- Easy Before Bed Routines for People with Diabetes
- Check your blood sugar level
- Eat a bedtime snack
- Stay away from stimulants
- Take a walk
- Prepare your bedroom for sleep
- Get into a bedtime routine
- Diabetes Forecast
- Nighttime Snack- A Blood Sugar Must
- Why are blood sugar levels high in the morning?
- How can a snack before bed help control blood sugar levels?
- Snack ideas before bed
- The ‘Bedtime Snack’ for Inmates With Diabetes
- 30 Diabetic Snacks That Won’t Spike Your Blood Sugar
- Tips for Building Healthy Snacks for Diabetics
- 10 Healthy DIY Diabetic Snacks
- 1. Low-Carb Buffalo Baked Zucchini Chips
- 2. Roasted Curry Chickpeas
- 3. Homemade Sugar-Free Granola
- 4. Super Easy Chocolate-Peppermint Popcorn
- 5. Black Bean Dip
- 6. Ham and Cheese Roll-Ups
- 7. Keto Cheese Crisps
- 8. Keto Shrimp Guacamole and Bacon Appetizers
- 9. Creamy Coconut Chia Pudding
- 10. Cheesy Keto Broccoli Cauliflower Tots
- Cereal School Packs Make the Perfect Diabetic Snacks
- A high-protein, low-fat snack before bed may help people with diabetes stabilize their blood sugar levels overnight.
- How do glucose levels change overnight?
- Best ways to snack before bed
Easy Before Bed Routines for People with Diabetes
Managing diabetes — whether you have type 1 or type 2 — is a full-time job. Your condition doesn’t clock out at 5 p.m. when you’re ready to take a break. You have to maintain your blood sugar checks, medication, exercise, and eating habits all day to keep your disease under control.
In fact, you should be mindful of your diabetes all the way until bedtime. Before you set the alarm and settle in under the covers each night, here are a few bedtime to-do’s that will help you get more control over your diabetes and sleep more soundly.
Check your blood sugar level
Routine blood sugar checks are an important part of managing your diabetes. Checking your blood sugar at bedtime will help you and your doctor know whether your medicine and other treatments are adequately controlling your blood sugar levels overnight. Your blood sugar goal at bedtime should be in the range of 90 to 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
Eat a bedtime snack
When you live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you might have experienced something that experts have named the “dawn phenomenon” or the “dawn effect.” Early in the morning — often between the hours of 2 a.m. and 8 a.m.—your blood sugar might spike.This surge in blood sugar could be the result of factors such as: the release of hormones early in the morning that increase insulin resistance, insufficient insulin or medication dosing the night before, carbohydrate snacking at bedtime, or your liver releasing a burst of glucose overnight.
To combat the dawn phenomenon, eat a high-fiber, low-fat snack before bed. Whole-wheat crackers with cheese or an apple with peanut butter are two good choices. These foods will keep your blood sugar steady and prevent your liver from releasing too much glucose. Just keep the portion size small, so you don’t exceed your recommended calorie or carbohydrate count for the day. Eating too much before bed can contribute to weight gain, which is counterproductive when you have diabetes.
Foods can affect different people’s blood sugar in different ways. Monitor your blood sugar in the morning to help determine how much and what type of a snack may be best for you.
Stay away from stimulants
Avoid caffeine — coffee, chocolate, and soda — within a few hours of bedtime. These caffeinated foods and drinks stimulate your brain and can keep you awake.
Also, limit alcohol intake, especially if you find it to be disrupting your sleep and impacting your blood sugar levels.
Take a walk
Exercise helps insulin work more efficiently. Taking a walk just after dinner or before bed can help keep your blood sugar under control through the following morning. According to the National Sleep Foundation, exercising too close to bed may impact how fast you fall asleep. However, this isn’t the case for everyone, as some people sleep fine after a workout before bed. Get to know your body and find what works best for you.
