Why Does Blood Sugar Go Up At Night
There are many factors that can cause your blood sugar to increase at night. For example: what food you ate during the day, how much and when you exercised, whether you ate snacks before bed, the timing of your insulin doses, and your stress level. You can experience different patterns of high blood sugar at night. You may start with high glucose when you go to bed, start the night in range but go high several hours later, or spend most of the night in range until the hours just before you wake up. By identifying your bodys patterns, you can figure out what is causing your high blood sugar and how to address it.
Common causes of a glucose increase at night include:
Using Medications And Smart Pumps
If following a strict medication and diet regimen does not prevent these spikes from occurring, a person should let their prescribing doctor know. The doctor will likely adjust their prescription.
Diabetes management also requires anyone taking insulin or non-insulin medication to stick to specific timings.
A range of pumps and smart pumps is available to provide continual, timed doses of insulin. These devices provide background insulin to regulate blood glucose levels during fasting periods and sleep. Their use is more common among people with type 1 diabetes than those with type 2 diabetes.
Smart pumps connect to a continuous glucose monitor and can respond to blood sugar spikes, essentially working as an artificial pancreas. However, with all pumps, manual inputs are still necessary during meals.
People with diabetes have to be especially careful about keeping their blood sugar levels under control and avoiding spikes in blood sugar.
Various triggers can contribute to these spikes. For example:
Persistent blood sugar spikes can have severe consequences.
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Reduce Your Sugar Intake
The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day. That translates to around 350 calories .
While some of this is added as table sugar, most of it comes from processed and prepared foods, such as candy, cookies and sodas.
You have no nutritional need for added sugar like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup. They are, in effect, just empty calories.
Your body breaks these simple sugars down very easily, causing an almost immediate spike in blood sugar.
Studies show that consuming sugars is associated with developing insulin resistance.
This is when the cells fail to respond as they should to the release of insulin, resulting in the body not being able to control blood sugar effectively .
In 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration changed the way foods have to be labeled in the US. Foods now have to display the amount of added sugars they contain in grams and as a percentage of the recommended daily maximum intake.
An alternative option to giving up sugar entirely is to replace it with sugar substitutes.
Sugar is effectively empty calories. It causes an immediate blood sugar spike and high intake is associated with insulin resistance.
Diabetic Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Syndrome
Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome is a potentially life threatening condition involving extremely high blood sugar levels.
When your blood sugar gets too high, the kidneys try to compensate by removing some of the excess glucose through urination.
If you dont drink enough fluids to replace the fluid youre losing, your blood sugar levels spike. Your blood also becomes more concentrated. This can also occur if you drink too many sugary beverages.
This condition is called hyperosmolarity. Blood thats too concentrated begins to draw water out of other organs, including the brain.
Failure to monitor and manage blood glucose levels can also lead to HHS.
Symptoms may develop slowly and increase over a period of days or weeks. Possible symptoms include:
- fluids given through your veins to prevent or reverse dehydration
- insulin to lower and stabilize your blood sugar levels
- potassium, phosphate, or sodium replacement if necessary to help return your cells to their normal function
Treatment will also address any complications from HHS, such as shock or coma.
Factors that can increase your risk of complications with HHS include:
- advanced age
- severity of dehydration when youre treated
- the presence of other illnesses when youre diagnosed
Take the following steps to help prevent HHS:
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Blood Sugar Spike Causes
Blood sugar levels fluctuate all day long. When you eat food, particularly foods high in carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, or pasta, your blood sugar will immediately begin to rise.
If your blood sugar is consistently high, you need to talk with a doctor about improving your diabetes management. Blood sugar rises when:
- youre not taking enough insulin
- your insulin isnt lasting as long as you think it is
- youre not taking your oral diabetes medication
- your medication dosage needs to be adjusted
- youre using expired insulin
- youre not following your nutritional plan
- you have an illness or infection
- youre taking certain medications, like steroids
- youre under physical stress, such as an injury or surgery
- youre under emotional stress, such as trouble at work or home, or with money problems
If your blood sugar is usually well managed but youre still experiencing unexplained blood sugar spikes, there might be an acute, or more recent, cause.
Try keeping a record of all the food and drinks you consume. Then check your blood sugar levels according to your doctors recommendations.
Its common to record your blood sugar reading first thing in the morning, before youve eaten, and then again 2 hours after eating.
Even a few days of recorded information can help you and your doctor learn whats causing your blood sugar spikes.
Common reasons for blood sugar spikes include:
Drink Water And Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water could help you keep your blood sugar levels within healthy ranges.
In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out any excess sugar through urine.
One review of observational studies showed that those who drank more water had a lower risk of developing high blood sugar levels (
You can do so at home using a portable blood glucose meter, which is known as a glucometer. You can discuss this option with your doctor.
Keeping track allows you to determine whether you need to adjust your meals or medications. It also helps you learn how your body reacts to certain foods .
