How Can High Blood Sugar Levels In The Morning Be Controlled
Once you and your doctor determine how your blood sugar levels are behaving at night, he or she can advise you about the changes you need to make to better control them. Options that your doctor may discuss depend on the cause of the morning high blood sugars.
For dawn phenomenon:
- Changing the timing or type of your diabetes medications
- Eating a lighter breakfast
- Increasing your morning dose of diabetes medication
- If you take insulin, switching to an insulin pump and programming it to release additional insulin in the morning
For Somogyi effect:
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.
Why Your Blood Sugar Might Be Higher In The Morning
Aside from normal hormonal happenings, some lifestyle factors can affect your nighttime and early morning blood sugar. Eating meals late at night can interfere with your bodyâs usual hormone production schedule and cause unusual morning blood sugar readings.
Skipping meals can have just as much of an effect. Some professionals think the body might produce a rebound effect3 in the early morning when blood sugar is unusually low at night, which can happen if you skip meals late in the day or if you have diabetes and have low insulin at night. This is the Somogyi effect it doesnât seem to be as common as the dawn effect and is likely more common in people with diabetes than without .
What you eat for dinner, regardless of what time you eat, may also have an effect on your morning blood sugar4. Remember that everyone has unique glucose responses5 to certain foods.
Some other factors that can affect your morning blood glucose reading6 include: drinking alcohol before bed, staying up later than usual, going to sleep with a high stress level, exercising late in the evening if you normally donât, and skipping physical activity if you normally do exercise in the evening.
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Exercise Can Help Lower Morning Blood Glucose Levels
Exercise helps lower blood glucose levels in two ways:
Expert tips about exercise for lowering morning blood glucose levels
Dr Kimberly Cukier recommends trying a gentle 10-minute walk after an evening meal. A morning walk can also help reduce glucose levels in the blood.
Why Is My Blood Sugar High In The Morning
High blood sugar in the morning is mysterious to the extent that it may be a phenomenon. Specifically: the dawn phenomenon.
This is where hormones are released in the early hours of the morning. In turn, the hormones make the liver release its store of glycogen , thus raising blood sugar levels.
Its not exactly known why this happens, but these hormones are usually released to give extra energy. So, the theory is that the body releases extra glucose in order to give you extra energy to wake up and start the day.
Obviously, this extra glucose doesnt help those with diabetes, but at least the bodys trying. Its the thought that counts, right?
There may also be another potential reason for high blood sugar in the morning: the Somogyi phenomenon . This can occur as a result of insulin use.
Its theorised that taking insulin before bed can cause the body to have a rebound effect whilst sleeping. If insulin continues to lower blood sugar during sleep, and its not being treated, then the body responds in stress mode: it releases hormones to trigger a rise in blood sugar levels.
But for those with diabetes, this doesnt stabilise the blood sugar. That extra glucose cant be used without diabetes medication, and so, the blood sugar gets too high instead.
There could be other reasons for high blood sugar in the morning, such as too many carbs before bed or requiring a different level of insulin. We can look at what to do about that in a moment.
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How A Continuous Glucose Monitor Can Help Control Morning Levels
Troubleshooting morning glucose levels can be tricky. As we have discussed, there are a lot of factors that influence overall glucose status in the body. Exercise, stress, circadian rhythm, macronutrient composition, nutrient timing, and more are continually affecting glucose management in your body.
If your morning glucose levels are higher than you would like, always start with the four fundamentals:
Of course, it can be difficult to tease out which specific factor is causing your issue, which is why it is crucial to track the data.
The gold standard for tracking glucose levels is with a continuous glucose monitor . When you use a CGM, you can see your glucose values in real time, 24/7. You donât have to wait for an annual blood test to determine whether the changes you made are working. Instead, you can troubleshoot solutions by trying different things out and seeing how they improve the numbers every single day.
Finding a signal through the noise of online âhealth adviceâ is difficult. But with NutriSenseâs Continuous Glucose Monitoring program, you donât have to guess what works for you. You have continual access to your data plus the support of a world-class team that has analyzed thousands of non-diabetic CGM usersâ data. Weâve done the hard work so you donât have to.
to learn how a NutriSense CGM works and see how it can help unlock your health potential today.
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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What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Someone who has high blood sugar can develop a serious problem with a serious-sounding name: diabetic ketoacidosis . This happens if the body gets desperate for a source of fuel. The body wants to use glucose . But without insulin, that glucose stays stuck in the blood and isn’t available to the cells so the body uses fat instead.
But that can sometimes cause problems. Why? Because when the body uses fat, chemicals called ketones are produced. These ketones get into a person’s blood and urine and they can make a person very sick. DKA is a very serious problem for people with diabetes, but the good news is that it can be prevented and treated.
Keep A Consistent Exercise Routine
The best exercise is the one you do regularly. Donât let the âperfectâ become the enemy of âgood enoughâ. It is far better to consistently walk 15 minutes a day or strength train three times per week than it is to grind out a marathon-like workout once every 3 or 4 months when the motivation strikes.
Find a movement practice that you love doing and make it a non-negotiable part of your life. Leverage the insights from behavioral science to design your environment for success.
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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.
Lifestyle Strategies To Lower Morning Blood Sugar Levels
The truth is, that despite the fact we know the Dawn Phenomenon exists, and worsens morning blood sugar in those with diabetes and prediabetes, researchers still havent solved exactly how to lower morning levels.
