The 3 effects of sugar on your child’s sleep

Impact of Sugar

The dirtiest word to grace the lips of GP’s these days. The more we learn about sugar, and I am talking mostly in part to the refined kind (white bread, white pasta, cakes, biscuits, chocolate – all the good stuff), the more we realise that sugar is having a detrimental effect on our bodies, minds and general health. Let’s dig deeper at 3 effects of sugar on your child’s sleep.

The 3 effects of sugar on your child’s sleep

What the Professionals Are Saying

“Too much sugar is bad for children’s health as it can lead to the build-up of harmful fat on the inside that we can’t see. This fat can cause weight gain and serious diseases like type 2 diabetes, which people are getting younger than ever before, and heart disease and some cancers. It can also lead to painful tooth decay and every 10 minutes, a child in England has a tooth removed in hospital.”

What Effect Is This Sugar Having on Our Children’s Sleep?

1. Sleep Apnea

When we eat sugar,  the first place to become inflamed is the walls of the nostrils. This can lead to kids struggling to breathe properly at night and subsequently more night wakings. Sleep Apnea isn’t all that common and is mostly seen in children with large adenoids and tonsils. 

Signs of Sleep Apnea:

  • Regular snoring
  • Overtired children 
  • Not rested after sleep
  • Your child may sleep in funny positions to help them breathe.

2. Sleep Deprivation

If your child is having sugary drinks or snacks late into the afternoon and evening, they are going to struggle to go to sleep. This then results in a later bedtime when your child really needs to be in bed between 7-8pm. Every day your child misses their ideal bedtime, you are chipping away at their sleep tank. What you will be left with is an overtired child who is unable to learn and function properly.

3. Mood and Emotional Wellbeing

We know what it’s like to eat something sugary, feel the high and then the groggy low. Like us, children feel this sugar wave but unlike us, they aren’t always able to explain how they feel and learn from their mistakes. Moody kids are hard to live with, they can be angry, emotional, teary and overwhelmed. This will have a detrimental effect on how they learn, form friendships and develop day to day.

When our children feel emotionally well, it is much easier for them to be able to go to sleep. Sounds odd doesn’t it but think about when you have had a bad day, fallen out with a friend or had a row with a loved one, falling asleep can be hard. Ensuring our children’s emotional wellness “tank” remains topped up is vital to good sleep. What we fuel our bodies can help significantly.  

Mood and Emotional Wellbeing

What Can You Do to Help?

  1. Avoid sugar in the hours before bedtime.
  2. Opt for naturally occurring fruit over refined sugars.
  3. Balance the sugar with some slow releasing carbs i.e. banana and peanut butter on toast or raisins with peanuts.
  4. Fresh air 30 minutes before bedtime or nap time to expel extra energy.
  5. Avoid putting juice or squash in baby bottles or cups overnight.
  6. Swap white, processed foods for whole grain alternatives. 

So, there are lots of things we can do to reduce the amount of sugar our children are consuming. Swapping sugary foods and drinks to getting some extra exercise in, our children can start having a rested night’s sleep and you can have your happy, healthy child back! 

If you have any concerns about your little ones sleep or general health, please go to the GP or a medical advisor.