Metabolic inflammation and Sleep Issues

Posted by Melissa Callaghan on




In one of the largest research trials conducted of its kind, evidence was found to link poor sleep and insomnia with components of metabolic inflammation and blood glucose dysregulation.

Insomnia and poor sleep

We lie down, close our eyes and sleep just naturally happens, right?  For some it does and for many others, the practice of laying awake each and every night and staring at the ceiling is simply exhausting.

Sleep is an essential component of daily life for good physical and mental health and yet there are many people getting inadequate amounts of quality of sleep every night and suffering the consequences the next day. According to the University of Adelaide between 33% and 45% of the adult population are affected.

This problem is not restricted to only adults, 30 - 40% of Australian infants and children prior to school age are also affected with frequent night waking and problems occurring at bedtime. The consequences of chronic (long term over 6 months) disturbance in infant and child sleep impacts on their health.

There are two body systems that regulate sleep. The circadian biological clock and sleep/wake homeostasis.

We go through phases in our day of feeling awake and alert, feeling tired, and the signal that tells us to go to bed (which a lot of the time gets ignored). If the sleep/wake homeostasis cycle worked by itself all would be well, as we would just follow the signals and we would feel awake all day long and go to sleep when we are meant to. It basically calculated the amount of time since you last had a decent sleep and signals when it is time to have another deep sleep.

However there is another component to our sleep regulation called the circadian biological clock commonly referred to as the circadian/diurnal rhythm.

The circadian biological clock is a 24-hour cycle that is generated from within the body and regulated by the external cues of sunlight, darkness, and temperature. This can also be affected by changing time zone changes.

We all know that it is difficult to sleep when it is hot and light exposure is also important. When the sun goes down, your brain releases a hormone to makes you sleep and in the morning when the sun comes up this hormone is suppressed and the brain releases a different one to wake you up.

That’s the simple part

Now WE get involved and most of the problems here come from the food we put in our mouths.

Sleep has a huge impact on metabolism and insulin sensitivity connected with blood glucose regulation AND this can also be the other way around.  It is one of those which comes first the chicken or egg scenarios.

We do know that there are other components that impact sleep such as stress, inflammation, cortisol as well as everything that you put in your mouth and usually the first two (stress & inflammation) encourage you to put bad things in your mouth.

However, the connection with metabolic inflammation is not talked about.

Metabolic inflammation – it is an inflammatory process that occurs at a cellular level before the onset of metabolic disorders for example type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver, weight gain, and heart disease. It occurs in our cells in our muscle, liver and fat tissue. It is NOT metabolic syndrome, that comes 5-10 years after this starts.

It’s a low grade long term (chronic over 6 months) inflammation that happens in all system of the body. It is basically the underlying cause of all of the metabolic disorders, some of which are mentioned above. But includes so many more such as PCOS, thyroid disorders, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, the list is long.

How do we get it?

The food we eat stimulates certain processes within the body.  Certain choices even in just a 24 hour period can have negative consequences in the inflammatory process within the body, having a huge impact on cellular metabolic inflammation.

One of the first areas after the gut to be effected is the hypothalamus in the brain and if there are problems with inflammation coming from the hypothalamus then you will experience trouble with getting enough deep sleep and feeling fatigued all the time.

Once stress, gut health and food choices take hold then there is a cascade of problems that will be triggered by lack of good quality sleep.  Some of which will also fuel the inflammatory process. Creating a vicious cycle.

The downside of not getting good quality sleep affects so many areas of the body.

  • Poor memory
  • Lack of concentration and focus
  • Mental health issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregularities in heart beat
  • Muscle recovery
  • Bone health
  • Hormones
  • Appetite regulation
  • Increased hunger
  • Poor immune system
  • Leaky gut
  • Inflammation

Making changes to your daily habits and mindset, the food you eat and work life balance is a great start.  Detoxing from the foods that trigger metabolic inflammation and increasing the foods that reduce it is vital. 

As a Naturopath I work on all of these areas with my patients in clinic.  There is no magic pill that stops you eating bad food. It’s a process that I teach while we get relief from the symptoms you are suffering from every day. It takes time. Especially when you want permanent change. I give strategies to overcome unhealthy habits and improve self esteem as well as mindset and reduce stress levels, as all of these are severely impacted when the symptoms of metabolic disorders begin to emerge. I also work on the medical side with assessing your blood test results and explaining them to you for optimal health, assessing your individual signs and symptoms to work out why you feel the way you do. Then I use herbal and nutritional medicine as well as working on what foods to include and avoid to help get you back on track.  


Who am I?

I am a Bachelor qualified Naturopath who specialises in improving metabolic processes in the body. Major areas for improvement include gut, thyroid, kidney, skin and liver health. Conditions such as insulin resistance, hypothyroidism, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, & irritable bowel conditions. I help my patients by giving them symptomatic relief while working on repairing the underlying causes of metabolic inflammation and waste accumulation. Patients experience amazing results which are seen in their blood tests with improved thyroid markers, cholesterol, and liver markers.  As well as lower blood pressure and see relief from improved gastrointestinal symptoms like the ones that mean you need to know where every single toilet is before you leave the house. 

Melissa Callaghan ND, BHSc, BTeach
Clinical Naturopath

Appointments can be made for in our clinic as well as through our video chat software. I help people all over the country and post their products out to them. I can help you too.

To book an appointment click here 


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