How To Lower Morning Blood Sugar Without Medication
Dr. Danielle Weiss is the founder of Center for Hormonal Health and Well-Being, a personalized, proactive, patient-centered medical practice with a unique focus on integrative endocrinology. She enjoys giving lectures and writing articles for both the lay public and medical audiences. Dr. Weiss is Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego.
Diabetes is a chronic disease where the level of glucose in the blood is too high . People with this condition often worry about high blood sugar levels in the morning. This is so common that it has a name: the dawn phenomenon. As our body prepares to wake up in the morning, it releases a surge of hormones, which can work against insulin and cause blood sugar level to rise. Also called the dawn effect, this can affect anyone and isn’t usually a problem because the body naturally produces insulin to correct it, but the bodies of people with diabetes may not be able to respond the same way. This results in consistently high blood sugar levels in the morning.
It is possible to lower your blood sugar level without medications through lifestyle and dietary changes. If simple lifestyle changes don’t work, people with diabetes should consult with their healthcare provider to determine the best approach to lower their blood sugar level in the morning.
What Can You Do
To keep your blood sugar in balance, try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
If you work at night or have rotating shifts: Try to maintain regular meal and sleep times, even on your days off, if you can. And get some exercise during your breaks, like short walks or stretches.
If youâre concerned about your blood sugar: Getting a good nightâs sleep on a regular basis will go a long way toward helping your body use insulin efficiently. Along with getting enough sleep, avoid eating late at night, and try to get some exercise after dinner, like going for a walk.
If you have diabetes: If your blood sugar is often too high in the morning, talk to your doctor. You may need to do some extra blood sugar testing or use a continuous glucose monitor to figure out whatâs going on, which will determine how you should handle it. Your doctor may suggest a tweak to your diabetes medicines or your exercise routine.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: âWhy Is Sleep Important?â
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders: âPrediabetes and Insulin Resistance.â
American Diabetes Association: âDawn Phenomenon,â âHandling Morning Highs in Blood Glucose.â
Journal of Thoracic Disease: âInsulin resistance, glucose intolerance and diabetes mellitus in obstructive sleep apnea.â
Cleveland Clinic: âDiabetes and the Night Shift Factor.â
Sleep: âAdditional Sleep Duration Associates with Improved Blood Sugar Regulation.â
How Can High Blood Sugar Levels In The Morning Be Controlled
Once you and your doctor determine how your blood sugar levels are behaving at night, he or she can advise you about the changes you need to make to better control them. Options that your doctor may discuss depend on the cause of the morning high blood sugars.
For dawn phenomenon:
- Changing the timing or type of your diabetes medications
- Eating a lighter breakfast
- Increasing your morning dose of diabetes medication
- If you take insulin, switching to an insulin pump and programming it to release additional insulin in the morning
For Somogyi effect:
How To Lower Blood Sugar In The Morning
As with any time of the day, lowering blood sugar will usually mean taking medication.
If youre taking other medication for diabetes, just make sure youre taking the right amount at the right time of day. With insulin, you might want to use insulin to lower your blood sugar back to a stable level.
To figure out how much insulin you might need, you can let Hedia assist you in your calculations. Tell Hedia what your blood sugar level is, and the insulin calculator will take your basal insulin into account.
If youll be having breakfast soon after waking, youll probably want to include that in your calculation. If you have a favourite breakfast that you eat most mornings, you can add that to your favourites in Hedias food database for a quick add. Find out more by getting Hedia from the App Store or from !
On the topic of breakfast, it may be worth considering a low-carb breakfast, so as not to push those blood sugar levels even higher.
Regardless of what youre eating, Christel Oerum from Diabetes Strong points out the importance of eating any kind of breakfast. Having regular mealtimes that give you the energy that you need throughout the day ought to allow you more stable blood sugar without the adrenaline swings.
: Not Enough Medication
Most people with diabetes are on medications to lower blood glucose. It only makes sense to take a look at blood glucose-lowering medications, such as insulin, metformin, and others, if you see high values in the morning.
High blood sugar may be linked to not enough medication if you check your blood sugar between 2 and 3 a.m. for a few nights and it is high, and you did not have a high-carb dinner or late snack. According to research published in Diabetes Care, it may require insulin rather than just oral mediations to treat the dawn phenomenon.
How To Lower Fasting Blood Sugar With Gestational Diabetes
Through my experience with gestational diabetes, I learned how to lower my fasting blood sugar with gestational diabetes and manage gestational diabetes through diet.
Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes came as a complete surprise. I remember coming home after having my fasting blood sugar drawn thinking, well that was a waste of time, but at least that box is ticked off the list.
