Falling asleep after eating

Those sugar highs you think you get are likely a figment of your imagination. In reality, they’re more like sugar sedatives. Jonah Lehrer, writing for Wired, points out that orexin—a brain chemical that keeps you feeling awake—is inhibited when you consume sugar. Fortunately, there’s a fix.

Lehrer points out a study looking at the effects of different foods on orexin that discovered that while sugar lowered orexin levels in the brain (which creates a tired feeling) and protein excited the orexin cells into production mode (generating a feeling of alertness):

The last sequence of experiments explored the impact of different nutrient combinations on the orexin system. Although the scientists assumed that the inhibitory presence of glucose would more than compensate for the excitatory influence of protein, that hypothesis turned out be incorrect. Instead, consuming even a little protein canceled out the curse of sugar, especially when the foods were consumed simultaneously. (When the animals ate protein first, and then swallowed a chaser of glucose, orexin neurons still showed a decrease in activity. So make sure your dessert has some protein in it.)


This research is just further evidence suggesting that what we eat isn’t about calories in and calories out. The content of our meals really matters. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that sugar isn’t a great substance regardless of the presence of protein. We’ve taken a close look at sugar and how fructose isn’t digested like normal food. You’re better off staying away from the stuff in general, but at least you can deter some of the negative effects by including a little protein in the mix.

Title photo remixed from an original by oily ().

Why Sugar Makes Us Sleepy (And Protein Wakes Us Up) | Wired



What You Need To Know About Blood Sugar Spikes

A spike in a person’s blood sugar after eating, known as post-meal hyperglycemia, is not uncommon and typically not dangerous. Unless directed by their doctor, people with diabetes don’t have to check their blood sugar after every meal. Taking note of these spikes, however, can help you better manage meals and keep your blood sugar steady.

Several factors contribute to post-meal hyperglycemia, including what you eat, how much, and the timing of insulin injections. According to the American Diabetes Association, your blood sugar should be less than 180 milligrams per deciliter of blood within one to two hours after eating, but your doctor may set different blood sugar goals specific to you.

Tami Ross, RD, LD, a certified diabetes educator based in Lexington, Ky. and current president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators answers some frequently asked questions about blood sugars spikes, what they mean, and when they may be cause for concern.

Who should pay the most attention to blood sugar spikes after eating?

Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should be very focused on keeping their blood sugar as close to normal as possible. This will help get the best possible outcome for your pregnancy. Women with uncontrolled blood sugar are at risk for birth defects, miscarriage, and your baby growing too large. If you are taking insulin, your needs for insulin will also increase, particularly in the last months of pregnancy.

Those looking to improve their A1C blood glucose levels should pay more attention to their post-meal blood sugar.

What are the negative consequences of an after-meal spike?

There are short-term and long-term effects of a post-meal blood sugar spike. In the short-term, you’ll feel tired after eating, so tired that you could just sit down in a chair and fall asleep. You might have blurry vision and just overall not feel well.

In the long-term, if you consistently have these spikes after eating, it’s going to raise your A1C level. We know individuals who have an elevated A1C over time have a greater risk of complications such as heart disease.

How can you prevent these spikes from recurring?

If your blood sugar is out of range, it can be an opportunity to learn by doing post-meal checks and guiding your decisions about eating and meal planning moving forward.

It’s a scenario I see often with my patients. People go out to an Asian buffet or get Mexican food or whatever it may be, and two hours after the meal their blood sugar is out of target. People should look at these incidents and ask themselves a few questions: Did I get my carbohydrate count correct? Do I need to adjust my portions? If they take insulin, do they need to take a different dose?

It’s a great opportunity for problem solving.

Are there particular foods that cause spikes?

Diabetes is very individualized. How people respond to different foods and how their bodies manage different foods is unique to each person. There probably aren’t any foods we’ll tell you to never eat again. You might instead eat a different portion size. If you choose to eat cheesecake, one or two bites can fit in your meal plan; but a whole piece would be excessive.

Activity plays into what foods you can choose too. If you’re going to be more active, that can impact your blood sugar. Exercising on a consistent basis lowers your blood glucose and can help keep your A1C stable.

You hear a lot about the glycemic index . But you’re probably not ever going to stop eating foods with a high glycemic index, and you don’t really need to as long as you’re watching portions and counting carbs.

