Why You Wake Up At 3 Am
The brain is highly active at night, transforming short-term memory into long-term memory and carrying out repair and regeneration, and it depends on a steady supply of energy to do these tasks. When you sleep at night your body goes into a fasting state. In order not to deprive the brain of the food it needs for energy, the body compensates by gradually raising cortisol, an adrenal hormone. Cortisol stimulates the body to release or create glucose to supply the brain with energy during the night-long fast.
Chronic low blood sugar, however, throws a kink in this process. People with hypoglycemia tend to have difficulty making the right amount of cortisol at the right times of the day or night. They also have blood sugar levels that spike and then crash throughout the day. If they go too long without eating they experience lightheadedness, irritability, shakiness, a spacey feeling, and other symptoms that signify the brain is not getting enough glucose.
In these cases, not only does blood sugar drop too low during the night, but the adrenal glands dont produce enough cortisol to keep the brain fueled. In response, the body sounds the emergency alarm by releasing fight-or-flight hormones. These stress hormones raise blood sugar back to a safer level. Unfortunately, they also raise stress, which can cause anxiety or panic in the middle of the night. Hence the waking up at 3 a.m. and not being able to fall back asleep.
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.
Delayed Effects Of Fatty Foods
Blood sugar levels typically peak within an hour or so after eating. However, a high-fat dinner containing fried foods, pizza, or cheesy casseroles might delay this normal jump in blood sugar until the morning. Why? Large amounts of dietary fat can make it harder for insulin to do its job, explains Scheiner. Plus, fat slows down digestion and absorption, which could cause blood sugar to peak later than usual.
Possible solutions: Opt for fish, skinless poultry, beans, and vegetables sautéed in olive oil over foods high in saturated fat like fried foods and those covered in cheese. Filling up half your plate with vegetables can also help cut portion sizes of other foodsand your fat intake from those foods.
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High Blood Sugar Level At Night
To understand how blood glucose levels can rise overnight without your consuming anything, we need to look at where glucose originates from and where it goes while we sleep.
Throughout the day, the carbs we eat are absorbed into glucose and taken in into the blood stream. Some of this glucose goes to the liver, where it is kept for later use.
During the night, while we are asleep, the liver launches glucose into the bloodstream. The liver acts as our glucose storage facility and keeps us provided until we eat breakfast. The amount of glucose being used is matched by the amount of glucose being released by the liver, so blood glucose levels should stay consistent.
Mayo Clinic doctor Maria Collazo-Clavell, MD, says prevent carbohydrates at bedtime. She likewise says an insulin pump can assist a lot. You can program it in advance to increase your insulin when the dawn phenomenon starts to begin. You might need to inspect a few middle-of-the-night levels to find out when the phenomenon begins for you, or if you are going too low.
Expired Or Defective Insulin
There are specific requirements for storing and using insulin. Two things that render insulin ineffective are temperature and expiration. I once had an insulin pen that was exposed to way too much heat and it resulted in my blood sugar levels being high. As soon as started dosing with the new pen my blood sugar went back to normal.
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How To Prevent Hyperglycaemia
There are simple ways to reduce your risk of severe or prolonged hyperglycaemia:
- Be careful what you eat be particularly aware of how snacking and eating sugary foods or carbohydrates can affect your blood sugar level.
- Stick to your treatment plan remember to take your insulin or other diabetes medications as recommended by your care team.
- Be as active as possible getting regular exercise can help stop your blood sugar level rising, but you should check with your doctor first if youre taking diabetes medication, as some medicines can lead to hypoglycaemia if you exercise too much.
- Take extra care when youre ill your care team can provide you with some sick day rules that outline what you can do to keep your blood sugar level under control during an illness.
- Monitor your blood sugar level your care team may suggest using a device to check your level at home so you can spot an increase early and take steps to stop it.
Page last reviewed: 08 August 2018 Next review due: 08 August 2021
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A person usually has slightly higher blood sugar or glucose levels in the morning. But, in some people with diabetes, these levels are significantly high.
that get worse over time, due to these blood sugar spikes.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, healthy blood sugar levels are:
Starvation Can Cure Type 2 Diabetes
A new study shows that starvation can cure type 2-diabetes, just like gastric bypass surgery. Again, there is no need to explain the effect of the surgery with other speculative theories. The resulting starvation reverses diabetes. And the starvation isnt even necessary to do that. Guardian: Low-calorie diet offers hope of cure for type 2 diabetes Unnecessary starvation If a type 2 diabetic stops eating the symptoms of diabetes starts to go away. But starvation or surgery are unnecessarily painful ways to do it. Luckily diabetics can eat real food to satiety, as long as they avoid sugar and starch. The food that quickly turns into simple sugars in the gut. Cutting away their stomach or starving themselves is not necessary. All they need is good food. More Across the river for water: Surgery for diabetes PS A Gastric Bypass operation protects from eating too much carbohydrates in two ways. Number one: you can only eat miniature portions of anything. Number two: the smaller amounts of starch you eat is not digestedd as easily as the duodenum with the starch-digesting enzyme amylase is diverted from direct contact with the food.Continue reading > >
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How Is It Determined If The Dawn Phenomenon Or Somogyi Effect Is Causing The High Blood Sugar Levels
Your doctor will likely ask you to check your blood sugar levels between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. for several nights in a row. If your blood sugar is consistently low during this time, the Somogyi effect is suspected. If the blood sugar is normal during this time period, the dawn phenomenon is more likely to be the cause.