However, try some of the following methods to see if they work for you. Every person is different and while there is no one proven method for lowering morning levels, many people do report one, or a combination of the following helps.
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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.
Why Is My Morning Blood Sugar High
Blood Sugar: Hidden Causes of High Blood Sugar Levels in the Morning. High blood sugar in the morning may be caused by the Somogyi effect, a condition also called rebound hyperglycemia. It also may be caused by dawn phenomenon, which is the end result of a combination of natural body changes.25 2018 .
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Make Sure Youre Getting Adequate Nutrition Throughout The Day
If you are restricting calories to lose weight, your body may not be getting enough of the basic building blocks it needs to properly manage glucose levels. The same thing can happen in those who are very physically active and consuming energy-dense, but nutrient-poor, diets.
While it is beyond the scope of this article, there is a dynamic interplay between the various metabolic pathways of the body: fat metabolism, ketone metabolism, glucose metabolism, protein metabolism, and more. Your glucose needs can significantly vary depending on which of these metabolic pathways are dominant.
The liver holds approximately 100g of glucose in the form of glycogen. It takes about 24 hours for it to be depleted while fasting or ~90 minutes of moderate-high intensity. Glucose can be synthesized from several substrates , but generally speaking, it is easiest to simply consume the glucose you need.
Therefore, a relatively sedentary person may do well with 50-100g of carbohydrates per day, whereas an athlete or a person with a physically demanding job may do best with 2-4 times that value. The best way to determine your needs, of course, is through accurate monitoring of your glucose levels.
What Can You Do About High Morning Blood Sugar
What to do about high morning blood sugar levels depends on how often you see them and what the causes are. It is important to take steps to address high blood glucose because consistently high morning values can indicate increasing A1C values and a higher risk for diabetes complications.
These are some possible strategies for getting high morning blood pressure into range.
- Increasing physical activity, including in the late afternoon or evening.
- Limiting the carbs you have at dinner or bedtime to 30 to 45 grams, such as 2 slices of bread, a piece of fruit and ½ cup of oatmeal, or a cup of pasta.
- Adjusting the timing and/or dose of insulin or other medications.
- Changing medications.
Your doctor can help you decide how to approach high morning blood glucose values. It is never safe to change medications without asking your doctor.
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How To Fix High Blood Sugars In The Morning
The Dawn Phenomenon
More than half of people with diabetes are thought to experience dawn phenomenon, and it can lead to significant increases in HbA1c.
The dawn phenomenon begins when your body secretes a surge of hormones, including growth hormone, cortisol, adrenaline and glucagon. These hormones start working very early each morning around the same time to prepare your body to wake. Basically, your body is starting the engine, releasing some fuel, and prepping to go for the day.
These hormones trigger the conversion of the livers glycogen stores into glucose which is then dumped into the blood in a process called glycogenolysis.
This general process occurs in all humans regardless of whether they have diabetes. In people without diabetes, the bodys natural insulin response prevents the blood sugars from rising. In people with diabetes, though, the body is unable to produce a healthy insulin response, and therefore blood glucose levels spike up.
The Mayo Clinic suggests several strategies you can try to combat the effects of dawn phenomenon:
- Use an insulin pump to administer extra insulin during early-morning hours.
- Avoid carbohydrates at bedtime.
- Adjust your dose of medication or insulin.
- Switch to a different glucose-lowering medication.
- Adjust the time when you take your medication or insulin from dinnertime to bedtime.
What Works for Some People
High Blood Sugars from the Night Before
Is Hyperglycaemia Serious
The aim of diabetes treatment is to keep blood sugar levels as near to normal as possible. But if you have diabetes, no matter how careful you are, you’re likely to experience hyperglycaemia at some point.
It’s important to be able to recognise and treat hyperglycaemia, as it can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
Occasional mild episodes aren’t usually a cause for concern and can be treated quite easily or may return to normal on their own. However, hyperglycaemia can be potentially dangerous if blood sugar levels become very high or stay high for long periods.
Very high blood sugar levels can cause life-threatening complications, such as:
- diabetic ketoacidosis a condition caused by the body needing to break down fat as a source of energy, which can lead to a diabetic coma this tends to affect people with type 1 diabetes
- hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state severe dehydration caused by the body trying to get rid of excess sugar this tends to affect people with type 2 diabetes
Regularly having high blood sugar levels for long periods of time can result in permanent damage to parts of the body such as the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels.
If you experience hyperglycaemia regularly, speak to your doctor or diabetes care team. You may need to change your treatment or lifestyle to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
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Lack Of Physical Exercise
Exercise is a powerful tool for controlling glucose levels. There are multiple mechanisms by which exercise positively impacts glucose levels, including:
But perhaps the most important aspect of exercise is consistency. Research has found that even a 10-day break in exercise in fit individuals decreased insulin sensitivity.
Why Is My Blood Glucose High In The Morning
By analogy, if the temperature gauge in your car indicated the engine was running too hot, how concerned should you be? It would depend on why the engine was too hot, wouldnât it? If you simply forgot to get an oil change, then the fix might be quite simple. Conversely, if the problem is stemming from a glitch in one of the onboard computers and is affecting multiple systems, then you need to get to a mechanic ASAP.
Similarly, there are several known reasons for your metabolic engine to ârun too hotâ. Here are some of the more common ones:
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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.