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Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sweet Dreams: How Sugar Impacts Your Child's Sleep

Posted by Julia Higginson on Oct 24, 2018 5:40:00 PM

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Trying to cut out sugar?

Getting a good night’s sleep could be your answer.

Wait!

Can cutting your sugary cravings be as simple as getting a good night's sleep?

A study out of the UK shows sleep is the best trick for accomplishing your goal.

Think about how you fell after a night of tossing and turning. You most likely feel exhausted, cranks, and perhaps not yourself.  Missing out on the recommended eight hours of sleep will not only leave you feeling out of sorts but also puts you at risk for various health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

 The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that individuals who increased the amount of sleep they get each night reduced their added sugar intake by as much as 10 grams the next day compared with the amount of sugar they consumed at the beginning of the study.

The study also showed that getting more sleep also helps to lower daily carbohydrate intake.

 "The fact that extending sleep led to a reduction in intake of [added] sugars, by which we mean the sugars that are added to foods by manufacturers or in cooking at home, as well as sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juice, suggests that a simple change in lifestyle may really help people to consume healthier diets," said senior study author Wendy Hall, a senior lecturer in the Department of Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences at King's College London.

Why Sleep Helps

Sleepy individuals tend to pick sugary treats or carbohydrates to help you get a temporary boost of energy. Plus,sling healthy choices seem overwhelming when you are suffering from sleep deprivation. Prolonged sleep deprivation alters your levels of hormones that control your appetite. The sleepier you are the more you tend to crave sugar.

Science shows us that the chemical gherlin is responsible for our sugar cravings. Ghrelin is the hormone that controls your cravings for carbohydrates and simple sugars. If you’ve ever had an overwhelming craving for a candy bar or soda after a lousy night of sleep, you can blame a fluctuation of ghrelin.

 Poor sleep or prolonged periods without sleep leads your body to make more ghrelin. The increase in the hormone is your body’s way of keeping you awake. Eating sugar and carbs can give your body the quick boost it needs to stay awake. Your ghrelin levels will continue to rise if poor sleep continues. Eating sugar every day to help you stay awake can lead to weight problems, health issues, and prevent you from getting the essential vitamins and nutrition you need to be healthy.

So how do you turn down those unhealthy cravings and get your ghrelin in check? Science has our answer again: leptin. Leptin is produced by your fat cells and is what helps you to know you are full.

Sleep deprivation leads to a vicious cycle of producing less leptin so you feel like you are more hungry more than you really are.  Poor sleep also leads to problems with the way your body handles glucose. Sleep deprivation or poor sleep can lead to lower glucose tolerance and lower insulin sensitivity.

Getting at least eight hours of quality sleep can help you choose healthier foods and kick your sugar habit to the curb. A well rested you means that you have the energy to eat healthy instead of teaching for the sugar for a quick, yet temporary energy spike. 

The Game Plan

The first step in cutting out sugar is to get consistent and quality sleep but that’s not always as easy as it sounds.

There are a myriad of reasons why you might not be getting a good night’s sleep. Those reasons range from poor sleep habits to medical conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea.

You should first consult with a certified sleep physician to determine if the cause of your sleep issues is habitual, environmental, or medical. Habitual and most environmental causes of poor sleep can be corrected. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, establishing a relaxing routine, not going to bed too full or hungry, and going to bed at a decent time are all actions that can help you get a better night’s sleep.

Changing your sleep doesn’t have to be as complex as you think. Take your quest to better sleep one step at a time. You can start today by cleaning up your room to make the environment conducive to sleep. Freshly washed sheets and bedding can help you relax at night.

You can also keep a sleep diary to help identify potential behavior that is interfering with your sleep. If you find that electronics or what you eat are interfering with your sleep, the solution is to just stop. Make your bedtime routine calm and relaxing can help you get the sleep you need.

A good night’s sleep leads to a well-rested you. You will find that having the energy gained from sleeping will help you reaching for healthy veggies instead of that tempting candy bar. If you are concerned about your sleep patterns contributing to your sugar habit, give the Alaska Sleep Clinic a call today. We can help you on your quest to get a good night’s sleep.

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Topics: sleep problems, behavioral psychology

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