Certain Foods May Help Postmenopausal Women Sleep Better

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The right diet might help you sleep better.

In a study of 77,860 postmenopausal women, researchers found that consuming foods that had a low glycemic index is associated with a reduced risk for insomnia.

Foods with low glycemic indexes — for example, vegetables, nuts and whole grain breads — have carbohydrates that are slowly absorbed and cause lower, and slower, rises in blood glucose and insulin levels after being consumed.

For this study, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants completed lengthy questionnaires about what foods they ate and how often. They also reported their degree of insomnia at the start of the study and after three years of follow-up.

Compared with the one-fifth of participants whose diet had the lowest glycemic index, those with the highest were 11 percent more likely to have insomnia.

Some low-glycemic index foods — whole grains and dairy foods, for example — were not associated with reduced insomnia. But people who ate the most fruits and vegetables were about 14 percent less likely to have insomnia, and the largest consumers of fiber were 13 percent less likely. In contrast, women who ate the most refined grains had a 16 percent higher risk of insomnia than those who ate the least.

Although the study controlled for many health and behavioral characteristics, the study showed only an association and could not prove cause and effect. “Randomized controlled trials examining dietary patterns in relation to insomnia are needed to clarify these findings,” the authors write.