Blood sugar is high in the morning due to two reasons only: the Dawn Phenomenon and the Somogyi Effect.
Some people believed that the reason why blood sugar is high in the morning is that they had too many sweets before hitting the sack. But this theory is now debunked because of the two phenomena we mentioned.
The Dawn Phenomenon
This phenomenon explains all the natural body changes that we experience while we are sleeping.
In order for our body to have enough energy to wake up in the morning, it has to convert sugar first into energy. Having said, the body usually starts converting stored glucose from 3 am to 8 in the morning.
At the said period, our body is also known to release growth hormones such as glucagon, cortisol, and epinephrine which could possibly interact with insulin. As a result, the blood sugar levels of a person then increases.
All of these events usually take place at the given time frame which then leads to the Dawn Phenomenon since such happenings in the system increase the blood sugar at exactly “dawn”.
The Somogyi Effect
If not the Dawn Phenomenon, Somogyi Effect could be the reason behind the rise of blood sugar levels in the morning. This effect is also known as Rebound Hyperglycemia which was derived from the doctor who first wrote about it.
Our body has the ability to drop blood sugar at its lowest point while we sleep. So in order for our body to rescue itself from suffering low blood sugar, it releases hormones which have something to do with your stored glucose as well. This event happens when the hormones prompt the liver to release a large amount of glucose. As a result, it leads to the rise of blood sugar levels in the morning which is basically the Somogyi Effect.
How do we know if it’s the Dawn Phenomenon or the Somogyi Effect?
Most likely, your doctor will advise you to have your blood checked for a number of consecutive nights. Your blood checking will also have to be done around 2 to 3 in the morning for more accurate results. If results would indicate that your blood sugar is normal during the given time, then the Dawn Phenomenon would be the suspect. On the contrary, if your blood sugar is low at the said time, then blame the blood sugar increase on the Somogyi Effect.
In addition, the Somogyi Effect could also have some side effects which are common to low blood sugar such as feelings of restlessness, sleep deprivation, overnight sweats, and nightmares.
The reasons behind the Dawn Phenomenon and the Somogyi Effect which cause the high blood sugar levels in the morning are usually the same. However, these two only differ in two things:
- The Dawn Phenomenon occurs naturally
- The Somogyi Effect occurs due to poor diabetes management
Who gets affected by the Dawn Phenomenon?
Majority of the people who are more aware of the Dawn Phenomenon are the ones who have diabetes. However, regardless of the situation, everyone could be affected by the Dawn Phenomenon.
It’s just that, people who don’t have diabetes won’t notice the effects of the Dawn Phenomenon that much since their insulin levels would adjust to the body accordingly. On the other hand, people with diabetes would easily notice the rising of their blood sugar levels.
What about the Somogyi Effect?
Since the Somogyi Effect usually takes place only if there is mismanagement in diabetes, not everyone would have the possibility to experience it.
According to studies, there are two factors as to how the Somogyi Effect gets in the picture:
- Too much insulin before bedtime
- Insufficient insulin dosage at night time
How Is High Blood Sugar in the Morning Treated?
After detecting which among the two – Dawn Phenomenon or Somogyi Effect is causing the high blood sugar, the doctor would then suggest or recommend a series of steps on how high blood sugar can be controlled or prevented.
If your high blood sugar is due to the Dawn Phenomenon, you can try doing the following:
- Eating a lighter meal for breakfast
- Changing medications for diabetes
- Adjusting doses of insulin or the medications
- Considering the usage of insulin pump
For Somogyi Effect, the following may be done:
- Eating carbs hours before bedtime
- Decreasing long-acting insulin doses
- Doing evening exercises
- Changing blood sugar-lowering medication doses
Are There Any Risk Factors You Should Watch out For?
Generally speaking. High blood sugar in the morning is only short-lived. Most especially for those who are experiencing the Dawn Phenomenon, the effects of the high blood sugar will also go away. However, you just have to remember the following:
- Some people are insulin resistant in the morning – Having said, these people need to limit their insulin or carbohydrates consumption in the morning.
- There could be some hormonal changes – Impact on one’s hormones usually take place only if the Somogyi Effect is left untreated and mismanaged. Even though the symptoms are unnoticeable, hormonal changes could make the body unable to adjust to low blood sugar.
- Be aware and informed – It is important to be fully informed of the Dawn Phenomenon and Somogyi Effect. This is because high blood sugar could lead to other severe health concerns and we don’t want that. To prevent this from happening, it’s better to always visit the doctor once in a while to have your progress checked.