19 February 2015

The Hypo Hangover

I wanted to do a little post on those pesky first-thing blood sugar readings. Every T1D will have experienced it. You wake up with one or more of several symptoms:

  • A searing headache. Those ones where you wonder if your pillow somehow morphed into a brick overnight. 
  • Unquenchable thirst - suddenly that cold tea from the night appear to you as God's nectar. This is also accompanied with that dry mouth, sticky-throat feeling. 
  • Blurred vision - these words on a page (last-minute seminar reading) might as well be written in morse code. 
  • Can't stop thinking about food, specifically? Carbs. Yet the thought of rolling out of bed, let alone standing up, is quite traumatic. 

Assumption: Hangover. Get over your pity party.

Reality: well, yes, it is a hangover, but not an alcohol induced one. Welcome to the blood sugar hangover.

photo credit: reddit.com
Or rather (much to the delight of my English student mind) the hypo/hyper hangover. Hyper hangover sounds quite oxymoronic, come to think of it… Like Eeyore on steroids or Tigger after a night out. 

On the subject of Winnie the Pooh, a low blood sugar diabetic would probably be quite enthralled by Pooh's honey hoard. Your mind goes into survival mode, and in the hypo situation this = glucose. I've had times where I've eaten spoons of jam on their own, in an attempt to get it back up. In that moment, everything becomes very black-and-white and you zone out of everything else!  

Now the hangover part is in reference to a low/high blood sugar first thing. This occurrence is particularly bothersome because, like the standard hangover, it really can mess up your day. Hypo recovery, in particular, can takes a good few hours. I woke up with a low this morning, and typing this now at 5pm still feel the effects! With highs, I find my 'recovery time' is quicker, but in that moment I feel a lot worse. For me with eating, it can also cause a lot more mental anxiety, which is far from ideal. But I always try to stay on plan, and not let blood sugar impact my decisions.

For the hypo hangover, I've experimented with a few things to try and amend it. I do find that breakfast straight away is a good option, usually cereal. I personally like oats and all-bran, as with other cereals I can get the dreaded bounce-back. But it still has the carbs to help get my blood sugar back up. I also find that green tea is a wonder for alleviating the headache - coffee can often only add to that jittery feeling! 

Finally, rest. I have missed classes before, due to blood sugar, and while this does induce such guilt… sometimes it is for the greater good. You are only human, and self-care should always come first. Running around will only risk your blood sugar dipping again. Give it time to get back to a normal level, and then continue with your day as best as you can. These things happen, but don't be hard on yourself. This is something I need to keep telling myself, too! 

How do you manage a hypo hangover? 



  1. I have jam on crumpets for breakfast and my sugars are always great by lunchtime! If I'm low I will take off a unit for my food, which works well. Like you, I don't correct for the hypo on its own, I factor it into breakfast. Love your diabetes posts, nice to have someone who I can relate to.

    1. Thanks so much for your reply - that means a lot. Oooh I do really like crumpets. It's not something I've ever eaten much at breakfast, as I have been more weary of the carbs, but might have to give it a try :) take that leap of faith! xxx


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