When my doctor called me when my results were in to say your fasting blood sugar results are 1 point within the normal range, I would like you to do the oral glucose tolerance test. I was baffled. I also felt like a hypocrite because I write about insulin resistance and blood sugar balance.
I understand blood sugar well, yet I had so many questions.
Was I really insulin resistant?
What are normal insulin levels in pregnancy?
Were my insulin levels too high or too low?
Or was my insulin resistance due to a fatty liver and the glycogen stores in my liver and muscle being full?
I went ahead and got the oral glucose tolerance test, where I fasted overnight and drank 75 g of the glucose drink in the morning on an empty stomach.
My Blood was drawn before drinking the sugar drink, at the one-hour mark and the two-hour mark.
Here are my blood sugar results from the oral glucose tolerance test:
Fasting blood sugar 5.2
1-hour post 75g glucose drink 8.8
2-hour post 75g glucose drink 6.2
When I started to get these higher readings, I thought FUCK maybe I am insulin resistant.
Signs Of High Blood Sugar In The Morning
High blood sugar is significant when its too high. Thats when its called hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is usually defined as above 126 mg/dL or 7.0 mmol/L in a period of fasting . This will be the clearest sign of high blood sugar in the morning.
Before breakfast, you usually would have had a period of at least eight hours without eating . As such, hyperglycemia during a period of fasting is particularly important here: youll know that the high blood sugar wasnt caused by any recent meals.
Other signs of high blood sugar in the morning will be the usual symptoms of hyperglycemia:
- Blurred vision
- Increased urination
Of course, its normal to feel somewhat groggy and thirsty when waking. Its important to distinguish between hyperglycemia and the I-hate-Mondays morning tiredness. And the best way to do that is to test your blood sugar.
What Are The Signs Of Hypoglycemia
An individual may frequently wake up in the middle of the night as a result of nighttime hypoglycemia. In other instances, though, people may know if they experienced hypoglycemia during their sleep if they notice the following symptoms:
- Waking up with a headache
- Waking up in a sweat
- Getting unusual feelings of tiredness throughout the day
- Experiencing anxiety or heart palpitations
- Feeling confused, dizzy or weak
Best Ways To Snack Before Bed
The ADA no longer provide specific carbohydrate counts or recommended diets for people with diabetes.
A person should choose a healthful snack before bed.
Instead, the ADAs Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2019 suggest that a person follows an individualized meal plan tailored to their current eating patterns, preferences, and weight goals.
Some general tips that may be beneficial for everyone:
- Eat mindfully by focusing on enjoying the food.
- Avoiding snacking in front of the television or while reading, driving, or otherwise distracted.
- Plan meals, snacks, and treats ahead of time.
- Choose healthful snacks, rather than ones that contain empty calories and low-quality carbohydrates.
- Learn about and pay attention to portion sizes.
What Causes High Blood Sugar Levels In The Morning
Commonly known reasons why your blood sugar may be high in the morning include high-carb bedtime snacks and not enough diabetes medications.
Yet two lesser-known reasons may be causing your morning blood sugar woes: the dawn phenomenon and the Somogyi effect. These causes of high morning blood sugar levels are a result of body changes and reactions that happen while you are sleeping.
How To Consume Apple Cider Vinegar For Diabetes
You should over consume apple cider vinegar. Add two tablespoons of vinegar to a tall glass of water. Do not drink apple cider vinegar straight. Always dilate it before consuming it. You can once check with your doctor before adding apple cider vinegar to your diet to manage blood sugar levels. Apple cider vinegar can give you some relief but you need to ensure a proper diet, regular exercise and follow the medications and precautions suggested by your doctor for better management of blood sugar levels.
What Is The Dawn Phenomenon
Your body uses glucose for energy and it is important to have enough extra energy to be able to wake up in the morning. So for a period of time in the early morning hours, usually between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m., your body starts churning out stored glucose to prepare for the upcoming day.
At the same time, your body releases hormones that reduce your sensitivity to insulin. In addition, these events may be happening while your diabetes medication doses taken the day before are wearing off.
These events cause your body’s blood sugar levels to rise in the morning .
Intermittent Fasting Can Be Hard But Maybe It Doesnt Have To Be
Initial human studies that compared fasting every other day to eating less every day showed that both worked about equally for weight loss, though people struggled with the fasting days. So, I had written off IF as no better or worse than simply eating less, only far more uncomfortable. My advice was to just stick with the sensible, , diet.
New research is suggesting that not all IF approaches are the same, and some are actually very reasonable, effective, and sustainable, especially when combined with a nutritious plant-based diet. So Im prepared to take my lumps on this one .
