Naturopathic Doctor Jody Stanislaw has spent decades successfully helping clients dramatically improve their lives via her E.A.S.Y. Lifestyle Transformation Formula. She can teach you simple strategies for how to improve your: E.ating, A.ctivity, S.leep, and Y.ou (mental health). Each one of these Four Essential Pillars of Health is necessary for creating a life overflowing with well-being—and best of all, a life you enjoy! Dr. Jody Stanislaw is a Type 1 Diabetic since 1980. You can visit her on the web at: www.DrJodyND.com
You go to bed and your blood sugar level is perfect….Ahhh. Then you wake up and it’s awful?! What happened??
My name is Dr. Jody Stanislaw and I’ve had type 1 since I was 7 years old. When I was diagnosed in 1980, blood glucose testing didn’t even exist. I had to pee in a cup twice a day and test how much sugar was in it, which only told me if I had been high over the past few hours. There was no way to ever know what my glucose level was in the moment…we’ve come a long way!
Being able to know what your glucose level is at any time is a fabulous advancement that allows you to have better care. But more information can lead to new frustrations. Back then, if I woke up and didn’t feel low, all was good. Today, we can know exactly where our level is at anytime and if it’s in good range we’re happy and smiling! But if it’s not, we’re likely frowning and not feeling so hot.
Over the years via my own trial and error and through working with many others who have diabetes, I have learned life-changing tools. I’ve learned that a key part of achieving healthy management is thorough understanding why blood sugar levels do what they do. So here you go…
4 Reasons Why Blood Sugar Can Be High in the Morning
1. Your BACKGROUND INSULIN is set too low.
A perfectly set basal rate, or long-acting insulin dose, should keep your blood sugar normal throughout the night. However many people do not have a properly set dose. I help my patients do this via planning a specific type of dinner at a particular time, and then doing multiple testing throughout the night over two – three nights. It takes working with a knowledgeable provider, plus time and patience to get it set right.
If we know the long-acting/basal insulin is set right and you’re still waking up high, then it is likely one of the next three scenarios:
2. DINNER took longer to digest than expected. Just because you go to bed with a great blood sugar level does not mean it’s going to stay that way. Depending on what you had for dinner, especially if it was large, and/or contained a mix of high carb and fat and/or protein, digestion can take 4-8 or even more hours. (This is especially true for those with gastroparesis, which can occur from years of high blood sugars damaging the nerves to the digestive system.)
So when you go to bed, if your dinner hasn’t completely digested, your blood sugar level will continue to go up for many more hours…even beyond the time your fast-acting insulin finishes working.
Insulin adjustment will need to be fine-tuned to aid with this and evaluation of the effect of typical dinner meals will be a key to managing the flux in BG over the night.
3. Your HORMONES spiked in the early morning hours..
Even if you don’t eat, your body can raise blood sugar on it’s own. One of those ways is via the natural cycle of hormones that tend to peak in the morning.
The hormone cortisol peaks between 4am and 8am and has the effect of raising blood sugar.
Furthermore, this can be accompanied by what is called the ‘Dawn Phenomenon,’ which refers to a natural increase in growth hormone in the early morning hours having the effect of raising blood sugar levels.
This can be frustrating to say the least! I understand. A plan that includes testing at specific times throughout the night can help you figure out where to make adjustments in insulin whether you are on injections or on a pump.
4. You’re REBOUNDING from a low. (Somogyi Phenomenon)
Your body doesn’t like to go low, so after an intense low, the body can actually rebound and make you go high afterwards.
The only way to see if this is happening is to monitor your sugar level every few hours through the night (or by using a Continuous glucose monitor).
Understanding these four scenarios is essential for waking up with a good glucose level. Consistently starting your morning in the normal range IS possible. Trust me, it CAN be done!
I’d have given anything for these tips when I was young because it would’ve saved me years of frustration with trying to figure all of this out on my own!
It is helpful to have a team of people who can help you manage – people who “Get It”…with the IT being diabetes of course.
Naturopathic Doctor Jody Stanislaw has spent decades successfully helping clients dramatically improve their lives via her E.A.S.Y. Lifestyle Transformation Formula. She can teach you simple strategies for how to improve your: E.ating, A.ctivity, S.leep, and Y.ou (mental health).