Answers to Common Diabetes Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about diabetes.

What is the dawn phenomenon?

Dr. Miguel Parilo discusses the dawn phenomenon. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

What is the dawn phenomenon?

The dawn phenomenon is something that's part of your normal physiology. Hormones work on a cycle. We have hormones that peak at certain times of the day and then fall as the day progresses and that's common in typical, normal physiology of endocrinology.

In the early morning hours, say between two or three o'clock in the morning, through around six or eight o'clock in the morning, some of these hormones are peaking. Those would be things like growth hormone, cortisol, adrenaline and others. These hormones peak at that time, and the normal response that the body would have would be to increase levels of insulin. Insulin controls blood sugar levels and can lower them. Those other hormones can raise them. In normal physiology, we have a balance of those hormones. As those hormones peak, insulin peaks and we can control our blood sugar in a very normal, steady level. In diabetes, you lose the balance, as is true with every disease in endocrinology. There's an excess or deficiency of these hormones and then we can see that as a disease. In this case, an abnormal elevation of blood sugar in the early morning hours.

 

The dawn phenomenon is when your body produces a surge of hormones early in the morning before you wake up. 

If you have diabetes, your insulin doesn’t respond like someone else’s would, so you might see your fasting glucose level go up, according to the American Diabetes AssociationOff Site Icon (ADA).

Talk to your doctor for more information about the dawn phenomenon.

Learn more:

Source: Joseph Allen, MD, Family Medicine of Vandalia; Michael Chunn, MD, Family Practice; Isaac Corney, MD, Trotwood Physician Center; Ann DeClue, MD, Saadeddine Dughman, MD, Advanced Cardiovascular Institute; Gary Fishbein, MD, Dayton Heart Center; Irina Gendler, MD, Troy Primary Care Physicians; Roger Goodenough, MD, Troy Primary Care Physicians; J. Wes Halderman, MD, Jamestown Family Medicine; Timothy O Donnell, MD, Miami Valley Primary Care; Miguel Parilo, MD, Bull Family Diabetes Center; Srikanth Sadhu, MD, Advanced Cardiovascular Institute; Trisha Zeidan, MD, Bull Family Diabetes Center; Chandan Gupta, MD, Monroe Medical Center; Miguel Parilo, MD, FACP, Bull Family Diabetes Center; Kristine Sun, MD; Premier Family Care of Mason;

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Michael Chunn, MD

Michael Chunn, MD

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Timothy R. O'Donnell, DO

Timothy R. O'Donnell, DO

Miami Valley Primary Care

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