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Roughly one in four women living in the United States suffers from insomnia. Lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk for car accidents and poor mental and physical health. A new study suggests that intake of high glycemic index foods may increase the risk of developing insomnia among postmenopausal women.

Glycemic index is a value (between 0 and 100) assigned to a defined amount of a carbohydrate-containing food based on how much the food increases a person’s blood glucose level within two hours of eating, compared to eating an equivalent amount of pure glucose. Glucose has a glycemic index value of 100. Examples of high glycemic index foods include white bread, rice, potatoes, sweets, and many packaged breakfast cereals.

The cross-sectional study was based on data collected from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study and included more than 50,000 postmenopausal women living in the United States who were between the ages of 50 and 79 years. In addition to providing information about their dietary intake, each of the women rated the quality of their sleep and the frequency with which they experienced certain sleep problems, including insomnia.

The results indicated that women who ate high glycemic index diets were more likely to develop insomnia. These findings suggest that dietary modification to reduce the intake of high glycemic foods may reduce the risk of developing insomnia in postmenopausal women.

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