Counting Sheep Instead of Sleep?


One of the most common secondary symptoms I see is sleep trouble.  Either you can’t fall asleep, fall asleep but wake up throughout the night, or both.  One study estimates that over 70 million people suffer from this.  That’s a lot of people not sleeping!

The direct cost is estimated around 14 billion dollars annually…..and this number is growing.

So why can’t you sleep?  It could be many things. Probably a combination of many.

Let’s take a look at five of the common ones.

1. Blood sugar processing. If your body cannot process sugar (glucose) properly it’s called dysglycemia.  It can either be too high (insulin resistance, diabetes) or too low (hypoglycemia).  When you sleep your blood sugar level drops because you are not eating. If your body cannot regulate your blood  sugar well during the day, it’s certainly not going to handle it well at night.   If this is the case, your brain then screams “Feed me!” and this can cause you to wake up. Most people think that what wakes them up is the urge to urinate or blame this problem on a “weak bladder”.  One of THE WORST things you can do is eat sugar before going to bed. Your blood sugar spikes high within an hour or two and then it plummets, crashes. What you’ve done is set off a hypoglycemic attack around 2-3 am. Another problem you just caused is a spike in cortisol, an adrenal hormone which then will decrease the amount of melatonin which is a sleep neurotransmitter which causes deep REM sleep. Cortisol spikes because the brain wants it’s fuel…. it’s gotta have it! And just like that, you have a metabolic storm… BAM!

2. Stress and Anxiety. You wake up and “think about all your issues”.  You are working overtime on your stress issues. I know, I do it too.  But I actually get up out of bed and either write down my problems, or what I think my problems are, in the wee hours of the morning or read until I have forgotten what I’m doing up so early.  I have just described The All American Way of Life.

3. Chronic inflammation. This is huge!  Recent studies are now saying that this is now one of the most common causes of many health conditions.  If someone has chronic inflammation they do not have good health.  Period.  This can lead to not only sleep trouble but also gut issues, “brain fog”, memory loss and is also common in thyroid conditions, inability to lose weight, dysglycemia (diabetic, pre-diabetes, hypoglycemia) and chronic pain syndromes to name a few. Inflammation is bad news. You have to put out this fire. You know you have inflammation when you take an aspirin or some anti-inflammatory drug and you feel better! Take this as a warning!

4. Adrenal glands. This is a biggie and I just briefly talked about your adrenal glands.  These little glands are going to be a major problem if you aren’t handling sugar and stress. When not functioning properly, they can produce cortisol in excess and this will make the catecholamine receptor sites more sensitive to epinephrine and norepinephrine.  If the adrenals are involved, you will feel over stimulated at night, usually waking up between 1:00-3:00am and fatigued and feeling you needing a boost during the day usually between 1:00-3:00pm.

5. Brain. You probably have a high flying reticular activating system in your midbrain due to lack of inhibition from the frontal lobes and or infection. In simple terms your brain is constantly firing and can’t shut down when you want it to or when it’s supposed to. This is another reason you wake up at night and want to sleep mid-afternoon.

These are only five reasons you can’t sleep well. Do you really think you should take a sleeping pill?  Don’t do it!  Not until you find out the reason why you aren’t sleeping.

Maybe decrease your sugar intake or do some relaxing or meditating or prayer before you go to sleep. Work on your adrenals. Work on your brain.