Prepare your bedroom for sleep
To optimize your ability to fall asleep and stay that way throughout the night, your room needs to be quiet, cool, dark, and comfortable.
Set the thermostat between 60˚F (15.6˚C) and 67˚F (19.4˚C) — the optimal temperature for sleep.
Dim the lights. Close the shades and curtains so the rising sun won’t wake you up in the morning. (If the light bothers you, consider installing room darkening or blackout curtains.)
Move your cellphone to another room or put it in a drawer so incoming texts and calls don’t wake you up. If you’re sensitive to noise, get a fan or white noise machine, or use earplugs to block out any unwanted sounds.
All of these things can prep the sleep hormones to kick in and help you fall asleep.
Get into a bedtime routine
Between 40 and 50 percent of people with diabetes have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. Nerve pain, frequent thirst, the need to urinate, and hunger can all keep you awake. You can work with your doctor to control these issues, but one way to maximize your sleep hours is to get into a bedtime routine.
Just before bed, do something to relax your body and quiet your mind to prepare it for sleep. Take a warm bath, do some gentle yoga, or read a book. Keep the lights low. Turn off all computers, tablets, and other electronic devices because they emit a type of blue light that can stimulate your brain.
If you can’t fall asleep right away, leave the room and read or do another quiet activity for 15 minutes, then climb back into bed and try again.
Sue Robbins, RD, CDE, responds: Eating smaller meals with frequent snacks is a very healthy way to eat, especially if you have type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is not able to produce as much insulin as it once did. Smaller portions and snacks—especially when you’re eating carbohydrates—may help you achieve better blood glucose control.
Unfortunately, many snacks are high in calories, carbohydrates, and fat. Cheese is high in saturated fat. It may not affect your mom’s blood glucose, but it may cause an increase in her cholesterol level and weight. Your mom might try eating cheese that has reduced fat or is made from 2 percent milk.
Other examples of healthy snacks from the milk group that have only 15 grams of carbohydrate (or, one carbohydrate choice) include 1 cup of fat-free or 1 percent milk; half a cup of sugar-free pudding; and low-fat yogurt with no sugar added.
For your mother’s bedtime snack, she might also try having a piece of fruit, like a small apple, or half a cup of canned fruit in light syrup or juice. Combining the fruit with a half cup of cottage cheese or peanut butter will give her added protein. Protein may increase satiety, the feeling of being full when she is done.
When choosing a starchy snack, people with diabetes should be careful about the serving size. One starch serving (one carbohydrate choice) is three squares of graham crackers, three-quarters of an ounce of pretzels, a slice of toast, or three-quarters of a cup of unsweetened cereal, like cornflakes. Other snacks that have few or no carbohydrates include raw veggies with low-fat dip, sugar-free popsicles, one egg, or a handful of nuts.
If your mom is unsure how snacks will fit into her meal plan or if she takes insulin to control her blood glucose, she should check with her diabetes educator or dietitian for assistance.
Nighttime Snack- A Blood Sugar Must
Over and over again, I have heard people say “Don’t eat after 8pm, its bad for your health” with no evidence to back up this supposed claim. Your body will not magically turn all calories into fat if you eat a piece of fruit, a cracker or even your dinner the second the clock strikes 8pm, but for those with type 2 diabetes, not eating a nighttime snack may actually be contributing to high blood sugars in the morning.
Why are blood sugar levels high in the morning?
Medications for diabetes-especially insulin – work by helping glucose enter the cells and lowering blood sugar values. This medication is adjusted specifically for each individual in order to make sure that blood sugars don’t stay too high or drop too low. However, insulin may act in your body for an extended period of time, depending on the type. During the day, we are constantly providing our body with sources of carbohydrates either by eating three distinct meals every several hours or grazing throughout the day. For those who choose not to eat anything between dinner and breakfast the next morning, this provides a window of potentially twelve hours with no carbohydrates entering the bloodstream. As mentioned before, insulin often works over an extended period of time, and may still be helping lower your blood sugar at night when you are sleeping and will cause a low blood sugar at night. You might be wondering how this will lead to high blood sugars in the morning right about now.
