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Blood Sugar Woes in the Middle of the Night?

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Johanna Hicks

By Johanna Hicks, Texas AgriLife Extension Agent for Family and Community Health Agent

If you have diabetes, you might have encountered the dreaded “dawn phenomenon.” If your blood sugar is higher when you wake up in the morning than when you went to bed, you may be experiencing this effect. Your body naturally releases certain hormones to stimulate the body prior to waking up (beginning around 4 a.m. in order to prepare for the day. These hormones cause blood sugar to rise and the cells to be slightly more insulin resistant, thus higher readings in the morning.

Having a snack that consists primarily of healthy fat and protein is best. According to Rebecca Dugas from Diabetes Daily, some examples include:

  • Small handful of nuts
  • Spoonful of nut butter
  • Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Meat and cheese roll-up
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Greek yogurt
  • Handful of seeds (such as sunflower kernels)

Some people, usually those who are on insulin therapy, find that their blood sugars bottom out at night. The “Somogyi effect” may require a carby bedtime snack. The Somogyi effect (also called reactive hyperglycemia) is when a low blood sugar in the middle of the night (usually 2-3 a.m.) prompts the liver to release glucagon. Glucagon converts your sugar stores into glucose to counter the hypoglycemia. However, sometimes the liver pumps out too much and your sugars rise higher than they should in response.

If you’re seeing high blood sugar readings in the morning after a low blood sugar in the wee morning hours, try having a bedtime snack that has around 15-20 grams of carbs combined with some protein and/or fiber, such as:

  • Cheese and crackers
  • Peanut better on a slice of whole-wheat toast
  • Cottage cheese with pineapple
  • Greek yogurt with fresh strawberries
  • Hard-boiled egg and a medium/small banana
  • Whole wheat crackers with tuna


To reiterate the three bonus tips for everyone:

Exercise portion, carb, and calorie control. Know how much you need and understand what a serving size actually looks like.
Choose healthy snacks. Again, this requires you to know what’s right for you and your particular needs. Stay away from things that are pure sugar, contain high fructose corn syrup, or have more arbs in one serving that most people with diabetes should have in an entire day.

Eat mindfully. Focus on the food and avoid distractions.

Twogether in Texas Marriage Education workshop

If you are engaged to be married, seriously dating, or already married, this workshop is for you! Topics covered are: marriage expectations, communication, conflict resolution, money management, and goal setting. Put this date on your calendar and be sure to call our office to sign up. Registration is free and engaged couples will receive a certificate to present to the County clerk’s office to save $60 upon applying for a marriage license.

  • When: Saturday, August 13
  • Time: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Where: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, Hopkins County, 1200 West Houston St., Sulphur Springs
  • Call: 903-885-3443 to sign up.

Morning refreshments and lunch will be provided. The certificate for engaged couples is good for an entire year, so even if you aren’t planning to marry until August 2023, the certificate is still viable.

Closing Thought

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. – Albert Einstein


Contact Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family & Community Health Agent, Hopkins County,

P.O. Box 518, 1200-B W. Houston St., Texas, Sulphur Springs, TX 75483; at 903-885-3443 or [email protected]

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Author: Faith Huffman

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