Food and sleep and anxiety

And lions and tigers and bears…oh, my! Or…

What you can change today that will immediately make your anxiety improve.

Alright, those of you who know me or have heard me speak at various conferences around the country know that this is one of my core messages for people with anxiety, fears and phobias.

Your quality of sleep and your food choices have a powerful impact on your anxiety.

I won’t steal all the thunder from this video, but basically, your brain runs on blood sugar.  And it gets fueled with blood sugar, your body opening up and pulling reserves of glycogen from your liver, when you sleep.  Interestingly, Chinese medicine has, for thousands of years, identified a period of time in the middle of your nighttime sleep cycle as “the liver hour.”

Metabolic processes are active when you are sleeping, and fueling your brain is one of the functions that happens optimally at night, during the right length, depth, and quality of sleep.  This is why low blood sugar will cause people with hypoactive thyroids to wake up in the middle of the night.1

When you’re not getting enough sleep, your blood sugar cycles get out of whack (that’s the scientific term…yep.) This leads to cravings for foods that convert quickly to blood sugar–starchy and sweet foods.  And because your metabolism is suppressed due to your lack of sleep, of course those extra calories go to fat, rather than being burned as glycogen in the muscles.

Chronic poor sleep can contribute to all kinds of problems. Diabetes for one, as this blood sugar situation is taxing on the pancreas, but also heart disease, and obviously overweight and obesity.

As for your anxiety, low blood sugar is a threat to your survival–your brain runs on it.  And the wisdom of the body heightens your sensitivity / threat response system when your blood sugar is low.

So, what can you do today that will reduce your anxiety almost immediately?  A two-pronged approach.

  • Make sure you get adequate protein, fiber and healthy fats with every meal–these are the food components that help the most to stabilize blood sugar.
  • Take steps to improve your sleep. Follow good sleep hygiene advice and keep a regular bedtime; turn lights down about a half hour before bed and stay away from computers, TVs, etc. that emit a blue wavelength light.  (That’s the wavelength that your brain interprets as meaning “it’s daytime!” and keeps cortisol production at daytime levels.) Keep your room dark and a bit cool to promote your best sleep.

Bonus tip–research shows that a short hypnosis session can improve your sleep quality by as much as 80%. Check out the specifics in this article.  My solution for better sleep is available here: Complete Sleep Solution.

A study that just came out this year shows that just 30 minutes less sleep per night puts you at risk for diabetes and obesity.2



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