If you are beginning your new keto lifestyle and face trouble sleeping all of a sudden, then worry not. You are not alone.
The ketogenic diet, which includes eating more fats than carbohydrates, ensures that you burn more of your fat for energy and lose weight in the process.
Although you may become slim, you may face some pesky side effects like keto insomnia.
What is keto insomnia and how do we cure it? Keto insomnia is basically an umbrella term that includes all the issues leading to poor sleep while following a ketogenic diet. It can be due to keto flu, keto macros, getting too much energy from ketosis, frequent urination, or even an imbalance of electrolytes.
Although keto insomnia can prove to be a thorn in one’s side, it’s something that can be handled quite easily.
Why do you suffer from keto insomnia and in what ways can you cure it? How long does this side effect tend to last? Get detailed answers to all these questions in this article.
What is Keto Insomnia?
Keto insomnia is basically a wide term that encompasses all symptoms leading to poor sleeping habits and problems in sleeping properly when dieters first start this diet. People have been complaining about this effect for a long time now, but still, no scientist has a definite answer for why this happens.
However, recently some theories have surfaced to explain this issue.
One of the most common explanations is the association of keto insomnia with the fearful keto flu–some general symptoms that dieters following keto lifestyle face. Some of these symptoms include brain fog, dehydration, and irritability.
Considering keto flu usually happens right around the time when the body first starts to change how it gets energy, it wouldn’t be totally surprising if insomnia decided to make an appearance as well.
Why Do You Get Keto Insomnia?
Have you ever wondered why you feel sleepy after eating rice? This happens due to the consumption of more carbs in one meal.
So don’t be surprised if you feel more energetic than usual when you are trying to limit carbs. This is especially tough if you are a lover of cake and pasta.
Your mind keeps making you feel “unsatisfied” due to not filling up your system with carbs that you normally intake, and that’s when keto insomnia kicks in. It can be really annoying to suffer from lack of sleep since this loss of sleep can ultimately hinder your weight loss efforts.
However, there could be other causes of sleep deprivation too, which are not related to the keto diet:
- Depression, stress, and anxiety
- Hormonal imbalances
- Medicines and medical conditions
- Alcohol and drugs
Nevertheless, you should be able to start tackling your sleeping issues related to the above causes by consulting your medical practitioner. If you are still struggling and even the medical advice has failed, then it’s time to discover the connection between insomnia and your ketogenic diet.
Here are some of the reasons keto insomnia can kick in:
- Keto Flu: You’re likely to suffer from the frightening keto flu that can lead to poor sleeping habits. This happens because you have now made fat your body’s key source of energy.
Beware of the following signs of keto flu:
- Nausea and irritability
- Brain fog, confusion, and less focus
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Frequent cravings for sugar
- Muscle soreness
- Heart palpitations
Such symptoms may last for 24 to 72 hours and may subside when your body starts getting used to the ketogenic diet.
- Keto Macros
Studies have shown when you gear up for the keto diet to lose weight, the reduction in carbs may hinder your sleep since your body is adjusting to your new eating method of consuming more protein and good fats.
Your body is adapting to metabolize the macros of your low-carb diet which can affect your sleeping cycles. Such sleep variations and reductions in REM sleep, due to being on a low-carb diet, can contribute to insomnia.
- A Spurt of Additional Energy
While on a ketogenic diet, you might feel you are more energetic than ever. You could burst with whole new levels of energy, how could this be something bad?
Well, it could be that you are fully awake during the night time, that you wake up halfway through your night and feel refreshed, or that you even wake up before your alarm buzzes. This lack of sleep might make you prone to health issues and obesity.
- Intermittent Fasting
IF is a timed approach to eating which helps you remain in shape by starving your body from glucose. This speeds up the ketone process by burning through the extra glycogen while at the same time raising the stress hormone called cortisol.
Raised cortisol levels mean you’re now feeling more anxious, which can make restful sleep quite hard.
- Lessening Glycogen Reserves and Discharging Water
How can you sleep through the night if you often have the urge to pee? Your body tends to release water in the form of urine when it works through the glycogen stores making its way into nutritional ketosis.