How can caregivers help someone with diabetes manage their blood sugar?

Support and encouragement are huge things that all diabetes patients need. Some individuals need help evaluating their portion size and figuring out the carb content of the foods they eat. Some people might need help making healthy food decisions when they’re out shopping or cooking at home.

In terms of keeping their blood sugar steady, sometimes it’s good to hold a person accountable to getting out and walking or going to the gym and doing some kind of physical activity.

Are there preferred ways of tracking blood sugar levels?

There’s no recommended way to track. As long as you’re doing it, that’s all we care about. You can use an old-fashioned pen and paper, an app on your phone, an Excel spreadsheet, or an online support website. A diabetes educator once told me, “Going to the doctor without your glucose numbers is like going to the vet without your pet.” Diabetes can be very unpredictable, and in the case of keeping track of blood sugar levels, knowledge is power.

Does Sugar Make Me Sleepy? Know the Answer for the First Time!

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  • Almost all the foods that we eat contain a certain amount of sugar. But food items with high sugar content are the go-to meals of people who wish to boost their energy levels. That is why the term, sugar high, was coined.

    Sugar high is a real thing. You would feel more energetic and pumped up after consuming drinks and snacks laden with sugar. But after sometimes, you would notice that you will start to feel sleepy or tired.

    Why is it so? Why does sugar make me sleepy? These are the most common questions of people who enjoy a high-sugar content, and these are the same questions that we will be addressing in this article.

    Why does sugar make me sleepy

    Does Sugar Make Me Sleepy (and Why!)?

    The short answer to our first question is: yes, sugar makes you sleepy. Now the answer to the second question (why) can be a bit tricky because there is more than one reason why this occurs. These are as follows:

    Sudden Drop in Blood Sugar Levels

    When the sugar in your food enters your body, it will enter the bloodstream, causing a spike in your blood sugar levels. The increase in your blood sugar levels will cause your pancreas to release insulin, a substance that regulates blood sugar levels. As a result, there would be a sudden drop in your blood sugar levels. This drop is the reason why you suddenly feet tired and sleepy.

    Sugar Sensitivity

    If your body is sensitive to sugar, an increase in blood sugar levels may lead to low production of serotonin and beta-endorphin. These chemicals are both found in the brain, and low levels of these in the body can lead to fatigue.

    Diabetes or Tendency to Develop Diabetes

    Experiencing lethargy after eating sugar is most likely to happen if you are a diabetic who is on insulin and antidiabetic drugs as these medications can break down and metabolize sugar right away.

    Diabetes or Tendency to Develop Diabetes

    What You Can Do About It

    If you wish to avoid feeling tired after eating sugar, what you need to do is to change how and when you consume sugar so you can facilitate your body to better digest and process sugar-rich foods. With that in mind, here are some of the things that you can do to address it:

    Never consume too much sugar.

    Too much of anything, especially sugar, can be detrimental to your health. That is why you should give yourself a favor by avoiding too much sugar. Try to reduce the amount of sugar that you consume in one sitting. It is okay to have a few bites of cheesecake but eating an entire slice may not be a good idea.

    Eat protein before sugar.

    If sugar makes you sleepy, protein can help you feel energized. Since this is the case, it is recommended that you eat a small amount of protein-rich foods before consuming sugar to cancel out the sleepy effect that sweets may induce.

    If possible, it is best that you eat desserts that already include a bit of protein like cheesecake, peanut butter or chocolates with nuts and fruits.

    Consume sweets along with fats.

    Aside from protein, fats also help to slow down the digestion of sugar, maintaining a steady rate of blood sugar levels and preventing you from experiencing a sugar crash. Also, eating fats with sugar can also reduce spikes in your blood sugar levels.

    Consume sweets along with fats

    But of course, make sure to consume only healthy fats from fishes and nuts.

    Final Words

    Does sugar make me sleepy? Yes. Sugar can make you sleepy and tired due to plenty of reasons including a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, diabetes or sugar sensitivity.

    If you love to eat sugar-rich foods, you may surely want to find a way on how to prevent experiencing fatigue and sleepiness after eating sugar. Try doing the things listed above, but if all else fails, it is best that you consult with your doctor to determine what might be causing it so you can find a way to combat it.

