10 Smart Bedtime Snacks for Those Living with Diabetes
If you’re living with diabetes, you already know how important diet is and how the food choices you make play a big role in helping control blood sugar. What you might not now is how a well-planned bedtime snack can help you avoid blood glucose fluctuations that occur when you’re asleep.
Changes in blood sugar overnight
When we sleep our blood sugar levels fluctuate. This is primarily due to two processes related to diabetes that tend to cause high blood sugar levels by the time you wake in the morning. They are:
The Dawn Phenomenon
For most people, sometime between 3:00 am and 8:00am blood sugar levels naturally begin to rise. It’s part of the body’s reaction to you waking up in the morning. Unfortunately, for those with diabetes who are unable to produce and process insulin properly, it also leads to elevated blood sugar levels in the morning hours.
The Somogyi Effect
Not too long after you fall asleep, somewhere between the hours of 2:00 am and 3:00 am, your blood glucose level significantly drops. The body responds to this sudden drop by releasing hormones designed to raise blood. Often, among those with diabetes, too much of these hormones are released causing the person to wake up with high blood sugar levels.
How much will my blood sugar spike by morning?
There’s no set answer for this question as everyone is unique. However, how much your blood sugar fluctuates during the night is certainly something you can and should determine. For a few weeks set your alarm and make the effort to test your blood sugar using a glucose meter and test strips, or by checking your continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device at these three times:
- Test your blood sugar just before bed
- Wake up and test it between 2:00 am and 3:00 am
- Test it again as soon as you wake up
This will help you and your diabetes physician determine how much your blood glucose elevates while you sleep and if a bedtime snack might be the answer to better controlling it.
Why a bedtime snack?
Eating a bedtime snack, provided it’s a healthy one, can prevent blood sugar from dropping too much during the night, which lessens the severity of the Somogyi Effect. Remember, this phenomenon is the direct result of blood sugar dropping in the wee hours of the morning and the body releasing hormones to increase it. So, it only makes sense that if you eat before bedtime, it will elevate blood sugar enough to minimize the overnight drop, thereby lessening the Somogyi Effect, so you don’t test overly high when you wake up.
What snacks are right for me?
It all depends on how your body reacts to the Dawn Phenomenon and the Somogyi Effect. That’s why the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends developing a personalized meal plan with your diabetes physician and care team that includes bedtime snacks.
That being said, there are some general guidelines as to what constitutes a smart diabetes bedtime snack. Specifically, they should be rich in protein and healthy fats, and very limited in carbohydrates.
Now let’s get into some of our favorite choices. They also happen to be recommended by the Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Care (CDEC).
Top 10 bedtimes snacks for those with diabetes
A hard-boiled egg
Hey, they’re not just for breakfast. Eggs are a great source of protein, and they contain very few carbohydrates. Feel free to add a few whole-grain crackers to the snack. Whole grain crackers are loaded with fiber which slows down the digestive process, releasing energy from the food at a more gradual pace. This may contribute to keeping blood sugar levels stable overnight.
Low-fat cheese and whole wheat crackers
Choose an unprocessed cheese and you’ve got a healthy source of protein. As stated above, the whole wheat crackers slow the digestive process which may help keep blood sugar levels more stable.
Grab a handful of nuts
Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and peanuts are packed with vitamins, minerals and healthy omega fats. They’ll satisfy your hunger without elevating blood sugar too drastically.
Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, or cucumber slices
Non-starchy veggies are always a great diabetes-friendly snack choice. This holds true at bedtime with these three winners being low in calories and carbs, while offering plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Celery sticks and hummus
Celery is low in calories and high in fiber, which makes it great as a bedtime snack. Humus is a little tricky as you don’t want to go for the processed brands. Better yet, smash up some chickpeas, add a little lemon, and you’ve got delicious homemade hummus.
Okay, you’ll want to avoid the salt and butter, but fresh popcorn can be a filling and very satisfying bedtime snack. It’s low in fat, high in fiber and contains a good amount of minerals. Try adding some almonds for added flavor.
Sliced apple and peanut butter
This one is almost like eating dessert at bedtime. Core and slice a crisp apple – full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Then spread a thin dollop of peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter) on each slice. Peanut butter is rich in protein and a good source of fiber, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Sugar-free Greek yogurt
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), yogurt is one of the healthier types of dairies, containing both calcium and protein. You don’t want to overdo it, but a small portion makes for a great bedtime snack.
Sunflower seeds are a great source of protein and fiber. They’re also packed with healthy fats your body needs. For the record, pumpkin seeds are also a great option.
This one takes a little more preparation, but you can prepare delicious roasted chickpeas in less than one hour. They’re full of healthy proteins and fibers. You can even give them a spicy kick by following this recipe.
There’s no doubt that your blood sugar is changing while you sleep and there’s a good chance it’ll be elevated by the time you wake up. A smart bedtime snack just might be able to help you keep it in check. Ask your diabetes physician and care team about the Dawn Phenomenon and the Somogyi Effect. Also, inquire about testing to see how your body is reacting to these processes. You might learn that a bedtime snack is just what the doctor ordered.
We hope you found this post interesting and informative. At Diabetic Warehouse, we committed to keeping you up to date with the latest topics and unique insights on living with diabetes. We’re also proud to help you stick to your doctor-prescribed diabetes treatment plan with a huge selection of diabetic supplies and equipment at prices up to 65% less than you’ll find at pharmacies and other suppliers.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.
I’m really overweight and have had type1 for 43 years and just forgot.