The Dawn Phenomenon – A Diabetics Nightmare?

Have you ever heard of the Dawn Phenomenon before? No, it’s not the name of the latest sci-fi movie at your local theater. If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes you may have never heard of the Dawn Phenomenon before. I can tell you firsthand that until my doctor told me about it I had no clue myself.

So, what is the Dawn Phenomenon? First, let me ask you this; have you checked your blood glucose level in the evening?Have you then taken it again the next morning before eating, only to find it much higher than it was the night before? Totally frustrating isn’t it? In short, you’ve entered into the Dawn Phenomenon.

Diabetes can be quite aggravating at times. So many times I would have an evening blood sugar reading of 110mg/dL only to take it the next morning and find it to be 145mg/dL. Well, it must be due to you eating a late night bowl of ice cream along with 4-5 chocolate chip cookies! No, I wouldn’t even eat anything after dinner and have the same set of numbers the following day.

One of the amazing aspects about the Dawn Phenomenon is that everyone experiences it, diabetics as well as non-diabetics.
The Dawn Phenomenon affects us during the late night/early morning hours while we are at sleep. Our bodies release certain types of hormones that are designed to help maintain and repair our body. This is a good thing. But, between the hours of 3:00-8:00 AM things begin to happen inside our body.

In simple terms, what happens next is that our bodies respond to this release of hormones by releasing stored glucose. Because this is all happening in the late night/early morning hours, it causes your blood sugar level to increase. You will notice it by testing yourself in the early morning when you first get up. If you get a much higher reading, it’s most likely the result of the Dawn Phenomenon (unless of course you ate that ice cream and cookies).

Is there any way of preventing this from happening? Good question. Yes, there are a few things that can help reduce those AM readings. The first one is perhaps the most obvious one. Talk with your doctor or health care provider. They may need to make a change to your medication or diet, so always talk to them first.

Keep track of your eating habits. If you are eating foods with too many carbohydrates in the evening, this could also cause a much higher morning reading. Perhaps eat a late evening snack of peanut butter and crackers, or a couple of slices of deli meat and cheese.

Another thing you might want to do is get some exercise. Take an evening walk or bike ride. Just 30 minutes of brisk exercise in the evening can be enough to lower your blood glucose level. Not to mention how good the physical activity is for your body.

You can try to fast after your evening meal. This will leave you with a much lower nighttime blood sugar level which will many times offset the effects of the Dawn Phenomenon. You can know by trying it and testing it for yourself.

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