How Your Blood Sugar Impacts How You Feel

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Do you ever stop and think about how your body feels after a meal, before exercise, or even a post-intense workout? Oftentimes, we can attribute most of how our energy behaves directly to the level of blood sugar in our systems. Types of inflammatory foods will raise blood sugar, whereas stress and increased intensity in exercise will deplete your blood sugar levels. Here’s how it works:

What Causes Blood Sugar to Rise and Fall?

It’s probably not common to think that hours of nighttime slumber and going without food will elevate your blood sugar, but in fact, high morning glucose levels may be experienced more often than realized. If the situation occurs more often than not, it may not directly be a problem, however, if high morning levels persist day after day, it’s time to call a doctor. That early morning jump in your blood sugar is loosely referred to as the ‘sunrise episode’ and typically happens between 2 and 8 a.m.

But why?

The Sunrise Episode

The “sunrise episode” occurs when elevated morning glucose levels respond to a natural increase in your hormone levels. It occurs between the dawn hours of 4 and 8 a.m., where your body releases cortisol and growth hormones to prepare for the day, which gives your liver extra glucose to produce in response to these hormones. If you don’t have diabetes, you emit more insulin to manage the increased glucose in your system.

Either way, how blood sugar impacts your overall energy is directly related to your hormone levels the instant you wake up.

An Effect Named After a Scientist

It’s highly likely to experience low blood sugar while sleeping and not even know it. This all-too-common dilemma can happen due to several factors, most notably lack of food in your digestive system, to taking injecting too much insulin if you’re diabetic, to imbibing alcohol drinks beyond the normal (and safe) level. For some individuals, the body compensates for low blood sugar by producing an increase in hormones, which eventually causes your blood glucose levels to get elevated.

Yet, not everyone wakes in reaction to low blood glucose levels. Profuse sweat or experiencing headaches in the morning can be a telltale message. This is referred to as the Somogyi effect, a condition named after a Bulgarian professor of biochemistry who prepared the first insulin treatment to a child diagnosed with diabetes in 1922. Therefore, if you feel you suffer from this condition, your doctor may alter their recommendations for you based on your blood sugar and what to eat to help your nighttime levels.

Waning Insulin Levels

If you’re diabetic and have been taking insulin and also experiencing increased blood sugar in the early a.m. hours, your insulin may simply be waning prematurely and your physician will then adjust your dosage or alter the time you are ingesting the insulin to prevent morning high blood sugar levels.

The Importance of Prevention

Knowing how you feel on any given day with respect to blood sugar will essentially lead you to the following:

  • Eat dinner earlier in the evening
  • Go for a walk after dinner and before bedtime
  • Don’t skip breakfast, as eating this meal brings your blood sugar back to normal
  • Eat a snack with some carbohydrates and protein before bed

In a Nutshell

When your blood sugar levels are all out of whack, it’s no wonder energy levels dip throughout the day and can cause headaches, dizziness, a fuzzy brain, and possibly a more serious response if you have diabetes. The boost in sugar is your body’s way of making sure you have enough energy to get up and start the day. However, check-in with your dietitian to ensure you’re on the right track with nutrition, lifestyle habits, and potential pitfalls that can sabotage how you feel.