A Sleep Expert On The Sneaky Thing Keeping You Awake — Plus What To Do About It
Whether you can't fall asleep, or you've woken up in the middle of the night, no one likes to be deprived of solid sleep. And according to sleep expert Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., there's one sneaky culprit that could be interfering with your zzz's. Here's what to know.
Why hunger can keep you up at night.
As Teitelbaum previously explained to mbg, a common reason people can wake up in the middle of the night is actually a surge of adrenaline triggered by low blood sugar. When our blood sugar is low, it can cause an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which obviously doesn't mix well with a peaceful snooze.
He adds that everyday stressors can cause a drop in blood sugar, too, making you both hungry and irritable (and this is especially common around bedtime, further inhibiting dozing off).
Luckily, Teitelbaum does have some advice should stress strike before bed—and in the form of a midnight snack, no less.
What to do about it.
To help balance your blood sugar and make it easier to fall asleep—and stay asleep—Teitelbaum suggests reaching for a protein-packed snack rather than succumbing to the cravings that a cortisol spike can often elicit1. Think things like a handful of almonds or a hard-boiled egg, he recommends, over something carb-heavy or sweet.
You can also keep magnesium-rich foods like bananas, chickpeas, nuts and seeds, and dark chocolate in mind. They'll be able to satisfy your nighttime hunger while providing magnesium, which is known for supporting sleep.*
And of course, if you want to get your magnesium fix but aren't in the mood for a bedtime snack, you can also take mbg's sleep support+ supplement, which combines magnesium and other proven sleep enhancers like jujube and PharmaGABA® for deeper sleep and more energized mornings.*
Being "hangry" is never fun—but it's especially dreadful come bedtime. The next time you find yourself tossing and turning, or waking up in the middle of the night, a protein-rich snack might be just what you need to settle down.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.