According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1am to 3am are the liver hours. I can’t tell you how often I hear in consults that clients are waking during this period overnight and I’ve certainly experienced this myself.
Your liver plays a very important role in your thyroid health and vice versa. It is host to much of the all important T4 to T3 conversion and helps with transportation of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones in return play an important role in the cellular function and health of the liver aiding in functions such as lipid metabolism, detoxification, carbohydrate metabolism and protein synthesis. It’s also the stage where other sex hormones are processed.
It could be that your liver is crying out for help. Give it a little bit of love with the following tips and don’t be surprised if your 2am witching hour waking becomes a thing of the past.
Look at your alcohol intake. We all know that alcohol is highly toxic and needs to be detoxified through the liver. If you want to drink, avoid bingeing and stick to 1-2 standard drinks 1-2 days per week. The earlier the better as the alcohol will have been processed and detoxified by your liver before bed time.
Overeating or indulging in too much rich foods will drive up your blood sugar and put a lot of pressure on your liver overnight. I recently attended a degustation dinner paired with cocktails. If you’ve never heard of a degustation it’s a fancy dinner consisting of many courses and is often paired with alcoholic drinks like wine. While the food was fabulous and the cocktails wonderfully paired, I ate and drank much more than I am used to. The food was also extremely rich. And blow me down if I didn’t wake up at 2am literally sweating with a racing heart as my blood glucose sky rocketed and my poor liver was busy storing all that extra glycogen – the stored form of glucose when you’ve consumed more than your body could use.
Similarly, if your blood sugar drops too low or soars too high your liver will struggle and may cause you to wake. Ensuring your meals, even as far back as breakfast, contain everything your body needs to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day is crucial. Once my clients get this right the majority of them find they are able to sleep deeply all night without interruptions. If you want some guidance on how to do this I recommend you download my Healthy Weight Hypothyroidism guide, it outlines how to do this well with a meal planner and food list. You can find it here.
For this reason it’s important you don’t eat late at night. I recommend dinner is consumed by 8pm and after dinner snacking is dropped all together. The truth is that when you’ve eaten a balanced dinner you don’t even think about hunger. Habitual craving for sweets or emotional eating are a different matter.
There are certainly other explanations for why you might be waking during the night. Full bladders, kids, pets, hormonal factors, physical discomfort and poor temperature regulation are also common reasons. Check out my previous blog which contains a plethora of tips for improving your sleep quality if you’re feeling lost and desperate to get some shut eye.