Craving sleep or craving sugar?

Looking for Dunkin' Donuts in the morning?  Well, dunk this: if your sleep routine is coming apart, it might be the real reason why the seams on your pants are too...

Sugar and Sleep.  What’s the connection?

Are you reaching for the muffin, pancakes, sweet treat or doughnut in the morning to get going? Is it because you haven’t had a good night’s rest? Is this your body demanding quick fuel or is something else going on?

When we lose sleep, we are typically more hungry than usual and so we might crave comfort foods and simple carbohydrates (meaning carbohydrates that are easy to digest or higher in sugar like breads, pastas, sweets, baked goods, cereal). Since you are craving these foods, you might think this is because your body needs them, but in fact, the reality is just the opposite.

Food cravings experienced from lack of sleep are often triggered by they body’s overall stress level, especially if there is a chronic sleep issue resulting in lots of lost sleep over a long period of time. This tends to put the adrenal glands into overload. The adrenals are the, "life saving" organs because they control your body's hormones and, help you survive in stressful situations. They act as control organs for your, "fight or flight" response and secrete many of our most important hormones including: adrenaline, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol. Cortisol helps: prepare your body for survival in stressful situations, metabolize carbohydrates, protein and fats into energy, slow the immune system's inflammatory response, regulate the balance of converting insulin in breaking down sugar for energy and helps maintain your cardiovascular health and blood pressure.  When you are stressed, and experience adrenal overload or fatigue, the cortisol in your system does not shut down, resulting in the following signs and symptoms:

Nutrition related signs:

  • §Cravings for sugar
  • §Cravings for salt on food when you eat
  • §Feel dehydrated and thirsty and require plenty of water

 Physical signs:

  • §Difficulty falling asleep at night, sleep lightly or wake early or often
  • §Difficulty relaxing, nervous, anxious or hyperactive
  • §Often spacey or foggy thinking, even memory loss
  • §Lack willpower to accomplish
  • §General exhaustion
  • §Hormone imbalances
  • §Low libido
  • §Weight gain, especially in abdomen and waist area


A solution:

Graze on small, high-protein meals throughout the day including nuts, low fat cheese or eggs. Avoid fatty meat meals and hard to digest foods like fried foods. This should keep energy levels steady, making it easier to cut back on sugar. Eat vegetables and whole fruits to satisfy your hunger between meals.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day.


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