Hormones (growth hormone,
cortisol, and catecholamines) produced by the body
cause the liver to release large amounts of sugar (glucose) into the
bloodstream. These hormones are released in the early morning hours. These
hormones also may partially block the effect of
insulin, whether it's insulin your body produces or
insulin from the last injection.
If the body doesn't produce enough
insulin (which occurs in people with
type 1 diabetes and a few people with
type 2 diabetes), blood sugar levels may rise. This
may cause high blood sugar in the morning before the person eats.
The Somogyi effect can occur when
a person takes long-acting insulin for diabetes. If the blood sugar level drops
too low in the early morning hours, hormones (such as growth hormone, cortisol,
and catecholamines) are released. These help reverse the low blood sugar level
but may lead to blood sugar levels that are higher than normal in the morning.
An example of the Somogyi effect is:
A person who takes insulin doesn't eat a
regular bedtime snack, and the person's blood sugar level drops during the
A person's body responds to the low blood sugar in the same
way as in the dawn phenomenon, by causing a high blood sugar level in the early
How can you tell the difference?
effect can occur any time you or your child has extra insulin in the body. To
sort out whether an early morning high blood sugar level is caused by the dawn
phenomenon or Somogyi effect, check blood sugar levels around 2 a.m. to 3 a.m.
for several nights.
If the blood sugar level is low at 2 a.m. to
3 a.m., suspect the Somogyi effect.
If the blood sugar level is
normal or high at 2 a.m. to 3 a.m., it's likely the dawn phenomenon.
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.