We have evolved to be in sync with the day/night cycle, i.e., a circadian rhythm. Our metabolism has adapted to daytime food, nighttime sleep. Nighttime eating is well associated with a higher risk of obesity, as well as .
Based on this, researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study with a small group of obese men with prediabetes. They compared a form of intermittent fasting called “early time-restricted feeding,” where all meals were fit into an early eight-hour period of the day ,or spread out over 12 hours . Both groups maintained their weight but after five weeks, the eight-hours group had dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity, as well as significantly lower blood pressure. The best part? The eight-hours group also had significantly decreased appetite. They werent starving.
How To Avoid High Morning Blood Sugar
Weve all been there before.
You wake up. Lay in bed for a few minutes before getting up. Check your blood sugar. 115 stares back at you.
You smile to yourself: life is good.
Forty minutes later, when you sit down to eat, your blood sugar meter or tells you that you are now at 180 ! You have eaten NOTHING. All youve done is prepare for the day and prepare food. Now you face the grim potential of chasing your high blood sugars all day long.
What is going on??
Let me explain why your blood sugar sometimes can be high in the morning and what you can do about it
Stick To Your Medication And Insulin Regimen
Skipping a dose of medication or insulin can be harmful to your body and increase your blood sugar levels.
Its important to stick to your treatment plan and follow your doctors instructions for taking your medication.
Healthful lifestyle habits can help people manage their blood sugar levels over the long term, such as eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, staying hydrated, and getting good sleep.
Drink Water And Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water may help you keep your blood sugar levels within healthy limits.
In addition to preventing dehydration, it helps your kidneys flush out the excess sugar through urine.
One observational study showed that those who drank more water had a lower risk for developing high blood sugar levels (
Its important to monitor your waistline, as its perhaps the most crucial weight-related factor for estimating your diabetes risk.
A measurement of more than 35 inches for women and more than 40 inches for men is associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels, and type 2 diabetes .
Having a healthy waist measurement may even be more important than your overall weight .
Keeping a moderate weight and waistline will help you maintain normal blood sugar levels and decrease your risk for developing diabetes.
Some Other Better Ideas To Stay Away From High/lower Blood Sugar At Night
Keeping in mind the real cause of diseases, that is high blood sugar or we call it hyperglycemia, it becomes easier to sort the foods good for diabetics. Here are some ideas.
Try having a low carb diet.
Avoid eating rice, all-purpose flour, etc. Try healthier alternatives like oats. Prefer wheat flour over all-purpose.Try dividing your meal into 56 portions throughout the day. This helps in preventing the glucose spike followed by an insulin spike which is already insufficient in the body. Diabetics cant handle excess glucose in their blood at once.
Especially saturated fats. Switch to olive oils. Avoid deep-fried street as well as home food. Eat foods that are rich in unsaturated fats like avocados, eggs, fish, walnuts, flaxseeds.
Say NO to sweet.
Anything that is sweet as sugar and sugar is not allowed. Yes, you can use artificial sweeteners but they have to be used less often. Avoid sweet dishes forever. Save the artificial sweeteners for beverages like tea coffee. Eat vegetables. Vegetables not only give sufficient amounts of carbohydrates, but they are also a source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Avoid vegetables like potatoes that contain high starch. Never starve yourself. If you are planning for a weight loss, consult a dietician or your diabetologist.
Check Your Blood Sugar Before Bed
For everybody with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, its absolutely critical that they check their blood sugar before going to bed to make sure theyre not going to have an episode of low blood sugar during the night, says Helena W. Rodbard, MD, medical director of Endocrine and Metabolic Consultants, a private practice in Rockville, Maryland, and past president of the American College of Endocrinology.
If your blood sugar levels are low at bedtime, eat a healthy snack before going to sleep. The size of the snack should be in proportion to the dip in blood sugar. For instance, a small drop in blood sugar requires only a small snack. If you use an insulin pump, consider temporarily reducing the active dose of insulin.
How Do I Prevent Hyperglycemia
- Exercise to help lower blood sugar. Work with your healthcare provider to make a daily activity plan.
- Follow your meal plan if you have one. Learn how carbohydrates impact your blood sugar, and work with your diabetes care team to find the best meal plan for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Dont smoke.
- Limit drinking alcohol. Alcohol can raise blood sugar levels, but can also cause dangerously low blood sugar levels. Work with your provider to determine how much is safe to drink.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/12/2020.
What Can You Do About High Morning Blood Sugar
What to do about high morning blood sugar levels depends on how often you see them and what the causes are. It is important to take steps to address high blood glucose because consistently high morning values can indicate increasing values and a higher risk for diabetes complications.
These are some possible strategies for getting high morning blood pressure into range.
