Five things that could be wrecking your sleep and what to do about them
Insomnia is a huge problem in this country. It is an even bigger problem in the gluten free population in my experience. Here are a few sleep destroyers that specifically effect gluten free people and some tips to help you get some quality “Zzz’s” again.
1) Hypoglycemia- The brain only burns sugar for fuel. If your blood sugar drops in the night, adrenalin is released causing people to suddenly be wide awake. It usually takes one to two hours for the body to go through a process called “gluconeogenesis” to bring the blood sugar back up in after which the brain will fall back to sleep again. If this is a problem for you, most likely you have symptoms of hypoglycemia during the day, like headaches, jitteryness, irritability, dizziness, mental fog, especially if you skip a meal or go too long between meals. Most people respond to having 20 grams of protein for breakfast and a light snack, with some complex carbs at bedtime. This advice and eating an average of six small meals a day that contain a balance of protein, carbs and good fats usually stops the daytime symptoms and can improve the sleep in as little as one day! Chromium, and B complex vitamins can help to balance blood sugar, so the C-liac packs have you covered there.
2) Mineral deficiencies can cause insomnia. This is an especially big issue in people on restricted diets like the gluten free diet or for those who have had malabsorption. Eating a balanced diet and taking a multi that has the full spectrum of minerals in therapeutic doses, (like those found in all of our C-liac vitality packs), helps the muscles relax and many minerals, like selenium and zinc, are essentials cofactors in enzymes that help balance brain chemistry and hormone function. Calcium and magnesium have powerful sedating effects when taken with dinner or at bedtime. (This is why the twice daily packs have more of those in the PM packs). Improved sleep is one of the most common benefits we hear back from people who are taking our vitamins.
3) Caffeine- OK, this is no surprise, but even a small amount in the early morning is too much for some people. Caffeine is a major issue for people with anxiety. I know it is a socially sanctioned drug, but for some, strictly cutting out all caffeine, not just from coffee, but from dark chocolate, supplements, OTC medications like Excedrin migraine is key to improving sleep. Once caffeine is eliminated it can take up to a week for sleep to improve.
4) Pain- I am amazed at how often people don’t consciously recognize that some kind of pain is interrupting their sleep. It is important to do a mental scan of your body to notice if you are in pain anywhere and to see if that is waking you up or keeping you from falling asleep. Finding ways to manage neck, back, shoulder and muscle pain is key to a good nights sleep. There are many effective therapies, that don’t involve medication that can manage chronic pain. Some therapies I have seen to be effective are acupuncture, chiropractic, pilates, massage and craniosaccral therapy, to name a few. They key of course is finding a talented practitioner, ask for referral from your friends, doctors and support group members. If you are in New Hampshire, I practice with a wonderful acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, my husband, Sean Doherty at our clinic Balance Point Natural Medicine in Milford, NH www.pointnatural.com ! There are many great therapies that can make a world of difference in pain management, the length of time and amount of treatments varies widely. A new mattress can sometimes make a world of difference too.
5) Stomach issues like acid reflux, gastroparesis, lactose intolerance- all of those can wake up you up or prevent you from falling back to sleep. These culprits are common in those of us who have gluten issues. It is important to get to the bottom of why your stomach is bothering you at night. Lactose and even fructose intolerance tend to be worse at night and of course vary with what you have eaten. Lactose intolerance goes hand in hand with celiac disease, so consider having a lactose or fructose breath test to see if this is indeed a problem for you. Hidden food allergies and digestive enzyme deficiencies can cause acid reflux and gastroparesis (a condition that causes the stomach not to empty properly, leaving the stomach feeling painfully full and distended, usually worse at night) and endoscopy or barium swallow can diagnose acid reflux and a stomach emptying test can diagnose gastroparesis. Any kind of stomach discomfort can disrupt sleep, so getting your stomach in order can also make a world of difference in the quality of your sleep.
Hope some of these tips and some of the ingredients in the C-liac Packs can help get you a great night sleep.