Whether it is the holiday season cheer or it is sipping Pina Coladas and strawberry daiquiris in the summer, the sugar season is always around us. Most people look to get a kick from sugar, but many of us end up wondering why sugar makes us sleepy. This is because sugar has a natural crash cycle so even if we do get the energy it won’t last long.
Sugar also has tons of negative effects on the body, mind, and sleep. So, let’s dive into why we should be cutting back on our daily sugar intake.
Sugar Affects Our Energy
Some people may feel like they get a burst of energy like kids do when they have sugar. But not everyone even gets the high that is often followed by a huge drawback of energy. The crash is always worst than the high. But why?
- Are bodies have difficulty producing Orexin when we consume too much sugar (1). Orexin is the chemical our brains use to make us feel like we are awake. When this is slowed, the opposite happens, and we feel sleepy.
- If you do have any energy boost, it will last no more than 30 to 60 minutes if your body is not already used to sugar consumption. The blood needs to produce insulin to balance the sudden consumption of sugar, and glucose levels decrease, which results in a sudden drop. (2)
Sugar Affects Our Sleep
You may experience more than just being tired from that sugar high. Sugar plays a pretty impactful role in our sleep. If you have it too close to your bedtime, the excess energy production can certainly keep you up. But to take things a step further, sugar has a similar effect on your body as alcohol.
You are unlikely to get quality sleep even if you do go to bed because your body will struggle to stay in REM sleep. This is the part of sleep where the brain and body restore themselves during this deep sleep stage.
Sugar Affects Our Body
Sugar is addicting plain and simple. This is because our body has the 30 to 60 minutes window of energy referred to as the high. But our body needs more and more sugar to produce that same level of high each time. That’s why we crave more and more of it the next time, and it becomes an addition.
But the negative effects of sugar on our bodies are alarming.
- High blood pressure can be a risk because of the way sugar limits the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps expand your blood vessels for good circulation.
- Fatty Liver Disease comes from the recess glucose that gets turned into fat. This gets stored in the liver. And with the fatty liver disease eventually, the liver cells get replaced with fatty cells.
- Inflammation of the joints and muscles comes from insulin resistance when the body starts to get used to high-sugar consumption. Obesity can also lead to diabetes.
- The risk of heart attack or stroke happens (especially with those who have diabetes) when their blood sugar levels reach 126 mg/dl.
How Much Sugar is OK to Have?
Part of the reason so many individuals put themselves at risk is that they aren’t aware of how much sugar they are actually consuming and don’t know how much is OK//not OK. Note that it is slightly different for men than women. (3)
According to the AHA:
- Men are allowed to have 150 calories of sugar intake per day or the equivalent of 9 teaspoons or 36 grams.
- Women are suggested to have no more than 100 calories of sugar intake of the equivalent of 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of sugar.
Why are men and women treated differently?
Naturally, men’s bodies process food differently and have faster metabolisms than women have. Keep in mind this is also generalized information, and certain individuals are going to have different ways of processing sugar. Some women may have faster metabolisms than others. Exercise also has a significant impact on how your body handles sugar.
Tips to Cut Sugar Out of Our Diet
Being proactive about your sugar intake doesn’t mean that you can’t have it at all. That’s why we have comprised this list of healthy tips.
- Cutting back on sugar is not as hard as you think. The easiest way to cut back on your sugar is to eliminate drinking it. The drinks we have contain a lot of sugar. This is especially true with soda but even in some other drinks like juices. Sticking to zero-calorie drinks like black coffee, water, and any labeled zero-calorie drinks is what you should have.
- If you struggle with your blood sugar levels and still have a relatively healthy diet, you can change how you eat. You can have more frequent balanced meals, everyone 2 hours in smaller portions. This will help you significantly in terms of having consistent blood sugar levels instead of having blood sugar spikes.
- Cutting back on alcohol should be a no-brainer but never have alcohol when you have an empty stomach. The obvious reasons are that it will make you drunk much more quickly, but more importantly, when you are drunk, you are likely to overeat. Alcohol on an empty stomach also makes you feel drowsy very quickly (4).
- Exercise can combat drowsiness by increasing your blood circulation and oxygen levels, which naturally increases your energy. Plus, exercise helps burn off the fat (though it’s hard) to reduce your risk of fatty liver disease, stroke or heart attack, and so on.
One Step A Time
Some people like to try and go cold turkey when it comes to getting rid of sugar in their diet. But that approach does not work for everyone. In fact, you may feel significantly worse for a period of time if you do this. That’s because your body is used to functioning and thriving on sugar and the absence of it makes your body crave it more. Cold turkey, for some people, works, while for other people, it creates a binge-and-swing effect.
Slowly eliminating sugar from your diet is an easier approach, and you can start with drinks that have a major impact, as mentioned. By paying attention to the labels and grams, you can see how much sugar you are consuming daily and aim to reduce it every couple of days or weeks.