Tom Peeters

| 03/17/2017

Can’t Sleep? Maybe Check Your Metabolic Rate

Can’t Sleep? Maybe Check Your Metabolic Rate

Is your sleep not what you want it to be? Maybe you lie awake every night? You wonder if this is the night that you can finally sleep?

Are your days filled with anxiety, awaiting the night with dread?

Have you spent hundreds or even thousands on supplements like valerian, melatonin, magnesium and lots of others?

Or maybe you’ve been on sleep medication for years? Have you been taking pills that seem to have offered relief at first, but then stopped working? Have those pills become a crutch that you want to get rid of?

I totally get it. I was once in the same place you were in.

A common thing that I hear is that people don’t know why they can’t sleep. I tried to figure it out myself for a long time.

Then I came upon something that suddenly explained completely what was going on. I found out about how the body works, and how it produces energy. This process of creating energy is called the metabolism.

The metabolism is about the most important thing you have to think of when you want optimal health.

A low metabolic rate can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation, increased risk of cancer, heart disease and countless other degenerative diseases.

How Does The Metabolism Work?

Simply put: for our bodies to work properly, our cells need to produce adequate energy to perform the tasks that they are supposed to perform. For your heart to work properly, the cells of your heart have to be able to produce energy. If you want to be able to use your brain to think about things, that also requires energy. If you want to lift a heavy object, your muscles need energy to be able to do that. The cells that your tissues and organs are composed of produce that energy.

This energy comes mostly from the food that you eat. When you eat something, the components of that food are broken down into parts that your body can use, like amino acids, glucose and fatty acids. Those three are called macronutrients, as compared to micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.

This is your fuel. Your body uses it to produce energy.

Once those macronutrients enter the bloodstream, they are transported throughout your body to be used by your cells. The cells take up glucose and fatty acids, and convert them into a

molecule called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. This molecule can be used by your cells to produce energy and perform its tasks.

Your thyroid is the part of your body that regulates how much energy your cells produces. The thyroid produces a hormone called T3, which signals the cells the amount of energy that has to be produced. The thyroid tries to ensure that your energy production is in balance, so that you don’t produce too little and not too much, because both are harmful. The rate at which your cells are producing energy is called the metabolic rate.

The amount of T3 that your body produces depends on a number of factors. An important factor is the amount of energy that your body perceives is coming in through food. The hormone leptin is in charge of regulating the food that comes into your body. This hormone regulates your satiety after a meal. After a meal, leptin levels rise. This causes you stop feeling hungry.

Your fat cells produce leptin. The leptin receptors in the brain can then sense how much leptin, and thus fat is present. If leptin is high, production of T3 goes up. This means that your metabolic rate increases. This is because your body is always trying to stay in homeostasis, which means it always tries to balance the energy that is produced with the energy that is available (via food intake and fat stores).

However, if you constantly eat too much, the leptin receptors become desensitized to the leptin signal, which means the body doesn’t notice there is too much fat on the body. This is the reason why fat people can still have a low metabolic rate and are hungry all the time. Their bodies have a lot of fat, which means their leptin levels are constantly sky-high. But because the leptin receptors do not sense the leptin signal properly, metabolic rate isn’t increased anymore when they eat a lot.

The same happens when people undereat. When people eat very little for an extended period of time, for example when they go on extreme calorie restriction diets, their leptin levels become chronically low, which means the thyroid starts downregulating T3 production, and metabolic rate decreases. Again, the body balances energy output versus energy input.

In both cases, the cells start producing less energy, which has consequences for their health.

So How Does The Metabolism Affect Sleep?

When you have a lowered metabolic rate, the cells still need to produce adequate energy to keep you alive. When your cells aren’t producing as much energy on their own, your nervous system has to chip in.

This means your body starts releasing more cortisol and adrenalin in your bloodstream. These hormones literally break down your body to generate additional energy for your cells to use. This is normally used as a backup system in case of emergencies, for example when you needed to run away from a lion or another kind of stressor, like extreme temperatures.

Any kind of stressor increases the need for additional fuel, and so the amount of cortisol and adrenalin in your bloodstream increases as well. The downside is that these hormones break down your body. It’s definitely not healthy when you chronically depend on cortisol and adrenalin to keep you going.

The production of stress hormones happens for a good reason though: without cortisol and adrenalin, you would die.

How does this relate to sleep? Well, these hormones also keep you awake. This is because when your stress hormones are high, your body perceives that it’s in danger. When danger is abound, it’s not a very good idea to just go to sleep.

You might notice that when you wake up in the middle of the night, you have an elevated heart rate and you feel anxious. That’s because your blood sugar levels became dangerously low during sleep. Your body responded to this dangerous situation by pumping a shot of adrenalin into your bloodstream, so your blood sugar levels increase again. This ensures that your cells don’t run out of fuel.

Your blood sugar levels become low when you don’t fuel your body properly. You overexercise, or you are on a calorie-restricted diet. This lowers the available fuel for your body. In the beginning, this doesn’t pose a big problem. But over time, as you go from one diet to the next, as you subject yourself to huge loads of stress, your metabolic rate drops and your body becomes worse at properly keeping blood sugar levels stable.

This increases the need for stress hormones to keep you alive. But these hormones also keep you from sleeping properly.

Also, when your nervous system becomes overworked, keeping blood sugar levels stable becomes harder and harder. Over time, your nervous system starts to completely burn out. Basically, that means you’re on a blood sugar rollercoaster all the time.

How Do I Know If I Have A Low Metabolic Rate, And How Do I Fix It?

Is there a problem with your metabolic rate? Let’s find out.

