Go to page content

Insulin requirement

The need for insulin is individual and it varies at different times of the day, from day to day, periodically and according to for example stress, exercise and weight.

Usually, the total daily insulin requirement is 0.4–1.0 units per kg of body weight. For most, the need for basal insulin is slightly below half (30 % to 50 %) and the need for bolus insulin slightly over half (50 % to 70 %) of the total daily amount of insulin.

If your body is still producing insulin or if you are particularly insulin sensitive, the insulin requirement may be lower. Obesity, stress, illness, adolescence and pregnancy increase the insulin requirement, in other words, they cause insulin resistance in type 1 diabetes. In females, the menstrual cycle can often have an effect on the insulin requirement.

For adults, the insulin requirement is typically higher approximately 4 hours before and after waking up, compared to other times of the day. This is due to insulin resistance and therefore the daily variation in hormones that increase the insulin requirement, such as cortisol or growth hormone. They cause the so-called “dawn phenomenon”, i.e. a normal rise in blood sugar in the small hours, approximately after 03 in the morning.

After waking up, the stress of “starting up” often increases the need for insulin. In practice, it is evident in a rise in blood sugar directly after waking up in the morning, already before you eat anything. In this case, you have to take a small additional dose of rapid-acting insulin to prevent a rise in blood sugar without eating.

The rise in blood sugar after waking up in the morning may also be down to the basal insulin fading out. Then, the solution may be to change the time of the basal insulin injection or swapping to a longer-acting basal insulin.

Updated 17.10.2023