Many of us are just about to finish up our 3rd month of eating right and shape-up plans for the new year, right? No matter what plan you are following, most likely your weight loss strategy and improved eating habits involve lowering your sugar intake. So, what are the benefits of consuming less sugar, eating clean, and exercising regularly? You guessed it, Better Sleep! Get sleep help today by making some small changes.
Sleep Help: Eat Better, Sleep Better
These days, staying away from sugar is not easy. You walk into any store and what do they have on display? Donuts, muffins, candy, and whatever else they think you might buy as you walk by. Don’t even get me started on the check-out lines… people don’t even stand a chance. Kudos to those who can resist those tasty treats that line the register! Even though reducing sugar in your diet is the right thing to do, chocolate, ice cream, and cookies are oh so tempting. I am literally eating a chocolate chip cookie as I write this. I am not even kidding, talk about irony! All this talk about sugar made me think about the freshly made cookies in the kitchen. The power of sugar is real.
Are you looking for ways to reduce your sugar intake and eat healthier this year? Do you need some motivation to make better choices? I am going to spend some time going over some of the biggest reasons why lowering your sugar intake is a good idea, especially for better sleep.
Sugar Reduces Quality Of Sleep
There is actually evidence that increasing your sugar is linked to disrupted and more restless sleep. A recent study in 2016 composed of healthy volunteers that were placed into two different groups. The first group consumed a controlled diet where their added sugars and fats were limited and fiber was increased. On the other hand, the volunteers in the second group were allowed to eat however they wanted. Scientists found this second group ate significantly more foods high in sugar and fat, which led to impacting the quality of their sleep. The individuals who consumed higher amounts of sugar experienced a shorter amount of deep sleep. However, the deep sleep stage is crucial for the restoration and healing of the body, as well as maintaining a healthy immune function and metabolism. Increased sugar consumption also caused the volunteers to take longer to fall asleep and have restless sleep through the night.
It’s smart to be choosy about what you eat before bed. Have you ever had dark chocolate before bed and experienced a restless night of sleep? That’s because some sugary delights contain caffeine, which will inhibit a restful night of sleep if consumed in the evenings. It’s better to eat your sugary treats earlier in the day- this will keep the possible combination of sugar and caffeine from interfering with your sleep.
Sugar Increases Appetite & Cravings
Studies show that the brain begins responding to foods loaded with fat and sugar before we even put them in our mouths. Sugar is so powerful that even catching sight of a desirable treat will stimulate the reward circuit. The brain reacts to sugar by releasing dopamine, a hormone that releases feelings of satisfaction and pleasure. Consequently, the more sugary treats we eat, we become less sensitive to the dopamine rush. This causes a need to eat more sugar. It is actually the same process in the brain that causes addictive behaviors with drugs, alcohol, and gambling.
The overconsumption of sugar can reduce the effectiveness of hormones that suppress hunger and regulate metabolism, including insulin and leptin. So what impact does this have on sleep? This over-consumption of sugar increases cravings and distorts your appetite which leads to eating late at night. Late-night eating disrupts sleep and studies show poor sleep increases sugar cravings. Poor quality or insufficient sleep will actually interfere with the function and production of hormones that regulate appetite and blood sugar, including ghrelin, leptin, and insulin. Regularly consuming sugar can create a cycle of overstimulated appetite and disrupted sleep. Over time this cycle can lead to prediabetes, diabetes, and weight gain.
Sugar Consumption Increases Inflammation
Our circadian biorhythms regulate sleep and inflammation. When something goes wrong with one, the other is most likely to suffer as well. Poor sleep habits, including too little or too much sleep, can increase chronic inflammation. Low-grade inflammation can significantly increase the potential for disease and undermine the quality of sleep. How can it affect sleep? Inflammation can trigger psychological and physical changes that decrease the chance of a good night’s rest. This increased Inflammation creates stiffness and pain that makes it harder to fall asleep and sleep well. Higher levels of cortisol are linked to Inflammation. Cortisol stimulates alertness and can increase feelings of stress, which is a common obstacle when it comes to getting good sleep.
Sleep Help in Coeur d’Alene
Diets high in sugar can really cause problems when it comes to your health. Not only does a high sugar diet increase chronic inflammation, but it also can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and poor sleep. A high fiber, low sugar diet that includes whole unprocessed food promotes good overall health and better sleep. So when you are tempted to give in to those late-night sugar cravings, ask yourself “is it worth giving up a good night’s rest?”
If you notice you are still not sleeping well and you are eating a well-balanced diet, it may be time to contact a sleep professional today. For more information on how to get sleep help, contact Just Breathe DDS today at (208) 500-3030.