A recent study by researchers at Columbia University has found that consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates, particularly those that contain added sugars, may increase the risk of developing insomnia and reduce the quality of sleep.
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult for people to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up too early and be unable to return to sleep, leading to feelings of tiredness throughout the day.
Poor sleeping habits, anxiety, depression, chronic illness, lack of exercise, and certain medications are all factors that can contribute to insomnia.
Previous studies have produced mixed results on the relationship between carbohydrate intake and insomnia.
The researchers in this study sought to examine how different types of carbohydrates, including overall dietary glycemic index (GI), glycemic load, and specific types of carbohydrates, impact sleep loss and insomnia.
The glycemic index is a ranking system that assigns a number to carbohydrate-containing foods based on how much they raise blood sugar levels.
Foods with a low GI (less than 55) include soy products, beans, fruit, milk, pasta, grainy bread, porridge (oats), and lentils, while those with a high GI (greater than 70) include potatoes, white bread, and short-grain rice.
The researchers analyzed data from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, which tracked the medical histories and health habits of over 93,000 women aged 50 to 79.
They found that higher dietary GI was associated with an increased risk of insomnia.
Higher intakes of added sugars, starch, and non-whole/refined grains were also linked to a higher risk of insomnia.
In contrast, higher intakes of whole fruits, vegetables, dietary fiber, and whole grains were strongly linked to a lower risk of insomnia.
The team recommends replacing high-GI foods with minimally processed, whole, and fiber-rich carbohydrates to prevent or manage insomnia and sleep loss.
These findings suggest that diets high in refined carbohydrates may be a risk factor for insomnia, particularly in older women.
The research was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and was conducted by James E Gangwisch et al.
If you care about sleep, please read studies about drugs that can treat sleep loss and insomnia, and Restless sleep may be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about natural coconut sugar that could help reduce blood pressure and artery stiffness, and an anti-inflammatory diet could help prevent fatty liver disease.
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