Have you experienced the “Dawn Effect” also known as the “Dawn Phenomena”?
The Reason Your Blood Sugar Could Be Elevated in the Morning
The dawn effect is a rise in blood glucose that occurs in the early morning hours, usually between 3 and 6 a.m. in people with a typical sleep schedule. The dawn effect is thought to be triggered by a normal predawn increase in the levels of hormones, particularly human growth hormone, that tell the liver to release glucose. This is the body’s way of making sure it has enough energy to get up and go come dawn. People with diabetes, though, may not have enough insulin to counteract these hormones. So a delicate balance is lost, and blood glucose can be too high by morning.
Many people assume that the culprit behind a morning high is dinner the night before, but it may be the dawn effect that’s to blame. Eating breakfast helps to normalize blood glucose levels; it signals to the body that it is day and time to rein in the anti-insulin hormones.
The counter-regulatory hormones causing glucose to increase can make morning glucose tougher to treat in people with diabetes. You may need more medication (if you aren’t missing doses). Sometimes, changing the timing of your medication can also help to reduce morning blood sugar.
These additional tips can also help to counteract the dawn phenomenon:
- Reduce your carb intake: Cutting back on carbs (at least during dinner and evening hours) could help you counteract a morning glucose burst.
- Exercise in the evening: Going for an after-dinner walk, bike ride, or jog may help keep morning blood sugars in a better range.
- Skip the late-night snack: If you’re truly hungry, choose something fat- and protein-based that won’t raise your glucose much, like nuts or cheese.
- Get a good night’s sleep: Aim for six to eight hours each night, as fewer than six hours of sleep has been shown to significantly raise blood sugar levels.
- Eat breakfast: Even if your blood sugar is high, as eating something will actually shut down the dawn phenomenon process and help your blood sugar return to normal.
- Test regularly: The only way to know what’s normal for your body is to frequently test your blood sugar. As the level will fluctuate throughout the day, a slight elevation may not be too far out of the ordinary for you.