How is hypoglycemia different from hypothermia?

Hypoglycaemia while sleeping

Hypoglycaemia manifests itself, for example, by sweating, cravings, palpitations, tingling of the lips, tremors, confusion or aggressiveness. However, many people do not notice signs of hypoglycaemia until they wake up, for example:

  • high morning glucose levels
  • sweaty sleepwear
  • Exhaustion
  • a headache
  • Memories of nightmares

If you wake up at night and notice signs of hypoglycaemia, you should measure your blood sugar immediately. If it is actually too low, you can quickly raise it again with glucose, sugar cubes, fruit juices or cola drinks.

However, if you have severe hypoglycaemia, you may no longer be able to help yourself. That is why it is so important that your loved ones, especially your partner, know the signs of nighttime hypoglycaemia and can provide help immediately. If you are unconscious, your partner has to inject glucagon into the subcutaneous fatty tissue or the muscles and call the emergency medical service.

Prevent hypoglycaemia while you sleep

If you are concerned about hypoglycaemia during sleep, you should check your blood sugar before you go to sleep. Note that changes in your everyday life can affect your blood sugar, for example if you eat less than usual or have exercised in the evening. Basically, it makes sense to keep regular sleep times and avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening.

Alcohol: risk of hypoglycaemia

Since alcohol is high in carbohydrates, the blood sugar initially rises. At the same time, it inhibits the normal formation of new sugar in the liver, so that the blood sugar drops again. Even several hours after consuming alcohol, there is still a risk of severe hypoglycaemia and unconsciousness. Particularly dangerous: If the liver is blocked by the alcohol, the glucagon injection will no longer help. In this case, glucose (grape sugar) must be given directly into the vein.

Treatment options

If you notice or suspect hypoglycaemia at night, contact your doctor immediately. Together you will discuss what could be the cause. If necessary, the doctor recommends that you measure your blood sugar over a certain period of time at night and in the morning. Continuous glucose monitoring may also be helpful.

In individual cases it can make sense to dose the basal insulin lower at night or to take a late evening meal. Switching to other insulin medications or an insulin pump can also reduce the number of nocturnal hypoglycaemia.

Bad sleep with diabetes

Overweight and / or high blood pressure diabetics in particular often suffer from sleep-related breathing disorders, also known as sleep apnea. Those affected snore loudly and irregularly at night. The next morning they feel tired and exhausted. Often the sleep apnea syndrome also indicates an increased risk of vascular diseases with consequences such as heart attack or stroke.

Depression, from which diabetics are more frequently affected than non-diabetics, can lead to sleep disorders and thus severely limit the performance and quality of life of those affected. Most of the time, however, sleep disorders can be treated well. If you have any problems, contact your doctor.