Sometimes, being diabetic is not conducive to getting a good night’s sleep. Apart from the Sword of Damocles that hangs over your head with every morsel you eat and every mile you run – how will that affect my levels? – I’ve noticed a couple of things that diabetes has brought to the nightly ritual. The first is not exclusive to diabetes, of course – the need to get up during the night to go to the bathroom. But diabetes can make that more likely, since higher than normal blood sugar levels cause the body to try and flush out the excess via the bladder. There is therefore a quandary, especially if you are treated with insulin, and at greater risk of suffering low blood sugar levels whilst you sleep – do you eat sufficient carbohydrate before bed to keep your levels high? If you do, then of course your kidneys will kick in to try and expel that extra sugar, wakening you when the pressure becomes too uncomfortable to bear!
There is another reason you might find sleep difficult, however, and this is something I have only experienced as a diabetic. Sometimes, as I fall asleep, I get a similar sensation to the early stages of a hypo. What to do? I find that I can’t ignore it, so I have to get my meter and test, which involves switching on the light and, of course, waking me up again! This doesn’t happen every night, thankfully, but when it does happen it is extremely annoying! Usually, my levels are fine and I was just falling asleep! I find it happens mostly when I have recently experienced a night time low, so the sensation and fear is fresh in my mind. A couple of nights ago, I experienced it and actually was low. Once I had treated the low, however, I was unable to get back to sleep for fear of it happening again. So, come on Mr Sandman! What did Diabetes promise you, eh? Eh????
Diabetes can deprive you of sleep,
An alarming, but little known fact.
It’s as if the disease and the Sandman
Have colluded in some unholy pact!
For, imagine a poor diabetic,
Perpetually aware of his plight,
Nervous and frightened to lay down his head
In case he goes low in the night!
He’ll take careful note of his levels
And, should they not be high enough,
Before he lies down then he might go to town
On bread, jam and chocolate and stuff!
Now, convinced that he won’t have a hypo,
He may think he’s cracked it at first,
But then find that he wakes in an hour
With a bladder that seems fit to burst!
But what if his levels looked perfect,
And he feels himself drift off to sleep?
Could that really mean he’s having a hypo,
And not due to counting those sheep?
So what did it promise you Sandman?
What devious, perfidious lies?
For what ever it was, it must have been good
To prevent you from gritting our eyes!