How Too Little Sleep is Linked to Too Much Sugar
"New research is showing the clear correlation between not getting enough sleep and eating too much sugar."
If you’re not getting good sleep consistently, keep reading. In today’s episode with Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD, we’ll be talking about two topics that seem to be dominating the health and wellness news these days: the first is not getting enough sleep and the second is eating too much refined sugar. But what’s really interesting about these two topics, is that they are connected.
So if you are one of the 165 million Americans who struggle with sleep on a regular basis — or worse, one of the nearly 100 million who suffer from chronic insomnia, then this is important health information you can’t afford to miss.
- 06:01: Sleep and Appetite Facts
- 12:01: The Sleep-Sugar Connection
- 20:13: How to Remedy The Situation
- 32:28: Wrap-Up
The way you sleep really changes everything — when you get a good night’s sleep you feel refreshed and ready to tackle whatever the day has in store for you. And when you don’t... very likely you’re grumpy all day! But really, lack of sleep affects so much more than your mood. Here are some interesting sleep facts you might not know.
Sleep and Appetite Facts
- Getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night is sufficient to help keep you at a healthy weight, to boost your immune system, and help you stay alert and focused throughout your day. However, getting anywhere in the range of 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye every night will help accomplish these things, as well. So, shoot for 7, 8 or 9 hours, whichever works better for you. More than 9 hours is too much and less than 7 is just not enough.
- Not getting enough sleep can cause you to experience serious food cravings. In fact, poor sleep has a direct link to stimulating hunger and suppressing the hormones that signal when you’re feeling full. In fact, when you don’t get a good night’s sleep, your hormones increase your body’s sense of hunger — even when you don’t need to eat or have already had enough to eat!
- Insufficient sleep poses a number of health risks, including but not limited to, increasing the risk of heart disease, depression, obesity, and diabetes. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), not getting enough sleep also increases the risk of stroke, cancer, and arthritis, as well as making you more likely to smoke and drink excessive amounts of alcohol. Sleep is that important!
- Less than 10% of your daily caloric intake should consist of added or refined sugars and less is more in this case — so keep it as low as possible! Currently, most people in the U.S. are consuming 15% or more of their daily calories from added sugars. That’s way too much, and it’s contributing to record numbers of Americans struggling with obesity, heart disease, chronic inflammation, joint pain, and more.
The Sleep-Sugar Connection
We mentioned that new research is showing the clear correlation between not getting enough sleep and eating too much sugar. And while you’d think eating too much sugar causes you to get poor sleep, that correlation in that direction is not that strong. The really strong correlation goes the other way: not getting enough sleep actually causes you to eat a lot more sugar!
So let’s take a look at exactly what this research is saying, and the effects this can have on your body. We’ll also share a few things you can do to not only improve how long you sleep but how well sleep, so you can kick those sugar cravings to the curb for good.
Recently, 500 women participated in a study conducted by researchers from Columbia University working with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women program. The study measured the quality of the participants’ sleep as well as their eating habits, and it found that the less people slept, the more they consumed things with added sugars (this was true of caffeine and fatty foods too, but the most prevalent increase was sugar intake).
Of those participating in the study, about a quarter said they slept less than 7 hours per night, and struggled with insomnia. Among those who did not get an adequate night’s sleep, they also consumed more calories than they needed to, every day. In fact, they consumed an average of 800 extra calories per day, and most of those came from added sugar.
Obviously, the study highlighted the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. These participants also found themselves at a significantly increased risk for heart disease, obesity, and sleep disorders since eating foods high in saturated fats and added sugars can prove dangerous for both men and women. They also saw an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, muscle and joint pain, and even chronic inflammation.
Now, we completely understand why people aren’t getting the rest that they need. Today’s world is so fast-paced and demanding — we’re running from our jobs to pick up the kids at school or to take them to some sort of after-school activity. Then there’s the housework that needs to be done, bills that need to be paid, meals that need to be prepared, and more.
So sacrificing a few hours of sleep in order to get everything done seems like the only option for many people. And if you’re stressed out about family, or money, or your job, or life in general, chances are good you’re lying awake at night thinking about these things. Then, the next day you grab that donut or extra cup of coffee because your hormones are screaming at you to eat something to boost your energy and get you through the day. It’s survival, right? But the cost is high.
As we already discussed, when you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones can be thrown out of whack. What actually happens is that a lack of sleep has a significant influence on the hippocampus, the part of the brain that regulates the amount of food you think that you need to eat. When you don’t have a restful night’s sleep, you tend to make irrational, impulsive, and emotionally based decisions, which tends to have a negative effect on your food choices — including the amount of sugar your body craves, and ultimately that you consume, often in the form of candy, baked goods, chocolate, and even alcohol.
