Does Eating Sugar Make You Sleepy or Alert?

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Does Eating Sugar Make You Sleepy or Alert?

Athletes used to eat sugary foods just before a competition in the belief that this would increase their performance. However, according to research published recently in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, a rise in blood sugar concentrations may actually translate into physiological responses that ultimately will reduce wakefulness.5

Acutely elevated blood glucose concentrations (as occur after a carbohydrate-rich meal) suppress the secretion of chemicals called orexins (also called hypocretins) by the hypothalamus. One of the major functions of these chemicals is to prevent the pineal gland from secreting melatonin. By suppressing melatonin secretion, they may enhance wakefulness. However, since elevated blood sugar suppresses the release of orexins, melatonin secretion is increased, causing a sense of drowsiness. Fasting may have just the opposite effect. As blood glucose concentrations decline, the mind becomes more alert.5

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
L-Tryptophan as a Natural Sleep Promoter

5. Burdakov D, Alexopoulos H. Metabolic state signalling through central hypocretin/orexin neurons. J Cell Mol Med 2005;9:795-803.

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