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Posted on December 30, 2019

Luxor Nursing and Rehab at Mills Pond on How a High-Carb, High-Sugar Diet Can Affect Your Sleep

Several factors can cause insomnia – especially in older people, as our bodies tend to get less sleep as we age. Besides natural reasons, side effects to medication, physical activity, and mental health can all affect how much sleep we get (and the quality of it). 

A new study conducted with postmenopausal women, however, showed that those who ate a diet high in carbs and other sugars were more likely to have signs of insomnia (which is loosely defined as the inability to fall asleep or get the amount of sleep you would regularly like to get). 

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the study after gathering data from 50,000 postmenopausal women who completed food diaries. The results showed that those who regularly consumed refined carbohydrates (white bread, processed foods, added sugars) were 15 percent more likely to suffer insomnia than those who had more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in their diet.

Researchers believe it’s tied into blood sugar.

“When blood sugar is raised quickly, your body reacts by releasing insulin, and the resulting drop in blood sugar can lead to the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can interfere with sleep,” the study’s lead author, Columbia University Professor James Gangwisch, said in a press release

That being said, foods that slow the rate that your body absorbs glucose – like foods that are high in fiber – can prevent blood sugar spikes and can actually lead to more restful sleep.

The study’s authors believe more research on the link between food and insomnia is needed, since there are so many other factors at play (including cognitive ones) when it comes to interfering with sleep.

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