People who eat ‘the white stuff’ – added sugars, white bread and soda drinks, for instance – will find it harder to sleep at night because of the bodily processes their diet is triggering.
In particular, the body releases insulin to break down the sugars in refined carbs, and the sudden drop in glucose (blood sugars) leads to an increase of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and this causes the sleepless nights, researchers from Columbia University Irving Medical Center have found.
By comparison, people eating more vegetables and fruits were less likely to have a bad night’s sleep. Although these foods also contain sugar, their fibre content reduces spikes in blood sugar levels.
Although their research focused on older women, the researchers say their findings hold true for everyone. And with a third of adults regularly experiencing insomnia, new ways of improving sleep patterns need to be explored, especially as sleeping pills come with side effects, the researchers say.
(Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2019; doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqz275)