January 15


Blood Glucose Spikes at Night: Causes and Foods That Help

By Gabriela

January 15, 2018

Blood glucose is actually a measure of the amount of sugar in the blood.

The blood glucose levels are able to spike to unhealthy high levels because of consumption of certain foods, lack of physical exercise, drugs, and complications of blood glucose disorders like diabetes.

High blood glucose might occur even when you sleep. If it occurs, then it can disrupt your sleep, and it might also be dangerous. In order to deal with this night’s blood glucose spikes, first, you need to understand what causes them.

As a matter of fact, there are 3 main causes of blood glucose spikes during the night. Those are the dawn effect, the Somogyi effect, and consuming excessive amounts of fats and carbs before bedtime or at dinner.

The 3 Main Causes of Blood Glucose Spikes at Night

1. The Dawn Effect

Hyperglycemia, i.e., high blood glucose in the early morning might occur due to the dawn effect, carb snacks before bedtime, and insufficient drugs for the evening.

This dawn effect happens when there is an increase in insulin resistance in the middle of the night which activates a rise in blood glucose. This is a phenomenon that connects to the normal release of hormones approximately 2 hours before waking up.

For people without diabetes, increased sugar at dawn, in fact, prepares the body for a morning activity and the insulin helps keep the sugar level in check. For those people who have diabetes, there might be insufficient insulin in order to curb the rise in blood glucose.

In case the glucose readings are in their target range around 3 o’clock in the morning, but those readings, once you wake up, are elevated it might mean that what is causing the blood glucose spikes is the dawn effect.

First, you need to consult your doctor and follow his recommendations.

She or He Might Suggest:

  • To exercise later in the day,
  • Adjusting the drug or insulin dosage,
  • To avoid consuming carbs before your bedtime,
  • Change the time when you take the evening drug or insulin,
  • To try different diabetes drugs,
  • Use an insulin pump to get extra insulin in the hours before dawn.

2. Somogyi Effect

In case there is a fast drop in sugar during sleep, the body works to increase the blood glucose by releasing sugar, i.e., glycogen from stores in the muscles and liver.

However, the body may release an excessive amount of glycogen, which can cause the blood glucose to go into hyperglycemia.

Usually, the drop in sugar occurs around 3 o’clock in the morning. This fall is followed by increased sugar levels in the morning. It may need some experimentation in order to prevent the Somogyi effect.

If you decide to try and prevent this outcome, bear in mind that you should do that with the help of your doctor.

Other Tips on How to Deal with Somogyi Effect

  • Consult your doctor about a 3-day GCMS exam, i.e., a continuous glucose monitoring system exam. You should ask for this exam mainly if the body is not able to identify the symptoms of low .blood glucose levels which might be an unawareness of hypoglycemia.
  • Test your blood sugar levels between 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning for one week and keep records of it. Give the logbook to your doctor.
  • Have a protein snack before your bedtime. You can have a small chunk of cottage cheese, toast with peanut butter, nuts, or yogurt.

3. Spikes Due to High-Fat Meals

Overeating fat and carbs can increase blood glucose levels. However, fat digest slower in comparison to carbs which leads to certain problems for individuals who take insulin.

The fast-acting insulins such as Apidra, Novolog, and Humalog work in the body for 3 to 4 hours. After having a high-fat meal, this insulin may start working before a notable amount of sugar reaches the bloodstream.

Therefore, the insulin might be done before the sugar gets there. According to this, a sugar reading might be in-range 2 hours after having a high-fat dinner. However, the level might increase above normal 5 hours later.

In Order to Prevent This You Need to:

  • Follow your dietary guidelines.
  • If you use oral drugs, you need to do a particular type of physical activity after having a high-fat meal.
  • If you have an occasional high-fat meal with animal fat – saturated fat you need to alter the timing and dose of insulin.

Foods Which Don’t Lead to Blood Glucose Spikes

There are certain foods that have a mild effect on your blood glucose levels. Moreover, foods which don’t elevate blood glucose levels are important and useful to know.


Legumes such as beans are high in fiber and low in fat which is useful for people with diabetes. For better blood glucose levels you need to replace fried foods and red meat with beans.

Low-Fat Dairy Products

It is said that low-fat dairy products like yogurt and milk have a mild effect on blood glucose levels.

In addition, they are abundant in nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and protein. In case you are not able to tolerate dairy, feel free to use lactose-free milk and soy milk products.

Whole Grains

Whole grain carbs are abundant in nutrients such as dietary fiber, and they link with healthy blood glucose levels. Instead of the most sugary products and enriched flour you can use whole grain equivalents. For instance, instead of white bread choose whole grain bread.

By making the right choice, you will be able to improve your overall health, manage your blood glucose and prevent blood glucose spikes during the night. You should always come first, so make the right choice.


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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