What Causes High Blood Sugar Levels in the Morning?

A fasting blood sugar level lower than 100 is considered normal. However, if your fasting blood sugar level is greater than 120 or 200, you may be diagnosed with diabetes. This is known as the alteration of fasting glucose (IFG). The reasons for the decrease in insulin vary from person to person, but it most commonly occurs when the insulin pump configuration provides too little baseline (background) insulin during the night or if the dose of long-acting insulin is too low.

The duration of insulin and the duration of the drug's action in the body also come into play. Another cause of high blood sugar levels in the morning is the Somogyi effect. Named after Dr. Michael Somogyi, a chemist who first described it in the 1930s, this is the body's response to low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) during the night. It is common for blood sugar levels to rise early in the morning due to hormonal activity during the night, and then begin to decrease during the day with normal activity during the day. High-carb snacks before bed and lack of enough diabetes medications can also cause your blood sugar level to rise in the morning.

If your body doesn't have enough insulin during the night, your glucose levels may start to rise. To combat this, you may consider trying a new basal insulin, adjusting the time and amount of your baseline dose (if you inject insulin), or changing your nighttime baseline rates (if you have an insulin pump on). Better yet, avoid getting to that point and always carry something with you to raise your blood sugar level. If these high blood sugar levels persist, symptoms that may occur include dizziness, nausea, headaches, frequent urination, and hunger. If your blood sugar levels had been close to 100 before the meal, you would have been closer to a normal range. It's normal for all blood sugar levels to rise after a meal, although people without diabetes usually don't exceed 140.

Share any trends you notice with your healthcare team so you can find the best ways to stabilize your blood sugar throughout the night. Occasional morning highs will have little impact on A1C, a measure of average blood sugar (blood glucose) levels over time that indicates how well diabetes is controlled. After discovering high blood sugar levels, it is recommended that you request an A1C test to measure the average for the past 3 months. You may also request an oral glucose tolerance test to see how blood sugar levels rise over the course of 3 hours after a high carbohydrate load. With blood sugar levels above 300, many endocrinologists now plan to start a person on insulin to detoxify the beta cells of the pancreas.

Rex Saulino
Rex Saulino

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