    If you also want to improve the quality of your sleep, you should try doing yoga.

    Reactive hypoglycemia is the general term for having a hypo after eating, which is when blood glucose levels become dangerously low following a meal.

    Also known as postprandial hypoglycemia, drops in blood sugar are usually recurrent and occur within four hours after eating.

    Reactive hypoglycemia can occur in both people with and without diabetes, and is thought to be more common in overweight individuals or those who have had gastric bypass surgery

    What are the causes of reactive hypoglycemia?

    Scientists believe reactive hypoglycemia to be the result of too much insulin being produced and released by the pancreas following a large carbohydrate-based meal.

    This excess insulin production and secretion continues after the glucose derived from the meal has been digested, causing the amount of glucose in the bloodstream to fall to a lower-than-normal level.

    What causes this increase in pancreatic activity is unclear.

    One possible explanation is that in rare cases, a benign (non-cancerous) tumour in the pancreas may cause an overproduction of insulin, or too much glucose may be used up by the tumour itself.

    Another is that reactive hypoglycemia is caused by deficiencies in glucagon secretion

    In the U.S. the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that “the causes of most cases of reactive hypoglycemia are still open to debate”.

    Signs and symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia

    Symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia can include:

    • Anxiety
    • Blurred vision
    • Confusion
    • Dizzy spells
    • Fatigue
    • Headaches
    • Heart palpitations
    • Increased hunger
    • Irritability
    • Light-headedness
    • Sleeping problems
    • Sweating
    • Weakness

    When talking about the signs of reactive hypoglycemia, it’s important to note that many of these symptoms can be experienced without actually having low blood sugar

    In fact, it is rare for such symptoms to be caused by falling blood sugar levels after eating, with the actual cause for many people often relating to what food was eaten or variations in the timing of the food moving through the stomach and intestinal tract.

    If there is no hypoglycemia at the time of the symptoms, you may have what is known as “postprandial syndrome”.


    No medical treatment is usually required for cases of reactive hypoglycemia. Instead, patients are generally advised to:

    • Reduce carbohydrate intake and/or eat frequent small meals – the first step of treatment is to split your daily diet into several small meals and snacks, no more than 3 hours apart., which are less carb-heavy.
    • Eat a well-balanced diet, including meat, poultry, fish, nonmeat sources of protein, dairy products and fibre-rich foods such as whole grains, fruit and vegetables.
    • Avoid or limit sugary foods and drinks, especially soft drinks rich in glucose or sucrose.
    • Exercise regularly – physical activity increases sugar uptake which, in turn, decreases excessive insulin release.
    • Eat food when drinking alcohol and avoid using sugary soft drinks as mixers.

    Further evaluation by a doctor may be required for some people, such as those who have had intestinal surgery (e.g. gastric bypass).

    Can hypo unawareness be dangerous?

    Reduced hypo awareness can potentially be dangerous. If you suffer hypoglycemia you should be careful to test before putting either yourself or others in any potential danger.

    Examples when hypoglycemia and unawareness of it could be particularly dangerous include driving, operating dangerous machinery at work and even day to day tasks such as cooking or even crossing the road.

    Improving hypo awareness signs

    If you are suffering from impaired hypo unawareness, you may be advised to increase your window of blood glucose control for a period of time to get your numbers higher and prevent hypos from occurring so often.

    Studies have found this method to be successful.

    If you have frequent hypos you may need to test your blood sugar more often, to help get better control as well as to catch hypos earlier. Try to record which events lead to hypos so you can spot trends and prevent them in future.

    Why do people feel tired after eating?

    Feeling tired, or having difficulty concentrating, after a meal is relatively common. A person may feel particularly tired, depending on what, when, and how much they ate.

    Below, we discuss some reasons why a person might feel tired after a meal, and how to prevent it.

    The type of food you eat

    Share on PinterestMeals containing both carbohydrates and protein can make a person feel tired.

    Foods rich in protein and carbohydrates can make people feel sleepier than other foods.

    Some researchers believe that a person feels tired after eating because their body is producing more serotonin.

    Serotonin is a chemical that plays a role in regulating mood and sleep cycles.

    An amino acid called tryptophan, which occurs in many protein-rich foods, helps the body produce serotonin. Carbohydrates help the body absorb tryptophan.

