Sweet Dreams: Why Sugar May be Keeping You Up at Night
Not getting enough sleep doesn’t just make you feel groggy; it can also wreak havoc on your physical, mental, and cognitive health, too. If you’re not getting a good night’s rest and can’t figure out why, your diet may be to blame. Here’s why eating too much sugar may not be as sweet as you think:
High Glycemic Index Foods & Sleep
When you eat foods with a high glycemic index, your blood sugar level rises. The higher the number on the glycemic index, the more rapidly your blood sugar rises. While starchy and high carbohydrate foods can cause blood sugar levels to rise, the most obvious culprit is sugar itself. And over time, eating a lot of sugary foods can lead to consistently high blood sugar, and even type II diabetes.
So what does all of this have to do with sleep? When blood sugar levels are high, the body—through the use of the kidneys—will try to get rid of it. The kidneys try to purge the body of high blood sugar by frequently urinating. In the middle of the night, then, it’s likely that you’ll have to get up to use the restroom, disturbing sleep.
Consuming Sugar and Your Health
Sugar also turns into glucose in the blood, which provides a burst of energy. This burst can prevent your body from shutting down as it should at bedtime, even if you don’t have to get up to use the restroom.
Of course, eating too much sugar—and not just before bed—on a regular basis also has long-term negative effects on the brain and the body. Eating too much sugar can cause depression and anxiety, inflammation in the brain, insulin resistance, and can also lead to weight gain and cardiovascular problems – all of which may impair your ability to sleep, too.
Food that Induce Sleep
If you want to improve your sleep, changing your dietary habits may be the answer. Rather than choosing high glycemic index and sugary foods, focus on regulating blood sugar and leptin levels. Eating non-processed foods, plenty of healthy fats and protein, and lots of veggies and some fruit (especially berries) can help to control blood sugar and leptin levels.
Of course, you can also improve your sleep by getting plenty of exercise, reducing your stress levels, reducing your exposure to artificial light, and choosing a comfy bed.
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