Menopause and insomnia: Could a low-GI diet help?

Sleep disturbances equivalent to insomnia are extraordinarily widespread, particularly in girls after menopause. Based on knowledge from the Nationwide Institutes of Well being, sleep disturbance varies from 16% to 42% earlier than menopause, from 39% to 47% throughout perimenopause, and from 35% to 60% after menopause.

Insomnia is a severe medical drawback outlined by frequent problem falling or staying asleep that impacts an individual’s life in a destructive approach. Hormone modifications round menopause can result in sleep issues for a lot of causes, together with altering sleep necessities, elevated irritability, and sizzling flashes.

What menopausal girls eat may have an effect on their threat of creating insomnia

Researchers lately checked out detailed dietary knowledge from over 50,000 postmenopausal girls (common age 63) enrolled within the Ladies’s Well being Initiative research between 1994 and 2001. Carbohydrate consumption was measured in a number of methods: glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL), measures of added sugars, starch, complete carbohydrate, and dietary fiber, and particular carbohydrate-containing meals equivalent to complete grains, processed or refined grains, complete fruits, greens, and dairy merchandise. They then checked out every participant’s threat of creating insomnia after three years of follow-up.

They discovered that the danger of creating insomnia was larger in girls with a higher-GI eating regimen, in addition to in girls who included extra added sugars of their eating regimen. Added sugars included white and brown sugar, syrups, honey, and molasses. The danger of creating insomnia was decrease in girls who ate extra complete vegetables and fruit.

The researchers accounted for and adjusted for a lot of probably confounding components, together with demographic (schooling, earnings, marital standing), behavioral (smoking, alcohol, caffeine consumption, bodily exercise), psychosocial (stress, social connection), and medical components (physique mass index, varied medical diagnoses, hormone remedy, loud night breathing).

What’s the glycemic index of meals, and the way may this have an effect on sleep?

The glycemic index (GI) is a rating of meals on a scale from 0 to 100 in accordance with how a lot they increase blood sugar ranges after consuming them. I’ve written beforehand about planning meals with information of the GI and the glycemic load of meals. Excessive-GI meals are these which might be quickly digested, absorbed, and metabolized, and trigger spikes in blood sugar and insulin ranges. Some examples of high-GI meals embrace something made with processed grains (bread, pasta, baked items, white rice) and something containing added sugars (sugary drinks, sweets).

Low-GI meals don’t trigger your blood sugar and insulin ranges to spike, and embrace plant meals equivalent to most vegetables and fruit, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds, and complete grains. Even plant meals which have a excessive GI — equivalent to bananas and watermelon — usually are not seemingly “unhealthy” for you when eaten sparsely.

Researchers hypothesize that high-GI meals trigger insomnia due to the fast spike after which crash of blood sugar ranges. Primarily, what goes up should come down, and after blood sugar and insulin ranges peak, they have an inclination to drop, which might trigger a whole lot of signs, together with awakening from sleep. The researchers of this new research cite a number of research supporting this principle.

Diet is crucial for therefore many features of our well being, together with sleep

Limitless analysis connects the standard of our eating regimen with our threat for coronary heart illness, strokes, dementia, despair, and most cancers. This new analysis notes that eating regimen may influence our threat for sure sleep issues. It’s not nearly consuming the clearly wholesome meals, but additionally about avoiding the clearly unhealthy meals.

So how are you going to apply these findings?

Along with working towards good sleep habits, listed below are some extra methods postmenopausal girls can incorporate what we now have realized from this research to sleep higher (and be all-around more healthy):

  • Go for low-GI meals as a lot as potential. This implies aiming to eat vegetables and fruit, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, complete grains, and lean protein as an alternative of something product of processed grains or with added sugars. Assume plain yogurt with berries and nuts as an alternative of cereal or bagels for breakfast; a giant plate of roasted greens and grilled salmon as an alternative of pasta and meatballs for dinner.
  • By no means eat massive meals near bedtime. As a basic rule, a big meal needs to be eaten at the least three to 4 hours earlier than mendacity down, perhaps extra. You do not need to go to mattress with plenty of meals in your intestines!
  • If you need to have a little bit one thing nearer to bedtime, keep away from sugars and processed grains. A sliced apple with a little bit almond butter; some blueberries and nut milk; or perhaps hummus and carrots. These are all well-balanced, plant-based snacks.


Insomnia: Definition, Prevalence, Etiology, and Penalties. Journal of Scientific Sleep Medication, August 2007.

Nationwide Institutes of Well being State-of-the-Science Convention Assertion: administration of menopausal signs. Annals of Inner Medication, June 21, 2005.

Excessive glycemic load and glycemic index diets as threat components for insomnia: analyses from the Ladies’s Well being Initiative. The American Journal of Scientific Diet, December 11, 2019.

Sleep Problems in Postmenopausal Ladies. The Journal of Sleep Problems and Remedy, August 2015.

About Glycemic index. The Boden Institute of Weight problems, Diet, Train and Consuming Problems and Charles Perkins Centre on the College of Sydney.

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