We know that most of our customers avoid sugar. But, everyone indulges now and then. We also know that eating earlier in the day is healthier. So, what happens when you eat sugar late at night?
People used to think sugar highs were real. They believed sugar made people hyper. Science has repeatedly debunked that idea in study after study over many decades. The rumor still persists despite being proven wrong. However, while it won’t make you hyper, it can cause blood sugar spikes.
Sugar, and eating late in the evening in general, can disrupt your sleep. “Eating a lot of sugar before bed may cause you to get lighter, less restorative sleep with more arousals,” said Dr. Brandon Peters, a neurologist and sleep physician. “An arousal is an awakening or a transition from deep to lighter sleep. Frequent arousals may undermine sleep quality and may link back to breathing disturbances.”
And, after blood sugar spikes, it falls. That reactive hypoglycemia can cause night sweats that wake you up or leave you uncomfortable in the morning. Plus, while the science isn’t confirmed, some studies have found that sugar before bed can lead to odd or distressing dreams caused by fluctuating blood sugar.
Often sugar and caffeine go hand in hand, like soda and hot chocolate. These aren’t foods we would suggest being a regular part of your diet. But, if you plan to enjoy them, it’s better to drink them six hours before bedtime.
“Sugar uses up a lot of magnesium, which you need for sleep,” said nutritional therapist Charlotte Watts, author of Good Mood Food and The De-Stress Effect. She added that late-night chocolate might be the worst snack as it contains caffeine and other stimulants.
Sugar is also linked to inflammation. You want to avoid causing excess inflammation in your body at any time of the day. But it’s crucial at bedtime, according to Dr. Peters. “Sugar may cause inflammation of the tissues that line the mouth and throat, causing swelling and increasing mucus production. This can cause post-nasal drip and affect breathing, causing snoring and worsening sleep apnea.”
Eating sugar closer to bedtime may also be linked to weight gain. When you eat sugar earlier in the day, your body has time to burn it for energy. At night the body’s metabolism slows down, and it is more likely to be stored as fat.
While our advice is to always limit the sugar in your diet, it’s especially important to do so in the evening. Eating close to bedtime is never a great idea. When it comes to nighttime snacks, reach for water and something high in fiber that will help your blood sugar stay level.