Dawn Phenomenon

Please someone explain how to deal with the Dawn Phenomenon. My endocrinologists say to increase my nighttime dose of basal so that my morning fasting BG is at the target rate. But I think (from my few attempts to wake up before dawn and measure the BG) that this morning rate is (significantly) higher than it has been during the night, due to the DP. Of course I wouldn't want to increase basal and go low overnight. So I guess my 2 questions are:
a)when calculating basal for the night, how far into the morning do I go b)What to do with the DP - just add to my breakfast bolus to bring it down?

Thanks to all of you out there and a Good, Healthy (Jewish) New Year!

It is best to not go high to start with. Even though bringing it down in the morning will help. All the info that is out tells us that if we keep our sugars in normal range as much as possible, then we can avoid complications better.

I use a CGM so it was easy to see when my sugar spiked at night, It was always one hour before I woke up. I adjusted my basal and now I flat line all night,

If I go to bed very late or very early, it throws things off, but never enough to cause me trouble with lows. I get about a 50 mg/dl bump and I try to go to bed at 100 or so. If i wake with 150 , It isn't the end of world, still many people get a bigger bump than that.

If you dont want to invest in a CGM then you can just test every hour on the hour a few nights to get an idea. For most people the PDP happens just before dawn :)

so you can start checking about 2 hours before you wake until, well when you wake, It is very likely to be in that time frame.

You wrote "...my sugar spiked at night.. I adjusted my basal and now I flat line all night". Is this with a pump? How would one adjust the basal to flatten the spike without causing hypo, without pump?

Yeah, with a pump/ CGM it's a lot easier, as you can select the rate at which the fast acting insulin trickles into you so you can have more when you need it. With adjustments, I usually try +/- 5-10% until it gets the number where I want. I think that usually the night basal is a smaller amount than the day so it may help keep your BG from crashing out too much? There may be some overlap too, if you get spikes in action from basal insulin? Lantus/ Levemir are supposed to be flat but I think some people report some variability of the action. This seems reasonable as some people with pumps report having different basal rates over the course of a day too.

I struggle as you do with DP. With shots, you have limited control. I use a split basal and adjust my nightime dose to "try" to control my DP. A good insulin dosing approach is to increase your nighttime basal until your morning numbers reach target (usually defined as awaking with the same blood sugar you went to bed with). You need to be aware and protect yourself against hypos, this may involve setting an alarm and testing. In the end, you may find that there is no solution that meets the goals of no hypos and good morning numbers. In which case, you just do your best which is the highest dose you can tolerate without any lows.

That is basically where I am at and I still often awake high. There are some things you can do beyond that. Some people employ NPH as a nighttime "booster," since it has an intermediate profile, it can provide a bump in insulin overnight without causing as many hypos at other times. Bernstein recommends that you wake at like 3am, test and inject insulin (he suggests Regular) to provide that badly needed bump. I just can't stomach this, I have enough trouble with sleep. And finally, you could just do what I do, do the best you can and test and correct upon waking. I am insulin resistant in the morning, so you may find you need a different correction factor for these corrections as well.

L'Shana Tova!

May the new year bring you a string of good morning numbers.

Thanks Brian, that just about describes what I am dealing with -- and that maybe there is no great solution :( Would you recommend to go to sleep at target BG and work from there - or to go to sleep with a higher BG so you can take more basal and be a little lower in the morning? (does this make sense at all?)

I like to go to bed with a good fasting blood sugar with no food in my belly and no bolus in my blood stream. Everything else just adds variables. Of course, I don't always do what I like.

I'm on a pump now, and my highest basal rates are in the early morning to control my blood sugar when waking up. Even with that, I still wake up high sometimes if I do anything differently, like not eating breakfast as soon as I get up.

Without any basal rate increase (such as when I was on Lantus) I could go to bed at 6.0 (118 mg/dl), be the same at 3:00 AM, and wake up at 17.0 (over 300 mg/dl) at 7:00 AM, easy. It was impossible for me to increase my Lantus enough to cover that without going low during the first part of the night. In the end, the only solution I found—which worked great—was to wake up at 3:00 AM and give myself 2-3 units of Humalog. I wasn't willing to do this forever, and this was the primary reason I went on the pump. (My pump trainer was all surprised; she said I was the first person she'd met in 10 years who cited control as the primary reason for going on the pump, rather than primarily convenience.)

In addition to more basal, I also need to give myself more insulin to cover breakfast as well as to correct high blood sugar in the morning. If I'm usually using an I:C of 1:10 during the day, I use one of 1:8 during the morning; and if I'm usually using an ISF of 2 during the day, I'll use one of 1.6 in the morning. At the moment I'm using an I:C of 1:8 during the day (and 1:6 at breakfast) and an ISF of 1.6 (and 1.2 at breakfast). My pump settings change throughout the month and seasons, but if I don't use more insulin than usual at breakfast for boluses, I end up spending the entire morning high. The morning for me counts until about 10:00 AM, then I go back to my usual settings for the rest of the day.

