Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


What's the Dawn Phenomenon?


There's a lot of lingo thrown at you when you have diabetes. Here we've collected the must-know terms and translated them into plain language.

Dawn Phenomenon

(dawn) (fuh-NOM-uh-non)

What it means: The dawn phenomenon is a natural rise in blood glucose levels that occurs in the early morning hours. Between about 4 AM and 8 AM, the body bumps up the production of hormones that tell the liver to make more glucose, while increasing insulin resistance. This keeps blood glucose from going too low overnight and gets the body ready for a day of activity. 

What it means to you: In people with diabetes, this surge of early morning hormones often results in high morning blood glucose levels because you don’t have enough working insulin to counteract the rise. The dawn phenomenon can happen to people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Sometimes a change in medication or in nighttime eating and exercise routines can help lower these morning highs. If you regularly have high blood sugar in the morning, talk to your doctor.

Published February 23, 2015. 


Compiled by Paula Ford-Martin, MA. Paula is the author of The Everything Guide to Managing Type 2 Diabetes.  

Reviewed by Nora Saul, MS, RD, LDN, CDE on January 17, 2015.
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