- Increasing physical activity, including in the late afternoon or evening.
- Limiting the carbs you have at dinner or bedtime to 30 to 45 grams, such as 2 slices of bread, a piece of fruit and ½ cup of oatmeal, or a cup of pasta.
- Adjusting the timing and/or dose of insulin or other medications.
- Changing medications.
Your doctor can help you decide how to approach high morning blood glucose values. It is never safe to change medications without asking your doctor.
Method 2 Of 3:stabilizing Your Blood Sugar Levels With Diet
How To Prevent Morning Hyperglycemia
While morning hyperglycemia could be the bodys automatic response, you can certainly take steps to try to prevent it.
You could try some general steps that could help lower blood sugar in the night, such as eating your evening meals earlier in the day or having fewer carbs in your evening meal.
Alternatively, you could consider doing exercise in the evening, such as a brisk walk before bed. You might also consider changing your medication doses for the night or changing the type of insulin you use. As always, make such changes in consultation with your healthcare professional.
If you think that the high blood sugar might be caused by the dawn phenomenon, then try to make sure that you are well-rested. If your body is getting enough rest, with a full eight hours of sleep, then it might not think that it needs to release that extra energy. More generally, stress and diabetes leads to higher blood sugar levels so it is worth getting enough sleep.
With the Somogyi phenomenon, youll want to take the opposite steps because you want to prevent low blood sugar during the night. It may seem somewhat counterintuitive, but you might need to take less insulin, or eat more carbs, or do less exercise before bed.
Eat More Fibre On A Morning
Like protein, fiber is a great way to lower blood sugar levels in a morning /natural way to lower blood sugar. This can be difficult to get, especially without added sugar. Think about the way you eat your oats. There are high chances that you pile on sugar refined or natural or bake it into a bar with dried fruits and other ingredients.
Its time to get your fiber in natural forms and consider low-GI options. That can mean cutting back on the fruit, especially first thing in a morning. Look for fruits that are lower on the glycaemic index to eat with your breakfast, such as apples and pears.
You should also look at enjoying oats with more savoury ingredients. Nuts and seeds are the perfect alternatives, packing your breakfast full of protein and fats, as well as fiber.
When you have these three ingredients working together, they will break down in the body slowly. You will find that they reduce the amount of glucose released into the body, so you dont have the same insulin response.
The extra fiber will also help you feel fuller for longer. This is important in the long term, as it will help you lose weight.
When To Seek Medical Attention In An Emergency
For people with type 1 diabetes, untreated high blood sugar can lead to a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA.
When there is no insulin and glucose can’t get into cells, your body starts breaking down fat into a fuel called ketones. If ketones build up in your blood, it becomes dangerously acidic. DKA can cause very serious health complications such as fluid building up in the brain, kidney failure, and cardiac arrest.
If your blood sugar is above 240 mg/dL, you should check your urine for ketones, a sign you may be at risk for DKA. You can do this with an at home test, but you also should contact your doctor. If there are ketones in your urine, you should go to the emergency room. Other symptoms of DKA include:
- Increased respiratory rate, or trouble breathing
- Breath that smells fruity
- Nausea and vomiting
- A very dry mouth
In rare occasions, DKA can occur in people with type 2 diabetes, but the more common complication for people with type 2 is called hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state, or HHS. HHS occurs when blood glucose levels are high for an extended period of time. The extra sugar is passed into the urine, causing the person to urinate frequently and become severely dehydrated, just like with DKA.
For people with type 2 diabetes, blood sugar above 600 mg/dL indicates HHS. Other symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
Research Design And Methods
Four men and seven women diagnosed with type 2 diabetes who were not taking insulin completed the study. Participants provided a clinically determined A1C reading from a recent blood analysis. All participants gave written informed consent, and the study was approved by the institutional review board at Arizona State University.
Participants maintained 24-h diet records for 3 days and measured fasting glucose at 0700 h for 3 consecutive days with a calibrated glucometer before the start of the study. Participants were instructed to continue usual prescription medication use during the study. Utilizing a randomized crossover design with a 3- to 5-day washout period between treatments, participants followed a standardized meal plan for 2 days, consuming either 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or water at bedtime with 1 oz cheese . The standardized meal plan was designed to reflect the individual’s typical diet. Participants were instructed to record all foods and beverages ingested during each 2-day treatment period.
Fasting glucose was recorded with a calibrated glucometer by each participant during the trial: at baseline and day 2 at 0700 h. These results were downloaded by the research staff from each participant’s glucometer memory. A multivariate repeated-measures ANOVA test with body weight as a covariate was used to determine a significant time-by-treatment effect using SPSS .