Modern humans are consuming sugar way more than we once did. Unlike our ancestors who sourced sugar from fruits, we now get it year-round in numerous things that we eat. It’s no wonder conditions like diabetes, and fatty liver have become common. Of course, not everything can be blamed on excess sugar. However, the average American consumes as much as 71.14 grams each day, which is about 57 pounds a year! That’s more than double the recommended amount – 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams a day for men. It’s not just physical health that suffers; sleep does too. Having too much sugar can cause inflammation, stimulate cravings and lead to a sugar rush, all of which can rob you of quality sleep. Take a look at how it happens.
Sugar is a source of instant energy which is why you feel alert after having it. This sugar rush may be useful when you need a quick energy boost, but it can interfere with sleep by keeping you awake. What’s more, it doesn’t make you full and only leaves you craving more. You may find yourself waking up feeling hungry and reaching for something to eat. Not only does this ruin sleep but it also causes weight gain and the many issues that come with it.
Inflammation can be caused by a number of things like infections and wounds. It’s part of the immune system’s response to protect the body. While inflammation may be a natural response to infection, disease, etc., it can also be caused by foods that are high in sugar. Although this is normal, eating sugar-rich foods too often can lead to chronic low-grade inflammation. Symptoms can include pain and stiffness which can make it difficult to sleep at night. Such inflammation can also cause serious conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
University Hospital Zurich did a study on the effects of low to moderate consumption of sugary beverages and found that just 40 grams of added sugar every day can increase inflammation, give rise to insulin resistance and elevate cholesterol.
Late-night snacking can be bad news for the body as we have a tendency to consume higher calorie foods when we snack late at night. Do this often, and it can lead to weight gain and related conditions like type 2 diabetes. Excess sugar can also trigger appetite and cause cravings for food that you don’t really need. There’s a known link between sugar and dopamine, which is a chemical that’s released during pleasurable situations like eating, sex and even when doing drugs. Over time, that intense feeling that comes with eating sugar-rich foods reduces and we need to eat more to experience that same pleasure. You’ll feel compelled to get up in the middle of the night and seek out sugary foods, effectively disrupting your sleep. Snacking late on fatty, sugary foods can also cause indigestion, which further ruins sleep.
If you’re used to eating a lot of sugar, cutting back can take some getting used to. However, there’s a lot to be gained, and better sleep is one of them. Here are a few tips that can help.
Instead of added sugar, include fresh fruits in your diet. Fruits contain sugar, but they also have many nutrients that the body needs. The sugar they contain is also a lot less than what’s found in processed foods.
A 12-ounce can of soda can contain over 9 teaspoons of sugar. Instead of loading up on it, switch to herbal tea. There’s a wide range of flavors and depending on what you choose, they can relieve digestive discomfort, menstrual pain and may even help lower blood pressure.
We’ve mentioned that sugar is a source of instant energy and that having it close to bedtime will leave you alert and unable to fall asleep. A simple solution is to skip sugar before going to bed so that your body isn’t made alert by that burst of energy. Sugar can negatively affect sleep. But did you know that poor sleep can also increase junk food cravings? Sleep deprivation increases primal drives that respond to rewards and hamper decision-making. You’re more likely to reach for fatty, sugary foods than if you have a good night’s sleep.
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Fortunately, you can keep things under control by following healthy sleep habits. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool to encourage your body towards sleep. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each night/day so that you get a full night’s rest. Do this on weekends and holidays too. Don’t take work to bed either; your bed should be dedicated to sleep and sex, nothing more (ok, maybe some light reading too). Use a well-designed mattress as well since there are few things worse than sleeping on a lumpy, sagging bed!
Nuvanna is a mattress with a difference! It’s designed by a mattress scientist with over 20 years’ experience and features three unique layers. The top layer is a cooling gel layer that uses phase-changing gel particles to regulate body temperature and keep you cool. The middle layer isolates motion and lets you and your partner move freely without disturbing each other. The bottom layer supports your body and keeps your spine neutrally aligned to prevent backpain.
It’s impossible to stay away from sugar especially now when so many foods contain it. However, you can make smart choices about what you consume so that you don’t suffer its ill-effects. Read product labels to check ingredients, eat whole foods and drink more water. Dedicate enough time for sleep so that you don’t get junk food cravings. There’s plenty you can do to control sugar intake and enjoy better sleep; you just have to make the effort.