Metabolic Health

High Blood Sugar Levels in the Morning - Sugar.Fit

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

High Blood Sugar in the Morning

Everyone wants a perfect start to their days. Most people have a preferred morning routine that they like to follow. Many people also like to have certain boundaries in the morning that they would like people to respect. Some people start their mornings with a workout, others like to drink coffee or tea, some like to have some quiet ‘me’ time, some scroll through social media on their beds, etc. All of these routines are subject to the fact that there are no unprecedented variables that might affect these plans impromptu. This luxury, however, is not something a person with diabetes can afford every single morning. This means that the first thing a person living with diabetes would have to do would be to think about and check their blood sugars in the morning. 

A person with diabetes, too, would like a perfect start to their days. However, contrarily and very often, if they see a fasting blood sugar high, they would have to begin their routine by correcting that before anything else. Since mornings can set the tone for the day, whether it comes to routine, mood, or even sugar level, you would want to put in enough effort to reduce the morning blood sugars down to an acceptable level to have a good rest of the day. 

About High Morning Blood Sugar

It can get upsetting and even confusing in case you have high blood sugar in the morning for type 2 or even type 1 diabetes. This is because you think that you may have counted carbs correctly during the night. Additionally, with the long-acting insulin doing its job in case you are on the pen or syringe or the basal units entering your body continuously throughout the night in case you are on the pump, it might be baffling to encounter high blood sugars in the morning. Since no carbs are being ingested in the middle of the night, there technically should not be any reason to experience unnecessary highs in the morning. 

However, high blood sugar in the morning can be a commonly experienced phenomenon by people with diabetes. There are different reasons why this happens so regularly and affects a person’s HbA1c. Therefore, it is important to understand why high blood sugars occur in the morning, recognize the signs, and learn how to correct them

Signs of High Blood Sugar in the Morning

How to lower morning blood sugar would be a prominent question on your mind if you are diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. There can be different warning signs that could indicate high blood sugar levels in the morning. Understanding and recognizing them might be the first step to correcting the levels and going about the day in the most optimal manner.

Some signs that could point to high blood sugar levels in the morning are -

  1. Waking up with a full bladder
  2. Frequently waking up to urinate through the course of the night
  3. Dry mouth
  4. Feeling extremely thirsty throughout the night
  5. Feeling unrested even after sleeping through the night
  6. Dizziness or blurred vision

There will be times, you find yourself questioning the number, for example – is 135 blood sugar high in the morning, or is 70 an okay sugar level to have, etc. Talk to your doctor to determine what range of sugar levels are considered normal for you, as it may be different for different individuals depending on the type of diabetes, severity and the medications you may be taking. Always check your fasting sugars in the morning using a glucometer.

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Causes of High Blood Sugars in the Morning

  1. Eating high-carb snacks at night but not using the right amount of insulin to mitigate the effects of those carbs.
  2. Improper counting of carbs for dinner and not taking enough insulin.
  3. he Dawn Phenomenon
  4. Somogyi Effect

The last two points are a part of the series of reactions that go on in the body and changes that happen in the body when we are asleep.

What is the Dawn Phenomenon?

The Dawn phenomenon is one of the causes for a high fasting sugar level in the mornings that occurs due to hormonal changes.Your body may sometime make extra glucose in the night to avoid episodes of hypoglycemia in the morning so as to give you the energy to wake up and face the day. This phenomenon is found across all individuals; both Diabetic and Non-diabetic. However in non-diabetics this rise in glucose is also accompanied by a rise in insulin which ensures maintaining sugars at an optimal level. Whereas for persons with diabetes,their body either does not produce insulin or the amount produced is ineffective thus contributing to a rise in sugars in the morning.

What is the Somogyi Effect?

Often called ‘rebound hyperglycemia’, the Somogyi effect is named after the doctor who first discovered it. In case of an episode of hypoglycemia during the night, the body will automatically release some hormones to save you from the effects of dangerously low blood sugars. How this happens is by a prompt sent to the liver. The liver is the organ that stores glucose in large amounts. However, this prompt does not say how much sugar is required to be released, and often, the liver releases much more glucose molecules than necessary. This causes early morning blood sugar levels to be high.

How to Lower Morning Blood Sugars

Now that you have understood the symptoms of high blood sugar in the morning, the next step would be to understand how to lower these levels. Different things can work for different people in the morning:

1. Take a Correction Dose

Especially if the sugar levels are above 200 mg/dL, it would be vital to take a correction dose before you eat anything to avoid the spike to grow even more

2. Exercise

In case you are someone who exercises in the morning, you can engage in a light workout (do not work out if the level is more than 250 mg/dL) to burn the excess glucose

3. Drink Water

Hydrate yourself and take a warm shower to bring down the glucose levels in the body

4. Eat a Low-carb Breakfast

Make sure that your breakfast is specifically low-carb on such mornings of high blood sugars.

Managing Morning High Blood Sugars due to the Dawn Effect and Somogyi Effect

“Why is blood sugar higher in the morning?” can be explained using the two phenomena of the dawn and the Somogyi effect. Treating them and preventing them can happen as follows:

Dawn Effect

  • Change the time and type of the insulin you are taking
  • Eat a light breakfast
  • Increase the morning insulin dose
  • Try switching to the pump and CGM

Somogyi Effect

  • Decrease the night dose to avoid lows
  • Check sugars before sleeping
  • Add a small bed-time snack with some extra carbs
  • Do not exercise late at the night 

Bottomline

Avoid any unnecessary complications that may arise due to high blood sugars in the morning by equipping yourself with all the information that can prevent it. Recognize the signs your body exhibits when it has to deal with high sugar levels so that you know when to test your sugars. Keep a check on the 3 a.m. sugars as well to understand your patterns and prevent the onset of dawn or Somogyi effect. Treat the morning highs at the earliest to have optimal levels throughout the day.

FAQs

1. Is a morning blood sugar reading of 135 considered high?

135 can be considered a slightly high sugar level in the morning. Fasting sugars are best within the range of 90-120 mg/dL. While 135 may not be ideal, it may not also be a cause for concern. You might be able to go ahead with your day without the need for a correction dose.

2. How can I lower my morning blood sugar without medication?

There are different things that you can try to lower the overall blood sugar levels in the morning – exercise, drink water, eat a low-carb breakfast, etc.

3. Does coffee raise blood sugar?

Caffeine and coffee are not known to have a significant effect on raising blood sugars. However, avoid sugar, heavy cream, condensed milk, or any other ingredient with a high GI in your coffee. 

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