Not So Sweet Dreams: Sugar Detox And Insomnia
Sugar detox has lots of supporters these days as it is common knowledge that sugar is fundamentally not good for you. Being addicted to sugar can cause mood swings and emotional problems. However, if you go down the route of a too drastic sugar-free diet, there is a crucial negative: It can worsen sleep problems.
Though not clinically considered an addiction with withdrawal syndromes, quitting sugar through detox or a sugar-free diet can certainly feel like one. Common symptoms include anxiety, cravings, and problems falling and staying asleep. Take note of the latter, if struggling with sleep it is better to ease into a sugar-free diet than go cold turkey. It is also important to be aware that these symptoms are temporary and the benefits of cutting down sugar far outweigh any discomfort.
Sugar consumption during the day
So, a too radical sugar-free diet can cause sleep issues. But sugar itself also has detrimental effects on your sleep, which in turn may increase your craving for even more sugar. Clearly a conundrum to be solved, but first, lets look at the effects of sugar. Sugar acts as a stimulant. It gives you energy and makes you ready for activity. This is clearly not what you want at the end of your day. Furthermore, sugar consumes magnesium, which is crucial for sleep in calming down body and mind.
Sugar and sleep
Sugar or no sugar?
Exploring The Connection Between Blood Sugar And Insomnia
Todays society is full of stimulation. From the technology you use to the foods you eat, there are many things you come in contact with throughout the day that will stimulate your brain. All of this stimulation and activity can make it difficult to sleep, and many adults suffer from insomnia as a result. Consider the connection between certain activities, such as blood sugar and insomnia.
Medication and Insomnia
For some, turning to medications may be the first step in addressing insomnia. However, a few of these medications have strong side effects, are not tolerated well and may lead to a chemical dependence. While medications may help you short-term, they do not address the underlying causes of insomnia. Medications might not work well as a long-term solution to your sleep issues.
Blood Sugar Stability and Insomnia
Often, insomnia is linked directly to blood sugar imbalances. If you cant fall asleep, or if you can fall asleep but not stay asleep, a blood sugar imbalance may be to blame. Read on to learn how your blood sugar affects your quality of sleep and what you can do to get a better nights rest.
What Is Insomnia?
Facts about Insomnia
Insomnia is common in adults, and the National Institutes of Health report that approximately 30 percent of the general population suffer from some sleep disruption. About 10 percent of people who suffer from insomnia have daytime functional impairments that are associated with a diagnosis.
Unable to Fall Asleep
Low Carb Diet Dogma Restricts Unreasonably
I do better with anything on restrictions. For most of us, being told just stop eating bread and drinking soda, you will lose weight is easy enough. At one time in my life, that worked like a charm. I never have soda anymore. Would one soda here and there have hurt? Probably not, but the mental edge that lent consistency to my lifestyle was the fuel behind my weight loss.
Thats probably why the low-carb diet appeals to you.
But now, that might be working against you.
Low carb enthusiasts despise potatoes and white rice and corn tortillas. Potatoes and white rice and corn tortillas make serotonin.
You can see the dilemma here.
But thats just it, there is no dilemma whatsoever.
We know that starchy carbs, particularly when ingested without the presence of carbs, create serotonin. We know that serotonin helps us sleep.
You know what we dont know?
If eating a potato, alone , will help us produce serotonin and potentially help put us to sleep, why not try it?
Read Also: How Do You Lower Your Blood Sugar Level
How To Lower Morning Blood Sugar
Whether a morning high is caused by the dawn phenomenon or something else, here are a few things you can try to lower your blood sugar levels:
Physical activity when you wake up can help bring your glucose level down. Even going for a walk can be helpful.
To learn about exercise guidelines and glucose management strategies, click here.
Read Adam Browns take on walking the most underrated diabetes exercise strategy.
Eating a light breakfast can help keep a morning high from increasing even more. Taking your mealtime insulin will help lower your blood sugar.
Adam Brown suggests eating a breakfast that is low in carbs, and notes that sometimes mealtime insulin has to be adjusted in the morning. One of his favorite breakfasts is chia pudding, since it has little impact on glucose levels see what else he eats for breakfast here.
Catherine Newman has six popular, low-carb, delicious recipes in The Morning Meal.
Intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding approaches to meal timing can also help people keep morning blood sugar levels in range. Read Justine Szafrans Intermittent Fasting: Stabilizing My Morning Blood Sugars to learn more.
For additional ways to navigate mornings, read seven strategies from Adam Brown in A Home Run Breakfast with Diabetes.
This article is part of a series on time in range.
The Final Word On Curing Low Carb Insomnia
Weve learned what potentially causes low carb insomnia, as well as what forces work against resolving it. Low carb insomnia is often caused by a lack of isolated starches in the diet. But low-carb enthusiasts irresponsibly demonize starches, causing many people to feel they must choose between sleep/anxiety and a healthy weight.
