The Somogyi Effect on Your Diabetes

The Somogyi effect is defined as going to bed with a nice normal blood sugar, and then awakening to a high blood sugar value.

Why does this happen? Glucose numbers for some people will swing during sleep time, or in the early morning hours before waking up. This effect on blood sugars occur because at some time, the blood glucose has dropped very low into hypoglycemic stages, which are glucose values less than 70. At some point within the body, there is what we refer to as the rebound, where blood glucose starts back up, recovering from the hypoglycemic stages. When there is too much insulin that is circulating in the bloodstream, this is bound to occur. So this Somogyi effect then, is the result of diabetes pills/and or insulin working together overtime.

When you are having hypoglycemic episodes during your sleeping, your body is releasing these hormones known as glycogen, and also epinephrine. These hormones send signals to the liver for a release of stored glucose. What comes in the end, is that the blood sugar level can swing too high causing hyperglycemia.

Too find out if you are having this blood glucose effect, you need to wake up in the earlier part of the morning between say 1, or 2 AM. Test your blood sugar, and see whether it is low. If that is the case, then this is the Somogyi effect occuring.

A lot of times, people have hypoglycemia unawareness. This means they don't realize they are going very low, especially in sleeping. This is where continuous monitoring helps those with wildly flucuating blood glucose. A continuous monitoring blood glucose device usually has alarms on it to wake you if you are going through a bad low. This way you can correct the problem. However, not everyone can get hold of this type of monitor.

How then, can you work on overcoming this problem of the somogyi effect? The most common corrective things you can do are:

Have a snack with protein before going to bed. Yogurt is a good suggestion, or slices of lunch meat that are very low-fat. This has always helped me.

Going to bed with a slightly higher blood sugar level is sometimes better.

Wake up in the earlier morning hours to test your glucose levels.

If this becomes a problem with the somogyi effect, talk to your doctor and possibly readjust medications or your insulin schedule. Chances are that these readjustments will make a difference in your blood glucose control. It may take some fiddling around for a bit, but eventually, the right balance should be achieved to avoid such rapid glucose swings at nighttime.