Dead in Bed Syndrome

Yesterday I wrote a blog about the young and seemingly healthy Emily Pearce who sadly passed away because of having a hypo whilst asleep in the night. Writing that blog got me thinking... I've had Type 1 diabetes for nearly 12 years and the story about Emily was the first time that I'd heard of the condition 'Dead in Bed Syndrome' which is frightening in itself. Hence why I wanted to right about it in more detail today, firstly to raise awareness of the syndrome and secondly for others with Type 1 diabetes to join me in a pledge. But more about the pledge later.

What is 'Dead in Bed Syndrome' ?

Dead in Bed Syndrome is a term frequently used to describe the unexplained deaths of seemingly healthy people with Type 1 diabetes. It can be classified as someone with insulin dependency who goes to bed supposedly well, but are later found dead in their bed undisturbed. With the probable cause being put down to them having had a nocturnal hypo.

The syndrome is reasonably rare, however it does account for more than 6% of all deaths in people under the age of 40 years old. Although more research desperately needs to be done, there are two suggested reasons as to why dead in bed syndrome happens. The first as I mentioned yesterday is because of the change in heart rhythms having a hypo can cause. The other is that neuropathy (the disease or dysfunction of one or more of the peripheral nerves) may distract the activity of nerves to the heart, ending in the same outcome.

If the research is to be believed about the causes of 'Dead in Bed Syndrome' regarding nocturnal hypos, then a possible preventative measure is to do a blood test before bed. Following the result of the test perhaps have a bed time snack. Although it is advisable that if you're having frequent hypos, seek the advise of a diabetes specialist or GP as perhaps there are other measure that can help avoid them.

One of the many reasons that I found the story of Emily Pearce especially poignant is because that when I was younger as a sports person,  and before I knew what I know now about managing my diabetes exercise I would sometimes have hypos. And that's why I would like you to join me in making a pledge. Every night until the end of April I plan to test my blood sugars before going to bed, and put the result on twitter as evidence of my commitment. By doing this I hope that we can reduce that figure to less than 6% and prevent some of the deaths of 'Dead in Bed Syndrome'.


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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