Abdominal Fat and Insomnia

  • Health
  • Date Published: Wednesday, July 06, 2011
  • Posted By: Lisa Live
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Abdominal Fat and Insomnia

Dr. Kate Rhéaume-Bleue

Can’t sleep? Got a few extra pounds around the waistline?  Turns out there may be an important connection between these two seemingly unrelated health conditions.

Researchers at Vancouver’s Canadian Centre for Functional Medicine discovered this as yet unpublished phenomenon whilst conducting clinical trials on PolyGlycoPlex (PGX) for weight loss.  PGX is a combination of natural soluble fibres originally developed at the University of Toronto that has been extensively studied for its ability to help people lose weight, reduce the glycemic index of foods, stabilize blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce cholesterol.  Recent clinical trials have employed the cutting edge technology of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) to measure trial participants’ blood sugar levels continuously for three or more days prior to the start of a weight loss trial.  Blood sugar levels that fluctuated wildly throughout the day and night were a common finding in individuals who had excess abdominal weight. During the day, these fluctuations are the underlying cause of food cravings - particularly for sweets and starchy food – as well as changes in mood and energy levels like that afternoon slump that leaves you falling asleep at your desk.

Within only a few weeks of the start of many of the weight loss trials, study participants began to report greatly improved sleep, specifically sleeping through the night when maintenance insomnia (difficulty staying asleep) used to be common.  Since sleep quality was not a parameter being measured in the studies, the evidence was gathered informally.  However, so many people reported the same effect that the situation warranted closer investigation. Upon examining the before-and-after CGM tracings of several participants, a common patter began to emerge: people sleep better when blood sugar levels stabilize. 
It seems that many nighttime awakenings are associated with sudden drops in blood glucose, even for non-diabetic individuals.  When blood sugar levels decrease quickly enough, the body responds by producing moderate amounts of

adrenalin to stabilize glucose supply to the brain.  A middle of the night adrenalin surge can wake you from a deep sleep, leaving you feeling fairly alert and can make it difficult to get back to sleep.
To put it simply, the connection between abdominal fat and insomnia is blood sugar. Overweight individuals – and those with excess abdominal fat in particular - tend to have blood sugar levels that fluctuate erratically throughout the day. This leaves them prone to blood glucose fluctuations during sleep, with 3 am being a common witching hour.

Unrelated research had recently established a relationship between being overweight, insulin resistance and snoring and sleep apnea. This evidence brings to light a new connection between sleep quality and a healthy body weight. It may also point the way towards a novel therapy that treats the root cause of maintenance insomnia: stabilizing blood sugar levels.  This adds yet another item to the growing list of the benefits of PGX.

For more information, visit Natural Factors.com

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