    For these reasons, eating a meal rich in both protein and carbohydrates may make a person feel sleepy.

    Tryptophan occurs in foods that are rich in protein. These include:

    • salmon
    • poultry
    • eggs
    • spinach
    • seeds
    • milk
    • soy products
    • cheese

    Foods that contain high levels of carbohydrates include:

    • pasta
    • rice
    • white bread and crackers
    • cakes, cookies, donuts, and muffins
    • corn cobs
    • milk
    • sugar and candy

    People often eat a combination of protein and carbohydrates before bed, such as cereal with milk.

    How much food you eat

    A person may be likelier to experience postprandial somnolence after a large meal.

    People who eat larger lunches may experience more of an afternoon slump than those who eat less at midday. Eating causes blood sugar to rise, and a dip in energy may follow.

    Other factors can contribute to tiredness after eating:

    • poor sleep at night, which can lead to tiredness throughout the day
    • drinking alcohol with a meal, especially during the daytime

    When you eat meals

    A person’s natural body clock, or circadian rhythm, can affect how they feel after eating.

    The National Sleep Foundation report that people naturally have a lull in energy 2 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. This may explain the tradition of taking a nap, or siesta, after the midday meal.

    Daylight and darkness are essential in regulating the circadian rhythm, but the timing of meals may also have an effect.

    Ask Leyla: Falling asleep after a meal?


    April 14, 2014 | By Leyla Muedin MS, RD, CDN

    Q: What is causing my husband to fall asleep two hours after a meal every day? He is 78 years old and in excellent health and takes no medication.

    A: There are many reasons a meal can induce sleepiness.

    Was it a big meal? Sometimes the sheer caloric load of a meal can weigh us down. Circulation is directed toward the abdomen for digestion and absorption. But this is the easy answer. Given when your husband falls asleep has me suspecting something else.

    Blood sugar increases after we eat. If it rises too high, as it would with insulin resistance or diabetes, it can cause sleepiness. The crash and burn of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can also induce a nap. I witness this several times a week in our patients undergoing five-hour glucose tolerance tests. Our nurses supply a pillow and blanket so they can be comfortable.

    The five-hour glucose tolerance test (GTT) is the only way to determine definitively if insulin resistance, diabetes or hypoglycemia exists. Normally, your doctor will only do a fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c (HgbA1c). These are not enough. Also, as I’m writing this, the scientific literature is revealing that the HgbA1c test is less reliable than once thought. This explains why we often see a discrepancy between the GTT and the HgbA1c.

    Hands down, my money’s on the GTT. No contest.

    A stealthier reason for sleepiness after eating is food sensitivities or allergies. Does your husband frequently consume the same foods during meals? Are there certain foods he craves and eats regularly, such as bread, sweets or dairy products? These are the prime suspects in food allergy and allergic addiction. The concept of allergic addiction reveals why we crave the foods that cause symptoms (a topic for a future newsletter, stay tuned).

    Your husband would benefit from a five-hour GTT and food allergy/sensitivity test with an integrative practitioner who is knowledgeable in this area.

    To your health!


    Why do you get tired after meals? Some post-meal fatigue is perfectly normal. Science suggests that there are dozens of reasons you may get that middle-of-the-day tired spell or the crushing post-dinner sleepy feeling. Read on.

    Why Do People Feel Tired After Eating?


    People often feel tired after eating. Most of the time, this is a perfectly normal, physiological response.

    However, the extent to which we may feel tired after meals can vary – from person to person, day to day, and meal to meal.

    It can depend on a number of factors, including age, health status, the amount and type of food, the time of the day, and more.

    Scientists have many hypotheses about all the reasons why people may feel tired after eating. We’ll try to give you an overview of all the possible explanations in this article. Have in mind that one doesn’t exclude the other and that there’s no single cause of fatigue after meals.

    Note: In the scientific literature, post-meal fatigue is known as “postprandial fatigue.”

    When to See a Doctor

    If you feel like your post-meal tiredness is extreme and it’s impacting your daily life, it would be best to see a doctor.