Our bodies have a unique system of storing some extra glucose in our liver, and these stores are called glycogen. When we eat foods that are turned into glucose as they are digested, a limited amount of this glucose is stored in the liver for emergency purposes in case we need a boost of energy to run away from a bear that is about to eat us. For the average American, we typically don’t encounter bears on a day to day basis, and this extra storage is mainly just that – extra. This extra glucose storage is used for another purpose also. If blood sugars get too low at night, the body releases some of its stored glucose into the bloodstream. More often than not, more glucose than needed is released into the bloodstream, causing you to wake up with a high blood sugar value- hiding the low blood sugar that happened in the middle of the night.
How can a snack before bed help control blood sugar levels?
Eating a snack before bedtime will shorten the window of time that your body is going without carbohydrates. For example, eating a snack with one carbohydrate choice (15g Carbohydrates) mixed with protein and fat will help glucose slowly be released during the night, and will help make sure blood sugars don’t drop at night when medications are working with no food entering your system.
Snack ideas before bed
If you find yourself having relatively stable blood sugars during the day, yet high blood sugars in the morning, try a nighttime snack to help maintain blood sugar regularity.
Here are some bedtime snack ideas:
- 1 small apple and tablespoon peanut butter
- 5 wheat thins and an ounce of cheese
- 4 oz cottage cheese and a small handful of nuts
Do you find a nighttime snack helpful? Share here!
The ‘Bedtime Snack’ for Inmates With Diabetes
I had an obese type 2 diabetic patient at one of my jails who wrote a long grievance about not receiving a bedtime snack. He argued in the grievance that he had received a bedtime snack at previous facilities where he was incarcerated (which was true) and a bedtime snack was “the standard of care” for type 2 diabetics. While it is indeed true that bedtime snacks for type 2 diabetics are indeed routine at many correctional facilities, I believe that bedtime snacks for type 2 diabetics is, in most instances, a bad idea and bad medical care. In order to understand why we should begin with how diets work in correctional facilities.
Almost all facilities adhere to a national standard that all inmates must be offered at least 2,500 calories of food a day. Most jails offer closer to 3,000 calories per day to make sure that they don’t ever go below the 2,500 threshold. Of course, 2,500-3,000 calories a day is more than most sedentary inmates need. If they eat everything offered to them, some inmates gain weight while in jail. The situation is even worse for women since women are served the exact same number of calories as men are, but of course, generally, need less.
Also, since feeding inmates is an expensive part of operating a jail, correctional facilities typically work hard to keep inmate food costs low. Most jails (believe it or not) pay less than $2.00 per inmate per day for food. Since carbie foods like bread are cheaper than protein, jail diets tend to be carb-heavy. It is true despite the fact that most jails have their menus certified as healthy by a licensed dietitian — even the diabetic diets.
Finally, the foods available for purchase by inmates from the jail commissary are almost universally “junk carbs” such as packets of ramen noodles and candy bars. In my experience, the jail commissary companies resist efforts to offer healthy foods because, well, no one buys them.
To summarize, most jails offer more calories per day than a typical sedentary inmate needs. The meals tend to be “carbie.” And more junk carbs (but no healthy food) can be purchased from the commissary.
This can be a problem for our type 2 diabetics. We want them to reduce the amount of “junk carbs” that they eat and also, if possible, to lose weight. To do that, they usually need to eat fewer calories. But what happens when we prescribe a diabetic snack? As is routinely done in the correctional centers I have seen, the bedtime snack of say, a sandwich and milk, is added to the regular 2,500-3,000 calorie diet. So, the diabetic in jail who gets a snack receives more calories and more carbohydrates than the non-diabetic counterpart. This is the exact opposite of ideal medical care for type 2 diabetics.
