- People with diabetes may experience changes in their blood sugar levels throughout the night and early morning, which can cause high blood sugar levels after waking.
- Eating a balanced snack before bedtime may help such people to stabilize blood sugar levels while sleeping.
- In those cases, a high-protein, low carbohydrate snack before bed can help keep blood sugar levels stable.
Monitoring blood sugar levels is one of the most crucial components of diabetes management. People with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes collaborate with their healthcare team and often registered dietitians to make personalized medication and nutrition plans that best suit their health and needs.
But even when following an individualized care plan, some people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes can experience changes in blood sugar levels throughout the night that elevate their blood sugar levels in the morning. In those cases, eating a balanced bedtime snack can help to keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the night and early morning. In this article, you’ll learn why these changes can occur and which snacks may help to curb morning blood sugar spikes.
Nourish offers personalized nutrition counseling to help you customize your diet to meet your diabetes needs. If you’re ready to take the next step in your health, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian.
What is the Dawn Phenomenon?
The dawn phenomenon is used to describe periods of hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, that occur in the early and later morning hours. People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes can be affected by the dawn phenomenon. Signs of this phenomenon include high blood sugar levels in the morning that are difficult to control and, over time, worsening HbA1c levels.
What is the Somogyi Effect?
The Somogyi effect, also known as the Somogyi phenomenon or chronic Somogyi rebound, is a theory that was originally coined by Dr. Michael Somogyi in the 1930s. Like the dawn phenomenon, the effect is marked by early morning hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar levels. But unlike the dawn phenomenon, high blood sugar levels in the morning are preceded by late night hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. In other words, the Somogyi phenomenon proposes that people with diabetes experience periods of low blood sugar earlier in the evening which are then followed by periods of high blood sugar in the early morning.
Though experts continue to dispute the theory that high blood sugar in the morning may be caused by low blood sugar levels at night, there is some evidence to support the claim. Importantly, the dawn phenomenon has been found to occur more commonly than the Somogyi effect.
What to Look for in a Bedtime Snack for Diabetes
Not everyone with diabetes will necessarily benefit from a bedtime snack. But if you think you’re experiencing high blood sugar levels in the morning as a result of the dawn phenomenon, the Somogyi effect, or another cause, eating a balanced bite before bed may help.
First, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine whether or not you’re experiencing elevated blood sugar levels in the morning and what the possible cause or causes might be. Your provider may recommend using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and/or more rigorous glucose monitoring and recording to make an official diagnosis.
If your provider confirms morning hyperglycemia, there are several treatment strategies that can help. Optimizing your insulin regimen is usually the first course of action for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. But planning a high-protein, low-carbohydrate bedtime snack may also help to curb the morning surges in your blood sugar levels.
9 Bedtime Snacks to Improve Morning Blood Sugar Levels
Below are some examples of high-protein, low-carbohydrate snacks that can help to stabilize your blood sugar levels throughout the night and into the early morning.
One large hard-boiled egg contains roughly 77.5 calories, 6.3 grams of protein and 0.56 grams of carbohydrates, making it an optimal high-protein and low-carbohydrate bedtime snack.
There are several ways to prepare this millennial favorite, but using a slice of whole-wheat or high-fiber bread, a ripe avocado, and a dash of olive oil can help to ensure that the snack is balanced in fiber, carbohydrates, and healthy fats—which can keep blood sugar levels stable. Adding a hard-boiled egg or dash of nutritional yeast will help to increase the protein content, too.
Tuna and whole-grain crackers
Tuna is another excellent source of lean protein, which when paired with whole-grain crackers (or bread), makes for a balanced bedtime snack.
Cheese and veggie plate
Not a fan of seafood before bed? Pairing cheese, which is high in protein, with raw vegetables will help to satisfy the high-protein, low-carbohydrate recommendation. The high fiber content of the raw vegetables can also help to manage your blood sugar levels.
Sugar-free protein bar
Eating a snack-size protein bar is an easy and effortless way to get a high-protein bite in before lights out. Opting for a sugar-free variety will also help to keep the carbohydrate count low.
Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein that’s relatively low in carbohydrates. To add some fiber to the snack, you can add a sprinkling of nuts or dried fruits.
Hummus and veggies
An alternative to cheese and veggies, a hummus and veggie platter will offer similar nutritional benefits: high in protein and fiber and low in carbohydrates.
Composing a salad of mozzarella, basil, tomato, and olive oil can be a delicious and satisfying way to increase your intake of protein and healthy fats before bed without consuming too many blood-sugar elevating carbohydrates.
Roughly one cup of edamame contains 18.4 grams of protein and 8.06 grams of fiber. However, the same serving size also contains 13.8 grams of carbohydrates, so it’s a good idea to limit your portion size before bed.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to balance your blood sugar with food, Nourish can connect you with a registered dietitian specialized in diabetes management and meal planning. If you need help optimizing your nutrition, consider booking a virtual appointment today.
Other Ways to Reduce Morning Hyperglycemia
Eating a balanced snack before bedtime can help to reduce early morning blood sugar spikes, but there are some other strategies to consider, including:
- Exercise in the evening.
- Eating breakfast first thing in the morning.
- Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) (in hospital settings).
Ultimately, consulting with your wider healthcare and diabetes management team is the best way to incorporate personalized strategies that can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
There are several reasons why someone with diabetes may experience a spike in blood sugar levels during the night or early morning. Though it’s important to investigate these causes with a healthcare professional, there are some things you can try at home to stabilize your blood sugar levels, including eating a high-protein, low-carbohydrate snack before bed.
Managing Diabetes with an RD
Not all people with diabetes will experience the same surges or changes in their blood sugar levels. Regardless of your experience, working with a registered dietitian is a great way to get personalized recommendations for how to help manage your blood sugar throughout the day and night with balanced and satisfying meals.
Book an appointment with Nourish and see a registered dietitian through your insurance.
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