Blood sugar regulation is key when it comes to overall health, and this is something I hammer home all the time because it can make a huge difference on your cognitive performance, your emotional regulation, and your sleep.
This is because most of the neurotransmitters in your brain actually require stable blood sugar levels in order to be produced and released. Things like dopamine, serotonin, GABA, which are your “happy” neurotransmitters are going to affect your mood throughout the day, and they rely on a stable blood sugar… ALL DAY LONG.
Beyond your “happy” neurotransmitters, did you know blood sugar levels can also have an affect on your sleep?
This is something I see A LOT in my practice.
How can you tell if your blood sugar levels are affecting your sleep?
Ask yourself: Am I waking up consistently at 2 or 3am and you can’t get back to sleep? If the answer is yes, it can often be attributed to your blood sugar dropping in the night, and your body’s natural response is to increase cortisol and the stress hormone, adrenaline. These two hormones help bring your blood sugar back up, but they are also responsible for waking you up in the middle of the night.
In order to resolve the sleep issue it is best to resolve the blood sugar issue. And what’s worse is that when you don’t get a good night's sleep you are more prone to having blood sugar issues. And, so begins the vicious cycle.
To help get your body on track and stabilize your blood sugar, I always tell my clients, NEVER EAT “NAKED CARBS.”
What does that mean?
It means you should NEVER HAVE CARBS ALONE!
They should be eaten in conjunction with protein and fat. And just to be clear, you can have protein alone, and/or fat alone, but metabolically, it is BEST TO NEVER HAVE CARBS ALONE!
The two diagrams below show what happens when we eat a meal that is just carbs (diagram 1) = unbalanced blood sugar, and a meal that has all three macronutrients; fats, carbs, and protein (diagram 2) = balanced blood sugar.
You will know when you have balanced blood sugar, because
Your cravings for carbs will go away!
You will feel satiated after meals, instead of hungry again in an hour.
Your moods will be stabilized throughout the day.
You will not get “hangry!”
You will have good brain energy and think clearly throughout the day
You will release less cortisol
You will have stable energy and not need more carbs or caffeine for a pick me up
You will sleep better and feel recovered in the morning
Carbs are like kindling on the fire, they are used up quickly and you need them again. Whereas protein and fat are the logs to the fire and are more efficient energy sources. BONUS, when you eat this way, you will not get hangry, have mood swings, you will sleep better, stay on task, and not wake up starving.
Who wouldn’t want all of these things?!
Start looking at your diet and see what changes you can make, especially if you are someone who is waking in the night or suffering from mood issues or have other symptoms listed here that are related to blood sugar issues.
*** I also want to mention this can happen at any age, from toddlerhood to adulthood, age does not discriminate, your food choices matter, ALWAYS!