Diabetic & Me

What Should Blood Sugar Be At Bedtime? Routine Checks Part of Diabetes Management

What Should Blood Sugar Be At Bedtime - Routine Checks Part of Diabetes Management

What is your blood sugar goal at bedtime? You might find it hard to believe, but what you eat and drink can make a big difference in what should your blood sugar be at bedtime. For instance, if you have high blood sugar and still drink soda or juice before bedtime, then what should your blood sugar be at bedtime will likely not hit the target range of 5.0-8.3 mmol/L (90-150 mg/dL). And if that happens, what should happen next will depend on how severe the situation is.

In this Diabetic & Me article you will learn about:

  • Easy before bed routines for people with diabetes
  • What are normal blood sugar levels?
  • Does my blood sugar level drop overnight?

Easy Before Bed Routines for People with Diabetes

You might be surprised to learn what your blood sugar should be at bedtime. The range is usually 5.0-8.3 mmol/L (90-150 mg/dL), and it’s important to check what yours is before going to bed. Checking your blood sugar before you go to sleep will give you information about what caused any spikes or dips in the day that you might not have noticed. For instance, if your nighttime reading were high, this would tell us that something may have happened during the day (perhaps a missed meal) that could affect your diabetes management plan.

Creating a bed routine can also be helpful if your blood sugar at bedtime is higher than what you’d like it to be. For instance, rather than eating or drinking anything sweet before bedtime and then checking how what should happen next for diabetes management will depend on what the readings are in the morning, try adding this into a routine:

  • Eat dinner earlier in the evening
  • Don't drink sugar-sweetened beverages before bedtime
  • Eating a nitrile snack before bed helps maintain your blood sugar normal and prevents your liver from releasing excess glucose
  • Limit alcoholic beverages to the extent they disturb sleep
  • Too close to bed exercises often can cause poor sleeping habits
  • Avoid eating caffeine within several hours of going to bed
  • Take medicine if needed to lower your blood sugar levels, but don’t take too much insulin so you won’t have a low reading in the morning.

Always consult with your doctor before changing anything to your diet, insulin plan, or diabetes management.

What is normal blood glucose?

There is no one blood glucose level that defines a person as normal. The table of blood glucose levels below gives the appropriate values at different times and in different states, according to the American Diabetes Association. For example, insulin-dependent diabetics often use an upper limit of 7 mmol/L or 140 mg/dL, while non-insulin-dependent diabetics may aim for less than 6 mmol/L or 108 mg/DL.

The blood glucose levels range between less than 100-180 mg/dL for adults from 20 years or older. Depending on your age this may vary.

  • Fasting: Less than 5.6 mmol/L or 100 mg/DL
  • Before meal: 3.9-7.2 mmol/L or 70-130 mg/DL
  • 1-2 hours after eating: Less than 10 mmol/L or 180 mg/DL
  • Bedtime: 5.6-7.8 mmol/L or 100-140 mg/DL

Be aware that the above numbers might be different for everyone depending on your doctor's recommendations.

Do Your Blood Sugar Levels Drop When You Sleep?

Yes, people with diabetes may experience a blood sugar level that drops when they sleep. This is largely due to a phenomenon called the dawn effect.

This doesn't always happen and it's not something that everyone experiences but as time goes on, our bodies will tell us which pattern is best for it: whether we should eat before bed or not. It's important to experiment with what works best for our individual needs - if eating before bed causes our blood sugar to drop too low, then we'll know that it's best to avoid eating for the hours leading up to bed to keep your blood sugar under control.

If we do experience a drop in blood sugar levels, there are some strategies that may help us either prevent or treat it. Some people will take insulin before going to bed if they know their blood sugar is too high; others might drink juice or eat cereal with milk before bedtime when they know they have low blood sugar during the night.

The Dawn Phenomenon

The dawn phenomenon is what happens when people experience a spike in their blood sugar levels right before they wake up in the morning. This can happen for many reasons and there are a number of different types of diabetes that can cause this to happen. Dawn is quite common in people with Diabetes Type 1.

The dawn phenomenon can happen because the body tries to secrete insulin on its own, perhaps as a result of low blood sugar levels during sleep. The pancreas may also release hormones that trigger an increase in glucose, or byproducts like cortisol which are known to break down muscle and cause gluconeogenesis (the process of forming new supplies of glucose). The body is not able to use this glucose properly and instead, it converts the excess blood sugar into fat.