    The following are all reasons to talk to a healthcare professional:

    • Suddenly feeling much more tired and sleepy than usual after meals
    • Indigestion or other gut issues
    • Food intolerances or allergies
    • Prolonged fatigue after meals
    • Mood changes
    • Abnormal eating habits (such as overeating or not eating enough)
    • Not having control over the amount of alcohol you drink
    • Other types of addiction (including marijuana/THC use)

    There are many possible causes of abnormal post-meal fatigue. Your doctor should diagnose and treat the underlying conditions causing your current symptoms, taking your medical history and labs into account.

    The Hypothalamus Hypothesis

    According to one experimental hypothesis, one of the reasons for fatigue has to do with the hypothalamus. This hypothesis has mostly been tested in animals and we don’t know if it holds true in humans.

    Scientists suspect that several hypothalamic areas, such as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), lateral hypothalamus (LH), and ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH) are implicated in the regulation of sleep, wakefulness, and food intake .

    But let’s step back first to brush up on the basics.

    Metabolism is the process by which energy that goes in (caloric intake) is used by the body. When energy isn’t used the way it’s supposed to, metabolic problems can arise .

    For example, people who are obese do not expend the calories they take in. Instead, they are being stored as fat. The opposite would happen in people who are underweight because they expend more calories than they take in. We can view both as metabolic problems.

    Another issue, yet, are diseases like metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and inborn errors of metabolism. Therefore, metabolic problems are a broad category.

    That said, here’s a list of some of the possible reasons scientists think people may feel tired after eating.

    13 Possible Reasons People Get Tired After Meals

    Don’t make any major changes to your diet or lifestyle before speaking with your healthcare provider.

    1) Sugar and Refined Carbs

    We’ve written about orexin and fatigue already.

    Research suggests that high blood glucose suppresses orexin, which controls wakefulness. Orexin is most active in the hypothalamus .

    Simple sugars and refined carbs will quickly break down into glucose, which may trigger more sudden and pronounced fatigue. On the other hand, complex carbs and other macronutrients will do so slower. Also, swapping refined carbs like white bread for higher-fiber (lower glycemic index) carbs is better for overall health.

    2) Inflammation and Food Sensitivity

    Researchers believe that another possible reason some people feel tired after meals has to do with inflammation. Inflammatory cytokines like TNF and IL-1b seem to suppress wakefulness-promoting orexin .

    Some people have food allergies or sensitivities and get inflammation from specific components of their meals. Anecdotally, people have claimed to resolve excessive post-meal inflammation after getting diagnosed and treated for food sensitivity.

    If you suspect that you have a food sensitivity or are curious to learn more, check out these articles:

    • Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance + Why You’re Sensitive
    • Food Sensitivity Symptoms & Common Dietary Triggers
    • Food Sensitivity Testing: Does IgG Predict Intolerance?

    3) Acid-Base Balance

    Limited research suggests that orexin may be sensitive to minor changes of pH in the blood .

    When blood acidity temporarily goes down and blood or tissues becomes slightly more alkaline, orexin is more likely to be suppressed and tiredness will ensue.

    Fermented drinks like kombucha are hypothesized to be refreshing and energizing precisely because they are slightly acidic (thanks to their lactate content, among other compounds). The same goes for foods like sauerkraut and pickles .

    Also, exercise is thought to increase orexin by slightly and temporarily raising lactic acid. Plus, getting regular, moderate exercise is good for overall health – and we know from experience that it makes us feel energized .

    However, the human body is extremely good at maintaining blood pH levels within a tight, normal range. It’s uncertain to what extent fermented foods and exercise can impact this to affect post-meal fatigue.

    4) The Mitochondria and ATP

    Orexin is suppressed by glucose, as mentioned. But some scientists think that when there are enough filled energy-related molecules – including adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and pyruvate – orexin may not be as easily suppressed .

    Mitochondria are what control the production of energy-related molecules. Theoretically, this means that issues with the mitochondria can reduce ATP, which may cause fatigue. A direct link between mitochondrial health and post-meal fatigue, though, hasn’t been discovered .

    5) Leptin

    Leptin increases with fat mass. It also goes up after meals. Thus, leptin has been called the “satiety hormone that causes weight loss,” the “obesity hormone,” and the “starvation hormone.”

    In some studies, chronically-elevated leptin levels have been associated with obesity, overeating, and inflammation-related diseases, including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease . However, no cause-and-effect has been established.

    Meals with carbohydrates and fats increase leptin more than high-protein foods . Some scientists think this may, in part, shed light on why carbs make people more tired than other macronutrients.

