This week I received the following question from :

I was just told I am type 2 diabetic.  My doctor told me to try to control my numbers by diet.  I have noticed my blood sugar is high in the morning before I have eaten.  Could you explain why?

Although it seems ironic and kind of unfair for your blood sugar to be high before you’ve even had breakfast, it is not at all uncommon. Having high blood sugar when you wake up is commonly known as the “dawn phenomenon,” or “dawn effect.” It typically raises your blood sugar anywhere from 10-20 mg/dL from around 2am to 8am.

Why does it do that? Our bodies can naturally release growth-hormones at night, including glucagon, epinephrine, and the stress-hormone cortisol. These hormones trigger the liver to release more glucose, while  at the same time cause the cells to be more insulin-resistant. This combination leads to hyperglycemia, and is why you’re frustrated when reading your glucometer in the morning

There are also other reasons for high blood sugar in the mornings. Eating carbohydrates before bed, taking insufficient insulin, or an incorrect dosage of medication before bed can also contribute to this problem. Your doctor may ask you to wake up at 2 or 3 am to test your sugar, so that he might determine if your high blood glucose is related to the dawn phenomenon or something else.

The best dietary method to prevent the dawn phenomenon is avoiding high carbohydrate snacks right before bedtime, and monitoring your carb intake throughout the day. It is okay to have a carbohydrate as a snack if it fits into your daily carbohydrate allowance, just pair it with a protein or a fat to slow down the rate of glucose absorption. Eat your dinner or snack earlier in the evening rather than right before bed.  If you are still having difficulty, notify your doctor.  An adjustment in your medication timing or dosage may be needed.



It’s even prettier when you got good morning blood sugar to start the day with!