The Somogyi Effect

The Somogyi Effect can cause higher blood sugar levels in the morning if you take too much insulin before bed, or skip your nighttime snack.

When blood sugar reaches a low point during sleep, your body responds by producing hormones that block the effects of insulin. This increases your risk for rebound hyperglycemia- an early morning rise in blood sugar levels following a drop overnight.

Sleeping Habits and Diabetes

According to research, insomnia affects how well you respond to insulin. People who sleep more than 9 hours each night also tend to have higher rates of diabetes. Sleep apnea can also increase someone's probability of diabetes. Researchers have discovered that sleep-induced diabetes could raise the risk of other types of diabetes. More than 400 respondents reported how much sleep they get the night before.

Therefore it's quite important to have a good night's rest so you have enough strength throughout the day. Below you can find a few tips to create the perfect routine.

1. Check your blood sugar levels before sleeping

Checking your blood sugar levels before sleeping is a good idea to make sure you're not going low. If you are using a glucose meter try to avoid going to bed with hypoglycemia. If you have a continuous glucose monitor make sure you review the

It might take some practice but eventually, this routine could become natural and we'll be able to have an accurate representation of what our body needs without having to even think about it.

If any numbers seem high at all - don't hesitate; check with your doctor as soon as possible so they can help you figure out how best to get them under control. We want those numbers right where they should be! 

2. Eat a bedtime snack

Eating a bedtime snack before bed is a good idea to help keep blood sugar levels from decreasing overnight. It's best if you eat about two hours before going to bed - this is the time when insulin starts working and it will prevent any low-blood sugars between dinner and breakfast.

This snack should be something with carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber (preferably fruit, grains, or nuts). Eat a modest amount of food but make sure that it has enough calories for your body weight so you don't wake up hungry in the middle of the night.

Your goal at bedtime isn't just checking how much glucose is circulating through your system; rather, you want to have stable blood sugar throughout the evening - which means being mindful of what we're putting into our bodies.

handful of mixed nuts

3. Avoid alcohol before nighttime

Another good habit is to avoid alcohol before going to bed. This can cause your blood sugar to increase quickly but leave you with low levels overnight. Avoiding alcohol for a few hours before bedtime will help keep the glucose in balance and prevent fluctuations.

If you do drink alcoholic beverages before going to bed try to eat a healthy snack with some carbohydrates to catch that low blood sugar after drinking alcohol. 

4. Avoid excessive exercise late at night

Try to avoid any exercise late at night before going to bed. If your blood sugar is less than 5.6 mmol/L or 100 mg/DL before sleeping and you do want to exercise make sure you double your food portion. If you do excessive exercise late at night this can lead to increased blood sugar during the next day. 

5. Don't skip dinner

Diabetics are at a risk for developing high blood sugar levels or having a risk for low blood sugar levels during the night if they don't eat dinner. Don't skip dinner and make sure you have a bedtime snack before bed so you can keep your glucose levels stable. 

6. Stay away from stimulants

Stimulants can affect your sleep cycle in a few different ways. Some stimulants have light addictive properties which create a decreased quality of sleep. Also, the brain needs time to wind down and feel relaxed for quality shut-eye so these drugs will not only make you anxious but they'll also keep you up at night with the inability to fall asleep. One of the well-known stimulants is caffeine that can be found in Cola, coffee, and some teas. Stay away from this and other stimulants before bedtime to have a more natural night's sleep. 

7. Take a walk

The idea is to take a walk for fifteen minutes or so before bedtime. This has two main benefits. First, it will take some of the pressure off your feet by helping them go into what's called "the plantarflexed position". To use this position, start by rolling onto your back and pushing yourself up until you feel your heels are on the ground. Next, take one foot and pull it up between your thighs. Repeat with the other leg. In this position, take fifteen minutes to do all-fours stretches or even just take a short stroll inside while rubbing those tired feet down with some foot cream!

The second benefit is that walking around will actually help regulate blood sugar levels via exercise. Endorphins are released when you take a walk and this leads to better moods as well. The key is to take those fifteen minutes before bed for some much-needed relaxation time, go on a "walkabout". Don't make it excessive exercise! 

Conclusion

It's important to know what your blood sugar should be before bedtime because it can have an effect on how you sleep and the following day. You may need to adjust insulin dosages or make changes in your diabetes management plan if you find that too high of a reading is happening at night, but don't worry! If your numbers are usually normal, then there isn't anything wrong with this number when checking for bedtime. It is always good practice to check these readings so that any problems can be addressed as soon as possible.

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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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