As if we need yet another reason not to eat refined carbs, a new study by researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons found a link between insomnia and refi consumption. The study looked at postmenopausal women’s refined carb intake, focusing on added sugars and the development of insomnia.
The study’s lead author, James Gangwisch, Ph.D., suggests, “Insomnia is often treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy or medications, but these can be expensive or carry side effects. By identifying other factors that lead to insomnia, we may find straightforward and low-cost interventions with fewer potential side effects.”
Women who ate a varied diet of fruit, veggies, and plenty of fiber were less likely to develop sleeping problems like insomnia. Previous studies couldn’t pinpoint causation in the correlation between insomnia and sugar consumption. In other words, researchers couldn’t definitively say that consuming sugar caused insomnia versus insomnia, causing people to consume more sugar.
Gangwisch and his team analyzed food diary data from over 50,000 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative, which gave them the ability to track specific patterns and the women’s glycemic index.
“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,” Gangwisch says.
The researchers found that the higher the dietary glycemic index, the greater the risk of developing insomnia. Interestingly enough, the women who consumed vegetables and whole fruit were less likely to develop these sleeping issues.
“Whole fruits contain sugar, but the fiber in them slow the rate of absorption to help prevent spikes in blood sugar,” says Gangwisch. “This suggests that the dietary culprit triggering the women’s insomnia was the highly processed foods that contain larger amounts of refined sugars that aren’t found naturally in food.”
So if you’re suffering from sleep issues, it’s time to put down the cookies and grab some apples instead. It’ll not only keep you nutritionally sound but will allow you to catch some sound z’s.