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How Sugar Intake and Sleep are Interlinked?

sugar-and-sleep
Last Updated on July 9, 2020 by Ashwini G

Everyone loves to have that delicious after-dinner dessert. But that can often turn out to have an adverse impact on the body, affecting your overall sleep quality. The more sugar you consume during the day, will be more likely to wake you up in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t fully wake the sugar in your system can interfere with your deep sleep and leave you exhausted the next day. Knowing this, most people with a sweet tooth would like to know how sugar intake can have an impact on their sleep quality.

Disrupting Sleep Quality

A 2016 study has found out that consuming more sugar is directly linked to restless sleep. The body’s deep slow-wave sleep is essential for the restoration of the normal functioning of the body and its healing. It also has a negative impact on maintaining a healthy metabolism and immune function. Moreover, some sugary treats also contain caffeine that will affect your sleep quality, especially when consumed during the evening. If you have ever consumed some dark chocolate, that too is a combination of sugar and caffeine that interferes with your sleep quality.

Stimulating Appetite and Cravings

Intake of sugar activates the reward circuit of the brain that is a complicated web of hormones related to metabolism and hunger. Studies reveal that even the sight of a sugary treat stimulates the brain’s reward system leading the viewer to crave more. Such a sight triggers the brain cells to release dopamine that is responsible for the powerful feelings of satisfaction and pleasure. Such cravings with a distorted appetite from over-consumption of sugar lead to late-night eating that disrupts sleeping patterns. That, in turn, increases the sugar cravings. Several studies have established the fact that insufficient and poor sleep quality interferes with the normal production of appetite-regulating hormones, including ghrelin and leptin. It also interferes with insulin, a hormone that regulates the blood sugar levels in the body.

Increasing Inflammation

Both sleep and inflammation are affected by the body’s circadian biorhythms. When one gets affected, the other is likely to suffer. Poor sleep quality may increase chronic and low-grade inflammation that significantly contributes to various diseases. Systemic inflammation can impact healthy sleeping habits. The physical and psychological changes make it difficult to get a good night’s rest. Diets rich in sugar content can contribute to the formation of harmful biochemical compounds that increase chronic inflammation. Moreover, refined carbohydrates and sugar are also known to elevate cholesterol that is linked to increased inflammation.

Hurting a Healthy Gut

The gut microbiome refers to the vast community of microscopic organisms that live in our intestine. They have a nervous system that produces hormones and neurotransmitters. Like sleep, the microbiome is also regulated by circadian rhythms. A diet rich in fats and processed sugar can cause unhealthy changes in the composition of the gut microbiota and lead to inflammation and mother damage to the healthy functioning of the system.

Do All Sugary Foods Have A Similar Impact?

The word “sugar” is inclusive of everything from natural sugar in fruits and vegetables to added sugar content found inn beverages, processed candies, and so on. But do the sugar found in broccoli have the same effect as that present in a cream-filled doughnut? While the different forms of sugar have almost similar effects on the blood sugar levels, it differs in how quickly the same gets processed by the digestive system. Simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose found in foods, fruits, and beverages, get processed rapidly than other sugar forms. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates present in vegetables take longer to break down and get absorbed by the system and that can have a lesser impact on the blood sugar content of the body.

However, some sugar content in the body is essential to prevent nighttime wakeups. The body releases adrenaline to raise the sugar levels for the brain through a process called gluconeogenesis that is used by the brain every three to four hours. The adrenaline levels are known to peak at around 2:30 am for supplying the brain with the right fuel to aid in better sleep at night. Sugary content present in vegetables is the healthiest form of glucose as they are low-glycemic that do not provoke the insulin spikes to cause a drop in the sugar levels or a rush of adrenaline during the night. Other sugar forms that the brain needs are ketones that are obtained from MCT oil or coconut oil.

Remedies to Curb Sugar Intake Affecting Sleep Problems

Closing the Kitchen by A Certain Time Every Evening – Experts recommend eating the last meal of the day at least two to three hours before going to bed. It not only helps the body to digest the food properly but also prevents late-night snacking that may include extra sugar.

Follow A Healthy Diet – Popular drinks such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and fruit drinks can contribute a major portion to your daily sugar intake, although the body does not recognize calories from drinks the same way it does from food. To ensure a healthy diet, it is recommended to consume food like fresh fruits, baked fruit with cream, dates. Moreover, it is important to note that many low-fat foods contain more calories and sugar than the full-fat versions. So, eating more whole foods and cooking from scratch can help to reduce sugar intake.

Replacing Sugary Treats with Food Rich in Fiber – The presence of fiber content in the diet improve deep and slow-wave sleep by slowing the metabolic activity of the body and preventing any cravings for a sweet tooth. So, including fiber to the evening meal can help you prepare for a good night’s sleep.

A Final Word of Advice

You have several options to avoid the adverse impact of sugary foods on your healthy sleeping habits. By following some basic precautionary measures and ensuring a healthy eating habit during the day can improve the quality of your sleep instantly. Just makes sure that you keep track of your daily activities and the impact that it can have on your sugar consumption levels.

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