    6) Low NAD+

    Researchers claim that NAD+ is important for DNA repair, stress resistance, and cell death. NAD+ research is still in the early stages, though, and most of these effects remain unexplored in humans .

    Limited studies suggest that NAD+ also increases metabolism and acts as a signal for energy balance. In line with this theory, healthy mitochondria produce more NAD+, which might set in motion other signals to increase energy intake and expenditure. Low NAD+ might, theoretically, have the opposite effect. This is still uncertain, however, and mostly based on animal data .

    Human studies are needed.

    7) Rest-and-digest System Activation

    Eating activates the body’s rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) nervous system, which increases blood flow to the gut area. It also stimulates digestive enzymes and liver activity .

    8) Circadian Cues

    You might notice that you feel more tired after lunch than breakfast or dinner.

    This is because there’s a rhythm to wakefulness – the so-called 12-hour harmonic in the circadian system – and at around 1 to 3 PM, you naturally feel more tired. This is a real phenomenon and it’s called the afternoon dip or the post-lunch dip .

    Research suggests that the post-lunch can occur even when a person skipped lunch and is unaware of the time of day. This can be worsened by a high-carbohydrate lunch and seems to be more likely to occur in extreme morning-type individuals .

    After 10 AM, sleep urge starts to go up, peaking around 2 PM. The wavy orange/red line shows the circadian rhythm of fatigue. The other part (sleep need) illustrates the steady buildup of metabolic products such as adenosine that cause fatigue .

    The bottom line is that people are more likely to get tired after lunch for circadian biology reasons.

    9) CCK

    Some researchers hold that cholecystokinin (CCK) is a significant factor in post-meal fatigue. CCK is a gut hormone that seems to be mainly released in response to a fat-rich or lectin-rich meal. Long-chain fats (saturated, MUFAs, PUFAs) might be potent CCK inducers .

    In animals, a high protein diet also increases CCK. Animal studies will often use fatty acids from olive oil to induce CCK release (oleate) .

    Scientists suspect that CCK might:

    • Cause sleepiness/fatigue because it directly interacts with the hypothalamus (despite the fact that it activates orexin
    • Inhibit hypothalamic noradrenaline, which is a plausible mechanism for CCK’s fatigue-inducing and appetite-suppressing effect
    • Stimulate the colon (via the hypothalamus), which may cause gas
    • Follow a circadian rhythm
    • Cause gut pain hypersensitivity

    Giving a CCK blocker to rats prevented post-meal fatigue, whereas in humans it actually increased post-meal fatigue .

    Thus, the impact of CCK on post-meal fatigue in humans is still unclear. Larger human studies are needed.

    10) High-tryptophan Foods

    The body uses tryptophan to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s involved in sleep and relaxation. Thus, a high tryptophan load may increase serotonin and post-meal sleepiness. One study suggests that this may particularly be the case in people with chronic fatigue syndrome .

    11) Insulin-Induced Low Potassium

    Insulin causes serum potassium outside of the cells to go inside. This slightly lowers potassium after meals, which is normal, but linked with fatigue. In healthy people, potassium remains relatively constant after meals. Low potassium from insulin is usually seen as dangerous only in people with diabetes and possibly in those at high risk .

    12) Marijuana and Alcohol Use

    Both marijuana use and alcohol can make you feel more tired. This is true in general, but it can become even more obvious after meals.

    One of the side effects of THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, is fatigue and sleepiness. Have in mind that cannabis use has been associated with health complications, addiction, cognitive and mood issues, and withdrawal syndrome.

    Alcohol can also worsen fatigue after meals. Drinking alcohol before, during, and after meals intensifies daytime sleepiness and worsens the quality of nighttime sleep. Alcohol addiction is a serious worldwide problem .

    Don’t hesitate to seek help if you feel like your cannabis use or alcohol drinking is taking a toll on your life.

    Sweet Dreams: How Sugar Impacts Your Sleep

    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.

    11 Weird Signs Your Body Might Not Tolerate Sugar Well

    Not everyone has a problem with sugar. Plenty of people add it to their coffee, or have a slice of cake, and feel a-OK. But then there are the ones who don’t tolerate sugar well and feel sick, and possibly even experience strong cravings, after eating and/or drinking it.