Try measuring your levels regularly every day and keeping track of the numbers in a log. Also, it may be more helpful to track your blood sugar in pairs for example, before and after exercise or before and 2 hours after a meal.
This can show you whether you need to make small changes to a meal if it spikes your blood sugar, rather than avoiding your favorite meals altogether. Some adjustments include swapping a starchy side for non-starchy veggies or limiting them to a handful.
Checking your blood glucose and maintaining a daily log enables you to adjust foods and medications when necessary to better manage your blood sugar levels.
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Make Sure To Eat Fiber At Meals And Snacks
When you eat refined white flour, such as pizza crusts, pasta, or crackers, your body is taking in carbs and sugars only and will experience more significant spikes in blood sugar, as there’s no fiber to keep levels stable or to slow digestion.
“Focus on fiber-rich foods to not only manage a post-meal rise in blood sugar but also to assist with gut health as well,” Harris-Pincus says.
Indeed, eating fiber-rich and blood sugar-friendly foods will promote your body’s gut-healthy bacteria, which can further help to balance blood sugar, while keeping your digestive system regular. High-fiber foods include fruits with skin, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains, as well as other fortified cereals.
How To Measure Your Spikes
The American Diabetes Association recommends you check your blood sugar levels right before mealtime with a blood sample from a finger stick. Then do it again 1 to 2 hours after that first bite of food.
Keep this up for a week or so. Write down the time and the blood sugar number. Make a note about anything you think might affect your levels, like medicine or exercise. And don’t forget to log exactly what you ate, along with portion sizes and the amount of carbs.What levels are too high after a meal? Experts vary on what the number should be, but the ADA says a general goal is a blood sugar level under 180 mg/dL, 1 to 2 hours after a meal. Talk to your doctor about what you should aim for, and don’t adjust your medicine without speaking to them first.
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High Blood Sugar Causes
Sometimes the cause of a blood sugar spike is clear . But other times, the cause is a little more mysterious.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, losing sleep, skipping breakfast, not drinking enough water, or drinking coffee can cause blood sugar instability.
Even weirder, sometimes a sunburn can cause a spike! The pain of a burn causes stress, and high levels of stress can mess up your blood sugar. So bust out the sunscreen for the sake of your pancreas!
Other causes include eating high-sugar/high-carb foods, drinking alcohol, getting sick, and changing medication. A diet low in fiber and high in refined carbs or sugars and a sedentary lifestyle also make high blood sugar more likely.
So, what can you do when your blood sugar gets too high? Here are some natural ways to get your sugar back into a safe zone.
Simple Tips To Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes
Blood sugar spikes occur when your blood sugar rises and then falls sharply after you eat.
In the short term, they can cause lethargy and hunger. Over time, your body may not be able to lower blood sugar effectively, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a rising health problem. In fact, 29 million Americans have diabetes, and 25% of them dont even know they have it .
Blood sugar spikes can also cause your blood vessels to harden and narrow, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
This article looks at 12 simple things you can do to prevent blood sugar spikes.
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When To Go To The Er
High blood sugar can be very concerning because your body can start burning fat for energy instead of blood glucose.
This can cause conditions such as DKA and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome . These conditions are medical emergencies and can be fatal if left untreated.
DKA is a serious complication of type 1 diabetes. Its rare in people with type 2 diabetes, but can occur.
Symptoms that can indicate you should go to the emergency room include:
- ketones in your urine, as diagnosed using a urine dipstick test
- stomach pain
High blood sugar levels can cause a fluid imbalance in the body and can cause the blood to become acidic in a manner that doesnt support life.
Medical treatments for these conditions include administering intravenous insulin on a continuous basis and IV fluids to correct dehydration.
High blood sugar can become a medical emergency. Go to the ER if you suspect DKA or HHS.
Work Closely With A Diabetes Educator And Your Doctor
Diabetes management takes constant vigilance to ensure your insulin regimen and eating plan is working effectively. The medication and insulin combination that works best varies depending on the person.
Talk with your doctor if youre concerned about your ketone levels spiking frequently.
Last medically reviewed on May 3, 2022
- Diabetes & DKA . . https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/dka-ketoacidosis-ketones
- Ketones. . dtc.ucsf.edu/types-of-diabetes/type2/understanding-type-2-diabetes/how-the-body-processes-sugar/ketones/
- Ketone testing. . joslin.org/patient-care/diabetes-education/diabetes-learning-center/ketone-testing-0
- Urbain P. . Monitoring for compliance with a ketogenic diet: what is the best time of day to test for urinary ketosis? ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5097355/
- Hu, Cheng, et al. Biomarkers of Metabolic Disorders: Diagnostic and Prognostic Values, and Insights into the Pathogenesis. BioMed Research International, vol. 2014, 2014, pp. 12., retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/586272.
