination provides protein to help balance carbohydrate intake, which has a lower glycemic index score than regular cheese. Low-fat cheese can also help to decrease blood glucose levels before bedtime and provide essential nutrients for overall nutrition.

3. Hard-boiled eggs

A hard-boiled egg is a good bedtime snack because it provides protein to help balance carbohydrate intake, which has a lower glycemic index score. Eating this type of food before bed can also help to decrease blood glucose levels, and provide the body with essential nutrients and vitamins that are good for overall nutrition. You can easily combine this with whole-grain crackers to add some more fiber to your snack. This helps to manage blood sugar levels and keep your blood sugar stable.

4. Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, or cucumber

Carrots and vegetables are also good bedtime snacks for diabetes because they have a low glycemic index score. This means that they will not spike your blood sugar as much as some other food choices. You can also experiment with vegetables like cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, or celery sticks by adding peanut butter or almond butter to them. These options are low in calories, fats, and carbohydrates and still offer all the vitamins you need, which can be beneficial for diabetes management.

5. Celery with hummus

Bedtime snacks for diabetes are usually a healthy choice, so why not start with something like celery? Adding on some hummus will also make it easier to cut down on the sugar intake later on. Hummus is important because it provides protein and fiber that help balance blood sugar levels overnight. It also has a lower glycemic index score than regular cheese, which will also be helpful in balancing those levels during sleep.

Make sure you make your own hummus at home to get the best and most healthy results. This way you know there is no added sugar in it.

6. Popcorn

Popcorn is a good bedtime snack because it is low in calories, fat, and carbs. It also has just the right amount of blood sugar-raising effect to relieve nighttime insulin levels without causing an unhealthy crash during the night. It depends on the preparation so don't add any sugars.

7. Chickpeas

Roasted chickpeas are low in carbs and high in protein, which is a perfect combination for people with diabetes who want to maintain a healthy weight and blood sugar levels. It's easy to prepare and you can use various spices to give extra flavor.

8. Apple and peanut butter

Peanut butter is a food that has protein and potassium. Protein helps the body to produce insulin and potassium helps the cells to take in glucose. These two nutrients are helpful for diabetics because they help the cells to let blood sugar into the cells. Eating a snack with protein and potassium at bedtime can help people with diabetes to sleep better and rest better at night when their blood sugar levels are stable.

Apple also provides your body with vitamins and the American Diabetes Association says that apples are a good addition to the diet of a diabetic.

9. Greek yogurt

Yogurt is a rich source of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Protein helps control blood sugar levels in those with diabetes, and calcium can help you sleep better. It also contains prebiotics that can improve gut health and help keep your weight under control. Greek yogurt's high protein content is a great reason to enjoy it for dinner or as a bedtime snack - especially for people with diabetes.

You can always add a small handful of pumpkin seeds or mixed nuts to get high-quality protein and take care of your gut health.

sugar free Greek yogurt

10. A handful of seeds

Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds are good bedtime snacks for diabetics because they are typically low in fat and high in protein.

What is the latest time a diabetic should eat?

The latest time a diabetic should eat is about two hours before bedtime. Be sure not to eat too close to bedtime as this may cause a spike in blood sugar levels and disrupt sleep patterns. It's best to have a light snack for about 30 minutes before bedtime, such as those described above to give you a healthful boost.

Conclusion

The best thing diabetics can do at night is to eat a balanced meal with protein and carbs. Avoid eating too close to bedtime, as this may cause fluctuations in your blood sugar levels which will disrupt sleep patterns. If you suspect hypoglycemic episodes overnight, conduct a blood glucose test at 3 am and compare it with the before bedtime reading; always consult your doctor for more information about treating these incidents of low glucose levels during the evening or nighttime hours

A variety of snacks are available that contain only small amounts of carbohydrates such as breadsticks dipped in hummus or carrots dipped into peanut butter/almond butter (these options have lower glycemic index scores). Keep experimenting until you find what works best for you.

About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville and I am the founder of Diabetic & Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996 I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I am currently using a Freestyle Libre CGM and a Minimed 640G insulin pump with Humalog.

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