Complex vs. Simple Carbs: How Affects Sleep

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Are carbs good or are they bad? That question has a complex answer. There are different types of carbs, and when metabolized in the body, they cause different reactions. 

Simple carbohydrates get processed into simple sugars, which provides a quick burst of energy or the feeling of being full, but that feeling usually fades quickly. Of the simple sugars, there are two types: natural sugars and added sugars. As the name suggests, natural sugars are a much better version for your body. This is because many foods and drinks that contain natural sugars also provide your body the vitamins and nutrients that come with a well balanced diet. Added sugars, such as the white sugar you add to desserts or your morning cup of coffee, do not break down the same, and usually provide even less energy than you may expect. Think about how you may feel after eating a brownie loaded with sugar; You may feel a bit of a “sugar rush” for 30 minutes or so, but you most likely experience a “crash” soon after, often leaving you feeling worse than you did before the sugar intake.

Complex carbohydrates take their time, and distribute glucose throughout your body at a leveled, somewhat sedate pace, especially compared to simple carbs. There are two types of complex carbs: refined and unrefined. Refined carbs, such as white rice, are often processed to the point where they no longer contain the minerals and nutrients that make the carbohydrates complex. Unrefined carbs are full of nutrients that help provide long term energy for your body, but only in appropriate amounts. Eating a serving size of whole grain pasta will help you feel more full for much longer than eating three donuts, even though it is less food. 

Why does this matter for sleep? Because when you are eating the right nutrients for your body and giving it the good energy it needs, it can burn the energy off in a healthier way, which leads to better sleep!

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