Some additional clues that the Somogyi effect may be the cause include nightmares, restless sleep and overnight sweating as these are all signs of low blood sugar levels.
How Can I Check My Blood Sugar
Use a blood sugar meter or a continuous glucose monitor to check your blood sugar. A blood sugar meter measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip. A CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to measure your blood sugar every few minutes. If you use a CGM, youll still need to test daily with a blood sugar meter to make sure your CGM readings are accurate.
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What Causes Low Blood Sugar In The Morning
The causes of low blood sugar in the morning vary. If you have diabetes, you likely need to adjust your background insulin levels. Make sure youre aware of how any other medications you take can affect your blood sugar. Your doctor can help you make sure that your insulin dosage and any other medications you take are a good fit with your diet and exercise routines. Additionally, alcohol usage is a risk for hypoglycemia.
If you dont have diabetes, hypoglycemia is less likely to occur. However, some non-diabetes-related causes of hypoglycemia include the following:
- drinking too much alcohol the previous night, which makes it harder for your liver to release glucose into your blood, thus causing a low blood sugar
- chronic starvation
Treating low blood sugar is fairly simple. If you wake up with hypoglycemia symptoms, try to consume about 15 grams of carbohydrates as soon as possible. Snacks that provide this include:
- 3 glucose tablets
- 1/2 cup of non-sugar-free fruit juice
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1/2 can of non-diet soda
Make sure you dont eat too much to treat low blood sugar, as this can have an opposite affect and make your levels too high. Wait 15 minutes after your first snack. If youre not feeling better, have another 15 grams of carbohydrates. Pairing your carbohydrate with a protein and healthy source of fat, such as nuts, seeds, cheese, or hummus, helps to keep you full and prevent another big drop in blood sugar.
What Should Your Blood Sugar Be When You Wake Up
The goal of diabetes management is to keep your blood sugar levels as stable as possible. This means that when you wake up, you want your glucose to be in range and to stay in range throughout the day.
For many people with diabetes, the overall target glucose range is between 70 mg/dL to 180 mg/dL . To start the day strong, the American Diabetes Association recommends that you aim to wake up with glucose levels between 80 to 130 mg/dL. Talk with your healthcare team about your glucose targets.
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Pinpointing The Cause For Effective Treatment
Its important to understand whats causing your morning hyperglycemia before your doctor can treat you. To pinpoint which of the three reasons is behind your high numbers, check and record your blood glucose before you go to bed, at 3 a.m., and then first thing in the morning. Although it isnt fun to set a middle-of-the-night alarm, continue to do so for a few nights in a row.
If your blood sugar is fairly even when you go to bed and at 3 a.m. but is higher in the morning, you are probably experiencing dawn phenomenon. If your blood sugar is low at 3 a.m., but high in the morning, you probably suffer from the Somogyi effect. If your blood sugar is elevated at 3 a.m. and then higher still in the morning, you probably have waning insulin.
Even if youve identified the reason behind your high morning number, never attempt to correct it on your own. Instead, talk with your doctor. Together, you can find a treatment plan that gets you back on track in the morning.
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
- healthful fats
- 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:
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What Are Some Tips To Prevent Nighttime Blood Sugar Level Dips
How To Stabilize Your Blood Sugar Overnight
The most important thing you can do to stabilize your blood sugar is monitor your glucose levels at bedtime, during the night, and when you wake up to look for patterns. This will help you determine whats going on in your body and how you can fix it. While there are many strategies people use to stabilize blood sugar at night, every person is different youll have to look for trends in your body, experiment with ways to lower glucose levels over a period of time, and learn what works best for your body.
Check your blood sugar before bed. If its already high, your blood sugar levels may remain high throughout the night. To address this, youll want to start by adjusting when you eat your evening meal and what it consists of, and how much mealtime insulin you take to cover it.
Avoid eating lots of food close to bedtime. For diaTribe writer Adam Brown, the key to staying in range overnight is low-carb, early dinners, with no snacking after dinner.
Consider eating less food at night and taking more basal insulin to cover your evening meal.
Check your blood sugar during the night, between midnight and 3am. If you were in range before bed but have high glucose levels between midnight and 3am, you may need to adjust your basal insulin dosage and timing. If you are low during that time, you may experience a rebound high blood sugar later on this is usually associated with overcorrecting the low.
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How To Prevent Morning Hyperglycemia
While morning hyperglycemia could be the bodys automatic response, you can certainly take steps to try to prevent it.
You could try some general steps that could help lower blood sugar in the night, such as eating your evening meals earlier in the day or having fewer carbs in your evening meal.
Alternatively, you could consider doing exercise in the evening, such as a brisk walk before bed. You might also consider changing your medication doses for the night or changing the type of insulin you use. As always, make such changes in consultation with your healthcare professional.
If you think that the high blood sugar might be caused by the dawn phenomenon, then try to make sure that you are well-rested. If your body is getting enough rest, with a full eight hours of sleep, then it might not think that it needs to release that extra energy. More generally, stress and diabetes leads to higher blood sugar levels so it is worth getting enough sleep.
With the Somogyi phenomenon, youll want to take the opposite steps because you want to prevent low blood sugar during the night. It may seem somewhat counterintuitive, but you might need to take less insulin, or eat more carbs, or do less exercise before bed.
What Should My Blood Sugar Be When I Wake Up
Checking your blood sugar first thing in the morning is important. In fact, fasting blood sugar readings really help you determine how to approach the rest of your day. You have to take steps considering how low or high your fasting blood sugar is, and understand how to set your morning target and what to do to achieve it. Let’s find out more about it.
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