Waking up with high blood sugar? It’s more common than you think.
In fact, even people who don’t have diabetes can have higher blood sugars in the morning. This is because of an effect called the “dawn phenomenon.” Never heard of it? Don’t worry! We’ll explore what the dawn phenomenon is, why it’s raising your morning blood sugars, and share tips for keeping your morning readings on target.
High blood sugar in the morning can be caused by many things. While diet and medications are some of the more common culprits, normal body processes can also be to blame.
The dawn phenomenon is seen in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and isn’t necessarily caused by something that you are or are not doing.
In the early hours of the morning, even before you are aware of it, your body is getting ready for the day ahead. Certain hormones needed for energy peak in these early hours. The liver works hard overnight to produce blood sugar (aka glucose), and when signaled by this surge of hormones, releases the glucose into the bloodstream to get ready to get up. In a person who does not have diabetes, insulin ensures the blood sugar levels don’t get too high. In a person with diabetes, this early morning release of energy can cause a high blood sugar.
The dawn phenomenon, also called the dawn effect, can be worrisome if it becomes a persistent occurrence. Side effects can include an elevated A1c and higher risk of diabetes related complications. If your blood sugar is within the safe zone (80-180) the majority of the time, your A1c can remain in a good range, even with the occasional morning high blood sugar reading. However, if you have trouble staying in the zone and are experiencing many high morning readings, you may be at risk for an elevated A1c. We recommend the following strategies for preventing high morning readings and keeping your sugars “in the zone:”