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In our conversations with patients, a frequent problem that arises is the one of waking up in the middle of the night with the mind racing and going back to sleep is out of the question.  This can be simple problem or it may require some creative trouble-shooting.  It just depends.

One explanation for this phenomenon has to do with the way your body maintains even blood sugar levels.  This is critical for brain function because it appears that neurons can only burn glucose for energy.  During the day, the body stores glucose in long chains called glycogen in the liver.  At night, cortisol (an adrenal gland product) helps balance the rate of glycogen conversion to glucose.  If your cortisol response is not adequate, a secondary adrenal reaction kicks in to help maintain the glycogen conversion.

This secondary circuit is the increased production of epinephrine or adrenaline.  You know what adrenaline does to your state of wakefulness.  So when the conversion from the cortisol pathway begins to give way to increased production of epinephrine, you keep your blood sugar up but now you are awake.

It may be a bit counter-intuitive but the adrenal balance you need to sleep at night must be addressed first in the daytime with proper adrenal management. By management I mean keeping your stress at a decent level, a sugar-balance friendly diet and targeted supplementation if the first two aren’t good enough.

Volumes have been written about stress management so I will leave that for another day. Diet is crucial. We are fans of a low grain, moderate protein and moderate fat diet for general health and blood sugar management. You can overdo any carbohydrate but grains are typically the category typically most abused. Regardless of what the USDS tells us, a diet rich in whole grains will cause more problems than it can solve in most people.

You have heard over and over about the dangers of refined sugars. If you still aren’t convinced, read a few chapters of The Grain Brain by Perlmutter.

Keeping your blood sugar balanced throughout the day will go a long ways to helping you get good sleep at night. Supplements that help with that have been around for decades and we can recommend a few. Look for BetterGenix AdrenalGenix, Integrative Therapeutics Cortisol Manager, or Cortivive.

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