What is the Dawn Phenomenon?

The Dawn Phenomenon is a normal physiological phenomenon that occurs regardless of whether a person has diabetes or not. It is caused by the release of counter-regulatory hormones (e.g. growth hormones, cortisol, glucagon and epinephrine) during the early morning hours (2 to 8am). Glucose stored in the liver is released in order for the body, which has effectively been fasting during the night, to maintain a balanced blood sugar level sufficient to nominally operate vital organs. However, people with diabetes may lack sufficient insulin to counter this rise in blood sugar. The hormones also inhibit the action of insulin and result in elevated early morning blood sugar levels. This phenomenon is often seen in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Generally, a person may have normal blood sugar levels before sleeping, which then gradually rose towards early morning. It may be necessary to adjust the dosage of insulin taken before dinner or bedtime to counter the effects of high blood sugar. People with diabetes are strongly recommended to consult their doctor before making any change to medication.

How do I deal with the Dawn Phenomenon?

  1. Frequently monitor blood sugar levels prior to sleep, in the middle of the night (3 to 4 am), and in the morning.
  2. Keep a detailed record of diet, exercise, medication and sickness.
  3. Discuss your records and blood gluocse measurements with a doctor to establish whether the Dawn Phenomenon has occurred.
  4. Follow the advice of your doctor concering medicine dosage. Do not attempt to ajust the dosage by yourself.
  5. Avoid eating close to bedtime.

Source | American Diabetes Association

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