Do you think your issues with sleep are more than just the average struggles with shut eye? Maybe you’re struggling with insomnia. We’ve brought in sleep expert Martha Lewis to tell us all about the hidden causes of insomnia.
If you struggle to sleep, I'm sure you already know the basics. You know to avoid screens before bed, not to drink caffeine after noon, and to get exercise. Maybe you’ve tried magnesium, CBD oil or melatonin. Maybe you've even decided to take sleeping pills because you’re desperate for a good night's sleep.
The main cause of insomnia is that your body is releasing cortisol at night when it shouldn't be. What you might not have heard is that there can be hidden physical reasons why your body is releasing cortisol and waking you up. Cortisol is a stress hormone that wakes us up in the morning and keeps us alert throughout the day. But it should be nonexistent at night when you're trying to sleep. There are many reasons why your body is releasing cortisol at night and I'm going to tell you about three of the most common ones in this article.
1. Blood sugar
The first reason your body may be releasing cortisol at night happens when your blood sugar drops too low. Whenever your blood sugar drops too low your body becomes stressed and so it releases cortisol to give you more energy. If you’re on a blood sugar roller coaster all day long, that's going to continue into the night and cause you to wake up especially around 1 or 2am. You can avoid the blood sugar roller coaster by avoiding refined sugars and carbohydrates like pastries, breads and sweetened drinks and by focusing on whole foods and plenty of protein and healthy fats with every meal. Eating a small snack before bed can keep your blood sugar from dropping too low in the night, too.
2. Food sensitivity
The second reason your body releases cortisol at night is from eating foods you’re sensitive to. if your body is producing antigens against the foods you're eating, it causes a lot of inflammation. Cortisol is also an anti-inflammatory hormone and so it comes to the rescue to deal with that low-grade inflammation, day and night. Gluten, dairy, eggs, corn and soy are five common foods that people are sensitive to. But you also might be sensitive to healthy foods like salmon and broccoli and not know it. That's why I recommend doing a food sensitivity test that test for 150 different foods so you know exactly what to avoid to lower inflammation.
3. Gut health
The third reason cortisol is released at night it's because of pathogens living in your gut. I'm talking about a parasite like Giardia, bacteria like h-pylori and yeast like Candida. All of these lovely creatures are nocturnal and so it's at night that they are eating, excreting, releasing a lot of toxins and causing lots of inflammation. Pathogens are the most common reason my clients wake up at 3 and 4 a.m. To find out if you have any of these pathogens, I recommend a stool test that's called a GI (gastrointestinal) Map. This test will show what's living in your gut, both good and bad, and also gives us clues to your digestion, immunity and liver function.
If you've tried all the basic recommendations and nothing helps you sleep, that means there's something going on in your body that is keeping you from getting the sleep you need. The good news is we can find out what's causing your insomnia and fix it. You don't have to live the rest of your life being exhausted, grumpy and unmotivated. You can get the sleep you need to wake up rested, full of energy and excited to live your best life.
About the Author:
Martha Lewis is a Sleep Detective with a Masters of Science in Holistic Nutrition, based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Martha runs The Complete Sleep Solution to help busy and driven people to solve their insomnia mystery so that they can thrive in their work and private lives and make the difference they want to make in the world - fully awake.