Where did this idea that all diabetics need a night-time snack come from?
As far as I can determine, there were two historical sources of this practice. First, when the oral hypoglycemics and long-acting NPH insulin came on the market in the 1940s, the concern was that the glucose-lowering drug could potentially make patients hypoglycemic during the night. It is important to remember that there was no quick and easy way to measure blood sugars at that time. You could draw blood for a glucose level but you would not have the results until a day or two later. The first simple fingerstick glucose measuring tests were not mass-marketed until the 1980s! So, for the first 30-40 years that insulin and oral hypoglycemics were used, there was no way to easily know what a patient’s blood sugars were running. Patients had the highest risk of hypoglycemia during the night, so it made sense for the patient to have a stomach full of carbohydrates in case they were needed.
That is not the case nowadays. We can quickly and easily know exactly what an individual patient’s bedtime sugar is. If the patient’s bedtime blood glucose level is 400, there is little chance they are going to become hypoglycemic overnight and a bunch of extra calories and carbs is not going to help them.
The second historical source of the bedtime snack comes from the idea that a more constant and consistent absorption of carbohydrates would be easier for the diabetic to metabolize than a few big boluses. In other words, six smaller meals would be better than three larger meals. However, the total number of calories and carbohydrates consumed during the day ought to be the same, whether divided among three meals or six meals. This is not what is usually done in corrections. The diabetic snack is added on top of the diabetic diet at most jails. The diabetic and the non-diabetic eat the same number of calories for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and then the nighttime snack is added on as extra calories and carbs for the diabetic.
My original patient weighs 350 pounds. His A1C upon admission to the jail was 12.5%. His average blood sugar at bedtime is 360. When I check his commissary purchases, I note that he buys around 15-20 candy bars a week. Sorry, but this patient would not benefit from a bedtime snack. He is highly unlikely to experience hypoglycemia at night. Also, he needs to lose weight and cut carbohydrate consumption. What he really needs is diabetic education and encouragement, which we will give to him.
Paradoxically, despite the crappy diet and poor commissary offerings, most of my type 2 diabetics show a marked reduction of their A1Cs after three months in jail. This is due, in part, to not being able to go to McDonald’s or raid the refrigerator at 2 o’clock in the morning. But this is also due to the fact that diabetics usually see medical professionals far more often in jail than they would have on the outside. I intend to review this patient’s daily blood sugars every other day and see him in clinic every other week initially. I am confident that this patient will also see his A1C fall in the next three months — without a bedtime snack.
Jeffrey E. Keller, MD, FACEP, is a board-certified emergency physician with 25 years of experience before moving full time into his “true calling” of correctional medicine. He now works exclusively in jails and prisons, and blogs about correctional medicine at JailMedicine.com.
Last Updated October 24, 2019 Comment
30 Diabetic Snacks That Won’t Spike Your Blood Sugar
Nothing will ever come between you and your snacks. You’ll choose a night in with Netflix and snacks over a night out with friends. But just because you need to switch to low-sugar, low-carb snack options doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Let the hunt for diabetic snacks commence.
Your snacking escapades aren’t about to slow down now that you need to bring the carb count down a bit. You’re cool with ditching the Cheetos, Animal Crackers, and Cheez-Its. But ditching snacks altogether? Please, don’t joke of such things.
To help you keep your composure, we’re diving deep into the best snacks for diabetics. These high-fiber, high-protein, high-flavor foods are sure to keep your inner snack demon (or diva) satisfied.
Tips for Building Healthy Snacks for Diabetics
If you — or someone close to you — is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, finding a healthy snack option can be tricky. Your goal should be to keep your blood sugar levels stable, which requires the right combination of fat, protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. Too many carbs at once can cause a blood glucose spike, which leads to insulin resistance.