Additionally, not getting enough sleep can actually make you feel hungrier the next day, suppressing the hormones within the body responsible for letting you know when you’ve had enough to eat. As you can imagine, this only makes a bad situation that much worse!
How to Remedy The Situation
Okay, so we now know that there is a direct link between craving sugar and not getting enough sleep. Now let’s get into what you can do to remedy this situation.
In addition to eating a balanced diet full of anti-inflammatory foods that includes whole grains, slow burning carbs, lean proteins, and lots of high fiber, nutrient-rich fruits and veggies, here are a few things you can do to get a better, more restful night’s sleep and reduce sugar cravings as a result:
Avoid a heavy meal several hours before bed
Dinner should not be the biggest meal of your day, period. Eating a big meal before you go to bed can lead to things like indigestion and heartburn, which can keep you up at night. In fact, we recommend that you eat several small plant-based meals throughout the day.
Take the blue light special off the menu
No, we’re not talking about late night diner food; we’re talking about devices. Too much screen time is a huge contributor to poor sleep and lack of sleep. The blue light emitted from your smartphone, tablet, and even your TV interferes with your natural production of melatonin — the hormone that helps you sleep — and throws off your body’s natural circadian rhythm. If any of your devices has a blue light filter option (which many newer devices do these days), make sure it’s always turned on if you’re working, gaming, or surfing the web at night. Better yet, put down any and all devices at least a few hours before bedtime.
Establish a relaxing routine
Create a routine that you practice every night before bedtime to relax. This could mean sitting quietly for a few minutes and doing some deep breathing exercises, or taking a bath full of bubbles and relaxing essential oils like lavender or chamomile. Anything you can do to find some quiet time before bed will have a beneficial effect on your quality of sleep.
Get up and go to bed at the same time
This one might be tough, but it’s probably the most important one on the list. The body thrives on regularity, and that goes for sleep too. Experts say the key to getting a good, restful night’s sleep is to get up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time every day, including weekends. Getting up at the same time every day will help keep your body’s circadian rhythm in check, and will actually help you have a better night’s sleep which will, in turn, reduce your body’s craving for sugar!
Take a gentle, natural, sleep supplement
Of course we recommend taking Smarter Sleep before bed. This sleep supplement is a simple, two-ingredient formula, but it’s super effective. The two all-natural active ingredients it contains are designed to naturally regulate your body back to a healthy, productive sleep cycle:
- The first might surprise you. It’s popular in Europe but is just catching on here: it is 225 mg of bioactive milk peptides. This stuff has been clinically shown to help people fall asleep faster, improve the quality of their sleep, reduce cortisol levels and improve focus the following day. You may not have heard of bioactive milk peptides before; they are actually the same natural, nutritional component found in mother’s milk that’s been proven to promote calm, restful sleep in babies. For Smarter Sleep, it’s been isolated and extracted to support the same results! If you’re non-dairy, don’t panic! It won’t affect you if you’re lactose intolerant, it’s just the isolated sleep-inducing peptide — not milk.
- The second is 4.5 mg of Melatonin, which is just the right amount to help restore balance to the body’s natural circadian rhythm while also providing powerful antioxidant support.
Users report that it helps them sleep more soundly and wake up feeling more refreshed and recharged — not like most chemical-based sleep aids, which can leave you feeling groggy, grumpy or even hungover.
We all know how important sleep is for our health — but what we learned here today i that chronic lack of sleep not only causes its own set of serious health issues, it is also a significant contributor to sugar cravings, which lead us to overeat, or even binge, on refined, processed sweets. On average, we can eat more than 800 extra calories every day, mostly from added sugars, when we don’t get great sleep. This in turn can lead to weight gain, elevated blood glucose levels, mood swings, and inflammation throughout the body. No Bueno!
So what can you do to sleep better? We shared some proven recommendations, including avoiding heavy, calorie-laden meals and opting for several, smaller whole-food, plant-based meals throughout the day. We also recommend putting down devices at least two-hours before bed — remember, blue light that's emitted from these screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin. Instead, opt for a relaxing routine that helps you unwind and get ready to drift off to never-never land; read a book, take a nice bath, use some essential oils to calm down… whatever helps you relax, make that your nightly ritual!
And finally, we recommend you take the all-natural sleep supplement, specifically Smarter Nutrition Sleep — the only all-natural sleep supplement that combines bioactive milk peptides and the exact right amount of melatonin to help you Sleep Deeper, Sleep Better, and Sleep Smarter!