But thats not entirely true. Many people remain in ketosis after eating a potato at night and sleep much better. Many people who dont remain in ketosis but eat a potato at night and sleep better still lose weight.
Complex thinking is often lost in dogmatic bubbles.
PrepForThats Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.
Recommended Reading: What Can I Do To Lower My Blood Sugar Naturally
How Do We Get Serotonin
Im sure the math in your head is solving a problem .
Carbs, particularly starchy carbs like potatoes, rice, corn tortillas, produce serotonin. And often, this is why starchy carbs can send us into a lullaby.
Whats worse, protein blocks serotonin. So any of the carbs you do eat on your low carb diet, their serotonin efforts are likely thwarted.
This is why the Serotonin Power Diet, a book written by Judith Wurtman and Nina J. Frusztajer M.D., as well as the book Potatoes Not Prozac: Solutions For Sugar Sensitivity written by Kathleen DesMaisons Ph. D., are such big hits on Amazon. Because each in their own special way, they encourage starchy carbs as a way to produce serotonin to improve mood.
If Youre Not Sleeping Well There May Be A Medical Cause
People who feel they sleep perfectly well may still be troubled by excessive daytime sleepiness because of a variety of underlying medical illnesses. A sleep disturbance may be a symptom of a health issue or an adverse effect of therapy to treat the problem. The stress of chronic illness can also cause insomnia and daytime drowsiness.Common conditions often associated with sleep problems include heartburn, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, kidney disease, mental health problems, neurological disorders, respiratory problems, and thyroid disease. In addition, a number of prescription and over-the-counter medications used to treat these and other health problems can impair sleep quality and quantity .
Don’t Miss: How Do You Lower Your Blood Sugar Immediately
The Connection Between Lack Of Sleep And Diabetes
âThere is some evidence that sleep deprivation could lead to pre-diabetic state,â says Mark Mahowald, MD, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Hennepin County.
According to Mahowald, the body’s reaction to sleep loss can resemble insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Insulinâs job is to help the body use glucose for energy. In insulin resistance, cells fail to use the hormone efficiently, resulting in high blood sugar.
Diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells do not properly use the insulin. When insulin is not doing its job, high blood sugar levels build in the body to the point where they can harm the eyes, kidneys, nerves, or heart.
My Low Carb Insomnia Ultimate Guide
You cant sleep. You are tossing and turning and now you are investigating and searching. All because you simply cant sleep. Are you suffering from a bad case of low carb insomnia?
By now, youve figured out that at the very least, there is some sort of association between your inability to sleep and the new and exciting low carb diet you are doing.
Your mind is anxious, you are zombie each and every day, you experience road rage, but you are losing weight. At least, in your sleep deprived state of being and short-tempered approach to trivial matters, you are more svelte.
Don’t Miss: How To Get Your Sugar Under Control
Tips To Manage And Prevent Nocturnal Hypoglycemia
If you experience an occurrence of nighttime hypoglycemia, you should take the same actions as you do to manage hypoglycemia in the daytime: Eat a quick-acting carbohydrate and a slow-acting carbohydrate.
If youre caring for someone who exhibits the signs of low blood sugar, wake them up. If they wake up and can sit by themselves, give them fast-acting glucose like juice or hard candy. They should then eat a meal and test blood sugar every few hours.
Once the person wakes up fully following the glucagon injection, they should eat a meal and test their blood sugar every few hours.
To prevent nocturnal hypoglycemia on an ongoing, long-term basis, consult a healthcare professional. You should also:
- Test blood glucose levels before going to bed.
- Stick to regular meals and snacks.
- Adjust insulin dose if necessary before going to sleep.
Diabetes Canada recommends that if youre using intense insulin therapy, you should periodically check your overnight blood glucose level at a time when your overnight insulin should be peaking. The goal is to avoid hypoglycemia during the day and lower the risk of it happening at night.
Some people with type 1 diabetes may use
I Dont Hate Low Carb Diets They Work
First things first, this is about low carb insomnia, not low carb pros or cons. Low carb diets most certainly help people lose weight, thats part of the reason youre probably struggling with just eating a jelly sandwich and falling to sleep. You want a jelly sandwich, but you want abs, weight loss, and more focus and better blood sugar numbers.
I get it.
This isnt a low carb hater article. Unfortunately, people are so indoctrinated to the low carb diet anymore, they cant see the forest for the trees.
People tend to get really jumpy when you question low carb in any capacity.
Im not hating, Im exploring, Im trying to solve an issue that plagues thousands of people and is confirmed to exist by science.
Recommended Reading: Does Sugar Make Depression Worse
How To Prevent Nocturnal Hypoglycemia
Start by talking to your doctor about a bedtime blood sugar target. Ask about your risk for hypoglycemia and if you should get a glucagon kit. Dont miss dinner, exercise before bedtime, or drink alcohol at night. Have a sugar and protein snack before bedtime, like a wheat cracker with cheese.
