Do you have Chronic Active Epstein-Barr Virus and wake up between 3 and 5 am all jittery, with your heart racing? How about hot flashes, and feeling anxious? 

You’re concerned because it seems to come out of left field and there is no apparent trigger. Sleep depravation is a form of torture, so when you do not get enough deep REM sleep everything is worse the next day. For some people with chronic active EBV, lacking in sleep can literally reactivate EBV, a vicious cycle indeed.

EBV-induced insomnia is quite common in our EBV community. In this blog I will explain what causes it, how to fix it and how to prevent it. Good news, if this is what wakes you up and keeps you up at night, there is an easy fix.

Deep, good quality sleep is paramount for your body’s ability to regenerate and heal.

There are so many different causes of sleep deprivation and poor quality of sleep, I actually have an entire chapter on all things sleep in my book the Epstein Barr-Virus Solution, it is probably the best resource for you if you want to go deep into this topic.


Woman are at a Sleep Disadvantage

According to studies, women experience higher stress than men, and, not surprisingly, they suffer from insomnia more often than men. Serotonin is needed to make melatonin, and melatonin then tells you to get sleepy. Women use up more serotonin than men when under stress. Women also have eight times more blood supply to the emotional part of the brain during stress than men do, and that causes the release of stored serotonin into the brain to calm it down. As a result, women, much more than men, are depleted of serotonin by the end of the day and therefore may not be able to produce enough melatonin! Without melatonin, the brain becomes very active and that is another reason why women cannot relax and fall asleep at night. Hence your “monkey mind”!


What does my dinner have to do with EBV-induced insomnia?

Many people with a chronic active EBV infection have compromised adrenal function and long term chronic stress. As a result, there may be hypoglycemia or reactive hyperglycemia. Some people struggle balancing their blood glucose, some may be restricting carbohydrates and go low carb or go keto (high fat diets). Others choose high protein diets. In other words, many people try to avoid glucose in their efforts to get a handle on their dysregulated sugar metabolism. Often this backfires!

If more people hired a clinical nutritionist to help them, this would not be an issue. So please, do so if you are in this situation. In this case, don’t experiment on your own.


Understanding glucose and why it’s needed…

Your brain runs on glucose.

Your muscles run on glucose.

Your adrenals require glucose.

A low carb diet lacking in glucose
is one of the worst choices for a person with EBV. 

If you cannot tolerate carbohydrates, then you need to hire a clinical nutritionist to uncover why.

Sometimes your dinner is the culprit to your sleeplessness because it lacks solid glucose. For example, a salad and a steak.

A breakfast and or lunch low in glucose can also be problematic.

Each of your meals requires glucose
to have energy for your body and for your brain
and if you want your adrenals to regenerate and repair. 

Otherwise, your insomnia is almost guaranteed.

Why does it matter for your sleep quality? Hold on tight. I will explain that shortly.


What kind of carbs and glucose do you need?

Slow carbs are good carbs and we are designed for them. You can throw a newspaper into the fire or a log. Which one will give you a nice slow sustainable fire? It’s the same with carbs.

Slow carbs are also called complex carbs and they provide sustainable and slowly released glucose.

Glucose is our gasoline. We run on it. The muscles run on it. The brain runs on it.

You want complex carbs in the form of quality whole foods, such as:

  • Cooked grains like quinoa (technically a seed)
  • Millet
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown or black rice
  • Tubers like carrots, potatoes or sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables.

Avoid simple carbs like processed food products, candy, chips, cookies, table sugar etc.

Fruits also have a high glucose level but these are best as snacks and, we will discuss them later as they will be an important piece in curbing your EBV-induced insomnia.


Why do I wake up frantic, sweaty and jittery between 3 and 5 am?

Remember that glucose is the preferred fuel for the brain and while it has a high need for glucose, the brain does not store excess of it for later. Night time is tricky for your brain, as you are no longer eating while the brain needs to continue to function and repair, so a little glucose has to be available.

To slow down your glucose you need a few components in the food:

  • Fiber (not processed food)
  • A little protein
  • A little fat

All that will slow down the speed at which glucose is taken up into the brain. The glucose uptake is then slow and steady. And the brain is happy.

If you don’t incorporate enough complex carbs and glucose in your meals the blood glucose drops at night because the little carbs from the evening are being used up.

The brain sends an emergency signal to pull some glucose
stored in the liver as glycogen
(emergency storage of glucose for the central nervous system),
and to that effect, the adrenals are stimulated to pump some cortisol.

Blood pressure also increases when glucose is released from the liver. Glucose is then transported to the brain (so the brain does not “die”). The brain is in turn okay, but in the process, the increase in cortisol and blood pressure wakes you up!


What happens when cortisol increases?

EBV wakes up and reactivates!

Thus you wake up with an anxiety attack and heart palpitations, a combination of symptoms caused by increased blood pressure, cortisol, and EBV reactivation.


Solutions to help you sleep:

  1. Make sure you are not hypoglycemic because you had a low carb dinner or your dinner was very early in the evening, or both! Add some healthy complex carbs to your dinner and eat dinner around 7pm rather than 5pm.
  2. Support your adrenals and your brain to prevent your brain from going into panic mode, and sending SOS to the liver to send some emergency glucose. Research supports simple dietary solutions that work.

Here are some foods that contain tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin.

The more serotonin you get,
the more melatonin the body can make out of it
so that you can feel sleepy again. 

These foods also contain GABA, calcium, potassium, melatonin itself, and l-ornithine, all of which help the brain with sleep:

  • Barley grass powder (gluten free)
  • Whole grains like brown rice, millet, amaranth, gluten free oats, teff
  • Cherries, kiwi, walnuts – make these into small evening snacks

Creative ideas for evening snacks:

  • Chia pudding with maple syrup or honey, cherries, kiwis and walnuts
  • A kiwi and walnut bowl
  • Try other fruits and nuts or nut butters

If these ideas do not work for you you might consider hiring a nutritionist because there are so many other reasons why people have sleep issues.


Love this information?

I have an entire chapter on sleep in my book The Epstein Barr-Virus Solution.

Lovingly referred to as the “EBV Bible”, it contains so much value in support of your healing.

I also have a library of about 50 free short and practical trainings on EBV in our EBV Global Institute YouTube Channel. I’ll send you one video per day of some of the best ones when you sign-up for the Free 28 Day EBV Video Challenge. Here’s the video I recently recorded on EBV & Sleep: