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re-active hypoglycemia & insomnia

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I was diagnosed in January with re-active hypoglycemia and about a month or two later I start getting insomnia, I'm guessing it's due to the hypoglycemia with the little bit of research I've done. I've always needed at least 8 hours of sleep to function the next day and now I can go on 3 or 4. I'm not to sure on what I could do to help myself sleep better and fall asleep (I really didn't want to try medication). But any tips would be great!
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replied October 8th, 2010
I follow the Stan food plan and am a year into this. I thought the insomnia was stress but it appears I wake up due to dreams/anxiety, body heat changes etc 3 hours into the night due to the hypo. I use melatonin at bed time and in the middle of night and can get by with as little as a half of a 3mg tablet each time. For the times you really need eight hours I take a half a zopiclone 3.75 mg in the middle of the night when I need to be on my game the next day or just to get the regular sleep rhythms back. For that you need a prescription and should discuss merits of these meds. My doc seems to think this sleeping pill is the best of a bad lot. Good luck!
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replied October 21st, 2010
what's the stan food plan?
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replied October 22nd, 2010
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replied October 26th, 2010
I've had terrible insommnia for years, shortness of breath, lying awake for hours shattered but wide awake, sleeping for 3-4 hours only. Since I've been on the hypoglycaemic diet and avoiding all sugar I'm sleeping much better. Mostly through the night which is remarkable for me.
Once you can get your diet and your blood sugars under control you will sleep better and hopefully you'll feel much better generally too.
Stan's food plan is very comprehensive and filled with great information, and is a brilliant place to start. You should keep a diary with the food you've eaten and the symptoms and try to start weeding out the food that causes more of the symptoms - it's difficult to start but really there is no choice if you want to be better.

You shouldn't need sleeping tablets or other sleep meds either - I take nothing now to help me sleep (I used to take various things) and I'm sleeping better than I ever have. Getting your blood sugar stable is the key, and is really vital.

best of luck!
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replied October 27th, 2010
@ Tesss.....That all makes since! But my migraine medicine hide all symptoms of going low, so I never know when I am low and I eat whole grain, fruits and vegetables all day...I'm dont eat sweet to often, I really don't care for them & if I do its a few bits then I throw the rest away. And buying glucose strips is to expensive. :/
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replied October 28th, 2010

What Im finding better success with now is eating every 2-3 hours- for me at the moment that is: 8.30am, 10.30-11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, and 7.30-8pm.
In between meal times are small snacks, and I finish with a big low GI (glycaemic index dinner). In fact everything I eat is low GI. I have found that I feel better if at each meal or snack I have complex carbs, protein, fat and fibre.
Fruit is not recommended on the hypoglycaemic diet until you are more stable. I think the most important thing is eating protein and healthy fat at every meal/snack which slows the digestion of the food and releases energy over a longer period of time - so a snack of fruit on it's own will release the sugar quite fast and leave you low a lot sooner than a snack of cheese and oatcakes (protein, fat and complex carbs; slower to release energy than fruit and releases energy over a longer period of time leaving your blood sugars more stable).

Yesterday I had two separate snacks of raw carrot and orange. Both were totally wrong to have on their own and I felt bad as a result.

I have had a steep learning curve with food and fats (you only want to eat healthy fats), carbohydrates, and protein sources but there are loads of good information online and I've picked some basic stuff up quite quickly. Also worth reading about is the low GI diet, which I've got a lot of information from also.
Hope that helps. Everything I've read about hypoglycaemia shows that what you eat and when you eat will make the biggest difference in controlling and stabilising blood sugar.

Alternatively if you already are balancing your meals and snacks then could the migraine medication have anything to do with your sleep? I was on migraine prophylaxis for about a year (two different drugs for most of that time) and they have terrible side effects. I'm getting migraines every day but can't cope with the meds.
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replied December 31st, 2010
I have been controlling my hypoglycemia for 30 years with a low carbohydrate diet. Stans Plan is a start, but you must reduce your total carbs. until you get into ketosis (Atkins diet recommends a 20g per day maximum as an induction.) If you are not in ketosis then you are cheating.

Once you are in ketosis and deriving your energy from fat rather than carbs. - you will find that you no longer live from meal to meal, and can increase your carbohydrate allocation (in the form of low GI foods.) The 'right' quantity of carbohydrate varies, but with experience you will get to know when you are pushing the envelope.

Attacks of night sweats, dizziness, panic etc. should, by this stage, occur rarely. The most persistent remaining problem I have experienced is low blood sugar in the early hours - causing night sweats and muscle seizure. When this occurs, I take a low GI snack, often a glass of warm milk or a bowl of natural yoghurt. Avoid high sugar snacks, which give relief in the short term but precipitate another hypoglycemic cycle in the medium term.

Avoid much use of low GI foods which depend upon high phytic acid content as an anti-nutrient (whole grains, peanuts, beans etc.) - as these are irritants and will interfere with your glycemic control in the medium term.

There is now an abundance of information available on low carbohydrate diets, search on: Atkins Diet, Paleolithic Diet, Low Carbohydrate Recipes. In practice, this usually means cutting out all bulk sources of sugar and complex carbohydrates completely. Simply leave these off your plate, and eat the meats and vegetables. In more severe cases you may have to cut out most fruits and many vegetables, akin to a paleolithic diet.

