Type 2 diabetes: What causes blood sugar to rise in the morning? What can be done to contr

Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition that can affect a person’s everyday life. It usually requires dietary overhaul, taking medicines and having regular check-ups. It is imperative that people with diabetes can keep blood sugar levels under control to reduce the risks of health complications such as heart disease or strokes. Many people may not realise but in the mornings blood sugar levels can rise more than normal in people living with diabetes.

For people without diabetes, the rise in glucose is minimal, but for those with diabetes, blood glucose levels stay higher than normal

Dr Sarah Brewer

What causes blood sugar levels to rise in the morning and what can be done to control a spike?

According to Dr Sarah Brewer, the main reason why everyone experiences a slightly a higher blood sugar level in the morning is known as the dawn phenomenon.

She explained: “For people without diabetes, the rise in glucose is minimal, but for those with diabetes, blood glucose levels stay higher than normal.

“One study found that around 55 percent of people with diabetes experienced the dawn affect, but others have not found the same prevalence.” 

“The dawn phenomenon is due to our natural biorhythms in which production of insulin hormone (which lowers glucose) is suppressed during sleep, and levels of other hormones that raise glucose (growth hormone, glucagon and cortisol) increase.

“As fuel supplies from our last meal run out, the liver starts to make new glucose from glycogen stores which are released into the circulation ready to fuel our activities once we wake.

“For people without prediabetes (metabolic syndrome) or diabetes, the rise in glucose is minimal as insulin is released to ensure glucose levels stay within normal limits.

“For those with diabetes, insulin production is either reduced or cells no longer respond to it properly, so that blood glucose levels stay higher than normal.”

“In some people with type 2 diabetes, the metabolism is disordered and the liver continues to churn out new glucose (made from dietary carbohydrate and dietary protein) even though there is still plenty of glucose within the circulation.”

“There is also a theory (known as the Somogyi effect) which suggests that, in people with diabetes who are on insulin, the rise in blood sugar in the morning could be a rebound effect of using too much or, conversely, too little insulin the evening before, but this is controversial.”

Dr Brewer recommended taking the following steps to control a blood sugar spike in the morning:

  • If your glucose levels are high in the morning talk to your doctor for individual diet and lifestyle advice, and a review of your current medication. If you are using insulin, for example, your doctor may adjust your dose, change the type of insulin you are using, or advise you to inject when you wake in the morning if your glucose is rising.
  • Drink sufficient fluids to maintain hydration.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast – don’t skip this important meal.

If you have type 2 diabetes and are being managed with diet and lifestyle alone, an Ayurvedic herbal medicine such as CuraLin, can help to improve general glucose control. If you are taking prescribed medication, always check with your doctor before using any herbal or food supplements.

People should also monitor their blood sugar levels throughout the day. According to Diabetes.co.uk, blood glucose testing can be very helpful for reviewing how different foods affect blood sugar levels.

A good way to do this is to take a test before eating, and then another one or two tests after eating, at intervals of around two and four hours after a meal, said the charity.

“This method of blood glucose testing is known as pre-and post-prandial testing. Testing your blood sugar this way across a variety of meals can help you deduce which meals are better for your sugar levels,” it said. Sticking to a low-carb diet can also improve blood sugar levels, it added.

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