3 Ways to Manage Morning Blood Sugar Spikes

Waking up to a spike is no way to start the day. Regain control with these practical steps.

Photo: Adult reaching into fridge at night

Did you know that in the wee hours of the morning—well before your alarm is set to ring—your body begins releasing a number of hormones intended to prep you for that wake-up call? There’s nothing wrong with the body doing what comes naturally—except, in this case, for those with diabetes or prediabetes. That’s because those hormones also raise your blood glucose level. On some days, the rise is substantial enough to cause problems.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps that can give you more control over morning blood glucose increases.

1. Monitor in the predawn hours. To determine if your diet or medication regimen may need adjustment, monitor your blood sugar at 3 a.m. every night for about a week. At this time, that normal hormone boost of blood glucose hasn’t kicked in, so you can better figure out the cause of morning spikes. Share your findings with your doctor or health-care provider to see if your treatment plan needs to be tweaked.

2. Snack before bed. But be selective. Choose a nutritious snack that combines protein and carbohydrates. A few good examples: hummus and vegetables (such as carrots, celery, or cherry tomatoes), light yogurt with ½ cup fresh fruit, or 2 tablespoons almond butter on half of a whole-wheat English muffin.

3. Eat soon after waking. Bring your blood sugar level back in check with a smart morning meal. Try a small bowl of whole-grain cereal with ½ cup low-fat milk; a smoothie with ½ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons low-fat milk, and ½ cup frozen fruit; or ½ cup of your favorite fruit, such as peaches, raspberries, or blueberries, served with ½ cup cottage cheese.

Know When to Call Your Doctor

The occasional early morning spike in blood sugar is usually of no great concern. But if you’re experiencing frequent morning spikes, it’s time to ask your doctor for help addressing the issue.