Blood Sugar and Sleep

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Published on September 23, 2021

Blood Sugar and Sleep

Photo of a senior woman sitting outdoors measuring her blood sugar levelThis may come as a surprise, but when you’re asleep and resting, your blood sugar levels rise. Researchers refer to this phenomenon as the dawn effect and when analyzing during an average sleep schedule, this usually happens between the hours of 4 am – 8 am.

 “A healthy person can handle the spike, using insulin to prompt muscles, fat and liver cells to absorb the glucose from your blood,” says Charles M. Holzner MD, PIH Health internal medicine. “People with diabetes or insulin resistance can’t control the spike, causing blood sugar levels to rise even higher,” he says.

Why it Happens

Our bodies naturally begin this process each morning to provide us with a boost of energy to tackle our responsibilities for the day. While most people go on about their day without realizing the sudden spike, those with diabetes or insulin resistance may have trouble getting their blood sugar levels back to normal.

Managing the Blood Sugar Spike

If you’re concerned about your blood sugar, it’s best to get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis to help your body use insulin effectively. In addition to getting a sufficient amount of sleep, avoid eating late at night and incorporate exercise to your routine after dinner. Something as simple as going for a walk can help.

Those who work night shifts should try and maintain regular sleep and meal times, even on the days you don’t work. Getting exercise during your breaks, such as short walks or stretching will assist your body in using the blood sugar spike as a benefit.

If you have diabetes and find that your blood sugar is too high in the morning, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may recommend extra blood sugar testing or consistent blood sugar monitoring to identify the issue. Visit PIHHealth.org/Find-A-Doctor to schedule an appointment with a PIH Health internal medicine physician.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.