    While that may sound a bit dramatic, it is a pretty common reaction. “When you consume sugar, blood sugar levels in the body increase, which leads to the release of insulin from the pancreas,” Kimberly Hershenson, LCSW, a NYC-therapist specializing in eating disorders, tells Bustle. “People get a burst of energy and feel good momentarily, however blood sugar levels rapidly decrease.” This is what’s known as a “crash,” and it can leave you feeling bad.

    Apart from affecting with your blood sugar levels, a diet high in sugar can also lead to inflammation, and may even mess with your hormones. Keep in mind, though, that not all sugars are created equal. “Most human beings are ‘sensitive’ to simple sugars because they hit the bloodstream so quickly,” Amanda L. Dale, M.Ed., M.A., a personal trainer and nutritionist, tells Bustle. This is why you might feel sick or crave more sugar after eating chocolate or drinking a sugary coffee, but not necessarily after eating a piece of fruit.

    If you suspect your current eating habits might be negatively impacting your health, then you might want to consider limiting your sugar intake, or consulting with your doctor on how much sugar is a good amount for you. Read on for some symptoms to watch out for, according to experts.

    1. Your Skin Has Been Breaking Out

    While there are many contributing factors when it comes to acne, eating many sugary foods is often one of the main culprits.

    “Skin is incredibly sensitive to sugar,” Laura McGevna, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Vermont, tells Bustle. “We know that ‘high glycemic index’ or foods that increase blood glucose easily are associated with worsening of acne. This is likely due to an insulin response that stimulates a cascade of endocrine and hormonal events that cause inflammation on the skin.”

    Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t have sugar. But if your skin is bothering you, you may want to consider what you’re eating. “If you notice that your skin seems more inflamed, you are developing new rashes or breakouts, and you’ve been burning the candle at both ends this is a strong indication that you need to back off, listen to your body, and put your health first,” McGevna says.

    2. You Can’t Get To Sleep At Night

    Again, there are many factors to consider here, like your caffeine intake, stress levels, etc. But a lifestyle high in sugar might also be what’s keeping you up at night. As Hershenson says, sugar can prevent the body from getting into deep sleep mode.

    Studies have shown a connection between shorter sleep and drinking sugar-sweetened beverages. While new research needs to be done, it won’t hurt to limit how much sugar you consume during the day, but especially before bed. Like caffeine, it isn’t something you’ll want to have in the evening, in particular.

    3. You’ve Been Feeling Emotional Lately

    An unstable mood can be caused, in many ways, by blood sugar fluctuations, which Hershenson says can impact how you feel. Studies have also shown a connection between the intake of sweet foods, beverages and added sugars, and symptoms of depression.

    What you eat really can play a large role in how you feel overall, including mentally and emotionally. While speaking with a therapist will always be a good idea if you aren’t feeling like yourself, it can also help to pay attention to what you’re eating on a daily basis.

    If you’re consuming a lot of sugar, you might notice a big difference if you balance out meals in a way that keeps your blood sugar even. Or by lessening your sugar intake and seeing how that makes you feel.

    4. You’re Always Exhausted After Eating

    Take a moment to think about how you feel after eating a sugary (or carb-heavy) meal. If you need a cup of coffee or start to fall asleep at your desk at work, it could be due to wavering blood sugar levels.

    “People who process sugar normally and quickly tend to feel energized, satiated, and calm after ingesting sugar,” Dale says. “People who are more sensitive to it feel tired, irritable, and tend to actually crave more sugar (the withdrawal/addiction response).”

    It’s this craving that’ll send you pawing through your desk, looking for candy or cookies or something to help you get through the rest of the day. And that can be a sign sugar isn’t agreeing well with your body.

    5. You Get Shaky Or Lightheaded

    If you suffer from low blood sugar, you might have a condition called hypoglycemia, which can leave you “feeling tired, hungry, weak, shaky, lightheaded, and anxious,” Kelly Leveque, holistic nutritionist and author of Body Love, tells Bustle. “As a result, crave sugar and carbohydrates, thinking they will pick back up. In reality, they start the cycle all over again.”

    So if you find yourself in the vicious cycle of having a sugar snack, then getting lightheaded, then feeling better after having a sugary snack, let a doctor know.

