Problems Caused By High Blood Sugar
It’s not usually a serious problem if your blood sugar is sometimes slightly high for a short time.
But high blood sugar can cause serious problems if it stays high for a long time or gets to a very high level.
It can lead to:
- life-threatening conditions such as diabetic ketoacidosis
If you have high blood sugar, your doctor or care team may ask you to test your blood or pee to check for ketones. A high level of ketones is a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis.
What Is Somogyi Effect Or Rebound Hyperglycemia
The Somogyi Effect or rebound hyperglycemia refers to blood sugar levels plummeting overnight. When this happens, the body takes it as a cue to release the counter-regulatory hormones , glucagon, adrenaline, and cortisol to raise blood sugar levels in order to keep them from falling too low. Sometimes, there is an over-correction that actually leads to hyperglycemia or elevated blood glucose levels.
Take A Pass On The Bread Bowl
Its obvious that sugary stuff leads to an increase in blood sugar, but starchy foods can do the same thing. Your body processes simple carbs quickly and turns them into sugar, and it needs a lot of insulin to absorb them. That means a bag of Doritos is as likely as a candy bar to cause a spike.
If youre in the middle of a blood sugar spike, its best to curtail your carb intake. Check the glycemic index if youre not sure about a food.
Surprisingly, popcorn and white potatoes are worse than ice cream, according to the index. If you stick to low-carb/low-glycemic-index foods, your blood sugar will return to normal much more quickly.
Ultimately, its best to limit your carb intake. A 2004 study found that a diet of 20 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 50 percent fat lowered fasting blood sugar and kept blood sugar from spiking after meals.
This was a very small study, but the results suggest that lower carb intake can lead to generally lower blood glucose. In general, most people with diabetes eat 40 to 45 percent of their calories in the form of carbohydrates. Choosing nutrient-rich sources of carbs is best.
Another promising study found that after two years on a low-carb diet, many participants with type 2 diabetes were able to manage their condition without medication or resolve it entirely.
The occasional baked potato isnt a problem, but frequent trips to the drive-through are not a good idea. Find a few veggie-and-protein-heavy meals and make them your go-tos.
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Sleep Habits And Diabetes
While diet and obesity are big contributors to your odds of having diabetes, studies have found that sleep habits are, too, probably because over time, they can affect how well your cells respond to insulin.
In one study, more than 4,000 people reported the amount of sleep they got each night. Those who got less than 6 hours were twice as likely to have cells that were less sensitive to insulin or to have full-blown diabetes. This was true even after the researchers took other lifestyle habits into account.
Other sleep disruptions and disorders, such as sleep apnea, also seem to raise a personâs odds of having diabetes.
But the risk goes up at the other end of the spectrum, too. For reasons that arenât clear, people who sleep too much — more than 9 hours a night — might also have higher chances of getting diabetes.
Avoid Alcohol The Night Before And Sugar In Anything The Next Morning
Like to enjoy a tipple the night before you go to bed? Its time to cut down or back on that completely. The alcohol dehydrates the body and will mean your blood glucose level will be more saturated. The smaller amounts of glucose will affect you in bigger ways.
But this doesnt help you on a morning, right? Well, look out for drinking anything sugary on a morning. This includes your glass of orange juice. You may even want to avoid plain water!
You want to drink something that is going to keep your sugar levels to a minimum and not spart the release of insulin. That means looking for something that packs plenty of protein. Remember that protein berry smoothie? Consider that as your morning drink/breakfast. You can follow it with a glass of water if youd like.
A green smoothie would be another excellent option. It packs you full of nutrients, and you can add in the protein to get that filling element.
If you really want water, add a slice or two of lemon. You get some sweetness but without the large amounts of sugar hitting your system causing a problem.
Keeping your morning drink routine perfect will also help you reduce the stress hormones. Coffee is a stimulant and will just make your stress levels even worse. Anything with caffeine will do the same and thats usually what youll add sugar to. Opt for lemon water for a refreshing drink and then a smoothie for a no-caffeine, nutrient packed breakfast.
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What Is The Dawn Phenomenon
Another reason for high nighttime blood sugar levels is the dawn phenomenon. The dawn phenomenon occurs early in the morning when the body naturally signals your liver to produce glucose, giving your body the energy it needs to wake up.
