Unravelling the Mystery: Reasons for High Blood Sugars in the Morning

reasons for High Blood Sugars in the Morning

reasons for High Blood Sugars in the Morning

Unravelling the Mystery: Reasons for High Blood Sugars in the Morning

Waking up with high blood sugar levels can be both irritating and worrying, especially for people who have diabetes or are at risk of getting the disease. This is known as the “dawn phenomenon” or “morning hyperglycemia.” It’s critical to understand why this happens and what you can do to manage it properly. 

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In this detailed article, we will look into the numerous causes of high blood sugars in the morning, putting light on the physiological processes, lifestyle variables, and techniques to help you keep your morning glucose levels in check.

  1. The Dawn Phenomenon

The dawn phenomenon is a natural occurrence that happens in everyone, whether or not they have diabetes. It occurs during the early hours of the morning when the body starts preparing for the day ahead. Several factors contribute to the dawn phenomenon:

    • Hormonal Surge: Hormones such as cortisol, glucagon, and adrenaline increase in the early morning hours. These hormones work to provide the body with energy, often causing blood sugar levels to rise.
    • Liver Activity: Your liver plays a significant role in regulating blood sugar levels. In the morning, the liver releases stored glucose into the bloodstream to fuel your body for the day. This release of glucose can lead to higher blood sugar levels in the morning.
    • Circadian Rhythms: Your body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, influences various physiological processes, including blood sugar regulation. The release of hormones and other metabolic activities follows a circadian pattern, leading to higher blood sugar levels in the morning.
  1. The Somogyi Effect

The Somogyi effect, also known as rebound hyperglycemia, occurs as a response to low blood sugar levels during the night. Here’s how it works:

    • Overnight Hypoglycemia: In some cases, individuals with diabetes may experience a drop in blood sugar levels during the night, typically due to excessive insulin doses or a mismatch between insulin action and carbohydrate intake.
    • Counterregulatory Response: When blood sugar levels become too low, the body activates a counterregulatory response. This involves the release of hormones like cortisol and epinephrine, which prompt the liver to release more glucose into the bloodstream.
    • Morning Hyperglycemia: As a result of this hormonal response, blood sugar levels can surge, leading to high glucose readings in the morning.
  1. The Effect of Medications

Certain medications used to manage diabetes can influence morning blood sugar levels. Here are some examples:

    • Long-Acting Insulin: If you take long-acting insulin before bedtime, it may not cover the dawn phenomenon adequately. As a result, your blood sugar levels can rise in the morning.
    • Oral Medications: Some oral diabetes medications may become less effective overnight, contributing to higher morning blood sugar levels.
    • Timing of Medications: The timing of insulin or oral medications can have a significant impact on blood sugar levels in the morning. Discuss your medication schedule with your healthcare provider to optimize control.
  1. Diet and Nutrition

Dietary choices can significantly impact your morning blood sugar levels:

    • Late-Night Snacking: Consuming high-carbohydrate snacks late at night can lead to elevated blood sugar levels in the morning. Try to avoid heavy meals or snacks close to bedtime.
    • Carbohydrate Content: Pay attention to the carbohydrate content of your evening meal. Opt for complex carbohydrates and balance them with protein and fiber to help stabilize blood sugar levels overnight.
    • Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels. If you consume alcohol in the evening, it may contribute to higher blood sugar levels the next morning.
  1. Lack of Physical Activity

Physical activity plays a crucial role in blood sugar regulation. Here’s how it affects morning glucose levels:

    • Inactivity at Night: A sedentary lifestyle in the evening can contribute to higher morning blood sugar levels. Engaging in light physical activity after dinner, such as a short walk, can help improve overnight glucose control.
    • Regular Exercise: Incorporating regular physical activity into your daily routine can enhance insulin sensitivity and overall blood sugar management, reducing the likelihood of high morning blood sugars.
  1. Stress and Emotional Factors

Stress and emotional factors can trigger hormonal responses that impact blood sugar levels:

    • Cortisol Release: Stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that can raise blood sugar levels. If you experience stress or anxiety in the evening or night, it may contribute to high morning blood sugars.
    • Poor Sleep: Lack of quality sleep and sleep disturbances can increase stress levels and disrupt the body’s hormonal balance, potentially leading to elevated blood sugar levels in the morning.
  1. Inadequate Medication Adjustments

Properly managing morning blood sugar levels may require adjustments to your diabetes management plan but is always best to work in fixing the root issues like I teach my patients:

    • Consultation with Healthcare Provider: Work closely with your healthcare provider to review your blood sugar trends and make necessary medication adjustments. Even though they give medication it might help morning hyperglycemia.
    • Monitoring and Data Analysis: Regular monitoring of your blood sugar levels, especially in the morning, can provide valuable data for your understanding how this effects you.
    • Self-Management Education: Continue to learn from my website on how to reverse type 2 diabetes. Some patients participate in a diabetes education program but doesn’t offer a root cause viewpoint and are kind of a waste of time. 
  1. Other Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions and factors can also contribute to high blood sugar levels in the morning:

    • Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea, a condition characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep, can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to insulin resistance, potentially causing morning hyperglycemia.
    • Infection or Illness: Infections or illness can increase stress hormones and lead to elevated blood sugar levels. Managing any underlying medical conditions is crucial for maintaining stable glucose levels.
    • Medications for Other Conditions: Some medications used to treat other health conditions can affect blood sugar levels. Be aware of the potential side effects of medications you take and discuss them with your healthcare provider.

Managing High Blood Sugars in the Morning

Now that we’ve explored the various reasons behind high blood sugars in the morning, let’s discuss strategies for managing and preventing this issue:

    • Review Medications: Work closely with your healthcare provider to ensure your medication regimen is appropriate and adjusted to your individual needs. This may involve changing the timing or dosage of your medications.
    • Optimize Diet: Focus on a balanced diet with controlled carbohydrate intake like the recipe books in my shop. Even though diet doesn’t fix the root cause it will be better than eating bad. 
    • Regular Physical Activity: Incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine to improve insulin sensitivity and help stabilize blood sugar levels.
    • Stress Management: Practice stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, or deep breathing exercises to manage stress and minimize its impact on blood sugar levels. Also supplements like Adrenal Balance helps. You can learn more at www.drjspages.com/shop 
    • Monitor Blood Sugar: Keep a record of your blood sugar levels, especially in the morning. Share this data with your healthcare team to guide treatment adjustments.
    • Sleep Hygiene: Maintain a regular sleep schedule, create a comfortable sleep environment, and prioritize getting enough restful sleep.
    • Address Underlying Conditions: If you have conditions like sleep apnea or other illnesses, seek appropriate treatment to minimize their impact on blood sugar control.


High blood sugars in the morning can result from a combination of factors, including the dawn phenomenon, the Somogyi effect, medication issues, diet, physical activity, stress, and other medical conditions. Understanding the underlying reasons and implementing effective management strategies are essential for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of morning hyperglycemia.

Remember that diabetes management is highly individualized, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another. Therefore, it’s crucial to work closely with your healthcare provider to develop a personalized plan to address high blood sugars in the morning and achieve better overall glucose control. With the right approach and support, you can successfully manage your diabetes and wake up to more stable blood sugar levels each day.

Please Note: The diet and watching carbs DOES NOT fix the root issues that make blood sugar go up. 

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Dr Jonathan Spages

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