My morning blood sugar level is the hardest one for me to control. This one leaves me scratching my head the most often, what happened? Why is this number out of range? What did I eat? What did I drink? etc.
I hope to give you some ideas of what to do or areas to check into if your morning blood sugar is out of range. These are strategies that I actually use. I’m not telling you the hard things to do without having done them myself!
To level set, I am a Type 1 diabetic. I am not using artificial insulin. I am keeping my pancreas alive and blood glucose in range with a Paleo diet [I am not eating grains (gluten or not: oats, corn, wheat, etc.), dairy, legumes, or white-fleshed potatoes.] and good lifestyle habits (which you’ll see below!).
I am still a Type 1 diabetic even though my C-peptide levels are normal. My pancreas is functioning, although at a lower level, and the antibody GAD 65 is still present in my body (the antibody used to diagnosis Type 1 diabetes) at higher than normal levels (at least I believe it is, my one year check-up in a few months I think will re-check this.).
I check my blood glucose levels four times a day: fasting when I first get up, prior to lunch, prior to dinner, and prior to bed. My blood glucose goals are as follows:
Pre-Meal Goal: <130
I have virtually no issue keeping the lunch and dinner levels below 130. I am a stay-at-home mom so I am active most of the day caring for my house and children.
Pre-Bed Goal: 100-150
I sometimes have an issue being below 150 if my snack is too high in carbohydrates or too close to bedtime. Having a snack later in the evening is not an issue per se, I just need to realize how long ago I ate when I check my blood sugar to know if I’m in range or not.
Fasting Goal: <130
This is my problem child. Since the holidays, I’ve had a hard time waking up less than 150 let alone 130. Lately, my blood glucose is mid-150’s in the morning.
Since I’ve struggled with this problem, I’m assuming other diabetics have as well. Below are my strategies for lowering my morning blood sugar. These are things I do to make sure my life and diet are on track when my blood glucose is not where it should be.
6 Strategies to Keep Morning Blood Sugar in Check
Early to bed, early to rise… – Am I going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every day? Am I binge watching a Netflix show? Are my kids sick making it hard to get up on time in the morning? OR is my sleep so disrupted that perhaps lack of rest is making me high in the morning?
Solution: Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time ever morning. I know this is SO hard, but this is the single biggest factor second only to my diet to manage my morning blood sugar. I actually have a meeting scheduled on my personal calendar with an alarm to remind me to go to bed. It goes off bzz-bzz-bzz every night at 9:45pm. (Want to know how weird I am? My event reminder buzz is three buzzes in a row. When I hear this ever night it sound like “Go-To-Bed” to me. Ha!)
Diet – Did my diet change? Did I just introduce a taboo item to try it out (goat cheese for example!)? Did I accidentally eat gluten? This is usually the cause of BG over 160 in the morning, for me. Am I still riding out a gluten experience? It takes me at least a week to have my morning blood glucose return to normal after being exposed to gluten.
Solution: Stop consuming all food and drinks that you think may have caused the spike. Wait a week or two to see if your blood glucose returns to normal ranges. Then carefully, one at a time, introduce those foods/drinks back into your diet to test them out.
Carbohydrates – Am I eating too many in general? Am I eating too many before bed? Quality matters. Did I have sugar, candy, refined sugar before bed or did I just have some nuts?
Solution: Take a good look at my diet. Redirect carbohydrate intake to vegetables and fruit. Reduce processed foods (eliminate completely, ideally!).
Alcohol – Am I drinking too much or too frequently? Alcohol is not processed by the body in the same way food is. It gets filtered through the liver first which takes care of the alcohol then releases the sugar into the blood stream. Therefore, sugar/carbohydrates have a delayed effect on blood glucose when they come from alcohol. I’ve noticed that a glass of wine or cider (gluten-free!) gives me a stellar pre-bed blood glucose (usually 100-120), but it will often give me a high morning reading (150-170).
Solution: Less alcohol, less frequent (as in once or twice a week), or drop alcohol all together. It can irritate the gut leading to a host of issues other than raising blood sugar.
Exercise – Am I consistently active? Have I fallen off the exercise wagon? Daily exercise is a must for me. I work-out 5 days a week with a light stretching or Pilates/yoga routine on Saturdays. I only take Sunday off. If I slack off and stop working out, my morning sugar slowly rises. It takes a week or so of consistency to start to see my numbers go back down.
Solution: Find a exercise routine that works for you. I’m not suggesting you do cross-fit every day. I don’t! We all need to be active, find a time and activity that is fun for you! I do a Fitness Blender routine in my basement first thing in the morning, Monday through Saturday. Maybe you like to take walks, ski, swim, take a fitness class, or run on a treadmill. What ever it is, get up and get moving consistently!
Water – Did I drink water today? Did I only drink coffee today (haha, guilty sometimes!)? One thing I take inventory of when my blood glucose is too high is how much water am I drinking. Everyone needs to drink water. We all know this, but I know I struggle to remember to drink it most days. Perhaps I only had 1 or 2 glasses, which is clearly not enough. Once I course correct on this one, I see immediate improvement in all of my numbers throughout the day.
Solution: Use a water bottle so you can measure how much water you are drinking. I have a 20 ounce water bottle, and I try to drink 3 of them each day. Another motivator is using MyFitnessPal to track water intake (This is also a great tool for food, exercise, and weight tracking!).
What if all of these are in line (and you’ve consistently followed these for a week or more) and your blood sugar is still higher than desired in the morning? That could be the dawn phenomenon. I suspect I am experiencing this so I conducted an experiment on myself. I’ll share more on this tomorrow!
Those are my strategies for keeping my morning blood sugar in check. Do you have any other tips to add? Do you struggle with your blood glucose readings at a particular time of day over another? Have you identified the source of the higher numbers?
A lifestyle like this takes, work, believe me, I know! How can I encourage you to say the course?