How too much sugar affects your sleep
Some of us would probably associate sugar with energy, but its effect, in reality, drains us and negatively affects our sleep-wake cycle.
When feeling tired or grumpy, most of us would turn to sugar to boost our energy and keep going. Also, when working on an important project during the evenings, I tend to eat lots of sweets when fighting off sleepiness.
Although it does help me temporarily restore my energy and stimulate wakefulness, eating too much sugar can affect overall sleep patterns in the long run.
The pancreas releases insulin whenever we consume sugar. Eating too much sugar all at once causes an insulin spike, which also known as hyperglycemia or sugar rush. However, it also leads to a sudden drop in energy, also called hypoglycemia or sugar crash.
During hypoglycemia, you’ll experience fatigue, irritability, and physical weakness. This is the reason why you feel sleepy in the afternoon.
On the other hand, the sugar in your bloodstream can disrupt sleep that causes you to feel more fatigued the next morning and prone to cravings.
To maintain a steady flow of energy, you have to keep your blood glucose level balanced. One way to do this is to cut your sugar intake, especially refined sugars found in sodas and candies.
How is too much sugar affecting your sleep?
Sugar is not all bad. Fructose from fruits and vegetables is healthy and, in fact, doesn’t significantly increase your blood glucose level.
The sugar we’re talking about that you should avoid is refined sugar or sucrose. Consuming too much of them will eventually lead to weight gain, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, or type-2 diabetes.
Reaching for a bar of chocolates or cups of coffee may come to us as a natural tendency when we feel tired, sleepy, or out of focus, but doing so is actually counter to what we want to achieve.
Although sugars temporarily boost energy, it also leads to sudden energy crash afterward. Also, according to studies, a person who eats too much sugar is likely to experience sleep disturbances during the night due to the fluctuation of blood sugar levels. As a consequence, sleep deficient people are likely to experience intensified cravings, low mood, and energy crashes the following day. (1)
Several studies also confirmed that people who are overweight are restless, which is likely due to the sleep disruptions during night.
Not having a good night’s rest leads to irritability and leaves us prone to stress. Such distressing emotions may cause us to succumb to craving if not properly managed.
Eating too many sugars triggers the reward system, which causes cravings. The tendency to eat later in the day also becomes high because of the irregular fluctuations in blood sugar levels. (2)
This vicious cycle will persist if we’re unable to correct our lifestyle.
More so, eating sugar late at night can be detrimental because it increases insulin production that provides a short-term energy boost, which we don’t need. We’re designed to rest and recharge at night time, and sugar intake can delay this natural biological process.
How to have a good night’s rest
You have to cut back on sugars to improve your sleeping patterns. You have to realize by now that eating too much sugar is the primary cause of your sleep disruptions.
But I do understand that it’s not going to be easy and would be difficult for most times.
The good news is that the chain of cravings can be broken. Blood glucose can fluctuate easily just by eating sugary treats, but you can counter its effect by eating high fiber foods. When I say high fiber foods, I think you know what I mean—fruits and vegetables.
Another solution is eating foods that are rich in tryptophan. Some examples include whole-grains, nuts, lentils, beans, and poultry meat.
Tryptophan also aids in the production of serotonin. It’s the same happy hormone that is produced during a high sugary snack. Eating foods rich in tryptophan before going to bed also helps your body to prepare for sleep.
Eating too much sugar can definitely have a negative impact on our sleeping pattern. And lack of sleep may result in other health problems like obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.
Although you may know that this is bad, you still continue because it’s pleasurable. I’ve been there, but the good news is that cravings are nothing but a habit. And a habit is acquired, which means that it’s very breakable.
Persevere and always keep in mind the positive things that can happen in your life if you cut back sugar from your life.
Click here to know how to manage sugar cravings.