Many people consider the keto diet to be a popular weight loss option. Keto dieters reduce their intake of simple carbohydrates and adjust their meals to include moderate protein and higher fats. In this way, your body should use the energy stored in fat to help you lose weight. The diet plan can also affect other aspects of your life. For example, some people experience a condition called ” keto insomnia” while on this plan. Wait, trying to lose weight will make it harder for you to get a good night’s rest? Let’s take a closer look at how keto affects your sleep.
Can Your Diet Affect Your Sleep?
Yes! Your diet does have an impact on how you sleep at night. For example, a diet high in caffeine, especially near bedtime, can make it difficult to fall asleep or cause you to wake up easily during the night and have a less restorative sleep pattern.
A healthy diet filled with nutrient-rich foods throughout the day can improve your sleep, while a diet lacking in fiber and high amounts of sugar and fat may disrupt your sleep patterns. So when someone goes on a keto diet, they tend to reduce fiber and increase their fat intake, which at first tends to reduce sleep quality.
The timing of your meals during the day can also affect your sleep. Eating late at night is associated with poor sleep; eating earlier in the day and immediately after waking up in the morning is associated with higher quality sleep. This may not be true for everyone, but it is important to be aware of what you eat and when you eat it overall.
What is Keto Insomnia?
Keto insomnia is a lack of sleep associated with participating in a keto diet. Some dieters may not experience this condition, but it is due to a lack of carbohydrate consumption in the diet. A lack of carbohydrates means that your body is deficient in L-tryptophan, which enables your body to produce melatonin.
Melatonin is produced by suppressing the production of serotonin at night, so while your body is making serotonin, it is simply not producing enough melatonin to help you sleep. Of course, there are still some causes we will discuss later.
However, keto insomnia isn’t something that lasts the entire ketogenic diet. Once your body gets used to your new diet, you won’t have as many sleep problems. People usually only experience keto insomnia when they first start on a keto diet.
What Causes Keto Insomnia?
A 2020 study on the relationship between diet and sleep linked a high-carbohydrate diet, as well as foods containing tryptophan, melatonin and phytonutrients, to better sleep. Exactly how this happens is unclear, but researchers believe that these foods support the production of serotonin and melatonin, important hormones that help regulate sleep. Thus, it is possible that a low-carbohydrate diet could contribute to insomnia by disrupting these sleep-regulating chemicals.
Neurochemically, your brain sees sugar as a drug. If you’ve ever given up your caffeine habit, you know the situation. Going cold turkey isn’t easy, and it can definitely interfere with a good night’s sleep.
But it’s not just sugary sodas and cookies and things like that. Even starchy carbohydrates like rice and potatoes are forms of sugar that trigger these addictive pathways. So as your body adjusts to a low-carb diet, normal brain function – including sleep – may suffer.
The good news is that this situation is temporary. As long as ketosis is maintained, carbohydrate addiction will dissipate.
An Electrolyte Imbalance
When your magnesium levels are low, an important mineral and electrolyte, you may be more stressed and anxious than usual. This can also keep you from falling asleep quickly.
In addition, when you don’t get enough magnesium, you’re prone to muscle cramps and charley horses, which can wake you up in your sleep.
So, how long does keto insomnia last?
Before you ask your doctor about sleeping pills, know that most people on a keto diet will have their sleep problems go away.
And with the help of these sleep tips below, it may go away sooner rather than later.
Keto Flu Symptoms
Another group of symptoms often associated with starting a keto diet is the “keto flu,” or a general feeling of being unwell, similar to having the flu. These symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, “brain fog,” gastrointestinal distress, decreased energy, dizziness, and arrhythmias.
Another common problem in the early stages of the keto diet is digestive problems. This may include constipation, diarrhea, gastric reflux, bloating or other problems. It usually goes away once your body has adjusted to the diet. All these problems will disturb your quality sleep.
Can Your Prevent Keto Insomnia?
There are several things you can do to manage or try to prevent keto insomnia. In most cases, keto insomnia will eventually go away on its own, but not sleeping at the beginning of the diet can be frustrating. It is recommended that a person stick to the diet almost religiously to make insomnia go away on its own.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to control insomnia. Listed below are some tips that you can use to control keto insomnia.
1. Nutrient Intake
The keto diet recommends that 75% of daily calories come from fat, 20% from protein, and 5% from carbohydrates. Some people may find it difficult to meet their nutritional needs on a keto diet because of the limited intake of carbohydrates. Many people will cut out or severely restrict grains, fruits and vegetables. However, these are important sources of essential nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Adding fiber supplements, choosing healthy plant-based fats, and fiber-rich non-starchy carbohydrates can help you meet your nutritional needs on a keto diet.
2. Eat Carbs Later in the Day
On your keto diet, you’re allowed to eat some carbs, and you’ll savor them If possible, enjoy these delicious indulgences later in the day, rather than first thing in the morning. When you schedule your daily carbohydrate intake about four hours before you go to sleep, you’ll probably sleep better and be less likely to wake up hungry. This window of time also gives your body enough time to use the energy you get from those carbohydrates, while also getting much-needed serotonin.
3. Stop Eating So Late
Likewise, don’t eat anything four hours before bedtime. This gives you enough time to burn off the energy from your last meal before bed and also provides enough fuel so that you don’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night.
4. Watch The Caffeine
Did you know that caffeine can stay in your bloodstream for up to 6 hours after you drink it? Studies now confirm that taking caffeine within 6 hours before bedtime can disrupt your sleep.
Limit your caffeine intake to the morning and early afternoon hours. You can switch to green or herbal teas later in the day.
5. Exercise Earlier In The Day
A hard workout after a stressful day is great, but try to keep it earlier than 7 p.m. Because exercise wakes up your whole body, if you work out late, you’ll have a hard time calming down to sleep.
Also, if you don’t exercise long enough or hard enough, this could be a problem for your sleep.
Since you have an endless supply of keto energy, you need to burn off your excess energy by exercising for 20-30 minutes at least three times a week.
Do this and you’ll not only doze off faster and stay asleep longer because your body will be more tired, you’ll also lose more weight.
6. Limit Screen Time before Bed
It is often recommended to put down the phone or tablet, leave the computer, or turn off the TV an hour before bedtime.
7. Relaxation Techniques
Find ways to relax and unwind through activities you find calming and enjoyable. This could be reading, listening to music, stretching, showering, or adding a relaxation technique to your bedtime routine. These techniques prepare your body for sleep by lowering your heart rate, reducing tension in your body, and calming your mind. Some relaxation techniques include:
- Breathing exercises
- Muscle relaxation exercises
8. Sleep in a Cool Room but Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm
Sleeping in a hot room can also disrupt your sleep patterns. No one likes to wake up sweaty, but no one likes cold hands and feet. It’s best to sleep in a cool room with a warm blanket to stay as comfortable as possible during the night.
Keto insomnia is frustrating, and at first it may tempt you to give up your diet, but there are ways to manage it. Nutritional or electrolyte deficiencies can occur on a keto diet, so be intentional about what you include in your diet – doing so will help your body return to its normal circadian rhythm.
Staying healthy and listening to what your body is trying to tell you is the most important part of any diet. Before starting any diet, you should discuss it with your doctor to make sure you act safely.