My CDE suggested some time ago to set a temp basal as soon as I wake up. I usually only need this on work days but I increase by 20% for about 2.5 - 3 hours. It works very well. Until I eat breakfast that is ;) But that would only work if you're on the pump naturally. Are you?

no Stacey and jen - i'm not a pump. I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this without pump (and preferably of course without waking up at 3AM)

Back in the day when I was on MDI, I used to take 3 units of NPH at bed time to manage my DP. That would mean 3 different insulins of course for you, but maybe your Dr has other ideas.

They used to make lots of different ones. I used to take Ultralente and Lente. Which all have different lengths and inset of action and duration.

I think you could find one that could work if you took it at bed time and could time it right

here again, as long as liver is still paying attention to insulin, yes this should all work.

on otherhand metformin can be far more effective. for me it was.

best wishes and thanks for comments.

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Negg, I'm on shots, too. I take my larger Lantus dose at 7 am in the morning. I figure it probably wears out by 2 am. So 9 pm I take a wee percentage of the total as a booster. I know percents on split dose are much more even than mine in most people, but mine works with me. I take 5/6 of the total at 7 am and 1/6 of the total at 9 pm. I am at 100 when I go to bed and 100 when I wake up in the morning. I worked at getting the percentage at night over quite a long period because it takes 3 days to settle out. Be patient.

i used to have this problem as well. i would go to bed w/ a healthy BS but wake up in the 300s. i know u r not on the pump, but i am, and what i did was increase my 12am basal by only 1/2 unit until 6am. i have kept everything else the same. however, at bkfs time,(i am usually awake btw 5-6 am) i have to add 1 xtra unit of bolus as i am very insulin resistant in the morn. why? who the heck knows. it just is what it is. after over 25+ yrs w/ D, i have learned that we go up, we come down. sometimes, w/out rhyme or reason. no matter how hard we try. but the best is to get Urself at a healthy BS range ASAP so as not to develope complications. moniter Urself well. which it sounds like u r already doing. congrats. Daisy Mae

Wow - 300's. Man you must have big storage of glucose in your liver.

I was reliably at 238 to 240 in am wakeup. At midnight 100 to 120.

Classic Dawn Phe pain in buttsky.

Yes, and until I had my liver arrested on metformin ( a different approach not discussed much - but researched); I got the insulin resistance down.

I believe the issue is the liver constantly punching out way too much glucose regulary and especially at night which saturates the glucose temporary storage of the skeletal muscles while you sleep and insulin in body gets nailed either by hormones or excess glucose. Once muscles loaded ( one cannot yet exercise while one sleeps) so any extra glucose added just fills up the muscles till muscles do not want any more and hence insulin resistance.

The other unshared story is that insulin - a storage hormone is only useful as long as skeletal muscles have room to store more glucose. If not, the body down grades the insulin receptor sites to reduce glucose transfer till more room.

In fact the insulin will circulate like water thru your veins doing nothing or almost nothing until insulin resistance drops back down.

The human body is not an infinite glucose dumping/burning machine and simply adding insulin/actos does not guarantee getting rid of excess glucose in the blood system when glucose skeletal muscle temporary storage sites are filled to brimming full.

I realy do not accept the idea that things happen without reason.

The human body is a complex multi-oran multi hormone chmeical plant that does a bunch of complex manuevers and when one has diabetes, this mess gets worse.

Medical science ( with my thanks for all the great works that occur ) really needs to get out of the dark ages and better understand the processes and action that go on and how to cope better with them.

At the present stage, much of what happens does in fact appear illogical and for without reason with the human struggling terribly to keep riot contained after the fun activities.

Best wishes and thank you for sharing.

Hello Negg,

What I do if I wake up too high is to bolus a correction and take my basal dose for the day at the same time usually. If I'm also going to eat I add into the bolus for whatever I will eat. The same thing I would do if I were high before a meal but minus a basal dose.

I would say wake up to take your basal at a certain time before or around the time when you see you are going high and bolus if you are very high to lower yourself. It's probably better to do that with food/bk, but sometimes I have done a correction and the basal and then I've gone back to sleep for a while to wake up to a normal range bg.

I agree it is better if we can avoid going too high or too low in the first place but that just isn't always possible, because of so many variabilities and our own bodies just taking over. I don't know if my high am readings when I get them are dp or glucagon due to a low while I'm asleep.

I am nocturnal mostly so my hours vary from many other people's at the moment. I have gone back to taking most of my basal at night because an even split made me totally unstable again apparently.

Today I woke up at 149, yikes, I had been up all night and morning with my sick kitty at the vet- during which time my bg was totally stable in the 80's -low 90's. I came home, ate breakfast and went hypo- I took sugar but went to sleep at 68 figuring it would go back up- I was too tired to test again. I think I may have had a glucagon event. When I woke up I bolused 2.5 units Novolog and 2 units Lantus. I am back to stable again so far. It could also be the sugar I took raised me too much over time, that seems to happen to me also.

Happy New Year :)