Waking up feeling shaky can be quite scary, but it's often not an emergency. The most common reasons for experiencing tremors or shakes when waking up are low blood sugar levels and anxiety. It's hard to know the exact cause without a thorough examination, so you should contact your GP to get checked, as these symptoms could indicate an underlying condition.
Let's explore the common causes of waking up shaking:
Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycaemia, happens when our blood sugar drops below normal levels. For people without diabetes, normal blood sugar levels range from 4.0-5.9 mmol/L before meals and below 7.8 mmol/L after meals1. Although hypoglycaemia is more common in individuals with diabetes, it can affect anyone.
Symptoms of hypoglycaemia may include2:
Hypoglycaemia can occur both during the day and while you sleep. Some symptoms may go unnoticed during sleep. Hypoglycaemia can be caused by:
Anxiety can affect us even when we're asleep, leading to frequent awakenings or nightmares. Many symptoms overlap with those of low blood sugar3:
Panic attacks can also occur when the body reacts strongly to an unknown fear or perceived danger. These attacks can be very distressing, and sometimes people mistakenly think they're having a heart attack or facing imminent death. While panic attacks are upsetting, they don't pose an immediate health risk4.
For more information on common myths about anxiety, check out our Mythbusters article on Anxiety Myths.
Certain medications can cause shaking or palpitations as side effects. If you've recently started taking new medications or changed your dosage, it may be necessary to have a medication review with your pharmacist or GP.
If you're taking medications to treat diabetes, such as insulin, sulphonylureas, or glinides, and frequently experience hypoglycaemia symptoms, it's best to contact your GP or diabetic specialist nurse to review how you're managing your blood sugar5.
There are other conditions that can cause tremors, irregular heart rhythms, or muscle twitches, such as neurological disorders and electrolyte imbalances. Usually, these conditions wouldn't exhibit a common symptom pattern, but your GP might want to investigate further if needed.
While the specific treatment for shaking or waking up with a fast heart rate depends on a clinical review, taking care of your physical and mental well-being can make a significant difference. Here are some simple tips:
Remember, seeking professional medical advice is crucial for accurate diagnosis and proper management of any health concerns.
Information provided and reviewed by the AXA Health 24/7 health support line for members.
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