The Diabetes Dawn Phenomenon: Why It Happens, What To Do
How frustrating to wake up in the morning with elevated blood sugar when all you did was dream about eating a piece of cheesecake.
A seemingly spontaneous rise in blood glucose during the early morning hours – experienced by many people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes – is called the dawn phenomenon, or dawn effect.
The dawn phenomenon is actually the body’s response to an aspect of its own natural rhythms.
Why It Happens
The human body, with its wired-in wisdom, releases hormones such as cortisol, catecholamines, and growth hormone during the early morning hours. These hormones help maintain and restore the body’s cells, and they trigger the liver to release glucose. The rising glucose is meant to be regulated by circulating insulin.
Many people with diabetes do not have enough circulating insulin during predawn hours to regulate this end-of-night surge in blood sugar, so they are greeted on waking by the rising sun and an elevated morning glucose reading.
What to Do About It
A recent research study suggests that taking basal insulin in the evening is the only effective solution to the dawn phenomenon. However, if you are not currently taking insulin, consult with your doctor, and consider trying one of these possible dawn effect solutions:
Exercise late in the day. Being active closer to bedtime may lower your blood sugar while you sleep.
Adjust your medication(s). Talk to your physician about tweaking your medication(s) to counter the higher morning readings.
Eat breakfast. When you eat breakfast, your body will tell the predawn glucose-stimulating hormones to gi Continue reading