Nightmares aren’t just bad dreams. If you have them, you know what I mean. They are horrifying events that wake you up in panic, sweating, scrambling for the light switch while you call for help. They can totally ruin your night and even your whole day.
Sleeping in fear or panic like this is not normal, which is evidenced by the fact that people who have nightmares usually have other issues going on as well. They are depressed, fearful, angry, or sensitive. Their sleep may be interrupted with insomnia or sleep walking. Causes vary and can sometimes be circumstantial – an accident may trigger nightmares, loss may trigger depression, abuse may trigger anger. These reactions might pass with healing, but for many well adjusted children and adults, nightmares are a sign of low blood sugar.
I am writing about nightmares because I suffered from them for as long as I can remember and I know that they are not something we have to live with. As with many of my symptoms, I had always thought they were normal. I thought that monsters lived under the bed and spirits lived in the walls. I slept with a light on and hated being alone in the house. I thought nightmares were either a mental illness or I was just sensitive.
I didn’t know that nightmares might be caused by the food I was eating.
In my mid-twenties I started learning about how food affects our brains and expected the nightmares would go away with improved nutritional and lifestyle habits. But they didn’t. The nightmares persisted even after the majority of my other symptoms had passed.
In my research I learned that low blood sugar was likely the cause. This same problem, hypoglycemia, was also causing acne, confusion, shakiness, and heart palpitations. But why, when I didn’t eat sugar and I ate plenty of fat and protein, should I still have low blood sugar? It was a mystery that persisted for years into my Paleo diet and lifestyle changes.
This is what led me to eating low carb years ago (I don’t do it anymore). It seemed that reducing my carbohydrates solved my blood sugar problems. And alas, my blood sugar problems evened out when I quit carbs. With no more blood sugar issues to speak of I was a believer and swore by the low carb diet for years. But I found I had to be really really careful with carbs. It seemed like if I even touched carbs, my blood sugar would go haywire.
It was interesting that the hypoglycemia could return after eating a simple sweet potato or an apple with dinner. It’s like there was something missing to the blood sugar puzzle.
Indeed, hypoglycemia isn’t caused by what most people think it’s caused by. It’s not caused by eating too little sugar and it’s not caused by eating too much sugar. it’s caused by eating the wrong sugar:
Solving our blood sugar problems is not necessarily as cut and dry as eliminating carbs or regulating carbs.
For me, I discovered that simply avoiding fructose and fructans totally eliminates ALL symptoms of low blood sugar. If I eat fructose, I’ll get nightmares.
I can eat just about anything I want these days with the exception of fructose and fructans, without regulating amounts. Fear of the dark is a thing of past and the monsters have finally left the bedroom.