A Little Thing Called “Dawn Phenomenon”

For those of you who do not know what dawn phenomenon is, it is simply an increase in blood sugar in the middle of the night or sometimes referred to as the “dawn effect”. Typically between 4:00 AM and 8:00 AM the sugar levels of some diabetics rise abnormally. Some researchers say that it is due to an increase in hormone production such as epinephrine, cortisol, glucagon and other growth hormones. Some of our hormones tell our liver to release glucose to give us the fuel we need when we wake up. But when these hormones are out of balance with the hormone insulin, the liver releases too much glucose.

For me this was a frustrating thing since I was always trying to perfect my levels in my late teens. It would drive me crazy that no matter how well I left things before bed I would wake up ridiculously high in the morning. After explaining this to my doctor she recommended getting on an insulin pump. I nodded my head and acted interested but after leaving thought to myself; “there is no way I am going to have something attached to me like that”. This is back when cell phones were still pretty large and couldn’t fit in your pocket, so as a guy you had to have a belt clip. All I could think about was having this big pump and a big cell phone on my belt at the same time. Then again going some places like an amusement park was difficult because you cant really carry around a bag the entire time, so you use a locker. The lockers are always on the other end of the park from where you decide you are going to stop and eat and that’s where you have your shots. One of my biggest fears was one of my friends joking around and tackling me or hitting the injection site ( guys in their teens do these things without any notice thinking they are a super hero) and ripping it out. That being one of my main fears I had, the older I got the better of an idea it became.


About 3 and a half years ago I decided to get the pump, insurance was paying for it and at this point there was no reason not to get it. It has not only changed my life completely but has allowed me to have near perfect levels in the morning. Basal (the insulin that trickles in slowly throughout the day) rates can be set to different levels throughout the day. In the middle of the night, or morning however you look at it I set a peak in my basal rate. So from 12 AM to 3AM my basal rate is .85 and then at 3 AM it jumps up to 1.50 to compensate for any increase I would experience from dawn phenomenon. This insulin pump has completely changed my morning levels which make it SO much easier to get out of bed every morning.

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