Night Shifts and Type one diabetes

Hey guys,

Firstly, I’m new to this forum. A little bit about me, I’m a type 1 Diabetic, I’ve currently had Diabetes for about 18 years, I was diagnosed when I was seven. I’ve always had relatively good control, recently I’ve really cracked down on my control, and have achieved Hba1C readings in the low 5s (5.3-5.6 %) for the last 6 months with minimal hypoglycaemic incidents.

My question is has anyone here experienced working night shifts with type 1 diabetes? I currently work a 9-5 job, but am looking at moving out of this, and whilst I won’t immediately be doing night shifts, if I get into the industry I’m interested in, which is health, at least for a number of years I will be required to do some night shifts.

As mentioned, my control currently is pretty good but I would be scared that night shifts would throw my blood glucose into a frenzy, has anyone had personal experience of this?

Hey bud,

I get your concern. I’ve asked similar questions on this forum too over the years, unfortunately it seems there are not a lot of night shift workers on here.

I’ve worked every bizarre configuration of hours possibly imaginable… Including frequent time zone shifts and 24 hour on call for weeks on end… And I still don’t really have it figured out to the point of giving worthwhile advice.

Ultimately, in my mind, the fundamental issue and question is whether you should treat your body like its morning time when you first wake up (regardless of what time it is) or if you should watch the clock and trest yourself like you’re working in the middle of the night against all that is natural and holy… I still haven’t figured out the answer to that… A large part of my management comes from just eating absolutely minimal carbs, (particularly grain based carbs) outside of conventional meal-time hours when I am pretty well familiar with how my insulin/carbs balance out…

Though I can’t offer any particular pearls of stunning wisdom, I can assure you that it’s doable. Pay attention, take notes, eat smart, and you’ll have every chance to thrive at whatever work you’re doing in the middle of the night that anybody else does.

I think a bigger question is how do you deal with changing sleep/wake patterns. If you do a night shift as a semi-permanent thing, that is probably not a problem. Do a couple days of night shifts and follow that up with a couple of days of day shifts and you will have problems.

unless it’s a permanent shift…give up night shift and find another job, I haven’t heard of anyone doing it ok.

the last quarter of each year (I work in a distribution center) the business has it’s “peak” operational season and I shift from day hours to night shift (3rd). the first couple of weeks I just change (flip) the basal rate hours - not the delivery dose - then I review the data from those first couple of weeks with my pump nurse for basal correction. when working days I have to deal with rising BG from dawn phenom. in the morning - when working the night shift I do not seem to have that rise. I have better control during the night shift months. I keep the same schedule through the weekends - sleep, eat, etc and am very careful to stay hydrated during that period. stay caffeine free after midnight and don’t get sucked in to early morning activity - GO TO BED! over the counter sleep aids work great during the first few days and eyeshades are very helpful. be especially careful to carry emergency supplies and place orders for meds and other supplies on line, if possible. then enjoy the peace and quiet without all those day shift managers :slight_smile:

I have irregular work hours, I tend to work in the evening. I was nocturnal for many years before D and now it’s even worse with D because of having to manage bg constantly and various other things. My bg is really bad lately, I’m not sure what is going on with it or if it has to do with being nocturnal or not. I would probably avoid night shifts if you are morning/daytime person because it could mess up your good control.

I have been working wildly varying “shifts” for about 20 years, similar to Sam19. 14 hr work days are not uncommon. 20 hr work days are not unheard of. I could start my “day” at any given hour. This includes lots of travel around the world. I sleep in a hotel room more often than in my own house. I’ve had a CGM for a few years now and I’ve noticed that “dawn” phenomenon starts when I wake up. Makes no difference what the hour or time zone is. I try to eat low carbs overall. That is a big help, and I watch my CGM like a hawk. I even bought an apple watch solely to keep my CGM readings a wrist glance away.

BTW Donman90. My A1C has always been high 5s to low 6s so you can totally do this.

Thanks all for the replies.

Back in my less controlled days, I used to spend nights out till 4 a.m. and admittedly, this and other things used to play havoc with me. I was far less focussed on my control then though.

My guess is that it will probably impact everyone differently. So unfortunately it may be hard to know how it will impact me. Certainly if I go down this path I will be getting a CGM and a pump to make things easier, currently I just use pens and a meter. Which works well in my current situation.

The bigger concern is that if I go down this path, it will be somewhat unpredictable, in that it may be 7 nights in one week. Then no nights for 6 months, or may be 3 nights one week and then a few days and then a break.

I’d be interested, if anyone above would be billing to share the kind of BGL levels they have experienced in their night shifts? I understand if they don’t want to do this, but I’m just trying to gauge what other people experience. Feel free to private message me if you would prefer that.

Thanks for all the feedback!

I run a little low thru the shift 70 - 100. The thing is I’m not very hungry. I have a light meal before going into work, a snack later in my shift (25-30 carbs), then breakfast which is heavy on protein, before going to bed. My first BG when I get up is usually in the 80’s and I’ll have coffee and toast while I watch the news. A few months into the night shift hours, a big mac or pepperoni pizza starts to sound really good about 4am - nothing’s open so resistance is easier :slight_smile:

Great, thank you! I eat a pretty low carb diet as is (around 100g per day). I find night time is when I struggle the most to keep my BGL in my desired range. So perhaps I will actually find it easier running over night and sleeping during the day. 70-100 is my ideal range, though I obviously ran outside of this a lot of the time.