Why Do I Crave Sugar When I’m Tired?
It’s happened to all of us after a night – or more – of not sleeping properly. Michael Mosely, the BBC star of Trust Me, I’m a Doctor and other similar shows, has researched this phenomenon extensively and has found there to be a variety of explanations for this. The three main conclusions being:
1. Sugary treats are the fastest way for the body to get a good dose of carbohydrates and a quick energy fix
2. Sleep deprivation interferes with your hormones, so your body can’t tell if you’re full or not, which is where overeating can occur
3. Sleep deprivation tends to cause a lot of stress which is commonly linked to comfort eating.
But Why is Nobody Comfort-Eating Salad?
We now know that sleep deprivation increases cortisol, the stress hormone, and that when you are stressed your blood sugar will spike up to six times longer than compared to well rested individuals. This in turn raises your glucose levels along with the extra cortisol putting your body in a fight or flight mode, signaling to your brain that your body requires more energy.
You however will not be able to use all of the energy you’re consuming which then leads to your pancreas secreting more insulin to disperse the extra energy, which in turn makes you even hungrier! As insulin increases and your blood sugar drops, your body feels a more stringent need for sugar, bringing you in a downward spiral of craving sweets.
Basically, what this means is that sugar is just a quick fix that puts you in a worse state once it wears off. So what can exactly can you do to deter these dangerously sweet cravings?
Fight Sugar Cravings with Healthy Treats
Refined sugars are unfortunately full of empty calories and, even more so, promote hunger as they lack the fact the necessary vitamins and nutrients your body craves. Sugar rushes also pass quite quickly, causing you to feel even more hungry and energy-deprived than before. That’s why it’s a great idea to eat foods which contain:
- Vitamins and minerals to nourish your body and fight tiredness
- Slow-release carbs that improve both your mood and energy levels
- Proteins that make your muscles stronger and help your brain regenerate
- Healthy fats that keep you full for longer
So although refined sugars are a no go, the good news is that there are plenty of snacks that taste sweet, are so much healthier than sugar and will keep your hunger at bay for a longer period of time.
For instance, fruit like bananas and grapes are sweet and delicious. They contain slow-releasing carbohydrates, releasing energy gradually into you system, helping you feel better for longer. Pairing a healthy fat, such as nut butter, with fruit is a great way to enjoy a nutritional snack which will keep you feeling fuller for longer!
Berries are also a good choice because they’re nutritious, low in sugar and rich in antioxidants. Berries have lots of fibre to help you feel full for longer, and they’re low in calories. Making a smoothie with fruits such as berries and bananas, plus healthy fats and even protein powder is a great on-the-go snack that will fuel your body for optimal performance. You can even hide vegetables in there for added nutritional value!
Another great idea is to combine Greek yoghurt or fatty cheese with some fresh vegetables. While the veggies have slow-releasing carbs which provide more energy, yoghurt and cheese bring the delicious taste, extra-protein and fats.
Lack of sIeep can really set your body into a spiral of sugar cravings and unhealthy habits. If you know you’re facing a period when you can’t rest properly, it’s best to counteract these negative effects by taking care of your body as best as possible. This includes doing your best to eat nutritious snacks instead of reaching for the lolly jar!
Happy healthy snacking (without being tooooo strict..)!