One big part of the answer – and the part we will look into today – is low blood sugar.
Mystery solved. Read on for the juicy details.
Low blood sugar = Nightmares
If you eat something sugary or a big carb-heavy meal before going to sleep, in all likelihood your blood sugar will drop in the middle of the night.
This is because the carbohydrates in your meal spike your insulin levels which in turn lower your blood glucose/sugar levels because the insulin is taking the glucose from your bloodstream and feeding it into your cells.
But after a carb heavy meal or even after a lot of sweets, there is way too much sugar in your bloodstream and hence a huge insulin secretion follows.
What ends up happening is the insulin pushes the glucose into your cells but if you’re asleep and you’re not eating (i.e. supplying glucose to your bloodstream) then your running out of sugar in your blood meaning you end up with low blood sugar.
From experience, I’ve realised that this leads to some really weird dreams and nightmares.
These dreams tire your mind out and upon waking up you don’t feel as well-rested.
How to avoid nightmares caused by low blood sugar?
The body doesn’t process carbs well at night so it is wise to lower your carb intake after 6pm if you don’t need the energy.
If you eat too many carbs in the evening, you end up stocking up on energy/calories which, if not used, end up turning into fat.
Dr Mark Hyman, author of The Ultramind Solution, suggests you don’t eat for up to 3 hours before going to sleep.
In case you get hungry or are in the mood for a snack, the best way to go is to choose a low-glycaemic carbohydrate with protein and/or some form of fibre that will slow the digestion of the carb and will release glucose into your bloodstream at a slow and steady pace.
A common night snack is a handful of almonds, egg whites, Greek yoghurt etc. Cottage cheese has casein which slows carb absorption.
Side note: Aspirin lowers blood sugar! I had some pretty scary nightmares on the two nights that I took aspirin when I wasn’t feeling too well.
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