Living With Diabetes

What Is The Dawn Phenomenon?

I am sure that as a diabetic you may have experienced an abnormal rise in your blood sugar level when you checked your blood sugar as soon as you woke up.  Imagine going to sleep with a blood sugar level of 105 mg/dl and then waking up to find your blood sugar level soar and go up to 135 mg /dl.

Well, I certainly have experienced this effect or phenomenon, commonly known as the Dawn Phenomenon. It is something that a number of diabetics mostly with Type 1 diabetes experience. The surprising thing is that even a person who does not suffer from diabetes experiences the Dawn Phenomenon.

Why is this so? Let us take a look. It is partly due to the effect of body metabolism that takes place during the hours from 3:00 am or so to 8:00 am. During this time when we are sound asleep, our body silently carries out repair and maintenance activities. For this purpose, certain hormones such as growth hormone from the pituitary gland, cortisol and adrenaline are secreted.  These hormones cause the liver to release stored glucose into the bloodstream.

In a person with type 1 diabetes, the insufficiency of insulin production may result in the inability of the body to regulate the blood glucose level. As a result, blood glucose level rises during this time period.

What does a diabetic do to prevent this phenomenon? One of the first things that a diabetic should be careful about is bedtime snacking. Raiding the fridge at night before going to bed and yielding to the chocolate cake is definitely not going to help to keep your blood sugar level in check. A bag of potato chips will just about do the same thing as the cake.

If at all you want to have a bedtime snack, try something that is high on protein like a slice of deli ham or a peanut butter sandwich. A brisk walk after dinner helps to speed up the metabolism and bring down the blood sugar levels.

If you take an insulin injection before going to bed and you still find that your blood sugar level is too high when you wake up, consult your doctor about the advisability of using an insulin pump during your sleep.