How Sugar Impacts Sleep
It is not a secret that sugar can negatively impact your health in various ways. However, a lot of people still fall prey to occasional late-night sugar cravings. Of all the detrimental effects it can have on your health, perhaps the most significant one is its impact on your sleep quality.
Unfortunately, many people are unaware that having a lot of sugar right before hitting the bed can contribute to poor sleep. If you consistently wake up feeling groggy instead of energized, the chances are that your sweet tooth is preventing you from having a good night’s rest. It’s helpful to understand the significant effects of sugar on sleep and what you can do to get a better night’s rest.
Less Restful Sleep
According to a study on how diets affect sleep, it was found that low fiber and high saturated fat and sugar intake can result in lighter, less restorative sleep with more sleep arousals. In simple words, people who intake more sugar only get to experience less deep, slow-wave sleep, which is essential for restoration and healing of body, mind, and soul.
If you have ever wondered why you woke up after 8 to 10 hours of sleep feeling less rested, sugar might be the culprit. Think back to what you consumed the night before. If it was a sugary snack, then you may have the answer.
Sugar increases your insulin levels and can overstimulate you at night, making you feel more energized and thereby hindering your sleep. Slow-wave sleep is vital for maintaining a robust immune function and healthy metabolism. When you consume too much sugar, both of these are compromised. Eating sugar at night can also result in more cravings for sugar the next day.
Negatively Impacts Health
Beyond just your sleep, sugar can also have detrimental effects on your heart and gut health. It can also raise blood pressure and cause inflammation over time. In fact, your sleep quality is directly linked to inflammation—the same biorhythms in your body regulate both sleep and inflammation. One impacts the other.
Additionally, inflammation can lead to or worsen pain and stiffness in your body, making it hard to relax, fall asleep, or stay asleep. So, if you had a bowl of ice cream right before heading to, maybe that late-night snack is standing between you and the sleep you desperately require. Furthermore, inflammation can have adverse effects on the diversity and function of gut bacteria. When you constantly snack on sugary food, it will likely result in weight gain.
What to Eat Instead
Of the many strategies you can use to promote good sleep, the most important one is making changes to your diet. There are several foods that are better suited to be consumed as late-night snacks.
This includes turkey, which is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is known to make people feel tired and encourage sleepiness. Turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which is said to promote tiredness. There is also evidence that consuming protein in moderate quantities before bed can result in better sleep quality.
Similarly, tea like chamomile or passionflower tea is also proven to improve sleep. They contain flavonoid antioxidants known for reducing inflammation, improving immune health, and reducing chronic disease risk. Chamomile and passionflower tea contain apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to specific receptors in your brain to relieve insomnia and promote sleepiness.
How to Get Better Sleep
A significant first step to getting better sleep is cutting out sugar before bed. Similarly, you can also make changes to your diet and consume food that contains more protein and fiber. Nonetheless, if you still face trouble sleeping, another culprit may be the cause.
Temperature is one factor that can impact sleep quality — whether it’s the temperature of your room, bed, or you. Another reason to avoid sugar before bed is that it’s proven even healthy individuals experience body temperature rising from acute glucose spikes, according to Ben Bikman, PhD, contributor at Levels Health.
Cooler body temperatures translate to falling asleep faster and staying asleep. If you find yourself sneaking a late night sugary snack, set your bedroom environment up for better sleep. Try to make your room cooler with an AC set at below 65–70 degrees or opt for a bedside fan.
If you’re still waking up in a sweat, it may be time to replace your mattress. Unlike conventional foam that accumulates heat, cooling mattresses like Nolah’s disperse heat. So, if excessive sweating is what prevents you from sleeping at night, a cooling mattress can help.
Sugar can have scary effects on your sleep quality. So, as a rule of thumb, you should work on overcoming sugar cravings at night. By taking small, simple steps, you can considerably improve your sleep quickly. For instance, keep an eye on how much sugar you consume in a day, and avoid too much sugar intake right before bed. Also, make sure you hit the bed at the same time every evening to promote a solid night routine.