This will necessitate an increase in consumption of fat (you will develop a taste for it!), as a result you will have to take additional care of what fats you eat. Use mostly natural animal fats, and dress all vegetables and salads liberally with olive oil vinigarette or hollandaise sauce (to smother the carbohydrate.) Avoid all hydrogenated fats (margarine etc.) as they contain trans-fats. Avoid polyunsaturated oils (canola etc.) as they are toxic and depress your immune system.

Hope this helps.
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replied January 2nd, 2011
Hi Matabele,
How long did it take you to get stabilised on the low carb diet? I must admit the idea of it scares me - if I have one meal low or no carb then I feel weak and shaky until my next meal, and I find it hard to eat enough meat and veg to give me enough energy.... any tips?
Carbs make me feel better (I only eat complex carbs). And the atkins diet isn't recommended by healthcare professionals unless it's to control epilepsy...
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replied January 3rd, 2011
When I began my diet, I went cold turkey on the carbohydrates and, as there was no information available at the time, I had to use my response as a gauge to refine my diet. The Atkins induction phase uses a similar approach, reducing total carbohydrates to 20g per day until you get into ketosis.There are a couple of studies that suggest that reducing your carbohydrate intake by stages also works.

The major problem, however, is the addictive nature of carbohydrates - a single dose of high GI carbohydrate can re-establish a craving for carbohydrates. It is very easy to cheat yourself by sneaking carbohydrates in any available form.

The officially recommended diet of frequent meals of complex carbohydrates does not get you out of the cycle - it merely reduces the size of the swings. You will still find it difficult to last from meal to meal, will still experience low glucose levels in the early hours (leading to muscle spasm and insomnia), and will constantly crave carbohydrate.

I managed to stabilise my diet by clearing the house of all readily available carbohydrate rich snack foods. The hunger cravings go within a week, provided that you consume no high GI carbohydrates (GI > 0.5) whatsoever. Any consumption of high GI carbohydrates will restart your addiction.

I was ill before adopting this diet, and experienced severe headaches for days at a time, extreme weakness, nausea and fainting fits before meals etc. This assisted in my adoption of the diet, as both of these symptoms improved almost immediately. These symptoms are still how I am able to judge how close I am sailing to the wind (along with sleeping fits soon after eating.)

In order to conquer your addiction, you must replace the energy lost from carbohydrate with fats. Whilst banishing all bulk sources of carbohydrate from your plate (cereals, starchy vegetables etc.), you must simultaneously increase the amount of fat on your plate. Smothering carbohydrates with fat also reduces their effective GI.

- eat no bulk forms of carbohydrate (including whole grains)
- eat no added sugars (use Stevia as a sweetener if necessary)
- eat more fatty meats
- liberally dress salads with an olive oil vinegarette or mayonnaise (I make my own.)
- liberally dress vegetables with butter, hollandaise or béarnaise sauce, or fatty gravy (from the meat.)
- cook with lard (from your butcher.)

Also make sure that you have suitable high protein/fat snacks available at all times. Suitable candidates:

- beef jerky or pemmican
- meat balls (pure meat cooked in lard)
- steak snacks (cooked in lard)
- hard cheese
- liver pate (made with butter or lard)
- sausage (pure meat)
- hard boiled eggs

I prepare most of these foods and sauces myself, you may struggle to find purchased versions of these that are free of added starches and sugars.

I have made extensive use of dairy products, whole milk, cream, natural full cream yoghurt, hard cheese etc. due to the low GI of milk. This is only possible for those who are tolerant of milk, and milk products.

High fiber cereals, whole grains and beans also appear to have a low GI, and certainly give less of a spike than refined cereals. This is, however, due to the high phytic acid content of their seed coats (often with a good dose of lectins as well!)

Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient and will result in various detrimental mineral deficiencies. Many lectins are toxic and will cause inflammation to those who are not tolerant (e.g. lactose and gluten intolerance.) This inflammation will cause an increase in your adrenalin levels (a stress hormone) - which will aggravate your glycemic control.

You have nothing to fear from a ketogenic diet. Once you have reached ketosis, you can gradually increase your intake of low GI carbohydrates, provided you remain within the envelope. I had no information available, and managed to judge this from my personal response only. I have lived with this diet, around about the borderline of ketosis, for the past 30 years and am still perfectly healthy (generations of eskimos could back me up on this one!)

One further tip - you will have many people intolerant of your high fat (evil) diet. I have found that no one is aware of reactive hypoglycemia, but many are aware that diabetics have to eat differently. Tell people you are diabetic, and they will be more tolerant - then leave all bulk carbohydrates off your plate and refuse the deserts.

I apologise for the lengthy post and the repetition, but hope that I can get the message across. Fat is not evil, it is a necessary component of human diet (more so for hypoglycemics.) Carbohydrates are addictive (meaning we have a limited ability to voluntarily control intake - again, more so for the hypoglycemic.)
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replied January 3rd, 2011
Also noticed in a later post, that you suffer from migraine.

There are quite a few success stories, whereby adopting a ketogenic diet reduced or eliminated migraines (search "ketogenic diet migraine")

It is not clear whether this results from the reduction of natural glutamate synthesis accompanying ketosis, or from the resultant reduction of glutamate in the diet, or both? Some research indicates that eliminating glutamate and aspartate from the diet has a similar effect, even without ketosis (search "excitotoxins" and the "GARD diet".)

You should be careful not to introduce additional sources of these excitotoxins whilst starting out on a ketogenic diet. Another thing to try might be a glutamate inhibitor, such as theanine (present in green tea.)
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