For John Griffiths, managing blood sugar improved sleep and his ADHD

Experiencing glucose crashes in the middle of the night disrupted his sleep and made it more challenging to focus the next day.


Who: John Griffiths, 57
Where: Fairfax, CA
Time with Levels: 1 year
Most Useful Takeaway: When John’s sleep is worse, he’s more reactive to stress, which pushes his blood glucose levels up higher–which affects his sleep that night, too. By focusing on sleep, he improved his physical and cognitive health.

1. What is your health background?

Overall, my health is good. I never smoked. I stopped drinking 15 years ago. I have always been mindful of my health.

I was officially diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, 18 years ago. I’m dyslexic as well. My wife, a high school teacher, noticed that I was having trouble putting together a report, and she suggested I get tested for dyslexia. That started me down the path of identifying my ADHD, too. I have the inattentive presentation of ADHD.

2. Why did you want to put a CGM on your arm?

Sleep has always been difficult for me, and as I’ve gotten older, it’s become more challenging. Fortunately, I can nap well, though. That’s consistent with other people who have ADHD. In my mind, I was doing everything I could to sleep well. I was trying to watch my diet, eat early, relax, and sleep in a dark room–all of the conventional advice. It was not working.

Then I heard about CGMs and wondered if adjusting my diet to manage my blood sugar better would improve my sleep. I know that when I get a good night’s sleep, I’m much more productive at work. Although I was overwhelmed by all the choices for metabolic health programs that use CGMs, I ultimately chose Levels, and I’m glad I did.

3. What surprising things did you learn while using Levels?

I have been aware, even before using the CGM, that I’m very sensitive to sugar. At the same time, I recognize how addicting sugar is for me because it gives me that initial rush of energy. However, it’s terrible for me. My wife would joke that I get grumpy when I eat it. I’d just peak and crash.

Even with that knowledge, using Levels has been eye-opening. The first night, we went out for organic ice cream. At 2 am, an alarm woke me up. I had no idea what was happening, but it was because my blood sugar was very low.

If I ate something high on the glycemic index that night, I saw that my blood glucose would crash, and I would wake up in the middle of the night. Now, after using Levels, I have clear data that when I wake up at night, it’s because my blood sugar has dropped, and I can connect that to my eating habits earlier in the day.

Since getting the CGM, I’m constantly on the lookout for new and interesting recipes. We live in a good climate so I’m also growing herbs and vegetables. It’s like having a new hobby. Even this morning, I’ve exchanged messages with my mother-in-law, trying to find some good recipes for today’s lunch. (Looks like it’s Thai tuna salad!)

Using the CGM has also helped with weight management. Historically, my weight would fluctuate between 210 and 220 pounds. Since starting Levels, I am now consistently below 200 pounds. The only variable is my changing diet, as I’ve kept my exercise the same.

4. How has managing your blood sugar affected your ADHD?

If I get a good night’s sleep, I’m focused, productive, and much nicer to be around. With blood sugar management and seeing how it helped me sleep better, I was able to decrease the amount of ADHD medication I was taking under the guidance of my doctor. And by taking less of those medications, I experienced fewer side effects, like uneasiness and headaches.

Wearing a CGM also made me realize how much stress impacts my body and overall wellness. If I didn’t sleep, I’d get more frustrated or stressed in a situation. I’d look at Levels and wonder why my glucose was so high despite eating a healthy diet that day. After I made the correlation, I realized that it’s not good for my sleep and ADHD if I’m spiking my glucose, so I try to manage my role in creating stressful situations.

5. Moving forward, what do you hope to learn in the future using Levels?

The Levels app itself has been challenging to take in all of that information because of my dyslexia and ADHD. However, I have figured out how to use the CGM in the way that works best for me. Initially, I wore the CGM constantly for two months. I now wear the CGM for 10 days at a time. I have it on a separate screen buried in a subfolder to avoid continually looking at it. Then, I’ll make a list of the things I’ve noticed and trends.

Overall, having the CGM and access to Levels has been an amazing tool. It’s truly been life-changing.


See how food affects your metabolic health

The best way to understand your glycemic response to what you eat is with a CGM and an app like Levels to help you understand your data. Levels members get access to the most advanced CGMs and personalized guidance to build healthy, sustainable habits. Click here to learn more about Levels.