You wake up in the morning and check your blood sugar before breakfast. And it's high. Higher than it usually is in the morning. What's going on? It could be one of two causes. Dawn phenomenon and the Somogyi effect both can raise your fasting blood glucose levels in the morning, but for different reasons.
Both occurrences are very similar in some respects and have to do with hormones that tell the liver to release glucose into your blood stream while you sleep. The difference is why the hormones are released.
The Somogyi effect is caused by having too much insulin in the blood during the night. This can happen to people who take long-acting insulins and it can also happen if you didn't eat a snack before bed. The blood sugar drops while you are sleeping and your body releases hormones to counteract the drop. The result? You wake up with a higher blood glucose level than you would like to see.
The dawn phenomenon happens because during the night, hormones are released that trigger the liver to put out glucose. If there is not enough insulin in the body to counteract this, then blood glucose levels rise during the night, resulting in a high reading in the morning.
How to tell the difference?
- The only way to know for sure which one might be making your morning glucose levels high, is to wake up sometime between 2 and 3 a.m. for several nights in a row, and check your blood sugar. If you are low at that time, it could be the Somogyi effect. If you are normal or high, then the dawn phenomenon may be the culprit.
What to do to counteract these events.
- Make sure to have a snack before bed that consists of more protein than carbs.
- Let your doctor know what is happening. He or she may change your medication or insulin dosages.
Additional ways to combat dawn phenomenon.
- Exercising in the evening may help keep morning blood sugars in a better range.
- Eat breakfast, even if your blood sugar is high. Eating something will actually shut down the dawn phenomenon process and let your blood sugar return to normal.
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