What is The Dawn Phenomenon? It is the reason why blood glucose (BG) readings tend to be higher in the mornings. Even higher than they were at bedtime. But why does this happen?
Early in the morning hours, near the break of dawn (that’s why the name) our brain prepares our body to wake up. The brain knows that bursts of energy will be required as soon as we are awake. Energy to do the things that we have been doing for millions of years, probably hunt or gather food, maybe scavenge or fight for it.
Therefore it starts this physiologically helpful process by enabling secretions of a cocktail of hormones to give us the physical boost. This mix contains epinephrine, glucagon, cortisol, growth hormone and many more. These hormones work for the release of glycogen by the liver & curtail the actions of insulin thereby resulting in elevations of blood sugar.
Like all things diabetic, the DP also varies from person to person, only giving more meaning to the diabetic term YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary). The variations of DP between people, can be seen in size, scale & tenure. How much will the BG rise (size), and will it continue to rise (scale) until you eat something, how long will it linger (tenure) – are some of the questions that frustrate people trying to understand DP and gain control of BG. Many people have tried different strategies to lessen the effect DP has on the morning fasting BG number. A glass of red wine or a protein snack at bed time, apple cider vinegar just before hitting the bed, lowering carbs further after dusk, a small bite of cheese during the middle of the night, are some of the strategies that have been heard. Here too, YMMV rules. If it works for you, by all means, do it.