Loads of people come to see me in my role as a GP to get help with poor sleep, and are often surprised to find that insomnia and diet can be linked.

There are all sorts to reasons for poor sleep, but your choice of food is one of the less obvious but common ones.

Insomnia and Diet

Our physiology it not set up to deal with the typical carb loaded Western way of eating, which is why insomnia and diet have become strongly linked. If you’ve ever put petrol into a diesel engine you’ll know that putting the wrong fuel in has less than ideal results. The same applies to us – not only does the wrong type of fuel have the tendency to make us fat, but also it can wreck our sleep.

Refined carbs (e.g. white rice, sugar, products made out of white flour like bread, crackers, and cakes) are probably second only to caffeine in reducing the quality of your sleep – knowing a little bit about how your body responds to food will make this as clear as day.

Refined carbs get broken down to glucose in your gut and are absorbed very quickly into your bloodstream (they have a high glycaemic index), making your blood sugar shoot up to a really high level. This is bad news for your body, so it spills out a load of insulin to deal with the threat – and because it’s had to do an emergency rush job it overshoots the mark – which means you end up with low blood sugar.

If you’re eating natural foods (which tend to have a low glycaemic index) – these violent swings in blood sugar and insulin don’t happen.

high and low GI

Insomnia and diet can be linked to blood glucose levels

Overnight your blood sugar will naturally drop, because you’re not eating. When it gets to a certain low level another hormone glucagon gets released, which gently raises your blood sugar level and keeps you going until you eat again.

However, glucagon can’t be released into the blood stream if there’s any insulin hanging about – which there will be if you’ve flooded your system with it by eating refined carbs. On top of this your blood sugar has crashed due to the over stimulation of insulin, and it needs to be raised.

Your body needs to get your blood sugar up, and its fall back is for your adrenal glands to produce the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is one of the ‘stress hormones’, and one of its effects is to increase your blood glucose.

Cortisol should be low at night. But eating refined carbs causes it to be high at night, and it’s a stress hormone. S0 you might fall asleep ok, but you’ll have the tendency to awake up – maybe suddenly, you might feel wide awake or even agitated. This is because you’ve got stress hormone running through your system at totally the wrong time – all because you’ve eaten the wrong stuff, not realising diet and insomnia are linked.

If you’re having trouble with sleeping or just feeling tired, and you regularly eat refined carbs (especially in the evening) – look at changing to more natural and wholegrain choices.

One of the lovely side effects of losing weight in a way that’s in harmony with your body is that your sleep improves – which is why a lot of people who have done Uber Slim end up sleeping better as well as losing weight.

Uber Slim isn’t simply a weight loss course – it’s a health program. Although it has weight loss at it’s core, it’s focused on health so other problems and health issues tend to improve too.

Have a great week

Dr Julie

PS Got any thoughts about insomnia and diet? Drop me a line by using the contact tab at the top.