Table of Contents
Falling asleep and sugar
Many people have experienced feeling drowsy or even falling asleep after eating particularly if it was a large meal. While it may be a natural response, it can also be a symptom of certain health conditions, including diabetes. However, drifting off after eating is not a definitive sign of diabetes, and it is important to understand the underlying causes of this phenomenon.
Diabetes and sleep
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. It can affect the body’s ability to produce insulin, a hormone that regulates glucose levels, or the body’s ability to use insulin effectively. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a number of complications, including nerve damage, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.
One of the symptoms of diabetes is fatigue, which can be caused by the body’s inability to use glucose effectively. When glucose levels are high, the body produces insulin to help transport glucose from the blood into the cells. However, in people with diabetes, insulin resistance can occur, which means that the body is less responsive to insulin, and glucose remains in the blood. This can lead to feelings of fatigue and drowsiness.
Postprandial somnolence is the medical term used to describe falling asleep after eating. It is a common occurrence, particularly after a large meal. It is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including the release of insulin in response to a meal, the release of hormones that promote sleep, and changes in blood flow to the brain. However, it is important to note that postprandial somnolence is not unique and can occur in people without the condition.
In some cases, this may be a symptom of hypoglycemia, which is low blood glucose levels. This can occur in people with diabetes who are taking medication to lower their glucose levels or who have not eaten enough to balance their medication. Hypoglycemia can cause a number of symptoms, including dizziness, confusion, and fatigue, and it is important to monitor glucose levels regularly to prevent and treat hypoglycemia.
While nodding off after a meal is not a definitive sign of diabetes, it is important to monitor other symptoms and risk factors for the condition, including increased thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, and family history. If you are experiencing symptoms or have risk factors, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider for testing and diagnosis.
Common Diabetes Symptoms
Here are some common diabetes symptoms to look out for:
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Increased thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
- Genital itching or thrush
- Slow healing of cuts and wounds
- Blurred vision
- Increased hunger
While these symptoms can affect anyone, they are more commonly associated with type 1 diabetes and can develop quickly. Learn more about the symptoms of type 1 diabetes and what to look for.
What to Do If You’re Experiencing Symptoms
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s important to seek medical attention. Contact your doctor or call NHS 111 if your symptoms have come on suddenly or if you feel very unwell. It’s important to get tested for diabetes as soon as possible. Learn more about getting tested and what to expect.
Understanding the Causes of Diabetes Symptoms
Symptoms occur when glucose stays in the blood and isn’t being used as energy. The body tries to reduce blood glucose levels by flushing the excess glucose out of the body through urine, leading to increased thirst. High levels of glucose in the urine can also cause fungal infections, such as thrush. However, not everyone with diabetes will experience symptoms. In fact, 6 out of 10 people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms when they are diagnosed.
Tests to check for diabetes
There are several ways to check, and it is important to be aware of the different methods of testing:
- Haemoglobin A1c test (HbA1c): This test measures the average level of glucose in the blood over the past 2-3 months and we can obtain the results within 1 working day. It does not require fasting and can be done at any time of the day. An HbA1c level of 6.5% or higher is considered diagnostic of diabetes.
- Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): This test involves drinking a sugary solution after an overnight fast, and then measuring the level of glucose in the blood at regular intervals over the next 2-3 hours. An OGTT level of 200 mg/dL or higher is considered diagnostic of diabetes.
- Random plasma glucose test: This test measures the level of glucose in the blood at any time of the day, regardless of when the person last ate. A random plasma glucose level of 200 mg/dL or higher, along with symptoms, is considered diagnostic of diabetes.
- Having a health check which includes a diabetes check and doctor review.
When to Speak to a Doctor
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms or is at high risk of developing diabetes, it’s important to speak to a doctor. Don’t wait until the symptoms become severe or life-threatening. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent serious complications.
Diabetes Risk Factors
Some people are at higher risk of developing diabetes than others. These risk factors can include ethnicity, genetics, and lifestyle choices. Understanding your risk factors can help you take steps to reduce your risk. Use our free Know Your Risk tool to check your risk of type 2 diabetes and discuss the results with your doctor.
Ignoring Diabetes Symptoms
Leaving diabetes symptoms untreated can lead to serious health problems, including diabetic ketoacidosis, resulting in a potentially fatal coma. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of type 1 diabetes, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be harder to spot in the early stages, but early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications.
Remember, getting diagnosed and receiving the right treatment are essential for managing diabetes and reducing the risk of serious complications. Don’t ignore the signs and symptoms of diabetes. Seek medical attention and take control of your health.