The hormonal changes associated with the dawn phenomenon happen to people with or without diabetes, though those without diabetes do not experience hyperglycemia. If you take insulin, you may need to try a new basal insulin or adjust the timing and amount of your basal dose or your nighttime basal rates to cover an early morning rise.
Dont Eat Too Close To Bedtime
Technology is supposed to mean more freedom for people with diabetes, but that doesnt mean a midnight ice-cream sundae wont send your blood sugars skyrocketing.
Eating too close to bedtime makes not only digestion more difficult, but you also dont know how youll react to the food youve eaten if youre asleep.
Try to stop all meals and snacks about 3 hours before bedtime so you can closely monitor postprandial blood sugars and make a correction dose if needed.
You may need to reassess your insulin to carbohydrate ratios and basal programs in the evening, too, so make sure youre fine-tuning your insulin sensitivity and correction factors, as evening mealtime boluses can often wreak havoc on overnight blood sugars when not calibrated correctly.
Keep in mind that high fat and high protein meals digest a lot more slowly, so even if youre not having many carbohydrates at night, you may still suffer from delayed high blood sugars if you havent bolused appropriately.
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Somogyi Effect Vs Dawn Phenomenon
In the Somogyi effect, blood sugar levels become too low at night, triggering your body to release additional glucose in response. When this occurs, you can wake up in the morning with high blood sugar.
There are a couple of things that can contribute to the Somogyi effect. These can include taking too much insulin or diabetes medications prior to bed or not eating a sufficient evening meal.
If you have high morning blood sugar, you can help determine whats causing it by measuring your blood sugar in the early morning hours. The result can give you a better idea of what may be going on.
If you have normal or high blood sugar in the early morning hours, your high morning blood sugar is likely due to the dawn phenomenon. If you have low blood sugar in the early morning hours, your high morning blood sugar may be due to the Somogyi effect.
Setting up an evening routine can help you better manage high morning blood sugar. Follow the tips below to get started.
Incorporate Spinach And Kale Into Pastas And Salads
According to a previous review, eating 1 Â½ cup of dark leafy greens, including spinach and kale, each day can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent. Though the reason is unclear, it may be that leafy greens have a protective effect because they contain antioxidants like vitamins A and C. A cup of fresh, cooked kale offers 879 mcg of vitamin A, or about 98 percent of the DV, and 52.9 mg of vitamin C, or about 58 percent of the DV, notes the USDA. Leafy greens are also low in calories and carbohydrates , which is ideal for folks with type 2 diabetes.
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Why Could It Be Diabetes
One of the most common early signs of diabetes is a need to pee more often during the day. But it can also happen at night.
When theres too much sugar in your blood, which happens if you have diabetes, your kidneys have to work harder to get rid of it. This forces them to make more urine. The process doesnt stop just because youre snoozing.
Diabetes can also damage your kidneys or bladder. Both can cause you to pee more.
How To Lower Morning Blood Sugar
Whether a morning high is caused by the dawn phenomenon or something else, here are a few things you can try to lower your blood sugar levels:
Physical activity when you wake up can help bring your glucose level down. Even going for a walk can be helpful.
To learn about exercise guidelines and glucose management strategies, click here.
Read Adam Browns take on walking the most underrated diabetes exercise strategy.
Eating a light breakfast can help keep a morning high from increasing even more. Taking your mealtime insulin will help lower your blood sugar.
Adam Brown suggests eating a breakfast that is low in carbs, and notes that sometimes mealtime insulin has to be adjusted in the morning. One of his favorite breakfasts is chia pudding, since it has little impact on glucose levels see what else he eats for breakfast here.
Catherine Newman has six popular, low-carb, delicious recipes in The Morning Meal.
Intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding approaches to meal timing can also help people keep morning blood sugar levels in range. Read Justine Szafrans Intermittent Fasting: Stabilizing My Morning Blood Sugars to learn more.
For additional ways to navigate mornings, read seven strategies from Adam Brown in A Home Run Breakfast with Diabetes.
This article is part of a series on time in range.
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What Units Are Used For Measuring Blood Sugar Levels
Doctors measure blood sugar differently depending on where you live:
In the U.S., your blood sugar level mostly shows as milligrams of glucose in 1/10th of a liter of blood, also known as milligrams per deciliter .
