Sweet Dreams: How Sugar Impacts Your Sleep

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Who doesn’t love a delicious after-dinner dessert? But digging into those cookies or that bowl of ice cream means that you’re pumping lots of added sugar into your body—something that can negatively impact the quality of your sleep.

In fact, the more sugar that you eat during the day, the more often you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t fully wake up, the sugar in your system can pull you out of a deep sleep, making you feel exhausted the next day.

On top of that, consuming too much sugar during the day can lead to an energy crash. Eating lots of sugar reduces the activity of what are called orexin cells. As a result, you’re going to feel pretty sleepy. Ever wonder why you want to take an afternoon nap after chowing down on something indulgent? That’s why.

To avoid those nap-inducing energy dips, you want to do everything that you can to keep your blood sugar level steady. Do that and you’ll keep your energy level even throughout the day, helping you stick to a normal sleep schedule.

One of the biggest ingredients that can knock your blood sugar levels off balance is refined sugar. Obviously it's in sodas and desserts, but it's also in many juices, breakfast cereals, canned fruits, and even spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce. You'll also find refined sugar in simple carbs (think: white bread, white rice, and regular pasta). Cut back on those foods (and replace them with complex carbs, like whole grains) and you won’t just improve the nutritional value of your food, but also how well you sleep at night.