The American Diabetes Association recommends eating 45-60 grams of carbohydrates per meal, and 15-20 grams of carbohydrates per snack. To build a healthy, diabetic snack, you should try to incorporate protein (whether it comes from animal- or plant-based sources), fats (from nuts, seeds, or olive oil), and vegetables (including broccoli, celery, and kale) or low-sugar fruits (such as berries or avocado).
Chances are, many of the snacks you already consume are perfectly healthy foods for diabetics. These include:
- Hard boiled eggs
- Celery sticks with peanut butter or almond butter
- Homemade trail mix with fresh berries, almond slivers, and cashews
- Homemade granola with oats, cashew butter, and blueberries
- Half of a banana smothered in peanut butter, then wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla
- Low-sugar pepperoni and cheddar cheese slices
- Small apple slices with brie cheese on multiseed crackers
- Hummus with cherry tomatoes
- Smoked salmon and cream cheese atop cucumber slices
- Fresh olives and string cheese
- Red bell pepper strips and guacamole
- Plain yogurt with pumpkin seeds and raspberries
- Avocado slices wrapped in prosciutto
- Homemade smoothies with plenty of greens, berries, and coconut butter
- A handful of pistachios and dried fruit
- A rice cake smothered in peanut butter and 80% dark chocolate chips
- Refried black beans topped on a tortilla with hot sauce and a fried egg
- Cottage cheese and peaches
- A slice of whole wheat bread with cream cheese diced cauliflower and broccoli
- Roasted chickpeas sprinkled with taco seasoning and olive oil
10 Healthy DIY Diabetic Snacks
If you’re looking for a healthy, low-carb snack option, these ideas should get you started. The following recipes are completely diabetes-friendly and loaded with protein, healthy fats, and nutrients while being low in carbs.
1. Low-Carb Buffalo Baked Zucchini Chips
Image: Simply So Healthy
If potato chips have always been — correction, will always be — your ultimate vice, you might want to try these baked zucchini chips. Made with zucchini slices, almond flour, parmesan cheese, cayenne, and all your favorite spices, they’re a crunchy snack option with an added kick. (Hey Doritos, take a hint).
2. Roasted Curry Chickpeas
Image: Great Food Lifestyle
You know, sometimes low-carb snacks are really lacking in the crunch department. String cheese and hummus are all fine and dandy, but you want your snacks to chomp, crackle, and pop. These roasted chickpeas are packed with protein are low in carbs, and certainly deliver in that audible crrrrunch you’re craving.
3. Homemade Sugar-Free Granola
Image: Maria Ushakova
Here’s something you may or may not know: Granola can be made without honey, maple syrup, or half a pound of chocolate. We know, our heads our still spinning too. This healthy granola recipe is made with almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and cooking oats. The sweet secret sauce? It’s sweetened with applesauce and held together with coconut oil, making it diabetic-friendly.
4. Super Easy Chocolate-Peppermint Popcorn
Image: Ricki Heller
Oh, what is this? A sugar-free chocolate popcorn? For a festive holiday treat (that you can enjoy year-round), mix organic popcorn with dark chocolate, peppermint stevia, and coconut butter. The result? A lick-your-fingers treat, without the sneaky sugar rush.
5. Black Bean Dip
Image: Kitchen Nostalgia
For a low-carb snack option, you usually can’t go wrong with fresh veggies and a homemade dip. This healthy black bean dip is made with black beans, olive oil, lemon juice, paprika, and salt for one of the tastiest, crowd-pleasing diabetic snacks. Serve alongside guacamole with tortilla chips or fresh bell pepper slices.
6. Ham and Cheese Roll-Ups
Image: Seeking Good Eats
We’re rolling up on here with this healthy, low-carb snack idea. These ham and cheese roll-ups require less than five ingredients and take less than 15 minutes to prepare. Made with olives, ham slices, cream cheese, and horseradish, they’re the perfect blend of protein, fat, and carbs.