In the U.K., doctors often measure your blood sugar levels in millimoles of glucose per liter of blood .
Whichever measurement a test uses, its to compare your level to a normal blood sugar range.
If you live with diabetes, youll have higher blood sugar levels than someone who doesnt have diabetes. So, a normal blood glucose level for a person with prediabetes or diabetes is higher.
There are other ways to measure blood sugar, such as a hemoglobin A1C test that estimates the average blood sugar levels over the last 3 months.
Build A Clear Picture Of How Your Blood Sugar Works By Using A Cgm
As weve seen, everyones blood sugar control works differently, so it can be helpful to know whether morning spikes are a problem for you.
Unless you have diabetes, it is unlikely that you check your glucose regularly.
Checking your glucose a few times throughout the day or continuously via CGM can help to show how your body is handling changes in glucose levels during fasting or after meals.
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Best Snacks Before Bed
People can tailor their snacking based on their weight goals and how their body reacts to sugar overnight. A dietician can help.
The best snacks for each person will depend on how the body responds to the dawn phenomenon and the Somogyi effect, as well as personal preferences and goals.
The ADA recommend that people develop a personalized meal plan with their healthcare team, and this can include snacks and their timings.
Little scientific evidence points to an ideal bedtime snack, but researchers believe that beneficial snacks will contain:
- high levels of protein
- limited carbohydrates
Foods with this composition may help limit blood glucose spikes during the night and ensure lower blood glucose levels in the morning.
Try one the following healthful snacks before bed to help manage blood sugar levels and satisfy nighttime hunger:
High Blood Sugar Levels When You Wake Up
If your fasting glucose before breakfast is 100125 mg/dL , its higher than doctors would expect to see in a person with healthy blood sugar control.
Fasting blood glucose in this range means you could have prediabetes a health condition that significantly increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
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Make Good Use Of Technology
Technology such as insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors are there to help you. If youre noticing a lot of high blood sugars overnight, tinker with your basal and bolus rates at dinner time and before bed.
Most people need a lot more insulin overnight to help combat the dawn phenomenon, so dont feel bad or guilty if your basal rate overnight is twice what you require during the day.
In addition, set high blood sugar alarms on your CGM , so you can wake up and take insulin if needed.
If youre on a hybrid closed-loop system such as the Medtronic 670g, 770g, Tslim Control IQ, or DIY Loop, your insulin pump will automatically increase your basal rates to help combat overnight highs, but if you are not, you can do this manually.
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Caution: Birth Control Pills
Types that have estrogen can affect the way your body handles insulin. Still, oral contraceptives are safe for women with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association suggests a combination pill with norgestimate and synthetic estrogen. The group also says birth control shots and implants are safe for women with the condition, though they can affect your blood sugar levels.
What Causes High Morning Blood Sugars
Two main culprits prompt morning highs: the dawn phenomenon and waning insulin. A third, much rarer cause, known as the Somogyi effect, may also be to blame.
The occasional morning high will have little impact on your A1C, a measure of your average blood sugar levels over time that indicates how well managed your diabetes is. But if those highs become consistent, they could push your A1C up into dangerous territory.
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If You Are Taking Levemir During The Morning
Levemir is a long acting insulin that has duration of between 18 and 24 hours.
If you take Levemir in the morning, this can mean that the effects of the insulin can wear off during the night.
This may also be the case, albeit to a lesser extent, if you are on a split dose of Levemir, that is taking an injection during the evening and an additional dose at breakfast.
What Is Dawn Phenomenon
If your nocturnal sugar spikes have nothing to do with erratic meal times or diabetes medication, you just may have brushed up against the Dawn Phenomenon or the Somogyi Effect. The Dawn Phenomenon or Dawn Effect usually occurs between 3 AM and 8 AM. As the body prepares to rise up and greet the day, it sends a memo to the liver to pump more glucose into the blood so that there is enough fuel to run on.
This simultaneously triggers the release of insulin, the hormone in charge of blood sugar regulation, to keep sugar levels from going too high, which is why this usually goes unnoticed in non-diabetic people. In people with diabetes, however, the body either does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin efficiently, leading to hyperglycemia or high blood sugar.
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