The dawn phenomenon in type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus: magnitude, frequency, variability, and dependency on glucose counterregulation and insulin sensitivity

Diabetologia. 1991 Jan;34(1):21-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00404020.


In 114 subjects with Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus the nocturnal insulin requirements to maintain euglycaemia were assessed by means of i.v. insulin infusion by a Harvard pump. The insulin requirements decreased after midnight to a nadir of 0.102 +/- 0.03 at 02.40 hours. Thereafter, the insulin requirements increased to a peak of 0.135 +/- 0.06 at 06.40 hours (p less than 0.05). The dawn phenomenon (increase in insulin requirements by more than 20% after 02.40 hours lasting for at least 90 min) was present in 101 out of the 114 diabetic subjects, and its magnitude (% increase in insulin requirements between 05.00-07.00 hours vs that between 01.00-03.00 hours) was 19.4 +/- 0.54% and correlated inversely with the duration of diabetes (r = -0.72, p less than 0.001), but not with age. The nocturnal insulin requirements and the dawn phenomenon were highly reproducible on three separate nights. In addition, glycaemic control, state of counterregulation to hypoglycaemia and insulin sensitivity all influenced the magnitude of the dawn phenomenon as follows. In a subgroup of 84 subjects with Type 1 diabetes, the multiple correlation analysis showed that not only duration of diabetes (t = -9.76, p less than 0.0001), but also % HbA1 significantly influenced the magnitude of the dawn phenomenon (t = 2.03, p less than 0.05).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Humans
  • Insulin Infusion Systems
  • Male


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A