The Dawn Phenomenon In Diabetes – Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, founder of Milk and Honey Nutrition, is a diabetic dietitian (registered nutritionist) known for combining her knowledge of diabetes and nutrition into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!
Do you like the Somogyi effect v. Are you aware of the dawn phenomenon and how it may or may not affect your morning blood sugar levels?
Many people confuse the Somoji effect with the morning phenomenon. Both can happen to people with diabetes, and it’s important to know which conditions (Somo effect and morning sickness) are affecting your blood sugar.
Many people with diabetes have high blood sugar levels when they wake up in the morning. So, even if you’ve never heard of the Somo effect or the morning phenomenon, chances are you’ve experienced one (or both) of them at some point.
Both the Somogyi effect and the morning phenomenon cause blood sugar levels to rise in the morning. Most people believe that this happens because of the morning phenomenon because the public is less aware of the effects of Somogi in diabetes.
Morning sickness happens to almost everyone with diabetes and is a result of your body’s natural circadian rhythm. As your body prepares to start the day, your blood sugar levels rise. Your liver will produce glucose during your normal waking hours to fuel you throughout the day. But if you have diabetes, your pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to handle it, or the insulin isn’t effective enough, and you get hypoglycemia in the morning. You must be awake.
The dawn event affects people with all types of diabetes. However, it can be more noticeable in people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Metformin is one of the most common medications used to treat pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. It can be used to slow the release of glucose from the liver and prevent morning sickness in some people.
While the morning phenomenon occurs naturally, the Somogyi effect restores overnight hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) from taking too much insulin or not eating enough the night before. In both cases, blood sugar levels drop and the body produces hormones that signal the liver to make glucose. As a result, blood sugar levels rise again in the morning.
Low blood sugar at night can be caused by not eating enough (such as skipping a bedtime snack or eating less than usual), or by taking too much insulin or other medications that affect blood sugar.
When blood sugar levels are low, the body produces a hormone that works against insulin, causing blood sugar levels to rise too high. When this happens, you have what we call “recovery hyperglycemia.”
The Somogi effect affects people who use injectable insulin to treat their diabetes. These include type 1 diabetes and insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes.
Many doctors may ask you to check your blood sugar in the middle of the night to determine if you are experiencing the Somogyi effect versus the morning phenomenon. (Lower blood sugar levels at night indicate the effects of Somo.)
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Don’t worry it has nothing to do with what you do or don’t do. What you experience is called the “morning phenomenon” or the “morning effect.”
The dawn phenomenon of hyperglycemia is an early morning rise in blood sugar (glucose) that many people experience, even if they are not consuming too many carbohydrates or following a ketogenic diet. It is not related to food intake, but to biological processes called gluconeogenesis and glycolysis. Early morning release of other hormones, such as cortisol, is thought to play a role.
For some people, morning blood glucose levels rise significantly. For others, it is hardly noticeable. If you don’t have a blood test for ketones, you won’t notice. Also, it’s a normal body response as it prepares to face the day. It is not dangerous for diabetics and other people. If you test for ketones (and glucose) first thing in the morning, there’s nothing you can or shouldn’t do except keep that in mind. (If it’s a morning phenomenon, I recommend waiting until you wake up an hour or two before testing to get an accurate nutritional ketosis reading.)
People with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes are more insulin resistant and may or may not produce enough insulin to fight morning sickness. People who don’t get enough see their blood glucose levels higher in the morning than others. Diabetic keto dieters who want to reduce the effects of morning sickness can do so by avoiding sugary foods and eating a low-carb meal or snack before bed (which is good for regulating insulin levels).
Want to know more about the morning phenomenon? To learn more about the morning phenomenon, watch our video or read about the science behind the morning effect.
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