Tag Archives: stress

Always Up at 3 AM? Your Blood Sugar May be to Blame

We talk about sleep a lot, but that’s because its importance cannot be overstated. Not just for weight loss, but for your health in general. Sleep is nourishing and restorative and when you don’t get enough of it, it can completely throw you off in all areas.

As we started educating our clients on the importance of sleep, we noticed an alarming trend: a large percentage of people admitted that not only do they not get enough sleep, but their sleep is unsatisfying. They toss and turn all night or wake up throughout the night. In addition to that, there was a striking similarity in those who were having sleep trouble. A significant amount of people who admitted to unsatisfying sleep were waking up around 3 AM. We figured that there had to be significance to this time frame, so we dug a little further. We were shocked at what we found.

Why You Wake Up at 3 AM

Your body is a complex organism. Although you probably don’t think about it much, it’s constantly pumping out hormones and balancing these hormones to keep you running like a well-oiled machine. If these hormones are off-kilter, it can cause a number of symptoms – one of which is waking up in the middle of the night. One of the most common causes of waking up around 3 AM is blood sugar imbalance due to stress. Let us break it down for you.

When you’re stressed, it triggers your adrenal glands (which sit right near your kidneys) to pump out a hormone called adrenaline. In response to adrenaline, the liver releases, and your cells use up more, glycogen, the stored form of glucose, or blood sugar. If there is not enough glycogen in your body to replenish the stores in your liver, even more adrenaline is released. As a result, your blood sugar levels drop and you begin to feel alert and ready for action, instead of relaxed and ready for sleep.

So What Do You Do?

Now that you know WHY you’re waking up at 3 AM consistently, the next question is: how do I fix it? The two major goals here are to 1. get your blood sugar balanced and 2. reduce your stress levels.

How to Balance Blood Sugar:
  • Eat 3 meals and 2 to 3 snacks per day. Make sure that all meals and snacks include protein, healthy fat, and healthy carbohydrates.
  • Eliminate processed foods and focus only on whole, nutrient-dense foods.
  • Never skip meals.
  • Avoid sugar.
  • Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up.

While you’re working to balance your blood sugar, here’s a helpful tip that can get you on your way to better sleep right away. Before bed each night, eat a teaspoon of raw, local honey. The honey gives your body the glucose it needs to replenish the liver’s glycogen stores. That way, your adrenals won’t cause your blood sugar to drop during the night.

How to Reduce Stress on the Adrenal Glands:
  • Follow a healthy diet.
  • Go to bed before 10 PM and aim for at least 7 hours of sleep.
  • Avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages.
  • Engage in yoga and meditation, but avoid intense exercise.
  • Get some sunlight. If this is impossible due to weather, supplement with Vitamin D.
  • Make time to play or engage in activities that you enjoy.

An Important Note

Of course stress and blood sugar imbalance is not the only cause of restless sleep. Sometimes the tossing and turning are a result of sleep apnea, consumption of alcohol, age, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s always best to check in with your doctor if you’re having chronic sleep troubles.

Ashwagandha: Nature’s Stress Reliever

Last week, we discussed adaptogens and how they help your body respond to stress. We got a lot of questions about ashwagandha, a specific type of adaptogen that’s been getting a lot of press recently; so we wanted to dive in a little deeper and give you more information about this important herb.

ashwagandha

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is a traditional herb that has been used in Ayurvedic, Indian, and African medicine for centuries. In Sanskrit, the name ashwagandha translates to “the smell of a horse”. Many do say that the herb smells “horse-like”, but don’t let that scare you away. Some refer to Ashwagandha as Indian ginseng, but it doesn’t really belong to the ginseng family; it’s part of the tomato family. The herb is native to Africa, India, and the Middle East, but farmers now also grow it in United States.

Benefits of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha’s major claim to fame is its ability to help the body cope with stress, but the benefits reach much further than that. Ashwagandha may also:

  • Boost the immune system*
  • Improve learning and memory*
  • Reduce anxiety and depression*
  • Stabilize blood sugar*
  • Lower cholesterol*
  • Improve energy and decrease fatigue*
  • Improve concentration*
  • Decrease pain, swelling, and inflammation*
How to Include Ashwagandha in Your Diet

The most common way to consume ashwagandha is in capsule form, but it’s also often available as part of multi-vitamin nutritional supplements or protein powders or as a tea. Typically, the recommended dose is 600 to 1,000 milligrams twice per day. The adaptogenic herb is readily available at most health food and supplement stores.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to prevent, cure, treat, or diagnose any medical condition.

Adaptogens: Your Secret Weapon Against Stress

What if we told you that 75 to 90 percent of all doctor’s visits are due to stress-related illnesses? Even worse, what if we told you that stress is a factor in five out of the six leading causes of death?

In recent years, stress has developed into a $1 trillion health epidemic. That’s more expensive than the cost of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. So what can you do? How can you manage stress in an era that seems to glorify the concept of “busy”?

While it’s true that you can’t get rid of stress completely (some stress is actually good), there are many things that you can do to manage it. You probably already know about the big guys — meditation, yoga, and deep breathing, for example — but there’s another player in the game that frequently falls off the radar, and that’s adaptogens.

intramax

What are Adaptogens?

The term adaptogens was first coined by a Russian pharmacologist named Lazarev in 1947. He defined an adaptogen as any agent that helps an organism counteract any physical, chemical, or biological stressor by generating a nonspecific resistance. In simpler terms, an adaptogen is a substance that helps reduce stress levels by acting on the body as a whole.

In addition to helping reduce stress, adaptogens also:

  • increase energy and stamina
  • improve strength and mental focus
  • boost the immune system
  • balance mood
  • support a healthy weight
True Adaptogens

Many herbs are credited with being adaptogens: but in order to be considered a real adaptogen, a substance must meet three criteria:

  1. It must be non-toxic to the person taking it.
  2. It must act on many organs and body systems (rather than just one) and allow the person taking it to better adapt to biological, chemical, and physical stressors.
  3. It must help the body maintain homeostasis (or normal functioning).

Examples of true adaptogens include:

  • American Ginseng root
  • Ashwagandha root
  • Asian Ginseng root
  • Cordyceps
  • Dang Shen root
  • Eleuthero root
  • Holy Basil herb
  • Jiaogulan herb
  • Licorice rhizome
  • Reishi fungus
  • Rhaponticum root
  • Rhodiola root
  • Wu Wei Zi Berries/Seeds
  • Maca Root
  • Astragalus
How to Take Adaptogens

Luckily, many of these adatogens are easily accessible. Some of them are available as teas, while others are added to protein powders or liquid multi-vitamin products. Intramax, which is dubbed the “crown jewel of multi-vitamins” contains a stress management matrix that offers Ashwagandha, licorice, astragalus, and ginseng all in one place.

The best stress management program combines several methods of stress relief and management, but adaptogens should definitely be a part of that puzzle.