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Drinking Sweet Drinks Linked to Low Sleep Levels

debate on whether sugar impacts sleep has been a long one, with good points on both sides, but a recent study performed by UC San Francisco has found that there is a link. The report, which was published in the online Journal of Sleep Health, not only took sugar levels into consideration, but caffeine levels as well. It looked at the data supplied by more than eighteen thousand adults, and the results suggested that sugary drinks were linked with five or less hours of sleep each night.

The study lead, Dr. Aric Prather, a psychiatry professor at the University, suggested that it wasn’t just the sweet drinks that impacted the low sleep pattern, but the low sleep that impacted the need for sweet drinks. Those who had trouble sleeping felt the need to consume more caffeinated and sweetened drinks than people who slept more than five hours each night.

Studying the Link

Although the UC San Francisco study followed adults, other research on the subject found that school children also held a link between low sleep patterns and sugary drinks. One such study discovered that kids who slept less drank more soda and sugary juice throughout the day. Science Daily reports: “A growing body of research has linked sugary beverage consumption to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions including high blood sugar and excess body fat, which can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Lack of sleep is also associated with a higher risk for metabolic disease.”

Prather’s study focused mainly on data from a National Health and Nutrition Survey, which included records of more than eighteen thousand adults recovered from 2005 to 2012. It included information such as foods eaten, drinks consumed, alcohol intake, and hours of sleep each night. The findings pointed to a 21% increase in sugary drink consumption for those who slept five or less hours, and an 11% increase in sugary drinks for six hour sleepers.

Weight Gain and Sleep

The connection between sugar and sleep runs the opposite direction as well, with numerous studies pointing to a negative connection between the two. This is especially true in situations where sugar intake has caused weight gain to the point of obesity. Medical News Today writes: “The US National Sleep Foundation describes sleep apnea, a sleep-disordered breathing condition, as part of a vicious circle. Around 18 million Americans, they say, have the condition, which is often associated with being overweight, because as a person gains weight in the trunk and neck area, respiratory function suffers. The result is daytime sleepiness, making it harder to exercise.”

Weight has an impact on many areas of health, and too much sugar certainly boosts the possibility of obesity. More research is required to determine whether sugar and caffeine drinks have any sole responsibility in this area, but the fact remains that weight gain negatively impacts your sleep patterns.

Too Much Energy

One of the more commonly disputed hypotheses surrounding sugar and sleep is that which suggests that too much sugar will keep your awake at night because of higher energy levels. Whether this is absolutely true is still out for discussion, but research has shown that sugar directly before bed can keep your mind from finding rest. ProgressiveHealth.com explains: “Foods containing simple sugar can cause a big spike in blood glucose levels. This makes excess energy available for the body which can cause restlessness. Because the brain consumes a lot of glucose, a high blood glucose level can keep the brain ticking long after it should have powered down.”

Eating before sleep also means that your body is working to digest food while your brain is trying to rest. This can make it difficult for some people to fall asleep right away, which could determine the pattern for the rest of the night as well.

If you are having trouble sleeping, or are concerned that your diet is playing a negative role in sleep patterns, speak to your physician. He or she may be able to recommend a nutritionist, or give you some suggestions on ways to change your diet for the better. There may also be safe alternatives to sugary energy drinks, which could help change negative sleep patterns which have been developed.

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