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What is the “Dawn Phenomenon”?

The “Dawn Phenomenon” is the term given to an increase in blood sugar in the morning caused by the body’s early-hours release of certain hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. The Dawn Phenomenon usually occurs early in the morning, even before you have thought about breakfast or coffee.

What causes the Dawn Phenomenon?
At night the body naturally produces less insulin. But during the last hours of sleep, from around 4 a.m. to 8 a.m., hormones tied to the circadian rhythm start to trigger the circulation of glucose throughout the body to provide energy for cells to use for the day ahead, especially as part of the arousal process following sleep. Hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, glucagon, and growth hormone each trigger the body to pump out more glucose from the liver and muscles, but this, combined with the relative lack of insulin in circulation, results in a natural blood sugar rise in the morning. In tyep2 diabetes the body becomes resistant to the actions of insulin, the hormone responsible for lowering raised blood glucose back to normal. So when the other hormones kick in, insulin is no longer effective as controlling the raised sugar

Can Dawn Phenomenon be treated?
To stop Dawn Phenomenon occurring, there are steps you can take:

Reduce Carb intake- Cutting back on carbs (at least during dinner and evening hours) could help you prevent a morning glucose burst.

Some gentle exercise in the evening - such as going for an after-dinner walk, may help keep morning blood sugars in a better range

Don’t carb-snack at night- If you're truly hungry, choose something fat- and protein-based that won't raise your glucose much, like nuts or cheese.

Get a good nights sleep- Aim for at least eight hours each night. Fewer than six hours of sleep has been shown to significantly raise blood sugar levels because your body is running on adrenaline