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Dawn Phenomenon

Good Morning friends :) Finally figuring out how to have stable morning/early afternoon blood sugars was a really long process for me. After finally coming to a place of peace with my morning blood sugars, I thought I'd write a little post about some tips and tricks I've used along the way.

Waking up is supposed to be a blissful, rejuvenating practice, unfortunately for most people with type 1, it can be stressful depending on what one’s blood sugar is sitting at and anticipating the direction in which it’s heading. The dawn phenomenon is when blood sugar levels rise in the morning even when no food has been eaten. It’s believed that this happens because of all the other hormones being released overnight cause insulin resistance, I personally believe it’s not resistance but your bodies incapability at multitasking lots hormone secretions and utilizing them properly. Whatever the reason, it totally sucks and makes morning blood sugars hard to handle sometimes.

Personally, my dawn phenomenon starts affecting my blood sugar about 10 minutes after I wake up. Before I even get out of bed my blood sugar starts rising. Fortunately for me, I’ve figured out that it only rises 1.0 or 1.8 mmol (18-32 mg/dl). Depending on what my level is at and when I’m going to eat I will act accordingly. If I’m sitting at 4.0 mmol (72 mg/dl) when I wake up then I won’t bother putting in a correction, especially if I know I’m eating a later breakfast. If I wake up at 7.0 mmol then I definitely will put in a correction but usually only for 1.0 mmol.

Another thing that helps have good blood sugars in the morning is eating a lower carb meal. Generally I don’t promote eating a certain amount of carbs or macronutrients at anytime because I truly believe everyone’s bodies have different needs but as at least 50% (I'd argue more) of type 1s experience dawn phenomenon, and as a type 1 myself I can tell you that eating less carbs in the morning has helped me Immensely. The body is going through a lot in the morning, and making it deal with 100 carbs is just putting more stress on it. Eating a ton of carbs + the dawn phenomenon is basically a recipe for rollercoasters – it’s a stressful start to the day and makes it hard to stay motivated to maintain good levels for the rest of the day.

Some ideas for good low carb breakfasts are scrambles eggs or tofu, protein shakes, sautéed spinach and mushrooms, berries, chia seed and nuts pudding, home baked low carb muffins, some raw veggies, roasted broccoli/cauliflower/asparagus, flax crackers with avocado, nut and see granola… the possibilities are endless!!!

When it comes down to it, getting control of morning levels can be totally life changing and have such a positive effect on the rest of your day and overall outlook on diabetes. Understanding how your body functions in the morning is a process but one worth going through. Everyone deserves to lead their best life possible and being able to thrive despite having a chronic sometimes unpredictable disease is just an extra hurtle we have to jump. Once we get used to jumping the extra hurtle, it becomes more like small hop or skip and we can continue on focusing on the more important things that matter to us.

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