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Kids don't sleep on sugar

Updated on May 9, 2015
Dinner time kids!
Dinner time kids! | Source

I just had to write this hub for parents of preschoolers out there who might be thinking - why don't my kids go to bed and why are they still running around the house so late into the night?

The culprit we thought we found was SUGAR but studies say we are wrong!

Despite what the studies say, there is a popular belief that it is sugar that accompanies changes in behaviour.

We were convinced we noticed a change in the energy of our kids if we cut back on sweets at night!

What happens in our house at evening mealtime?

The general principle in our house is that if you eat the nutritious part of the evening meal, you can look forward to pudding and treats afterwards.

The rule is: no pudding or treats if you don't.

This has worked for our family (does it for others? - please let us know), but we are in a quandry over whether the pudding and treat side of the evening meal also requires rethinking or tweaking.

As mentioned, we have found if the kids are going to wind down for the evening we need to keep the level of sugar intake down.

As a quick aside, might I add also that we have used the mealtime rule to gauge if our kids have a tummy upset. If the 'sick one' says she doesn't want to eat dinner and you offer her sweets and chocolates instead and her face lights up! You know she is not really sick!

But studies have shown sugar actually DOESN'T change behaviour in children - one minute your kids could be calm and behaving normally - the next they are running wild and out of control but it is NOT the sugar so the studies tell us.

Are they authoritative or should we still rely on our intuition as the authority here?

Or is this a question of semantics? If studies say it does not change behaviour, does it change energy though?

But I thought in writing this hub that there was a case to look into this further and the real culprit might actually be chocolate that is turning the house into a circus!

But, strangely again, a on study had this to say about chocolate and preschoolers:

[Our] findings raise questions about the popular perception that chocolate promotes poor attention and increased activity in preschool children.

The study took 26 children, read them a story and rated their behaviour by observation before and 30 minutes after consuming chocolate OR dried fruit. The observers were blind raters which is to say they had no idea which children had eaten fruit or chocolate as they watched a videotape of the group.

Does this mean it is not sugar or chocolate that is to blame for kids not sleeping?

Where is the answer here? Get a babysitter?

We have observed that our children will behave well for others but not for us!

Other parents have also observed this one!

The upside...

as parents lets give ourselves a pat on the back for assuring our children they can happily live in defiance of us! Our houses are democracies with healthy debate and rights not dictatorships! Our children believe and act as if they are FREE to question our authority and opinions and we wouldn't want it any other way, would we?

Well sometimes it is nice to know they will follow our beliefs about what should happen at bedtime!

So we plead rather than instruct and they bond with us better.

So, if you are a parent of preschoolers accept you are doing well...

But if you thought it was something else, studies show otherwise. You can't blame the sugar, you can't blame the chocolate.....

you will just have to take a look in the mirror, not squirm, but face it - you want your kids to be self-assertive, have fun, not necessarily listen to you but it turns your household into a night circus!

What to do?

Parenting trick Numero this is a good one and I think it just might be the answer for those irreverent preschoolers!

Run them ragged! on the street, on the see saw on their bikes, up hills, down dales their having fun and getting plenty of EXERCISE and FRESH AIR and without even knowing your plan they are getting ready for bed!

Parenting trick Number Two:

(My sister taught me this one)

DON'T LET THEM HAVE A SLEEP during the day. That's a real no no - my sister can take a lot of credit for this one - I'm grateful to her.

So there you are...

Now all you have to do is find the time! Easy, eh?



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    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      4 years ago

      Funny you should mention singing Nell. I recently noticed our wildest tamed when asked to repeat some music before bed - listening is a good way to make a head sleepy!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      I do like these ideas, especially run them ragged! lol! saying that I do think that eating anything before bed will give them a burst of energy, whether its chocolate or even fruit, so its best to end the day with warm milk or hot chocolate, and of course reading to them always tends to knock them out too, especially singing to them, my singing......yep that would always work! lol!

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      6 years ago

      Lady_E - like that trick ! Kids asleep is the best feeling...for parents! LOL

    • Lady_E profile image


      6 years ago from London, UK

      Very interesting Hub - makes you think. I like the tips you gave and the "no sleeping in the day time" is an excellent one.

      Another one that makes me laugh is, if you have more than 2 kids, tell them to lie in bed still for 5 or 10 minutes (no talking or giggling) and the person who manages to do that, will get a little goodie. They always nod off before the time's up. :-)

      Brilliant Hub.

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      6 years ago

      JoanCA - really appreciate your input here. It turns out that a 1996 YALE study showed that andrenalin release in children occurs at a higher glucose level than in adults - usually when glucose falls a compensatory release of adrenaline with symptoms of hypoglycemia occurs. 4 hours after eating. Apparently, it is a hotly debated topic how sugar effects children's behaviour - see . The PLOT THICKENS! More research? Or perhaps mums and dads can share their experiences and compare and contrast to arrive at a conclusion!

    • JoanCA profile image


      6 years ago

      I read about the glycemic index a while back with those short lived highs and the quick slumps. It's very surprising that any study would fail to find a link.

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      6 years ago

      JoanCA - thanks for your comment. I'm still a little skeptical about the studies or think they need qualification - it just doesn't make sense especially in my experience of drinking sugar in a cup of tea or coffee. What may be more accurate is to think in terms of a low and high glycemic index(GI) which is a measure of blood glucose . Glucose gives us energy. In uni tests - a high GI score means rapidly digested carbohydrate (like sugar) which gives a quick high followed by a low. Foods with a low GI, on the other hand, give more gradual rise and fall in the level of blood glucose. You can find GI of foods at

    • JoanCA profile image


      6 years ago

      Interesting. I did read a while back that kids shouldn't eat sugary cereals before school because it can make them hyper. I wasn't aware that studies haven't found a link.

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      7 years ago

      Oh indeed Nicomp - everything but ourselves - until we get to the end of our life that is and we have to face it squarely - I'm to blame for this life and kids I got! Boo Hoo.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      We need something to blame! If we can't blame the sugar, we need a new bogeyman!

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      7 years ago

      that is the common assumption Lady_E and it's hard to believe it is otherwise - but kids are very very energetic and as the saying goes "if you think it is too loud, you're too old!" So maybe it is just us fatigued parents who are just too slow and sleepy for the next generation! LOL

    • Lady_E profile image


      7 years ago from London, UK

      Wow... very enlightening. I thought sugar played a big part in kids being hyperactive.

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      7 years ago

      those suggestions make a lot of sense deepu3 - and it sounds like you are talking from experience like moi! Thanks for dropping by.

    • deepu3 profile image


      7 years ago from Kochi, India

      rule no:1- give them food which has a five star presentation.

      rule no:2- try giving them chappatis with curry(india), its easy to make and fills the stomach so much that by the end of dinner, they fall asleep ( if you don't want this you can always try out new recipes every day so that the kids will have something to look forward to)

      rule no:3- don't let hem snack before dinner. keep them a little hungry, it works!!

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      7 years ago

      drbj you are right but the other half of the story is that you tire yourself out only to have to get up again at night to feed and/or comfort. Preschoolers (especially under twos get up at night!) As always good to see you gracing my pages with your eminent presence.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      There is so much we do not know, psychicdog, about the effects of sugar on children (and adults). But I do know that the advice about letting your kids get their exercise way before bedtime is excellent.

      If it doesn't tire them out, it will tire you out and you will sleep better!

    • iamsergell profile image

      Lord Sergell of House Stark 

      7 years ago from Darwin, Australia

      Very nice hub. Well-written. Couldn't argue more.

      Voted up and useful! :D Following you now, follow me too! :D


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