"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Menopause and Insomnia: Can a Low GI Diet Help?

Sleep disturbances comparable to insomnia are quite common, especially in postmenopausal women. According to data from the National Institutes of Health, sleep disturbances range from 16% to 42% before menopause, 39% to 47% during perimenopause, and 35% to 60% after menopause.

Insomnia is a serious medical problem defined by repeated difficulty falling or falling asleep that negatively affects an individual's life. Hormone changes around menopause can result in sleep problems for quite a few reasons, including changes in sleep needs, increased irritability, and hot flashes.

What menopausal women eat can affect their risk of insomnia.

Researchers recently checked out detailed dietary data from 50,000 postmenopausal women (average age 63) enrolled within the Women's Health Initiative Study between 1994 and 2001. Carbohydrate intake was measured in several ways: the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) of added sugars, starches, total carbohydrates, and dietary fiber, and foods containing specific carbohydrates comparable to whole grains, processed or refined grains. , whole fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. They then checked out each participant's risk of insomnia after three years of follow-up.

They found that girls with a high GI eating regimen had the next risk of insomnia, as did women who added more sugar to their eating regimen. Added sugars included white and brown sugar, syrup, honey and molasses. Women who ate more vegetables and fruit had a lower risk of insomnia.

The researchers accounted for and adjusted for several potentially confounding aspects, including demographic (education, income, marital status), behavioral (smoking, alcohol, caffeine use, physical activity), psychological (stress , social connection) and clinical aspects (body mass). index, various medical diagnoses, hormone therapy, snoring).

What is the glycemic index of food, and the way can it affect sleep?

The glycemic index (GI) is a rating of foods on a scale of 0 to 100 based on how much they raise blood sugar levels after eating. I've written before about GI knowledge and meal planning with the glycemic load of foods. High GI foods are those which are quickly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. Some examples of high GI foods include anything created from processed grains (bread, pasta, baked goods, white rice) and added sugars (sugary drinks, sweets).

Low-GI foods don't cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to spike, and include plant foods comparable to most vegetables and fruit, beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Even plant foods with a high GI — like bananas and watermelon — aren't “bad” for you when eaten moderately.

Researchers hypothesize that high-GI foods cause insomnia because blood sugar levels rapidly rise after which fall. Basically, what goes up must come down, and after blood sugar and insulin levels rise, they start to fall, which might cause a spread of symptoms, including waking from sleep. The researchers of this latest study cite several studies that support this theory.

Nutrition is significant for a lot of features of our health, including sleep

Endless research links the standard of our eating regimen to the danger of heart disease, stroke, dementia, depression and cancer. This latest study notes that eating regimen may additionally affect our risk for certain sleep problems. It's not nearly eating the obviously healthy foods, but in addition about avoiding the obviously unhealthy foods.

So how will you apply these findings?

In addition to practicing good sleep habits, listed here are some additional ways postmenopausal women can incorporate what they've learned from this research to sleep higher (and stay healthy throughout):

  • Eat low GI foods as much as possible. This means eating vegetables and fruit, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and lean protein as an alternative of foods with processed grains or added sugars. For breakfast, think plain yogurt with berries and nuts as an alternative of cereal or bagels. Instead of pasta and meatballs for dinner, a giant plate of roasted vegetables and grilled salmon.
  • Never eat a big meal near bedtime. As a general rule, a big meal ought to be eaten at the least three to 4 hours before bedtime, perhaps longer. You don't wish to go to bed with a variety of food in your gut!
  • If you could have something near bedtime, avoid sugars and processed grains. A sliced ​​apple with a bit of almond butter; some blueberry and nut milks; Or possibly hummus and carrots. All of those are well-balanced, plant-based snacks.


Insomnia: definition, prevalence, etiology, and consequences. Journal of Clinical Sleep MedicineAugust 2007.

National Institutes of Health State of the Science Conference Statement: Management of Menopausal Symptoms. History of Internal Medicine21 June 2005.

High glycemic load and glycemic index diets as risk factors for insomnia: analysis from the Women's Health Initiative.. American Journal of Clinical NutritionDecember 11, 2019.

Sleep disorders in postmenopausal women.. Journal of Sleep Disorders and TherapyAugust 2015.

About the glycemic index. Bowden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders and the Charles Perkins Center on the University of Sydney.