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Reasons for High Blood Sugar in the Morning

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/01/2024

Waking up to high blood sugar levels is a common phenomenon that can be perplexing, especially when you've been mindful of your diet and exercise routine the previous day.

The reasons behind high morning blood sugar are varied. They range from natural hormonal changes in our body to dietary habits and even insulin resistance. In some cases, it's due to what is known as the 'dawn phenomenon.' This natural process involves an early morning spike in hormones like cortisol and growth hormone, leading to increased glucose release from the liver.

Learn more about morning blood sugar levels and effective management strategies for this phenomenon.

Understanding High Morning Blood Sugar: Causes and Control

High morning blood sugar is a common concern among many individuals. Factors like hormonal variances, dietary patterns, and insulin resistance often cause elevated morning blood sugar.

The Dawn Phenomenon Explained

A critical factor in high morning blood glucose levels is the dawn phenomenon. This natural process involves increased blood sugar during the early morning hours due to hormone shifts that occur while we sleep.

Hormones like cortisol and growth hormone are released more abundantly at these times. These hormones stimulate our liver to release additional glucose into our bloodstream.

While this can provide an energy boost for those waking up, it may lead to elevated blood sugars for people with diabetes or insulin resistance issues.

This rise in glucose isn't usually problematic for individuals without diabetes since their bodies produce enough long-acting insulin overnight, keeping their fasting glucose stable throughout the night and into the early morning hours.

However, suppose you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In that case, your body might struggle to manage this extra influx of gluconeogenesis, leading to higher-than-normal readings upon awakening. This can be tracked using continuous monitoring devices (CGM).

Role of Insulin in Regulating Blood Sugar Levels

Insulin is critical in maintaining balanced average blood glucose levels by moving excess circulating sugars from your bloodstream into cells, which are stored until needed later on.

But when there's either insufficient production (as seen with type 1 diabetes) or ineffective use due to cellular resistance (a hallmark sign associated with type 2 diabetes), problems arise, resulting in consistently high readings, especially first thing after getting out of bed.

How Insulin Resistance Contributes to High Blood Sugars

Suppose cases develop whereby insulin resistance occurs. In that case, cells don't respond effectively anymore to signals sent via circulating insulins.

Livers continue producing even more through gluconeogenesis, thus resulting in consistent blood sugar highs, particularly in the mornings.

Blood sugar test

Role of Insulin in Regulating Blood Sugar Levels

The intricate workings of the human organism depend greatly on insulin, a hormone essential for controlling blood sugar levels and sustaining optimal health.

How Insulin Resistance Contributes to High Blood Sugar

In some cases, the body becomes less responsive to the effects of insulin, leading to a condition known as insulin resistance. When this happens, glucose continues circulating in the bloodstream instead of being absorbed into cells for energy production.

This situation prompts the pancreas to produce more insulin to restore cellular response. However, this can result in hyperinsulinemia, where there are excessive amounts of circulating insulin with little effect due to ongoing cell unresponsiveness.

Ultimately, this leads to consistently high blood sugar levels.

Type 1 diabetes differs from type 2 diabetes in that it involves insufficient or no insulin production. This occurs due to autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta-cells responsible for producing insulin.

These hormones are critical for maintaining normal metabolic functions during daily activities. The progression of the affliction is contingent on genetic susceptibility, lifestyle choices, and environmental influences.

Impact of Diet on Morning Blood Sugar Levels

The evening meals you consume can significantly affect your morning glucose levels. A high intake of carbohydrates late at night often results in elevated glucose readings the following morning.

The Effect of Late Night Eating on Morning Glucose Levels

Eating carbohydrate-rich foods before bed leads to an increase in blood sugar when you wake up. This happens because our bodies slow digestion and absorption during sleep, which means the carbs consumed are metabolized more slowly.

This slower metabolism causes a gradual release of glucose into your bloodstream throughout the night and into the early morning hours, resulting in higher-than-normal fasting glucose levels upon waking.

If you also suffer from insulin resistance or diabetes conditions where managing blood sugar is already challenging, this effect may be even more pronounced.

One strategy to control these consistently high blood sugar spikes could involve being mindful about what types of food we consume for our evening meal and timing it correctly to avoid unnecessary elevations come dawn.

Healthy Evening Meal Alternatives for Better Morning Glucose Control

Making healthier dinner choices might help manage those pesky early-morning highs better.

Lean proteins such as chicken or fish, non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and spinach, and healthy fats from avocados and nuts should be included in your evening meal for better morning glucose control.

Avoid consuming simple sugars found in desserts and sugary drinks before bedtime as they rapidly rise and then drop, causing rebound hyperglycemia by the next day's dawn.

Monitoring Your Blood Sugar Levels

The management of conditions like type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes relies heavily on maintaining control over blood sugar levels. Regular monitoring not only helps you understand your glucose patterns but also enables effective management of these fluctuations.

Achieving a balance in blood sugar is essential to prevent hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Monitoring allows for prompt interventions and modifications in diet or medication, ultimately helping ward off potential health complications associated with such imbalances.

Understanding Your CGM Device Readings

Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) have proven indispensable in effectively managing average blood glucose.

They provide real-time readings round-the-clock that can help individuals see how various factors, including meals, physical activities, or medications, impact their glucose levels.

Data from CGM devices, when interpreted correctly, can be highly insightful. For instance, consistent high morning readings could point towards the dawn phenomenon - an early warning sign warranting medical attention.

  1. Analyze trends: Paying close attention to changes reflected by your CGM device over time provides valuable insights into patterns such as post-meal spikes or lows during sleep periods, which may require dietary adjustments.

  2. Note unusual occurrences: Sudden unexplained highs or lows at specific times should be noted along with any related details like meal timings, etc., that might explain these anomalies.

  3. Maintain a logbook: This record-keeping will include all relevant details regarding food intake timing & content, exercise routine, stress events, etc., alongside corresponding BG values. This comprehensive document is an excellent reference point when discussing management strategies with healthcare professionals.

To make sense of one's data accurately, it is important to remember that factors other than diet can also impact those numbers, such as physical activity level and the quality of sleep obtained.

vinaigrette dressing

Link Between Eating Vegetables at Night and High Morning Blood Sugar

Examining potential associations between nighttime vegetable consumption and morning blood sugar levels, discussions have emerged surrounding the potential advantages of consuming celery before bed.

Incorporating celery into the evening diet has attracted attention due to its suggested impact on glycemic control and blood sugar regulation.

While ongoing research delves into these connections, it's essential to consider dietary choices and seek advice from healthcare professionals carefully.

Making informed decisions about nighttime eating habits contributes to managing morning blood sugar levels and overall well-being.


Waking up to high blood sugar levels can be concerning, especially when efforts have been made to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Various factors contribute to elevated morning glucose levels, including the dawn phenomenon, insulin resistance, and dietary habits.

Understanding these factors is crucial for effective management. Strategies such as monitoring blood sugar levels, making healthier evening meal choices, and considering the potential benefits of nighttime vegetable consumption, like celery, can help regulate morning blood sugar levels.

By adopting these management strategies and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals, you can better control your blood sugar levels and promote overall well-being.

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