If you have had symptoms of nocturnal hypoglycemia, work with your doctor on a prevention plan. This may include switching to a longer acting insulin that does not peak during sleep, or changing your insulin dose. You might be asked to set an alarm and check your blood sugar in the early morning for a while. For people at high risk for nocturnal hypoglycemia, a continuous glucose monitor may be the best solution. A CGM can check your blood sugar every 5 minutes and can set off an alarm if your sugar gets too high or too low.
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
Check Your Blood Sugar Before Bed
For everybody with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, its absolutely critical that they check their blood sugar before going to bed to make sure theyre not going to have an episode of low blood sugar during the night, says Helena W. Rodbard, MD, medical director of Endocrine and Metabolic Consultants, a private practice in Rockville, Maryland, and past president of the American College of Endocrinology.
If your blood sugar levels are low at bedtime, eat a healthy snack before going to sleep. The size of the snack should be in proportion to the dip in blood sugar. For instance, a small drop in blood sugar requires only a small snack. If you use an insulin pump, consider temporarily reducing the active dose of insulin.
Also Check: Is Honey Better Than Sugar
Tips For A Better Night Sleep
Getting into a consistent sleep routine will improve your overall health and you may start to see subtle improvements in blood sugar as well. The following tips sleep tips may help to promote better sleep:
Check and monitor your blood glucose to keep it under control
Establish a regular bedtime routine
Ensure your bed is large and comfortable enough
Ensure your room is cool and well ventilated
Ensure your room is dark and free from noise
Incorporating a period of exercise into each day
To stay informed on more information regarding diabetes and sleep issues read an essay on diabetes and subscribe to our blog. And remember, you can always contact us here at The Alaska Sleep Clinic for any questions regarding how diabetes can affect your sleep at 855-AKSLEEP .
How Does Poor Sleep Affect Blood Sugar Levels
Just as diabetes can cause sleep problems, sleep problems also appear to play a role in diabetes. Getting poor sleep or less restorative slow-wave sleep has been linked to high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and prediabetes. However, its not entirely clear whether one causes the other or whether more variables are at work. Researchers believe that sleep restriction may affect blood sugar levels due to its effects on insulin, cortisol, and oxidative stress.
One-quarter of people with diabetes report sleeping less than six hours or more than eight hours a night, which puts them at a higher risk of having elevated blood sugar. In addition to raising blood sugar levels in people who already have diabetes, sleep deprivation also raises the risk of developing insulin resistance in the first place. This link becomes apparent as early as childhood.
Studies have also found that later or irregular sleeping schedules are correlated with higher blood sugar, even in non-diabetic people. However, there may be other variables that explain this, such as the fact that people with irregular sleeping schedules are more likely to follow an erratic diet.
Sleep deprivation raises levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and decreases levels of leptin, the hormone that makes us feel full. To compensate for lower energy levels, people who sleep poorly may be more likely to seek relief in foods that raise blood sugar and put them at risk of obesity, which is a risk factor for diabetes.
Don’t Miss: Can You Have Sugar On The Keto Diet
Risk Of Nocturnal Hypoglycemia
Nocturnal hypoglycemia is most dangerous for people who take insulin, but it can also happen to people with type 2 diabetes who take oral diabetes medications. You could be at risk if you:
- Skip dinner or have too little to eat before bedtime
- Exercise before bedtime
- Take NPH insulin, which has its peak affect in about 6 to 8 hours
- Have recently changed your insulin medication
Early morning wake-up calls often are simply one of many low blood sugar symptoms.
The Link Between Lack Of Sleep And Weight
Some studies show that people who get less sleep tend to be heavier than those who sleep well, Mahowald says. Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for the development of diabetes.
There is also a link between diabetes and sleep apnea, a sleep disorder marked by loud snoring and pauses in breathing while you sleep. The culprit may be excess weight, which can cause fat deposits around the upper airway that obstruct breathing. So being overweight or obese is a risk factor for sleep apnea as well as diabetes.
âIf you have diabetes, are overweight, and snore, tell your doctor,â says Susan Zafarlotfi, PhD, clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. âYou may need a sleep study.â
Sleep apnea can prevent a person from getting a good night sleep, which can worsen diabetes or perhaps increase the risk of developing diabetes. In sleep studies, you are monitored while you sleep for sleep disorders such sleep apnea.
There are many effective treatments for sleep apnea. These include lifestyle changes such as weight loss for mild cases and devices to open up blocked airways for more significant cases.
Also Check: Is Maple Syrup Better Than Sugar
What Should Your Blood Sugar Be When You Wake Up
The goal of diabetes management is to keep your blood sugar levels as stable as possible. This means that when you wake up, you want your glucose to be in range and to stay in range throughout the day.
For many people with diabetes, the overall target glucose range is between 70 mg/dL to 180 mg/dL . To start the day strong, the American Diabetes Association recommends that you aim to wake up with glucose levels between 80 to 130 mg/dL. Talk with your healthcare team about your glucose targets.