Does Sugar Cause Night Terrors

You would already know that consuming too much sugar can affect your health negatively. It can cause tooth decay, weight gain, and even diabetes in the worst conditions. But can sugar cause night terrors?

According to studies, sugar is one of the food items that can cause disturbing and bad dreams and wake you up in the middle of the night.

In this article, we’ll discuss the connection between sugar consumption and night terrors in detail. We’ll also discuss some other sleep problems caused by sugar that can lead to night terrors and high-stress dreams.

How Sugar Consumption and Night Terrors are Connected

There is a strong connection between a night terror episode and sugar consumption. According to the National Library of Medicine, your sugar intake affects how long you take to fall asleep and how much time you spend in deep sleep.

Another study shows that sugar consumption affects sleep quality and the way you sleep by changing the tryptophan levels in your bloodstream. It’s important to note that tryptophan increases the serotonin level in your brain which allows you to fall asleep quickly.

However, when you eat too much sugar your body has more serotonin in your bloodstream than required. Initially, it’ll make you feel sleepy but you’ll experience a sugar crash within minutes.

That’s because your body will start to lower the blood sugar level and they fall even below the normal levels. Therefore, you end up with low blood sugar and find it difficult to fall asleep.

Your body can also have more adrenaline levels, which can make you wake up during the night with a bad dream or night terror.

Another side effect of eating sugar excessively is that it can make you feel anxious and experience mood swings. It happens when your nervous system goes through extreme high and low blood glucose levels quickly. It’ll make you feel sad or worried, which can increase the risk of experiencing a night terror episode.

So, Does Sugar Cause Night Terrors?

Excessive sugar intake can not only lead to sleep problems but can also cause nightmares and night terrors. A study was conducted on students from a Canadian university and it published a list of foods that can cause night terrors.

It shows that sugar intake caused disturbing dreams in 12.5 percent of the participants and bizarre dreams in 30.8 percent. It happens because of low blood sugar, a condition called hypoglycemia.

In this condition, the chemistry of your brain changes temporarily and it leads to high stress and lucid dreams. Therefore, you should avoid eating candies, sweet chocolates, or any other sweet food before going to sleep, especially if you experience night terrors.

You can also read our full list of foods that cause night terrors.

What Other Sleep Problems Sugar Can Cause

The following are some of the sleep issues that sugar consumption can cause, which can further lead to nightmares or night terrors.

Sleep Apnea

According to Mayoclinic, sleep apnea is one of those sleep disorders that can lead to night terrors. Additionally, a study published in Science Daily states that sleep apnea is linked with elevated sugar levels in the blood. It means that high sugar intake can cause night terrors indirectly.

High blood sugar levels increase the production of cytokines and phlegm in your body. These substances can cause inflammation in your body and can also obstruct airflow through your nasal passages and throat. As a result, you end up with a snoring problem or waking up multiple times during the night.

Sleep Disruption

A regular sugar habit can cause sleep disruption and decrease the time you spend in deep sleep. It keeps your body from recovering fully and can also affect your immune system and metabolism negatively.

As a result, you start feeling tired constantly and become sleep deprived which are two common causes of night terrors.


Excessive sugar consumption can lead to depression, according to the National Library of Medicine. It’s not exactly a sleeping problem but it can keep you from enjoying a good night’s sleep. Additionally, depression is also one of the reasons that cause night terrors.

Do All Sugar Types Cause Sleep Problems

The most common sugary foods that you eat contain sugar types that your body can digest easily. These types include glucose and fructose and they’re present in almost all sweet beverages, candies, fruits, and other sweet dishes.

As your body can break these sugar types easily, they increase your blood sugar levels quickly. So, you should avoid eating these food items continuing glucose and fructose as a bedtime snack.

On the other hand, there are some food items that contain complex sugar types. Your body can’t break these sugar molecules quickly and they don’t increase your blood glucose level. These food items include whole grains, beans, and peas. So, you can eat these food items at night or just before going to bed.


What Foods Trigger Night Terrors?

Other than sugar, eating hot sauce, spicy foods, cheese, pasta, noodles, hamburgers, hot dogs, and junk food can lead to night terrors. You should avoid eating these foods excessively, especially just before bedtime.

What Happens When You Eat Sugar at Night?

When you eat too much sugar at night, your blood glucose levels increase but then you experience a sugar crash shortly after that. It makes your body active and keeps you from falling asleep. It can also decrease the time you spend in deep sleep and keeps your body to recover fully.

Can Sugar Intake Make You Depressed?

Yes, consuming sugar in high amounts can make you feel depressed. According to WebMD, men who consume about 40 grams of sugar within a day are highly likely to experience depression within a few years.

Conclusion: Does Sugar Cause Night Terrors

Sugar is one of the most controversial food items and it can lead to several health problems. Not only can it affect your mental health and cause night terrors but it can also cause some serious physical issues such as obesity and diabetes.

Make sure that you cut back on your sugar consumption, especially before going to sleep to avoid night terrors.