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Bad Sleep and Blood Sugar

20 J0000001UTC 2011

It’s 4:30 am and I’m awake. As I typically wake between 8 and 9, this is technically the middle of the night, meaning something is amiss. Fortunately I know what it is. Unfortunately I did not do something about it earlier. Thankfully for you, I am going to share one of the major reasons for poor sleep, so that you can do a better job with yours. The NSF (National Sleep Foundation) claims that 60% of Americans have sleep issues more than two nights a week. I’d say that’s pretty substantial.

This morning’s insight is that too often we go to bed hungry or having eaten too much sugar, so we wake up in the ‘middle of the night’ from a dip or a crash in glucose or blood sugar. This bottoming-out or deprivation of a substance that our body needs in order to run its basic processes provokes a mid-sleep panic– a stress response– and that panic jolts us from sleep. It’s our body’s way of saying, “Wake up, stupid. You need more fuel.” That’s what mine just did.

So, when you wake up with a rumbling belly, it’s not the only thing going on in your body. Cells  cry out; the brain struggles; stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol shoot up. You wake up thinking, “I need a snack,” but instead roll over and try to sleep. But you can’t. You toss and turn. You have to pee. Your brain starts going with what happened yesterday or with what you have to get done tomorrow. It feels like it’s all over.

You can prevent this just like I could have prevented this. You see, I ate a small, rather lame (even if healthy) dinner at about 6pm but stayed active and slightly stressed until I fell asleep around 10pm. This is too long to go without an extra portion of calories before heading off to dreamland– if I don’t want to be jolted from sleep by cortisolman. A small snack, centered around protein and some healthy fats without too much sugar would have done me well.

Later we can go into the long term repercussions of dosing yourself with cortisol and stress, whether in the middle of the night or day. It’s not pretty– check for other posts on metabolic syndrome (syndrome X) or type 2 diabetes if you’d like to read ahead.

Thanks for joining me at midnight. Hopefully I will not see you at this time again. Ever.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. malia permalink
    20 J0000001UTC 2011 9:12 am

    I love this because it goes against the whole “You canNOT eat ANYTHING past 7:30” crap.

    • 20 J0000001UTC 2011 7:53 am

      ha! yes, it adheres to the “know thyself ” and then take care of thyself mentality!

  2. 20 J0000001UTC 2011 1:23 pm

    This is very insightful. This seems to happen to me frequently. I struggle with blood sugar roller coasters as it is, and not having a snack before bed is almost not an option for me. Thanks for sharing.

    • 20 J0000001UTC 2011 7:56 am

      great! so glad to see others on board, and not just with cookies and ice cream before bed – although I do love a good dark chocolate and pecan cookie.

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