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Diabetes and Night Sweats

Waking up at night feeling shivery and drenched in sweat is not an unusual occurrence if you suffer from diabetes. Even when the weather is cool you can find yourself clammy and unable to sleep comfortably. You’re not alone – almost half of Americans are now thought to suffer with diabetes or pre-diabetes – so we thought we’d shed some light on the link between diabetes and night sweats, and how you can get some night sweats relief to get a better night’s sleep.

rolled up wool duvet

Can diabetes cause night sweats?

People with diabetes often suffer night sweats due to low blood sugar levels, or nocturnal hypoglycemia . A drop in blood glucose can cause all sorts of symptoms, including headaches and severe sweating. These symptoms of nocturnal hypoglycemia can result in disturbed sleep due to discomfort and damp bedding, and will likely mean you feel less than refreshed in the morning.

So, what causes night sweats in diabetics?

There are a number of things you may not realize can cause your blood glucose levels to fall during the night.
  • Did you know that if you enjoy a glass of wine or beer before bed, you may be stopping your liver functioning to produce glucose overnight? If you’ve ever woken up in a cold sweat after a night out – this is the cause!
  • Exercising lots during the day can mean you use up your body’s stores of glucose – if you don’t replenish these before bed you could suffer from nocturnal hypoglycemia..
Did you know, if you manage your diabetes with insulin you may be more at risk of diabetic night sweats as you can’t monitor your blood glucose levels at night?

How to control blood sugar levels at night

There are a few things you can try to reduce the risk of suffering from low blood sugar at night. The main one is to make sure you manage your diabetes as well as you can.

Aside from this:
  • Before going to bed: Check your glucose levels and take steps to make sure they won’t sink too low overnight.
  • In the hours leading up to bed: Avoid alcohol, and try not to eat hot and spicy food – these can lead to night sweats even in non-diabetics.
  • Earlier in the day: Consider changing your routine so that you can fit exercise in during the daytime. This will ensure you have time to replenish glucose stores before it is time to sleep.
If you are concerned about diabetic night sweats it may be worth visiting your physician. They may be able to offer advice or look at changing your medication. In terms of night sweats causes, diabetes is one of the most common. But there are other medical issues that can also lead to excessive sweating at night, so it is always worth getting checked out if you are worried.

freshly made up bed with woolroom sheets

How to ease the symptoms of diabetic night sweats

Sometimes it can feel like no matter what you do to try and prevent nocturnal hypoglycemia, those diabetic night sweats will persist. If this is the case for you, then there are things you can try to at least reduce the discomfort caused by the symptoms:
  • Prepare your sleeping environment: Make sure your bedroom is not too warm. Open windows or use fans to keep air circulating around the room, and make sure you turn down your heating in enough time for the room to cool before you will be heading for bed. That way your nocturnal hypoglycemia symptoms can be kept to a minimum.
  • Choose natural fibers to sleep in: Curling up in natural fibers, as opposed to synthetic ones, can have a miraculous effect on your sleep. Bedding made from natural fibers can help to regulate your body temperature, and will absorb moisture, taking it away from your body. Wool, in particular, is known for its ability to keep you feeling dry and cool throughout a warm night, as it is more absorbent than other natural fibers such as feather or down. This means that even if you are suffering from diabetic night sweats, wool duvets and nightclothes can help you get a better night’s sleep.

Have you got more questions about how to stop night sweats? Or if you’ve found this interesting, visit our Sleep Health & Advice Hub to learn more about the other causes of night sweats and get help with night sweats to improve your sleep.