Blood Sugar Spikes

Stephanie Watson wrote an article highlighting information from Joan Bardsley, RN and CDE, who is an assistant vice president at MedStar Health Research Institute.  Many people are asking the question of why their blood sugar spikes in the morning.  The following is Joan’s answer.

Many factors can be the reason for a high reading in the morning.

Take a look at your food first.  What was it that you ate the night before?  If you ate much more than you usually eat, or if the amount of food was more than your medications are made to handle, this can affect the a.m. reading. You medicine could be another cause.  If those meds aren’t lasting through the night, or the dose isn’t high enough to keep your blood sugar in check these are other reasons.

person holding donut


One possibility is what happens in the body naturally in response to low blood sugar.  The body releases stored sugar that is mainly from the liver when your blood sugar drops and then overcompensates.  If the level drops in the middle of the night, this overproduction of sugar can cause a high level in the morning and is called the Somogyi effect.  When it is low, eat about 15 grams of carbs and then wait 15 minutes before repeating the process.

The spike could also be due to the release of hormones between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. that will raise blood sugar.  The body needs to balance these high hormone levels by making more insulin and when it can’t, your blood sugar will be high.  Timing of your medicine might need to be managed.

Having high blood sugar in the morning has the risk that it can raise your average blood sugar levels, as measure on the hemoglobin A1c test.  Beginning with a high count in the morning means you’ll have to work harder to keep your blood sugar controlled.

Ask your diabetes educator and doctor when to call the office or adjust your medicine dose if your blood sugar is over a certain level for a predetermined amount of time.

Your team can help you create a diabetes plan and will also help to adjust that plan.  Diabetes can change overtime and may need adjusting.

Dr Fredda Branyon