7. Keto Cheese Crisps
Image: Hurry Up I’m Hungry
Cheese makes everything better. Don’t like veggies? Smother ‘em with cheese. Boring lunch sammie got you down? Add cheese. Cheese is so deliciously wonderful that these little keto crisps require just one ingredient: cheese. Simply shred some cheddar, mozzarella, or parmesan, line on a parchment-lined baking sheet, then bake until golden brown and crisp.
8. Keto Shrimp Guacamole and Bacon Appetizers
Image: Jennifer Banz
Here’s a crafty cooking tip for you: Any main dish can be made into a snack with the use of toothpicks. Meatballs? Stab ‘em with a toothpick. Buffalo chicken? Grab your toothpicks. Little smokies? Of course. These shrimp stacks combine bacon, guacamole, and seared shrimp on a single toothpick, making gourmet diabetic snacks you’ll love.
9. Creamy Coconut Chia Pudding
Image: Neurotic Mommy
Not familiar with chia pudding? Allow us to introduce you to this creamy, delectable treat. Chia seeds are high in protein and fat, and expand when submerged in liquid. Therefore, you can make an easy pudding without too much effort. This low-carb chia pudding combines coconut cream, chia, unsweetened coconut, and sugar-free sweetener to make a velvety vanilla treat.
10. Cheesy Keto Broccoli Cauliflower Tots
Image: Cheap Recipe Blog
Saying goodbye to your favorite starchy sides doesn’t mean you have to give up tots forever. These cheesy no-tater tots are made with broccoli and cauliflower, giving you a sneaky dose of veggies and fiber. And since they’re mixed with almond flour, parmesan, and garlic powder, they fit perfectly into a diabetic-friendly meal plan.
Cereal School Packs Make the Perfect Diabetic Snacks
Want perfectly portable, perfectly portioned diabetic snacks that won’t raise your blood sugar levels? Don’t worry — we got you.
Cereal School makes healthy eating — not just healthy snacking — incredibly easy for diabetics. With 16 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and 1 gram of carbs per serving, it’s the low-calorie, low-fat, and low-carb snack you’ve been waiting for. Plus, they come individually portioned, so you can toss them in your desk, purse, or backpack for a quick, on-the-go snack.
And since Cereal School is sweetened with monk fruit, it contains zero grams of sugar per serving. Therefore, it’s perfectly safe for diabetics to consume. Give it a try. We’ll ship a few bags straight to your front door.
By Jenna Fletcher Reviewed by Katherine Marengo LDN, RD
A high-protein, low-fat snack before bed may help people with diabetes stabilize their blood sugar levels overnight.
Everyone’s blood sugar levels change throughout the night. In people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, these fluctuations can cause high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycemia, in the morning. A tactical late-night snack before bed may help balance these levels.
In this article, we investigate why having a bedtime snack can be a good idea for people with diabetes and discuss some snack options that can help keep blood glucose levels under control throughout the night.
How do glucose levels change overnight?
A person’s blood sugar levels change during the night, mainly, because of two processes:
A person can identify how their glucose levels change during the night by taking various readings.
- The dawn phenomenon. Between roughly 3:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., blood sugar levels surge as part of the process of waking up. This causes high blood sugar levels in the morning.
- The Somogyi effect. Glucose levels drop significantly between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. The body responds by releasing hormones that raise blood sugar levels again. It can release too much of these hormones, leading to high blood sugar levels in the morning.
Eating a bedtime snack can prevent blood glucose levels from dropping very low during the night and lessen the Somogyi effect.
A person can determine how their glucose levels change throughout the night by taking readings at various points, such as just before bed, between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., and again when waking up.
Understanding how the body is processing blood sugar is the first step toward picking more healthful snacks in the evening and before bed.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), being overweight or having obesity increases the risk of diabetes-related complications. A variety of bedtime snacks can fit into a balanced, healthful diet.
Best ways to snack before bed
The ADA no longer provide specific carbohydrate counts or recommended diets for people with diabetes.
A person should choose a healthful snack before bed.
