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Working Nights and Managing My Type 1 Diabetes

On the week commencing 29/08/2022 I have had a week away working night shifts. I know anyway that my blood sugars struggle with this so have only agreed to conduct 3 nights worth as any more I know my ketones will start to build and the risk of hospitalisation is too high. At the end of the day, we are all individuals and if you are worrying about night shift working, first of all consult your clinician first and ask for any advice they have, and secondly, only do what you are comfortable with. There is no point pushing yourself to exhaustion and ketones to prove a point! Just do you and people will be very much okay with this!

Right, to the point of this blog post!

(This is all off my own personal experience and thoughts and feelings. Of course, I will link key sites about working nights if you wish to read up on it!)

So, a bit of background of my job. I am an assistant ecologist and this week I am completing bat surveys. At both dusk and dawn. There is a very small amount of time between the two surveys to sleep, usually about 2 hours or so; as you imagine, it is extremely draining, even if the work is not strenuous.

At one of these surveys, you are stationed looking at a potential feature and keeping an eye out for any sightings of bats, but you also have a device picking up any bat calls because the majority of the surveys it is too dark to see anything.

The work itself does not require any physical energy, unlike some night shift workers such as nurses etc – I have not a single scooby what the demands of a job such as that has on the blood sugars!

Any form of lack of sleep ALWAYS disrupts my blood sugars, its really not ideal but hey ho! So, for me consecutive shifts such as these do become increasingly difficult. The main reason, as all my fellow diabetics know, how draining just living a life with diabetes is. How tiring it is to try and function normally!

So the job I am currently working on is based 4 hours away from me so I am also staying in a hotel which adds to the difficulty of controlling blood sugars. On top of sitting and driving for 4 hours 🙂

It never starts off well as you can see from my Dexcom graph below, also puts me on a major back foot. I try and over bolus as I become more insulin resistant the more tired I get, leading to hypos followed by massive highs. The food at the hotel is nice but its not home cooked food, if you know you know. This also make bolusing waaaay more difficult then it ever has to be.

With having small and regular naps throughout the day when usually I’d be up and about just makes my body highly confused. Luckily, I am based right by the sea so going for a nice walk and possibly a swim will and does make the entire difference! But the further I get into the week of tiredness, the tougher life gets! But hopefully Friday will be my recovery day before a weekend of wedding planning!

To attempt to mitigate the high blood sugars, I have increased my background basal rates by 10% and will no doubt be increasing this to 15% as the week goes on. Anyway managing life with diabetes is all fun and games isn’t it?

If you have any tips for managing diabetes over night shifts please send them my way whether that is through the comments, Instagram or facebook! And if you are happy I can update this post to contain used and approved tips!

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