When your blood sugar rises with the sun
For many of us, the morning is a time of renewal, filled with the anticipation of what a new day will bring. But, if you have diabetes, mornings may be a time of concern if you are one of many people who experience higher blood sugar upon waking than when you went to sleep. If mornings bring elevated blood sugar levels, don't panic about your management habits. They may not be at fault here.
Elevated blood sugars in the morning
Experts have identified three possible causes for glucose that rises with the sun:
1. The Dawn Phenomenon: Hormonal changes in the body that occur between the hours of 4:00 and 8:00 a.m. cause the Dawn Phenomenon, a natural rise in blood sugar. During this time, your body releases hormones like cortisol and growth hormone which cause blood sugar to rise. In someone who does not have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, more insulin would be released to manage the sugar increase.
2. The Somogyi Effect: Named after researcher Michael Somogyi, PhD, who first studied and described the condition, the Somogyi Effect is your body's response to low blood sugar while you are sleeping. Your sugar may be too high in the morning for one of two reasons:
- You may have taken too much insulin before bed or did not have a substantial bedtime snack. So, your level drops during the night, and your body produces hormones to raise it
- A dose of long-acting insulin at bedtime is not enough
3. Waning insulin: In some cases, your insulin wanes during the night, and an adjustment is needed to ensure you have enough in your system to maintain proper blood sugar levels throughout the night.
How to control morning high blood sugar levels
If you know your blood sugar levels are consistently high in the morning, inform your doctor. He/she may ask that you monitor your levels during the early morning hours for several nights to determine the cause. Depending on the results, you may have to take action:
- If you take insulin, you may have to change the type or amount you use in the evening
- Your physician may suggest a bedtime snack
- Your physician may recommend switching to an insulin pump
Whatever the diagnosis, keep in mind that you can control morning high blood sugar levels with guidance from your physician and the right diabetes management techniques.
Cleveland Clinic, "What Causes High Blood Sugar Levels in the Morning?"
Diabetes Forecast Magazine, "Why Is My Blood Glucose So High in the Morning?"
WebMD, "Diabetes and Morning High Blood Sugar"