If you’re like me, you may frequently wake up an hour or two before you
intend to rise and then stare at the clock in frustration. “Why am I waking up so early?” You fume and toss about fruitlessly, often giving up and getting out of bed early to start your day, rationalizing that you’ll get a lot more done before anyone else is up.
But the irritation remains. You wish you knew how to go back to sleep, but you haven’t found the key. Sometimes you may wake up startled – as if you suddenly realized you’re late for work or you heard a sudden crash. Your mind is on full alert for no apparent reason. Or sometimes you have the faintest touch of a headache or feel a full-blown pounder coming on.
I’ve been through this many times. Many people with these symptoms have hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) which is frequently accompanied by hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Your Brain Is Starving While You Sleep
What happens is that hypothyroidism sufferers don’t create and store energy in their bodies very well. Many have not been officially diagnosed, or their thyroid hormone tests may show them as “normal” but they know they have the symptoms nonetheless. (Sometimes the standard tests don’t reveal low thyroid, but that’s a subject for another post.)
Anyway, because you may not store energy well, it is difficult for your brain to go without food during the 7 to 8 hours you should be asleep. Typically, about 5 hours into your sleep, your body will suddenly sense that your brain isn’t getting sufficient fuel, and your adrenal glands will force sugar into your bloodstream to feed your brain.
How does it do this? By releasing adrenaline. Yes, the very same hormone that makes your heart pound and your pulse race when you’re about to take an important test or you see a small child step toward the street.
This hormone engulfs your brain around 4 am and makes you wake with a start as if someone just tapped you on the shoulder, or worse, hit you over the head. And it’s very difficult to go back to sleep after that.
As a result of this rush of hormones, your brain now has the blood sugar it needs to function and your body can step down the alert system.
But there’s a better way.
How to Get Back to Sleep Naturally
I’ve studied my own hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia for years, so I understand why this happens to me. It happens less often than it used to, partly because just knowing WHY it happens makes me less startled when I do wake up and sometimes I can go back to sleep on my own.
But sometimes I can’t. So I was very happy in my research to come across the author Tom Brimeyer, a functional medicine practitioner and former hypothyroid sufferer, who has put years of study into finding natural remedies for hypothyroidism and creating a system to help others overcome it as well.
Frankly, I was surprised to see him recommend fruit juice to help sufferers get back to sleep at night. You have to understand that most books and experts on low thyroid discuss fruit juices and sugar of any kind is the LAST thing that hypothyroid sufferers should ingest.
I get that. You see, fruit juice is technically not a whole food. It is primarily the concentrated sugar from fruit. And well-intentioned doctors and authors want to steer patients toward whole fruit and whole foods, which are best for everyone MOST of the time.
Fruit Juice Reduces Your Adrenal Panic
But Tom Brimeyer understands that when you have hypothyroidism your liver does not release glycogen (sugar) properly while you sleep to keep your brain functioning well. Some authors may tell you to get up and eat plain yogurt, which is a whole food but doesn’t help much.
That’s because, by the time your adrenal glands go into a low-sugar panic at night, it’s impossible for something other than concentrated sugar to feed your brain quickly enough to get you back on track and turn off the alert system.
Now, sipping fruit juice when you go to the bathroom at 3 am (like I do) or again at 4:30 to put you back to sleep for 2 hours may not sound like a long-term solution, but it’s actually pretty nice in the short term.
Why? Because it creates an upward spiral. For instance, for several nights lately, I have taken a small, lidded cup of all-natural orange juice or grape juice (just an ounce or two) and put it within easy reach when I go to bed. I’ve been sipping from it a couple of times in the night, most importantly at that 4 or 4:30 juncture when I’m suddenly fully awake, and I’ve been able to sleep for another 1 or 2 hours!
What a difference this makes! Then when I wake up around 6 am, I don’t have a headache brewing from a lack of hydration or sugar, so I don’t have to jump out of bed to eat right away. I can lay leisurely for a few minutes and feel rested and eager to start my day. Then when I do get up, the sun is up with me (for a change) and I feel productive and vital.
Start Your Day Feeling Strong
And because my body isn’t striving to overcome a blood sugar deficit, I feel healthier and stronger and feel my body working better than it did before. And I know I’m on the right track.
I’m thankful to Tom Brimeyer for this tip from his Hypothyroidism Revolution program, which teaches us how to use the science of food to open our hormone pathways and overcome the stress and environmental hazards that keep us from living the life we want with the energy we need.
Tom reveals how his own suffering forced him to develop this unique program and how it has changed the lives of his clients. You can listen to Tom here or click on the ad to the right.
I look forward to reaping the benefits of his program in my own life and sharing the results with you.
I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below.
Talk to you soon,