Sunday, 19 July 2015

Insomnia, Stimulants and Blood Sugar Regulation

Insomina, stimulants, and blood sugar regulation

It's 5 am Monday morning and Lucie drags her weary body out of bed. For the past month, she has not been sleeping well. She normally goes to bed at 10 but falls to sleep at 11 and then usually wakes at between 2 and 3. She drinks 2-3 cups of coffee per day and enjoys a glass of wine or two with supper that she normally eats around 8 pm. Lucie says she feels like she can not relax. She also complains of fatigue and recent weight gain.

I suggested to Lucie that her poor sleep may be due to stimulants in her diet and poor sugar regulation.

The definition of a stimulant is a substance that raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body.

When you consume a stimulant it will have the same effect as leaving your foot on the gas when you are not in gear.

Examples of stimulants include:


  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine-containing beverages and foods
  • Decongestant medications such as Sudafed
  • Some doctor prescribed medications including SNRI anti-depressants such as Prestiq
  • Exercise

If you are experiencing sleeping issues then avoiding stimulants during the second half of your day is a good strategy. If you are taking prescribed medication then  I recommend you speak to your pharmacist about possible side-effects and then your family physician about changing your meds.

Your body produces its own stimulants which if produced in excess or at the wrong time can have an effect on your sleep. One such substance is cortisol that is produced by your adrenal glands.

Normally, cortisol is high in the morning and then decreases during the day and only rising again the next morning. If you are able to go to sleep easily but are waking between 2-3am in the morning and you are unable to go back to sleep you are probably experiencing a cortisol surge.

One possible reason for this is that you are experiencing a drop in your blood sugar that will cause your body to produce more cortisol.

Insomnia is a common symptom among people with pre-diabetes and diabetes. Other symptoms of poor sugar regulation include fatigue, thirst, blurry vision, stubborn wounds and unexplained weight gain or loss.

If you are experiencing poor sleep with some of these other symptoms, then poor blood sugar regulation might be at the root of your insomnia.

If you want to understand more about your insomnia you can book a  complementary no-obligation assessment with one of our experienced health coaches who can answer your questions. Call 613 230-0998, book online, or email info@ottawaholisticwellness.ca today!

About the author


Dominick Hussey, Functional Medicine Practitioner, combines osteopathy, functional medicine with nutrition and lifestyle counseling in his practice, and strongly believes that healing is a process in which the patient must take an active role. He has become disillusioned with modern approaches which simply provide a band-aid approach to mask and temporarily relieve symptoms. His passion is in determining the real, underlying cause for those symptoms and in so doing to bring about true, deep, lasting healing.

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