Why Can’t I stay asleep?
Almost 75% of the patients who walk through my door with sleep-maintenance insomnia wake up around 1-3am. The most common reason for this is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Once the individual starts to eat a small protein snack before bed, their sleep-maintenance insomnia usually subsides.
There are several other reasons for waking up around this time, but clinically I have seen low blood sugar as being the most common. If having a protein snack before bed doesn’t cut it and you’re still waking up in the middle of the night you should definitely talk to your Naturopath or Medical Doctor about it, especially if you’re having other symptoms.
A bedtime snack containing protein or fiber is the best choice as it helps to keep your blood sugars stable while you are sleeping. This is important to prevent the adrenals from releasing cortisol in response to the hypoglycemia and waking us up. It is ideal to stay away from sugary snacks before bed as they will temporarily elevate the blood sugar and then cause it to come crashing down soon after. Thus increasing the likelihood of hypoglycemia and sleep-maintenance insomnia.
Figure 1: Hypoglycemia at 3am causing the release of cortisol, which may lead to sleep-maintenance insomnia.
Examples of snacks that may help with falling asleep and staying asleep:
– 2 handfuls of pumpkin seed
– 1 rice cracker with peanut butter
– 1 hard-boiled egg
– legumes like chick peas, beans, nuts, seeds
– soup or stew
– protein shake or protein bar
– veggies, crackers or pita dipped in hummus
– 2 tbsp hemp hearts
We sell a variety of protein powder and bars by Metagenics