Sugar Detox

Sleep Disturbances & Day 4 on the Sugar Detox

January 7, 2016

Anyone having sleep issues during this first week of detoxing? ? That’s ME. Raising my hand high in front of the class.

I shared this early on in our journey, but I’m detoxing sugar because I have a hormone imbalance. Interestingly, one of the symptoms of that imbalance was waking up at around 3-4am each morning and not being able to fall back to sleep. After adding certain supplements to my routine, this phenomena pretty much subsided. But then we cut sugar. And waking at ungodly hours suspiciously returned. Why?

Sleep disturbances are a matter of hormones most of the time. When you are on a sugar detox program, your cortisol (stress hormone) is kind of confused because it thinks you are trying to kill your body by cutting off its energy supply. There is a little known complication when folks go Paleo very quickly — waking with panic attacks. It’s actually hypoglycemia that does this. When you cut sugar (your body’s “preferred” fuel source) quickly, and you don’t provide enough long burning fuel to keep the body humming through the night, you will experience hypoglycemia. This can bring panic attacks, hot flashes, and nausea. And it can hit you at 3am and cause a cortisol surge so big you’ll think it’s 11:00 in the morning.

I’ve seen a number of writings that suggest smoothing out carb intake during the day and adding a portion of starchy carb to dinner can help with this problem, but I’ve been doing that and am still waking. I actually think my problem is too few quality calories throughout the day. I’m simply not eating enough.

Now, follow me here. I wasn’t eating enough quality food before, either (another lovely side effect of my hormone imbalance), but when I started to feel stomach upset or shaky I would reach for a carb thinking that was the fastest way to calm the symptoms. And sometimes the nausea associated with my hypoglycemia was so bad I just couldn’t eat. But this constant dance of not eating when I wasn’t feeling well and then eating carbs when I felt I could stomach something was feeding the sugar beast. And continuously teaching my body that it’s “normal” to go up and down in energy like a roller coaster; that quick sugar hits are what we do!

As you detox sugar, your body is learning a new way to burn energy. It’s learning how to burn fat. And with the huge drop in sugar consumption it’s being forced to do that because it doesn’t have another source. So two ways to help your body during this time are (1) to eat sufficient calories throughout the day, making sure you spread carbs throughout the day and (2) making sure to eat some starch with dinner. You could also eat a small protein/fat snack right before bed to provide some fuel for the night while your body is adjusting. I’m going to try this out over the next few days and see how I go.

Ultimately, I think night waking is just a passing symptom of sugar detox. Once we reduce the body’s addictive reliance on sugar, hormones will balance and neurotransmitters will relax. The body will learn a new normal. Then the key will be not giving into the sugar beast again when this detox is over!

Anyone else having sleep disturbances during this first week?

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erica pyle

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