Most of us just love our sugar, don’t we? Life seems boring without that sweetened cup of coffee, tea, and that delicious sweet slice of cake. Many of us are well aware that sugar affects our body weight, our teeth, and increases the risk of diabetes. However, very few of us seem to know that sugar can also mess with our sleep cycles – badly!
If you seem to have ruled out all the reasons behind your sleeplessness, perhaps it’s time you take a look at your sugar intake. It’s important to know how our sugar consumption can affect our precious sleep, particularly with Valentine’s Day coming up!
Sugar and Our Sleep Patterns
Refined sugar is one of the most potent ingredients that can disrupt the balance of our blood sugar levels. It’s in almost everything around us, including things you wouldn’t suspect, like chips, canned vegetables, and even frozen meals. Even simple carbs, such as white bread, pasta, and white rice, contain refined sugar. Try cutting back on all these food items for a week and marvel at how well you sleep.
Let’s explore further and learn what ways refined sugar can affect our sleep:
A study was conducted in 2016 by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine on how dietary patterns affect sleep. The results found that people with high sugar diet didn’t sleep soundly and showed signs of restlessness throughout the night. Why? Because sugar disturbs our blood sugar levels, which suppresses our appetite for the time being. This, in turn, leads us to eat later in the day, just minutes before going to bed. A full stomach of food creates heaviness that leads to disrupted sleep. What’s worse is that you’ll wake up the next day with an even stronger craving for sugar, much like a drug.
The Relentless Cycle
Why did we just call sugar a drug? Well, sugar can successfully trigger the brain’s reward system. Forget eating, just the sight of a sugary treat can activate the brain’s reward circuitry, by releasing dopamine. Dopamine is the hormone that gives us a feeling of pleasure. By eating sugar, our brain becomes less sensitive to dopamine and the craving to get that dopamine rush makes us want to eat more sugar.
This unhealthy craving will creep into your sleep schedule, making you eat until late, which then disrupts your sleep, and makes you crave even more sugar.
One way to stop this vicious cycle is to decrease your sugar intake slowly and then cutting back on it entirely. Consumption of a low-sugar and high-fiber diet also keeps the gut healthy, allowing us to sleep better. Scented candles, an utterly comfortable mattress, and a relaxing night routine can help you sleep better and can make for a much more enjoyable holiday celebration!