- Misra, S., and N. S. Oliver. Utility of Ketone Measurement in the Prevention, Diagnosis and Management of Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Diabetic Medicine, vol. 32, no. 1, 2014, pp. 1423., retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/dme.12604.
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Eating Habits To Avoid Blood Sugar Spikes Say Dietitians
When it comes to managing your blood sugar, you have a ton of factors to think about. According to the CDC, overeating, feeling stressed, and even getting sick can spike your glucose levels and lead to unwanted symptoms like fatigue and distorted vision. For many, exercise, medicine, and the right meal plans can keep these issues in check. And while exercise plans and pharmaceutical regimes can easily fall into place, keeping track of your meals and eating habits can prove a bit trickier.
The Mayo Clinic recommends your diet consists of seafood, fruits, and vegetables packed with fiber, and good fats while limiting many refined carbs. While this advice is easier said and done, you still need to manage exactly how you eat.
Luckily, we assembled the top positive eating habits to embrace when you need to avoid blood sugar spikes and avoid the nasty side effects that come with them. By incorporating these patterns into your own meal routine, you can keep glucose spikes to a minimum and feel that much more consistent. Then, for more meal inspiration, be sure to check out our list of the 22 Meals to Melt Belly Fat in 2022.
Is It Safe To Sleep With High Blood Sugar
Glucose levels that are occasionally a little high at night generally dont pose serious, immediate health concerns. Most people with diabetes cannot avoid some high glucose levels. However, frequent or long-term highs particularly extremely high levels can be dangerous. It is important for people with diabetes to reduce high blood sugar as much as possible for two key reasons:
Frequent hyperglycemia can lead to major health complications caused by damage to blood vessels and nerves, which can affect your eyes, heart, kidneys, and other organs. This occurs when glucose levels are too high over a long period of time.
Very high glucose levels can be a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis . This occurs mainly in people with type 1 diabetes and can be life-threatening. For more information on DKA, read Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis: Whats the Difference.
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How To Manage A Blood Sugar Spike
The best way to manage high blood sugar is to check your blood sugar and take your medication as instructed. If you frequently experience blood sugar spikes, your doctor may change your medication routine.
You can also lower your blood sugar by exercising. However, if your blood sugar level is repeatedly above 240 mg/dL , check your urine for ketones using a test kit.
If you do have ketones, do not exercise. In this case, exercising may make your blood sugar levels go even higher.
If you think you may have DKA, you can test your urine for ketones using a test kit. If ketones are high, call a doctor and seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Choose The Right Medication
Two classes of injectable hormones, GLP-1 agonists , semaglutide ) and amylin mimetics , have powerful effects on post-meal blood sugar. Both GLP-1s and Symlin slow gastric emptying and keep carbohydrates from raising the blood sugar too quickly after meals. Symlin, which is a replacement for the amylin hormone , also helps to diminish appetite and blunt post-meal glucagon secretion. GLP-1s blunt appetite and promote the growth of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas of those with type 2 diabetes. So both can contribute to better post-meal high blood glucose control.
Your choice of oral medication can also impact your after-meal control. Sulfonylureas stimulate the pancreas to secrete a little extra insulin throughout the day, without regard to meal timing. Because these medications fail to concentrate the insulin secretion at times when it is needed most, after-meal blood sugars can run very high. There are alternative medications called meglitinides which also stimulate the pancreas but do so in a much faster and shorter manner. When taken at mealtimes, meglitinides produce better after-meal high blood glucose control than sulfonylureas.
Another class of oral diabetes medications improve after-meal control by partially blocking the transport of sugars across the intestines and into the bloodstream. However, these medications can sometimes cause gas, bloating and stomach upset, so the pros dont always outweigh the cons.
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Tips To Avoid Sugar Spikes
Your body works hard to keep the sugar in your blood at a safe level. As soon as you eat that cookie or bowl of pasta, your pancreas starts putting out the hormone insulin to process the sugar youve taken in.
Too much sugar in your blood makes it thick and syrupy, which is not good. Imagine how much extra work that is for your heart as it tries to pump goopy blood around your body.
In the short term, a spike in your blood sugar will cause a sugar rush, followed by a sugar crash, with all the cravings and lethargy that go along with that.
In the long term, repeated spikes in your blood sugar can cause heart problems, kidney problems, problems with eyesight, and nerve issues like neuropathy, where you lose feeling in fingers and toes.
When we work our pancreas too much by consuming simple sugars that cause sugar spikes, its going to tell us, I’m tired, and I need a break, says dietitian Kendall Stelwagen. It cant keep up with the amount of insulin needed to deal with the sugar, and that’s when we’re going to see insulin resistance, prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes and related heart problems.
Here are four things Stelwagen and dietitian Sheila Vo want you to know about keeping your blood sugar in check.
The insulin your body releases to control the sugar actually makes us hungry, so after your sugar spike, you’re going to be reaching for more things to eat, says Stelwagen.
Lack of sleep will also affect your bodys ability to use insulin to keep blood sugar down.