Instead, the ADA’s Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes — 2019 suggest that a person follows an individualized meal plan tailored to their current eating patterns, preferences, and weight goals.
Some general tips that may be beneficial for everyone:
- Eat mindfully by focusing on enjoying the food.
- Avoiding snacking in front of the television or while reading, driving, or otherwise distracted.
- Plan meals, snacks, and treats ahead of time.
- Choose healthful snacks, rather than ones that contain empty calories and low-quality carbohydrates.
- Learn about and pay attention to portion sizes.
Each person with diabetes can benefit from learning how their body processes blood sugar during the night.
Getting a sense of the rise and fall of blood sugar levels can help a person decide how much to eat in the evenings and whether to include a snack in a bedtime routine.
There are plenty of low-calorie, high-protein snacks to choose from. Add some fiber for extra health benefits.
TUESDAY, Jan. 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Avoiding food before bedtime probably won’t help your blood sugar levels and health, a new study suggests.
Some experts say not eating for two hours before going to bed helps prevent high blood sugar (glucose) levels and related health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. But there is no clear evidence to support this theory.
In search of answers, researchers analyzed three years of health data from more than 1,550 healthy middle-aged and older adults in Japan. Two-thirds were over 65.
About 16 percent of men and 7.5 percent of women fell asleep within two hours of dinner.
Over the three years, there was no significant change in participants’ HbA1c levels — a long-term measure of average blood glucose that is considered a reliable indicator of future health risks.
Average HbA1c was 5.2 percent in the first year, and 5.58 percent in the second and third years, within normal range. There were no significant differences between men and women.
Weight, blood pressure, blood fats (triglycerides), physical activity levels, smoking and drinking were more strongly associated with changes in HbA1c levels than the amount of time between eating and going to bed, the researchers found.
The study was published online Jan. 21 in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.
Because this was an observational study, researchers could not establish cause. They also didn’t know the precise timing or content of people’s evening meals, which might have affected the results.
And because the traditional Japanese diet contains a lot of vegetables and soup, and portion sizes are small, the findings might not apply to other nations, according to Su Su Maw, a Ph.D. student in the Graduate School of Health Sciences at Okayama University in Japan and colleagues.
“More attention should be paid to healthy portions and food components, getting adequate sleep and avoiding smoking, alcohol consumption, and overweight, as these variables had a more profound influence on the metabolic process,” they wrote in a journal news release.
Q: Does a bedtime snack help or hurt the wake-up blood sugar reading?
A: Like most things having to do with diabetes, it depends. If you are not taking insulin, bedtime snacks can either cause your wake-up reading to be elevated or force your pancreas to produce extra insulin during the night to offset the effects of the snack — neither of which is a good thing.
If you take insulin, a bedtime snack may be needed if your blood sugar tends to drop overnight. This is often a sign that your basal insulin dose (via injection or a pump) is a bit too high. Basal insulin’s job is to keep your blood sugar steady overnight. So if you’re dropping, you may be getting too much basal insulin. In this case, without a snack, you might wind up with low blood sugar in the middle of the night. And if you overeat or “rebound” from the low, your wake-up reading could wind up too high. So with basal insulin doses that are a bit too high, a snack at night may be necessary. However, it would be better to get the basal insulin dose set properly.
If your basal insulin dose is correct and your blood sugar holds steady through the night without a snack, a bedtime snack will make your blood sugar rise. A dose of rapid-acting insulin would likely be needed to offset the effects of the carbohydrates in the snack.
While we sleep, the body produces a hormone called leptin that curbs appetite. So if you’re trying to shed some body fat, a bedtime snack may be counterproductive. And since excess body fat leads to insulin resistance, all those extra bedtime snacks can lead to higher-than-desired blood sugars in the morning that persist around the clock.
Want to learn more about maintaining target blood sugar levels during sleep? Read “Exorcising the Specter of Overnight Hypoglycemia” and “The Dawn Phenomenon and Somogyi Effect: What You Can Do.”