Pillow Talk; Dr Chris Idzikowski Is Director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre

Article excerpt


Sleeping pills rarely get good press. They have a reputation for beingdangerous, ineffective and dependence-inducing. Of course, they can have a rolebut should not be considered a panacea. The cause of insomnia should beinvestigated and conventional psychological methods employed. Regularity ofbedtime and rise time, reserving the bed and bedroom primarily for sleep andhaving enough time to engage in wind-down routines prior to sleep can preventthe development of insomnia.

Q Why do I wake up in the middle of the night starvingcraving sugardespite eating an evening meal and wholemeal toast just before bed?

A The relationship between sleep and hunger is complexdieting, for example, can disturb sleep. Our hormonal controls during sleep aredesigned to prevent us waking up. In the same way that hormones reduce kidneyoutput to the bladder so we dont keep going to the loo, hormones such as leptinalso normally reduce appetite at night. Drops in blood glucose are linked withsugar craving, and normally a drop will cause awakening, although it doesnt inthose with diabetes.

Also, there are sleep disorders that involve sleepwalking and eating, or simplywaking up and feeling hungry. In your case, the culprit may be the wholemealtoast. Some foods release glucose quickly but there is a sudden drop as theyare absorbed by the body. Try eating breakfast cereal that contains oats,barley and bran before bed instead. …