Article Review: Relationship Between Added Sugar Intake and Sleep Quality


Lael Agard, Nutrition Science & Dietetic Student

Alexandra Krager, Nutrition Science & Dietetic Student

Sherri Isaak, MS, RD, CDCES, BC-ADM, DipACLM


Quality sleep is essential for many people to be able to function on a day-to-day basis. It can be upsetting when proper sleep is not obtained during the night, especially if there does not seem to be a clear cause for why sleep disruptions are occurring. Studies have shown that foods high in sugar can be associated with worsening sleep quality, which can have poor effects on a person’s health, including weight gain and resistance of insulin.1 There is a growing intake of foods that contain added sugars as they become more popular among the population and are becoming more widespread than before. This can also be attributed to the increase in consumption of junk foods and fast food, as people’s nutrition patterns have changed in addition to a change in lifestyle for many.1 An added sugar is one that is not naturally found in the foods that are consumed, but are introduced into the food that is being eaten as an ingredient of processed foods. Some examples of these processed foods would be cookies, desserts, cakes, sweets, junk foods, candy and sugar-sweetened beverages. 1 The study reviewed showed the impact of added sugars and sleep quality in university students and the results will be discussed further.

With excessive consumption of added sugars comes the risk of developing several comorbidities, so moderation is advised when doing so. Increased intake of added sugar can increase risk of diseases such as obesity and diabetes, both of which have been associated with poor sleep quality and disturbances related to breathing disorders during sleep.1 Some of these disorders include obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, nocturia and nocturnal hypoglycemia. Of the participants in the study that was conducted, those who consumed more sugar (30% of total energy from sugar), showed a higher percentage of poor sleep quality compared to those with lower sugar intake (less than 10% of total energy from sugar).

We know that there are several factors that contribute to sleep quality, such as the use of electronic devices for extended periods of time, consumption of caffeinated beverages and stress, to name a few. Many often do not realize how the foods they eat can impact their sleep. Lack of sleep can contribute to unhealthy eating habits and increase the appetite of someone who is sleep deprived. Added sugar consumption can lead to an impaired glucose metabolism and high blood sugar levels that can also cause sleep deprivation.1 Both sleep and sugar intake can impact one another, making it a difficult balance to maintain. Based on the results of this study, high consumption of added sugar negatively affects sleep quality.1 Harvard University recommends a daily intake of no more than 24 grams of added sugar per day for women and no more than 36 grams of added sugar per day for men.2 Although the results of this study were conducted among university students, we recommend that people of all ages consider consuming less added sugars and make sure that when they are consumed, it is in moderation.



  1. Alahmary SA, Alduhaylib SA, lkawii HA, Olwani MM, Shablan RA, Ayoub HM, Purayidathil TS, Abuzaid OI and Khattab RY. Relationship Between Added Sugar Intake and Sleep Quality Among University Students: A Cross Sectional Study. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2022;16(1):p. 122-129. DOI:
  2. Added Sugar in the Diet. Harvard University School of Medicine. 2022. Retrieved March 28, 2022, from,comes%20from%20eating%20added%20sugar.