    6. You’ve Been Struggling With Sinus Issues

    Have you been feeling extra stuffy as of late? “In the large majority of people, thesesymptoms are coming from candida overgrowth,” Dr. Jacob, Teitelbaum, author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now!, tells Bustle. A lifestyle high in sugar can cause candida, or yeast, to get a bit out of control in your body, leading to sinusitis, congestion, and other chronic nasal issues.

    While the research is limited, one study noted that higher sugar consumption may be associated with increased inflammatory stress and sinonasal symptoms. When in doubt, it won’t hurt to do an experiment of your own, and see how you feel when you cut back on sugar.

    7. You Seem To Be Bloated All The Time

    If you have bowel issues, such as IBS, gas, diarrhea, or constipation, it could also be due to a sugar-induced candida overgrowth. “Yeast grow by fermenting sugar, and when you are firing up a fermentation tank in your gut,” Teitelbaum says. “And fermentation makes lots of gas. And so will you, if you drink a lot of sugary drinks.”

    It’s fine if you don’t mind the side effects of sugar intake, or want to risk it in order to have the occasional sugary drink. But what you eat can obviously have an impact on how you feel in the abdominal region, including how bloated you become as a result. And it just might not be worth it.

    8. You Feel Distracted & Scattered Throughout The Day

    You’ve probably heard of a little thing called brain fog, which is that fuzzy out-of-it feeling that causes you to space out at work or forget where the heck you put your keys. As Sharla Mandere, CHHC, a holistic health and wellness coach, tells Bustle, sugar can cause these issues, and even lead to a lack of focus.

    And this is particularly true if you have symptoms of adrenal fatigue, Dr. Carrie Lam, MD, DABFM, who is board certified in family medicine, tells Bustle. “When you eat too much sugar it forces your body to make extra insulin and cortisol,” she says, which can wear you down over time.

    If you haven’t been feeling like yourself — checked out, tired, and lacking motivation — cutting back on sugar may be a big help.

    9. You Have Cravings & Are Often “Hangry”

    If you constantly crave sugar, or can’t seem to feel “full” despite eating plenty of food, it may be that what you are eating has you on a sugar rollercoaster. As Mandere says, cravings — usually for sugar — can be caused by sinking blood sugar levels. “This can be translated into the afternoon pick-me-up of sugary coffee, drinks, or sugary snacks,” she says.

    Sound familiar? If so, replacing that afternoon sugar hit with something that keeps your blood sugar stable, like protein, can make all the difference.

    10. Your Knees Have Been Hurting

    Aches and pains — and other general health issues — are oftencaused by inflammation in the body, which is another negative side effect of consuming a lot of sugar throughout the day. “Regular blood sugar spikes can eventually lead to general inflammation, which can then contribute to premature aging, digestive abnormalities, joint pain,” Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN, a nutritionist, tells Bustle. Basically, if you feel like you’re fallin’ apart, it may be time to make some changes.

    11. You Constantly Run Out Of Motivation

    Aside from flagging energy levels, take note if you’ve been lacking motivation lately. “If you feel drowsy and tired after eating a sugar heavy snack, then you should realize that your body is not burning or storing glucose at the rate you are consuming it,” nutritionist Parker Condit, tells Bustle. “In addition to this being a lousy way to live, it’s also an indicator that something is wrong If all you feel like doing is sleeping and lounging around, then it’s time to start being more aware of what you are consuming.”

    It may be that eating a lot of sugar isn’t working for you, and that it’s officially time to consider eating and drinking less of it. It can certainly take some time to get used to the change, and it doesn’t mean you can’t have sugar on occasion. But sometimes the payoff is worth the initial adjustment phase, especially when it comes to your health.

    Studies referenced:

    St-Onge, Marie-Pierre. (2016). Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Advances in Nutrition. 7(5): 938–949. doi: 10.3945/an.116.012336

    Knuppel, Anika. (2017). Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorders and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05649-7


    Kimberly Hershenson, LCSW, NYC-therapist specializing in eating disorders

    Laura McGevna, MD, board-certified dermatologist

    Amanda L. Dale, M.Ed., M.A., personal trainer and nutritionist

    Kelly Leveque, holistic nutritionist and author of Body Love

    Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now!

    Sharla Mandere CHHC, holistic health and wellness coach

    Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN, nutritionist

    Parker Condit, nutritionist

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