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August 22, 2000

Behavior, Hypoglycemia

Question from Livonia, Michigan, USA:

My daughter has had type 1 diabetes for about six months. She is terribly afraid of going to sleep; she has a fear of dying in her sleep. This came about after one night after going to bed and then testing. She had dropped to 80 mg/dl (4.4 mmol/L). She had a juice, we tested 20 minutes later and she had dropped to 60 mg/dl (3.3 mmol/L). Needless to say, she was afraid to go to sleep in case she dropped again and would die because no one would know. I slept with her to comfort her and reassure her I would keep watch and test at 2:00 am. Everything was fine, but now she's afraid to go to bed without saying this. I know my child and her normal night time routine has changed. Delaying going to bed until I do, wanting to sleep with me and check her sugar level at least once or twice before actually falling asleep. Is this a normal thing that a child who has diabetes goes through?

Answer:

Fear of hypoglycemia is not uncommon, although parents are usually more afraid of it than children. However, your daughter’s fears are affecting both her ability to sleep, and your ability to sleep. This may eventually affect her mood and her ability to concentrate during the day if she actually becomes sleep deprived. She needs professional help so she can overcome her fear. The longer you wait to get her this help, the worse the problem will become. Please contact your diabetes team to see what mental health professionals they recommend. You may also wish to contact your local American Diabetes Association or Juvenile Diabetes Foundation

JWB