There are two objective markers to check for:

First of all, check your oral body temperature. When your body has a lowered metabolic rate, the first thing to drop is your body temperature, because generating heat is very energy-demanding, and the body is trying to preserve energy.

You don’t need expensive blood testing to figure out how your metabolic rate is doing. A simple thermometer will do.

A normal oral body temperature during the daytime is about 98.6 Fahrenheit or 37 Celsius. Is your temperature lower than that? In that case, there is a good chance that a lowered metabolic rate is the cause of your problems. It’s also possible that your temperature varies strongly during the day. That’s a sign that your nervous system has a lot of inflammation. This is called HPA-axis dysfunction (most commonly known as adrenal fatigue).

A second marker of a lowered metabolic rate is that your resting pulse drops. A normal resting pulse would be around 70 bpm. Is your resting pulse much below that that? That too is a sign that your metabolic rate is low

But there are also more obvious signs:

feeling anxious all the time, and especially at night

having low energy, feeling fatigued constantly

an inability to tolerate stress

low sex drive (major sign)

insomnia (obviously)

a depressed mood

But How Did I Get Here?

I see many people that exercise hard every day, watch their diet, restrict their calories. They often think they live a healthy lifestyle. They have a hard time figuring out what’s going on and why they are suffering so hard.

They started living like this because they wanted to get healthier, lose a little fat. They had nothing but good intentions, and they did what they thought was the right thing.

But the truth is that they have been overstressing their body for years and decades. They push their bodies to the limit, and over time their health begins to decline.

Did what I just describe match your own experience? Then you might want to check out ways to restore your metabolic rate.

How Do I Eat?

To fix your metabolic rate, we basically need to make sure that the cells are properly getting an adequate supply of fuel.

To do this, we first need to optimize our nutrition. And that starts in the morning.

Because you have been fasting in the night, and your metabolic rate is always lowest in the morning, you need to eat a large breakfast to kickstart your cellular energy production. This allows you to properly cope with the stressors of the day, without the need for large amounts of stress hormones to fill up your bloodstream.

For breakfast, eat a large portion of protein, combined with a solid portion of healthy carbohydrates, like fruit. I would avoid eating a lot of starches, like bread or potatoes, because those tend to spike blood sugar too high, which is a bad thing too.

If you’re fairly lean, this doesn’t pose a very large problem, but if you tend to be overweight or obese, the body becomes unable to properly process starches, and you get unstable blood sugar levels, which only increases the amount of stress hormones in your blood, and is very demanding on your nervous system. How active you are during the day also has a big influence on this.

For the rest of the day, just follow your natural food cravings. If you feel like having protein, eat protein, if you feel like having carbohydrates, eat carbohydrates. There’s one caveat however: you do need to eat a diet composed of whole foods. No donuts or french fries. But no extreme low carb dieting either.

Physical Activity: The How And The Why

Secondly, it’s important that we improve insulin sensitivity. This is the cells’ ability to take in nutrients. Even if you eat proper, whole foods, if you’re insulin resistant, that food will have a hard time going into your cells, and cellular energy production will remain low. Instead, the food you eat is more likely to get stored as fat. People who are overweight are typically very insulin resistant. That’s why it’s important to move a lot during the day to counter this.

And no, just doing an hour of exercise every day doesn’t cut it. You need to be moving all day long. This will enhance the ability of your cells to take in foods and produce energy, and will also cause you to feel a whole lot better after eating. Go for a few walks each day. Work standing up instead of sitting down. It’s those kinds of things that will massively improve your cells’ ability to take in nutrients.

Walking a lot during the day helps your cells take in nutrients

Once you enhance the supply of energy to the cells through adequate nutrition, there will be less need for the body to release cortisol and adrenalin to generate fuel, which means that you’ll feel calmer and will have less trouble falling asleep. Great sleep, in turn, is critical in restoring metabolic rate.

It’s also critical to avoid stressors, to stop overexercising, and in general, to just listen to what your body tells you. If you feel tired, rest. Are you hungry? Then eat. Feel thirsty? Drink.

Your body is perfectly able to tell you what it needs, when it needs it. You just have to tune in and listen. It’s as simple as that.

Some final thoughts…

Figuring out how to cure my insomnia was a task that took me years. Finally I found out it was my metabolism that was the problem. Since then, I’ve encountered many people with similar symptoms, who I’ve been able to help get their sleep back. From my experience, a low metabolic rate is really a widespread epidemic.

In today’s modern world, a lot of people stress themselves too hard. So many of us have inadequate nutrition, go on crazy restrictive diets or overexercise until our nervous system burns out.

The worst part is that they do all those things to improve their health. Then they become sick, tired and unable to sleep, and they can’t figure out why. Weren’t they living healthy? Weren’t they losing a lot of weight?

Yet, so few people actually have a good idea of how the human body actually works. I can tell from experience that there are so much wrong ideas on what constitute good health. And the damage this causes is gigantic, not only to individual people themselves, but to society as a whole.

Before you start taking sleeping pills, before you fill your closet with the newest ‘magic supplement’, ask yourself the question: how is my metabolic health?

I can guarantee that there are a lot of you out there who have these metabolic problems without even realizing it. If you fix it, your life will improve in so many ways. Not only will you sleep better, you’ll be happier, have more energy, you’ll have much less chance of getting sick. Your life will improve in about every way possible.

So please check out your body temperature, your pulse, your symptoms. Try out some of the suggestions I mentioned. It will do you so much good.

About the Author: Tom Peeters is a former insomniac who did some digging and finally got rid of his sleeping problems. Today, he helps other people overcome their insomnia. Check out his blog The Sleep Strategy to find out how to sleep better.


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