Sugar and Sleep: The Holiday Guide
It’s official - the door to the year-end holidays is open. And with this comes get-togethers with friends and family, and sugar- lots and lots of sugar!
While sugar may seem like a treat, it’s more A thief that steals away many of the things that support quality sleep. Here are three ways sugar robs your rest.
1 – Sugar depletes Magnesium
Magnesium is an essential nutrient. It supports brain, heart, muscle, nerve, blood, bone, and DNA health. It also helps to regulate the chemical messengers in the body (neurotransmitters) that help with sleep.
The book “The Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride states that the body requires 56 molecules of magnesium to metabolize one molecule of sugar. That is a losing battle.
There is A LOT of sugar in the standard diet. Magnesium deficiency is present in about half of the U.S. adult population. It is unlikely someone can supplement their way out of magnesium depletion while eating a high-sugar diet.
2 – Sugar reduces Serotonin
Serotonin is the “happiness” neurotransmitter. It makes you feel good, provides a sense of calm, and also supports you in saying no to unhealthy choices or violent tendencies. It’s like a chemical “off switch”.
When serotonin is low, people become depressed, anxious, angry, aggressive, carb-craving (which turns into sugar), and struggle with sleep!
An important byproduct (or metabolite) of serotonin is melatonin. Melatonin is both a hormone and a powerful antioxidant. It is responsible for helping you fall asleep.
So, that sugary snack that may seem to make you happy is actually reducing your feel-good chemical, which in turn limits the amount of melatonin available to help you fall asleep at night. Not so sweet, right?
3 – Sugar creates Stress
Maintaining even blood sugar levels are an important factor in stress reduction and more. When sugar is consumed, a spike in blood sugar occurs. This causes a release of adrenaline, which results in the quick energy or “sugar-high” that is often the driver of eating the sugar in the first place.
The human body releases adrenaline for quick-energy, fight or flight situations. It’s faster than burning fat. I often tell clients it’s like taking the escalator instead of the stairs. The escalator is available and easy, so why not? The body will use sugar over fat because its available and easy. And you get left with the fat.
This constant fluctuation of blood sugar can commonly lead to people waking up with anxiety in the middle of the night. It can also result in over-worked adrenal glands. When you are overworked, you get tired. So do your adrenals. And when your adrenal glands are fatigued, so are you.
Stopping the Sugar
Quitting sugar can be challenging. After all, it has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine. Here are 3 Tips to help beat this sleep bandit.
- Read food labels for hidden sources of sugar. The app FOODUCATE has a label-scan option that allows the user to see healthier alternatives.
- Eat organic, low-glycemic foods to avoid cravings and crashes. The Glycemic Load Counter: A Pocket Guide to GL and GI values for over 800 Foods is a great resource.
- Take “sun-breaks” outside throughout the day to reduce stress, boost serotonin, improve mood, and increase energy levels.
Finally, given you may have lots of opportunities to eat sugar at parties and gatherings, avoid the urge to keep sweet treats around the house.
Are you ready to Sleep Like A Boss? I and the rest of the sleep like a boss team invite you to reach out to us for support. And make sure to share this post with anyone who struggles with their sleep.