Monday, April 21, 2008

Nighttime hypoglycemia and hypoglycemia unawareness

Both Friday and Saturday nights this weekend, I woke up crashing at about 3:30 or 4:00 am.

Nighttime hypoglycemia is an issue that many diabetics have to deal with, particularly any diabetic who takes insulin. The problem is that during the middle of the night, there is a period where hormone production stops. Since hormones make insulin less effective, a sudden lack of hormones makes insulin more effective. In a normal body, the pancreas simply produces less insulin, but of course a diabetic taking a 24-hour time-release shot of insulin doesn't have that option.

The end result is that there is a period overnight where diabetics on insulin can crash. To prevent that, I have to go to bed with my blood sugar a little on the high side (ideally about 150). That way, when it drops it won't go too low.

Both instances of nighttime hypoglycemia this weekend were probably caused by too much insulin before bed, or not enough of a snack. Both times, I woke up shaking and drenched in sweat. Hypoglycemic episodes are by far the worst part of being diabetic, in my opinion.

In this case, though, I'm actually kind of glad of it. I hadn't woken up crashing in a long time, and because of a few other indicators, I was worried that I had developed some hypoglycemia unawareness (which is where you don't get the symptoms of crashing, usually because it happens so often that your body stops taking notice).

Not waking up for nighttime hypoglycemia is potentially dangerous, so having woken up crashing twice recently is as much a relief as it is an inconvenience.


Irreverent Freelancer said...

This was always one of the things that concerned me about my grandmother. Once or twice she actually had to be taken by ambulance because her sugar dropped so low overnight that whoever was with her at the time could not wake her up in the morning.

Katharine Swan said...

That's scary. My sister had a friend in college whose little sister had died from a nighttime hypoglycemic episode.

Which is why, of course, I was actually happy to wake up crashing. It sucked at the time, but at least it relieved my concerns about not waking up for it anymore!