There’s something about Halloween that brings out the kid in us. It’s simply a fun time of dressing up and being playful. Plus, there’s candy involved!
I’m sure our dentists cringe at the thought of candy lying around and being constantly snacked on for days or weeks. We know the sugar isn’t good for our teeth, our kids’ teeth, or any of our bodies, but boy does it taste so good! Plus, there is some serious bribery power in all of that candy.
In the midst of enjoying the candy corn, Blow Pops, Tootsie Rolls and such, we often overlook the effect it can have on sleep. Don’t worry. I’m not going to suggest that you put down your favorite candy or ask you to deprive your child of the trick or treating awesomeness! What I would ask you to keep in mind is that the sugar does inhibit quality sleep. Here are three reasons why:
Consuming candy rapidly raises blood sugar
Eating candy, sugar or refined carbohydrates is not good for our bodies. Consuming these foods makes our blood sugar levels rise, and rapidly so. This is why children get rambunctious and excited after ice cream and cake - it’s not just because of the celebration that’s going on. With little bodies means it takes even less for them to eat to make an impact on blood sugar, and ultimately their behavior. This means a kid who eats their Halloween candy at night will be harder to settle down to sleep for the night.
Sugar can prevent quality continuous sleep
While eventually, your child will fall asleep, the sugar is still being processed in their bodies, which may wake the child and make it harder to fall back to sleep. Even though your child may not fully wake up, the sugar in their body can reduce quality deep sleep. Ever have one of those nights where you’re up every hour? You don’t feel rested the next day, and neither will your child. On the contrary, eating more fiber is associated with deeper, more restorative sleep. Generally, higher fiber foods contain less sugar, so it’s a win win!
Tired bodies, both young and old, crave more sugar
When our bodies are tired, they crave sugar as it will give the energy jolt we think we need. This, is clearly a survival method and is only a temporary fix that creates a cycle. The tired body will crave more sugar, so you then consume the sugar, to then have yet another night of poor sleep. And thus, the cycle continues. Prolonged periods of poor quality sleep will actually make you crave more and more sugar.
Now, am I saying that Halloween candy will ruin your child’s sleep forever? Absolutely not. I would just suggest that you be mindful of this when your child asks repeatedly for candy, a sugary drink, or snack over the course of the holidays. The effect of sugar adds up over time, to the detriment of our health, our teeth and our sleep..
I suggest choosing a time (not too close to bedtime) that they can enjoy a treat or two, depending on its size and nutrition quality. And while you’re at it, consider checking the labels on foods your children eat on a day to day basis, too! One Pop-Tarts pastry packs a lot of sugar at 16.5 grams and only one gram of fiber. That’s the same amount of sugar as 21 pieces of candy corn, so keep an eye on the pantry products year round and save sugar treats for exactly that - a special treat that’s occasionally enjoyed.
If you and your child are already getting quality sleep, you’ll be happy to know that it actually helps you choose healthier, less sugary foods so a good and healthy cycle can continue! Aren’t our bodies amazing? With the holiday season just about to start up, consider the impact of keeping sleep a priority for your entire home. Everyone will feel better and you can enjoy the holidays even more!
If you are reading this in the wee hours of the morning and feeling like you are on your last leg, I know how you feel! We love our children, but so desperately need rest, too. I can truly say that I know what it’s like to have tried everything possible and still be up at night... Learn more about how I can help.