According to the American Sleep Association, more than 30% Americans suffer from insomnia, and 10% of the population report chronic insomnia. For those over 60, those numbers go up to 40-60% of this age group who suffer from insomnia. Unfortunately, this common sleep disorder often results in unintentionally falling asleep during the day, which can be especially dangerous if you're driving.

Although there are many different potential causes of insomnia, a recent study showed that women who eat a lot of processed grains and sweets have a higher risk of insomnia. If you reach for sugar during the day or regularly eat white bread and other processed grains, it could affect your sleep.

A high dietary glycemic index resulted in higher levels of insomnia

The researchers came up with this information by checking data from the food diaries of over 50,000 women who had already gone through menopause and were in their mid-60s. Menopause is already associated with an increased risk of insomnia and sleep problems. Their focus was on the dietary glycemic index, which measures how much food the women ate that could contribute to a spike in blood sugar. They found that women who had the highest dietary glycemic index — meaning they ate a lot of refined carbohydrates like refined sweets, sodas and white bread — had a 11% higher risk of reporting insomnia when the study began. These same women had a 16% higher risk of developing insomnia within three years of the study. The lead author of the study pointed out that their results prove how important nutrition can be for people suffering from insomnia. 

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In fact, aside from weight control, preventing insomnia is another good reason to skip white bread and sugar. Although the researchers did not specifically investigate how eating processed grains and sweets causes insomnia, the hormonal changes that this type of diet causes may be responsible. When your blood sugar rises quickly, your body releases more insulin, which quickly lowers your blood sugar. A drop in blood sugar can result in the release of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can make it difficult to sleep.

A low glycemic index diet controls blood sugar and improves sleep

The study also found that women whose diets contained higher amounts of fiber, whole fruits and vegetables were less likely to develop insomnia. While whole fruit contains sugar, it also has fiber – which reduces blood sugar spikes and lowers the glycemic index. While a low glycemic index diet is often recommended for people who need to lose weight or those who need to better control their blood sugar levels, this type of diet can also improve sleep. Again, to be perfectly clear, white bread (and other processed carbohydrates), plus sugar will greatly increase your risk of insomnia. Therefore, it is important to limit the consumption of this toxic food. Undoubtedly, replacing them with healthier foods with a low glycemic index will help you: stabilize blood sugar levels, promote better sleep, improve body weight and avoid disease symptoms.

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