You toss and turn and can’t fall asleep. Or you wake up in the middle of the night and are wide awake for hours. Though you may feel like the only one up in the wee hours, an estimated 20 percent of the population experiences difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep at night, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. If you’re a part of that 20 percent, quitting sugar might be the key to more restful nights.
Being chronically underslept puts you at risk for chronic disease. If you’re regularly getting fewer than the recommended seven hours of sleep each night, you’re at higher risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We know that poor sleep can be blamed on a variety of factors, including health conditions, stress, and lifestyle. Here’s how sugar impacts your sleep and what you can do about it.
Excess Sugar and Light Sleep
People who consume an excess amount of sugar sleep worse than those who stick to a low-sugar diet, according to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Their study found that high sugar and high saturated fat diets were associated with lighter sleep and more waking at night. The participants in the study also experienced less restful sleep. It stands to reason that a low-sugar diet might be the key to a more restful night for troubled sleepers.
Diabetes and Sleep Problems
For individuals with diabetes, sleep problems are often one of the symptoms of their disease. This is because high blood sugar and poor sleep have a frustrating codependent relationship. When your blood sugar levels are high, you don’t sleep well. The unmanaged symptoms of diabetes, with spikes and dips in blood sugar levels, can make it much harder to sleep well at night. Managing those blood sugar fluctuations through diet and medication could reduce the impact they have on your sleep.
On the flip side, sleep deprivation is known to disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels according to the journal Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome. If you aren’t sleeping well on a regular basis, you may be at a higher risk for prediabetes, according to University Health News.
Additionally, individuals who have obstructive sleep apnea syndrome are more likely to develop diabetes, according to research published in the journal Chest. And for individuals who already have type-2 diabetes, mild to severe obstructive sleep apnea appears to further contribute to difficulty managing the disease.
If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, gaining victory over your sugar cravings could be a key step to protecting yourself against chronic disease. And you just might find your new, low-sugar lifestyle is the secret to finally getting more sleep.