Did you wake up at 3:00 again this morning? Turns out, your blood sugar may be to blame.
There are a few common types of insomnia. You might suffer from one or more of these slumber stoppers, and each has a distinct cause.
For years researchers at the Vancouver-based Canadian Centre For Functional Medicine heard the same comment from participants in their weight loss trials: “I’m sleeping better”. Since these were weight loss studies and not sleep studies, researchers didn’t pay too much attention to this added benefit at first. Then they began to employ a new technology that monitored participants’ blood sugar levels continuously for periods of 24 hours and longer. That revealed trends in blood sugar changes that had never been seen before, and it led to an astonishing realization: in most cases waking at 3 am is not a true sleep problem, it’s a blood sugar problem.
Here’s what happens. When people gain weight, especially abdominal fat, blood sugar levels gradually begin to fluctuate more in response to eating. Although you’ve likely heard that having high blood sugar is a bad thing (and it is), in fact, it’s rapidly falling blood sugar that will produce noticeable symptoms.
When blood sugar plummets 2 things happen:
Special brain cells (glial cells) that monitor the glucose levels will drive you to EAT. And not carrots or celery, either. Those craving will be for sweet or starchy foods that will get your glucose back up fast. Do you often feel like snacking from dinner until bedtime, or crave sweets in the evening? That’s a sure sign you are on the blood sugar roller coaster.
The adrenal glands produce adrenalin. This is an emergency blood sugar raising tactic. An adrenalin surge during sleep will wake you up.
As it turns out, people experiencing glycemic fluctuation during the day are prone to a blood sugar crash while they are sleeping, at about 3:00 am, and this causes waking in the middle of the night.
What if you are waking in the middle of the night but you’re not overweight, maybe even on the thin side? Keep reading, slimmy, I’m getting to you. Some (usually thin) individuals report that they need to eat every three hours or they experience hypoglycemic symptoms – they might even carry snacks or hard candy for “emergencies”. If this describes you, then you are also on the blood sugar roller coaster and will benefit from my advice.
Ok, so now you know why you wake in the middle of the night, what are you going to do about it? Stabilize your blood sugar.
Avoid high-glycemic index foods that will cause your blood sugar to spike (sugar, white flour, pop, juice, sugary drinks). Chose whole, unprocessed, foods without added sugar.
Eat regular meals and don’t skip breakfast. In fact, what you eat for breakfast will set the tone for your blood sugar for the rest of the day, so make it a good one.
Have some protein, some fat and lots of fiber* with each meal. These three elements will keep your sugar stable.
Take chromium. 200 micrograms daily helps your body use insulin better and reduces with sugar cravings.
When is comes to dietary fiber, we often think of bran. Bran is insoluble fiber, and although it will improve regularity and contribute to colon health, it won’t stabilize your blood sugar. That job belongs to soluble fiber, the invisible, complex polysaccharide found in whole, unprocessed fruit, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds. Soluble fiber will absorb water to form a natural fiber gel in the stomach. The gel will combine with sugar to release it more slowly into the blood stream, buffering the impact on blood sugar levels.
Blood sugar stabilizing will still help you, but you might need some additional support. Contact a professional to correctly test your cortisol, hormones, and current baseline of health to make the transformation that will give life - back to you.
Guest Post: doctor kt nd dot com (DrKateND.com)