If you check your blood sugar first thing in the morning after fasting all night and it is significantly higher than when you went to bed, you are probably experiencing what is known as the “dawn phenomenon.” This is also known as the “dawn effect” and it is one of the most difficult challenges diabetics face.
At night when we sleep, it is natural for our bodies to release cortisol, glucagon, and epinephrine. These regulatory hormones stimulate the liver to produce extra glucose. In this way, the body builds up a little extra glucose in the bloodstream just before we get up so we’ll have the energy needed to start the day. However, in diabetics, blood sugar often goes up too much during this process.
Some diabetics try to control the dawn phenomenon by adjusting their oral medication or insulin. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t work and it is a constant struggle. There are several natural methods that seem to work well for many diabetics. Here is a list:
Eat a Small Snack Just Before Bedtime
Most diabetics that have experimented with different bedtime snacks have found that eating something high in protein and healthy fat works best. Many people swear by a small handful of nuts or a spoonful of all natural nut butter. Of course raw almonds or almond butter would be our first choice on the Health-e-Solutions lifestyle. Our Fudge in a Flash recipe in our Ultimate Recipe e-Book would be great as a bedtime snack since it contains almond butter and cinnamon (also known for its blood sugar-reducing attributes). Be sure not to get any nut butter with sugar added. Nuts are slow to digest and contain just enough carbs to prevent the liver from being triggered to release more glucose.
Take Milk Thistle Just Before Bedtime
Milk thistle has been shown to significantly lower fasting blood sugar levels in one small scale study involving 51 diabetics. Milk thistle is a natural remedy that has been used to treat liver and gall bladder problems for many centuries. Silymarin, the active ingredient is a powerful antioxidant. It is thought to reduce the oxidative stresses associated with both the development of diabetes and the continued aggravation of the disease.
Control What You Eat At Dinner
There does seem to be a correlation between what you eat at dinner and morning blood sugar levels. Try minimizing the total number of carbs you eat at dinner, even if they are right carbs, and choose carbs that have a very low glycemic index (15 and lower). Some find it helpful to eat the bulk of their carbs earlier in the day. Try doing so at breakfast and lunch and see if that makes a difference in morning blood sugar levels.
5-10 Minutes of Vigorous Exercise Just Before Bedtime
Jump on the treadmill or better yet the rebounder just before bedtime and do a short vigorous workout. As with the other natural methods, do some testing to see if this works for you and to determine just how much exercise you need.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
As counterintuitive as it sounds, eating breakfast can also limit the dawn phenomenon’s effect by signaling to your body to turn off the hormones that cause highs in the first place. Eat a #VeryLowGlycemic Heath-e-Solutions meal and try to maintain regular meal times throughout the day.
Please share any natural remedies you have found to work in managing the dawn phenomenon