What Causes High Blood Sugar in the Morning?

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  • Written By: Brandon May
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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Having high blood sugar in the morning is not only a condition that affects diabetics, but usually occurs in most individuals due to certain hormones. These hormones play a critical role in helping the body feel energized, which then contributes to rising blood glucose levels. Eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast is another important factor that contributes to high blood sugar in the morning, as carbohydrates are the macronutrients that quickly break down into blood sugar to be utilized for energy. Getting enough rest, maintaining a good diet and exercising are all factors that can help ease the symptoms of high blood sugar in the morning, though they may not be the only treatments for people who suffer from diabetes.

In the couple of hours before waking in the morning, the body releases three critical hormones to help bring forth energy and wakefulness. These hormones, called cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrin, are essential hormones that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and aid in the fight or flight response. When these hormones rise in the body, blood sugar often rises in response and secretes insulin to help bring that blood sugar into the cells for energy use throughout the day. This can be challenging for those with diabetes, as their insulin works against them and prevents this energy from being absorbed into the cells.


When high blood sugar in the morning occurs in those who have blood sugar and insulin issues, symptoms of lethargy or tiredness can occur because the cells are not receiving the energy needed. Research suggests that a breakfast high in carbohydrates, especially those containing refined carbohydrates like most cereals and sugars, also contributes to high blood sugar in the morning. This is due to the fact that carbohydrates, not including fiber, quickly break down into glucose that raises blood sugar levels as well as insulin.

Treating high blood sugar in the morning can be as easy as avoiding foods high in refined carbohydrates, such as those found in grain products and sugars, all day or at least early in the morning. A breakfast high in protein can help stabilize blood sugar levels in most individuals, however further treatment for those suffering from diabetes may be needed. A good exercise program also helps normalize blood sugar levels and places them in a healthier range. Getting adequate rest during the night and relieving stress during the day can also help bring down high blood sugar levels.


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Post 2

@Grivusangel -- That's true. My friend who is diabetic said her doctor gave her that advice when she was concerned about high morning readings that normalized as the day went on. He said a protein snack before bed could help high or low blood sugar, that it helped keep the sugar levels stable overnight.

Low blood sugar levels in the night are more common in Type 1 and insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetics, but high levels can happen to either kind of diabetic.

Post 1

If the diabetes is well controlled otherwise, then high morning sugar levels in diabetics are most often caused by what is called the "dawn phenomenon." The liver dumps glucose into the system and the sugar goes up.

One of the best ways to fight this is to eat a small, protein based snack before bedtime. Peanut butter, some cheese or deli meat, or a handful of nuts will often help. These are processed through the liver so essentially, the liver has so much to do processing the protein, it doesn't have time to dump glucose.

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