The Dawn Phenomenon: How To Manage High Morning Blood Sugar

Fact Checked by Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, CPT
An image of someone taking a blood sugar reading
READ TIME: 5 MINUTES —

In this article, we’ll learn all about the Dawn Phenomenon and how to manage high morning blood sugar readings, including:

Have you ever noticed that your blood sugar levels are much higher in the morning no matter what you do with your diet and exercise regimen?

You may be experiencing what’s known as the dawn phenomenon.

The dawn phenomenon (also referred to as the dawn effect) is a common occurrence for many people living with with diabetes (both type-1 and type-2), as well as anyone struggling with blood sugar control. It can be discouraging and downright frightening to see your numbers spike so dramatically in the mornings. (1)

Let’s take a look at why blood sugar levels often read higher in the morning (even if you haven’t eaten a thing), and discover some impactful ways to manage this problem.

What Makes My Blood Sugar So High In The Morning?

When you’re asleep and resting, your body is repairing and performing its daily maintenance tasks. This includes getting you ready to wake up and pop out of bed with energy and motivation to tackle the day. 

So, between the hours of 4am and 8am, your hormone levels start to rise and your liver starts to release glucose, getting ready to provide you with a boost of energy for when you awaken. 

A woman waking up in the morning

For people who maintain blood sugar levels in the healthy range, the body counters the rising blood sugar with a bit of insulin to absorb the excess glucose, and they go about their day, unaware of the temporary blood sugar spike.

But for those with diabetes or insulin resistance, the dawn effect can mean blood sugar spikes that they can’t get back down. There’s no automatic release of insulin (or your cells may be resistant to the insulin that is released), and that means your body has trouble countering the hormonal surge and rising glucose levels. This is why you might see higher than normal fasting blood glucose levels in the morning.

Somogyi Effect Vs Dawn Phenomenon: What’s the Difference?

If you’re familiar with the dawn phenomenon and have experienced high fasting blood sugar, then you may have also heard of something called the “Somogyi effect.” To understand the difference between the Somogyi effect and the dawn phenomenon, let’s learn a bit more about the former. 

Sometimes, (and more often for those with type-1 than type-2) if your blood sugar drops too low overnight because of insulin treatment, there’s a rebound effect. The body tries to counteract your low blood sugar levels by overcompensating with the release of hormones like cortisol and glucagon — and you wake up with a high fasting blood sugar reading.

For example, let’s say your blood sugar is on the low side in the evening. You take your insulin and don’t have your nightly snack. Your blood sugar dips during the night, your body tries to bring you out of this hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) state with a flood of hormones, and you wake up in the morning with your fasting numbers looking like you just ate a bag of jelly beans. That’s called the Somogyi effect, and a different issue altogether than the dawn phenomenon. (2

If you’re wondering if your high morning numbers are a result of the dawn phenomenon or the Somogyi effect, one way to tell is to test your blood sugar in the middle of the night for several nights.

  • If your blood sugar is low at 2-3 am, it’s likely the Somogyi effect. See here for tips on managing the Somogyi effect. (3, 4
  • If your blood sugar is normal or high at 2-3 am, it’s probably the dawn phenomenon.

How Muniq and Healthy Habits Can Help Manage The Dawn Phenomenon

When you’re working hard to control your diet and you’re still seeing those high fasting morning numbers, it can be so frustrating! 

Plus, consistently high morning blood sugar can have negative health implications over the long term — and could mean even more dependence on diabetes medications to keep fasting blood glucose down.

But there is hope! There are several things you can try to start improving your results in the morning.

A woman mixing a muniq shake in her glass

1. Try drinking your Muniq shake at different times of the day, or switching up your meal times

If you’ve been drinking Muniq at breakfast and haven’t seen an improvement in your morning fasting numbers, try switching it up and drinking your shake at night. Alternatively, you can experiment with moving your meal/snack times around. 

2. Try splitting your Muniq shake in half

Try a half serving of Muniq in the morning and half at night.

3. Try 2 full shakes per day

If your morning numbers aren’t where you’d like them to be, try drinking a full Muniq shake in the morning and one at night to help keep morning numbers steady. 

4. Experiment with your macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat)

Some people respond well to a higher protein, moderate fat, and low-carb diet. And some also swear that a little healthy fat like olive oil or avocado as a snack before bed can help keep their blood sugar levels stable while they’re sleeping. 

Nuts such as pistachios, almonds, and walnuts provide a source of healthy plant-based fat along with protein and fiber to help you feel satisfied while helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. Try pairing nuts with a source of slow-digested carbohydrate such as natural nut butter spread onto an apple or a whole grain cracker.

And Greek yogurt contains almost twice the amount of protein as traditional yogurt (with less sugar), and digests slowly to keep you satisfied. Choose plain Greek yogurt with no added sugar, and add a handful of berries or chopped nuts.

Just be sure to keep track of the foods you eat to see what helps — and you may just be surprised to see your numbers coming down in the mornings.

5. Don’t forget to exercise!

Even moderate amounts of exercise can help with blood sugar control, so squeezing in an after-dinner stroll could be the ticket to a lower fasting number in the morning. (5, 6

But keep in mind, this is a process and everyone is different. 

Drinking Muniq daily and experimenting with diet and exercise can help your fasting morning numbers — but don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Sometimes it can take three months or more before you start really seeing the results you’re after with any sort of blood sugar management plan.

Recap: Quick Tips For Battling High Blood Sugar In The Morning

  • Try drinking your Muniq shake at night
  • Try one shake in the morning and one at night
  • Experiment with half a shake in the morning and half at night
  • Try switching up your meal times
  • Add more protein to your diet
  • Try adding a little more healthy fat to your diet like olive oil or avocado
  • Exercise daily, especially after your evening meal

References

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like
An illustration of pricking a finger to test blood sugar
Read More

How to Control Blood Sugar the Natural Way

READ TIME: 18 MINUTES — Did you know that keeping your blood sugar levels under control is important for EVERYONE, not just people living with diabetes? Maybe you’ve heard the staggering statistics about diabetes in the United States. Well, just in case you haven’t, here’s the shocking truth...