Islets of Hope for persons newly diagnosed with diabetes

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Article by Lahle Wolfe. For reprint information e-mail:

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diabetes forums
diabetes support lists
diabetes blog

Links to more comprehensive information about disorders sometimes associated with diabetes

Addison's Disease
Asthma and Allergies
Celiac Disease (Sprue)
Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome
Cystic Fibrosis 
Eating Disorders
Fibromyalgia Syndrome
Frozen Shoulder
Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
  (Iron Overload)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Polycystic Ovarian 
Weight Gain
Weight Loss

think like a pancreas  Gary Scheiner, CDE
Think Like a Pancreas:
 Many books offer advice on managing diabetes, but few focus specifically on the day-to-day issues facing those who use insulin.  Scheiner, a certified diabetes educator and himself an insulin user himself since 1985, gives you the tools to "think like a pancreas"--that is, to successfully master the art and science of matching insulin to the body’s ever-changing needs. Free of medical mumbo jumbo, comprehensive, and packed with useful information not readily available in other books.

Newly Diagnosed (easier reading) Problems & Complaints with Diabetes

Comprehensive Information on Diabetes Problems & Complaints

Important Medical Disclaimer

All information and material presented on the IOH's web site is intended for personal informational purposes only .  No one should attempt to self-diagnose, self-treat, or alter a medical care plan without first consulting their physician

Newly Diagnosed Diabetes Information
Information for those Newly Diagnosed with Diabetes                                                 Print this Article

Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) caused by
Dawn Phenomenon & Somogyi Effect

Hyperglycemia is often referred to as either high blood glucose, or high blood sugar.

Mini Site Index
What is the Dawn Effect?
What is the Somogyi Effect?

What is the Dawn Effect?
(also called Dawn Phenomenon)

The dawn effect is an increase in insulin resistance (decrease in insulin sensitivity) caused by hormones released about two hours before you wake. These hormones are under the control of the pituitary gland in the brain. The dawn effect is also influenced by testosterone and tends to be more significant in men and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome who may have elevated testosterone levels.

This resistance to insulin can cause you to need more at certain times during the night.  The Dawn Effect occurs in nondiabetics as a means to elevated blood sugar to prepare for the day.  In persons without diabetes, the body adjusts so that blood sugar levels do not go too high.  In persons with diabetes, however, the Dawn Effect can cause blood sugar levels to rise too high and lead to morning fasting hypoglycemia.

Your overnight insulin is taken to counter the Dawn Effect, and on average, diabetics take 20% of their total daily insulin overnight due to an increase in metabolic needs during the night.  People using on insulin pumps often have increased basal rates after 3 a.m. for this reason.

It is a normal occurrence in all people to experience a slight rise in blood sugar levels before rising, but this phenomenon is more pronounced in persons who need to take insulin.  The Dawn Effect is also the most common cause of nighttime highs.

What is the Somogyi Effect?
(also called "rebound hyperglycemia")

The Somogyi Effect occurs after a rapid drop in blood sugar levels sometime during sleep.  The body responds by releasing stored glucose (released from glycogen stores) from the muscles and liver in an attempt to elevate blood sugar levels. The body may overcompensate, releasing large amounts of glycogen which results in a "rebound" effect, causing hyperglycemia termed "Somogyi Effect."

This may happen anytime during sleep, but hypoglycemia usually occurs around 3 a.m.  The hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episode is followed by an elevated is followed by an elevated blood sugar level towards morning.  Going to bed without a snack or low blood-sugar, inadequate food eaten for exercise, and too much insulin contribute to this response.


The Dawn Effect is the early-morning increase in blood sugar, usually between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. in persons with diabetes.  The exact cause isn't known, however, it can be responsible for persistently elevated fasting blood sugar and HbA1c levels.  It is not caused by a previous low during the night and treatment involves limiting fat in the diet at dinnertime and in bedtime snacks.  Changes in insulin doses during the night are often required and should be made by your doctor.

The Somogyi Effect is triggered by low blood sugar that causes a release of hormones including glucagon that raise blood sugar too much.  Low blood sugar occurs most often near an insulin peak so you may need to test your blood sugar levels more often for a few days to see where your lows are beginning.

To prevent or correct high blood sugar levels in the morning, your doctor may recommend:

  • Adjusting your dosage of medication or insulin
  • Switching to a different medication
  • Changing the time or fat content of your dinner and bedtime snack
  • Testing your blood sugar around 3.a.m.


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Page Updated 09/17/2006