The science behind ketosis is every gram of glycogen carries three to four grams of H2O attached to it.
Nocturia is a usual complaint from those who follow a keto diet plan when they have to get up for pee breaks in the middle of their sleep.
This gets worse as people grow older. These people compromise their quality of sleep, can’t easily get back to sleep, and hence feel tired during the day.
- Electrolyte Imbalance
Your electrolyte balance is messed up when your body releases extra water. Now you have low magnesium which is a vital electrolyte and mineral whose decreased levels can make you more anxious and restless than usual.
Your body is likely to get muscle cramps and Charley horses to keep you awake mid-night since you are not getting sufficient magnesium.
The good news is there are some cool ways to fight this insomnia.
Curing Keto Insomnia
Stop late eating!
Try not to eat anything at least three hours before you’re off to bed. By doing so you are giving your body to work off the goodness you had from your dinner.
Fixing your electrolytes levels
Aim to watch your electrolytes right from the start of your ketosis process. You need to get your electrolyte levels right by adding on magnesium glycinate in your diet before bedtime for better sleep quality and lesser insomnia. Pamper yourself by a relaxing bath where you can add Epsom salts (source of magnesium) in your bathtub and let it get absorbed into your skin to fend off any muscle cramps.
Having a few drops of soothing essential oils like chamomile or lavender in a vaporizer can also make you sleep better. Treat your body with some yummy warm bone broth which contains an incredible amino acid – glycine. Glycine improves overall sleep quality by keeping the electrolytes in check.
Turn down the lights in the night-time
Bright lights increase the cortisol levels and decrease melatonin whereas dim lights have the opposite impact. So try mimicking the natural rhythms of sunset and sunrise to get you drowsy. Blue lights emissions from TV, phones, tablets, and other screens interfere with the melatonin production so reduce them in the late hours to fall asleep in no time.
Keep your room cooler but your extremities warmer
Make sure the room where you sleep is cool but your feet and hands remain warm. When your extremities are warmer than your body’s core, your body speeds up the sleeping process.
Workout during the day
Exercising vigorously earlier in the day, ideally before 8 PM is essential since it keeps your whole body awakened. Late physical activity means you’re giving your body lesser time to calm down before bedtime. You need to make sure you do a hard workout for at least half an hour for three to four times a week in order to make your body sleepy. By doing this you are doing yourself a great favor as you sleep longer through the night and lose more calories, double merits!
Say no to coffee after 3 pm
You are well aware that caffeine is the main component of coffee which is an extremely powerful stimulant. The strong effects of this drink can possibly disrupt your sleep as well. While it is advised to begin your day with a steaming cup of coffee for a kick start, abusing on this drink is not recommended as it may not let you sleep properly at night.
Experts suggest avoiding coffee after 3 pm. This way, you will be ready to sleep by your usual bedtime.
Use a Melatonin Supplement
Melatonin refers to a chemical agent that serves as a precursor to a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin, in turn, helps you sleep well at night. So if you start supplementing your body with melatonin, it will regulate the serotonin levels and help you achieve a good night’s sleep.
Melatonin supplements are easily available in the market and consuming 2 to 5 grams of it is sufficient to sleep well at night. While all other sleep medications are generally considered as harmful, melatonin supplements are safer with no potential of addiction and any other side effects.
Set a Sleeping Time
While this tip seems easy to follow, it is very difficult for most people. Fixing a time to sleep and following it every single day is a common piece of advice and everyone is aware of its benefits. However, very few people tend to actually prioritize it.
People are often seen advising their kids to go to bed at the exact same time every single diet. But have you ever seen an adult following the same advice for themselves? Chances are that you haven’t.
This is what experts call as bedtime procrastination. To be able to go to sleep and wake up at the exact same time every single day, you have to train yourself. This includes following the exact same schedule on weekends. If you don’t do this, chances are you will wake up the following Monday feeling uncomfortable and miserable.
If you often find yourself struggling to sleep at night, it is high time you start following this tip. Your body is going to adjust with your new sleep rhythm and soon enough, you will find yourself automatically getting sleepy around your bedtime every single night.
Speed Up Ketosis
This is a rather controversial topic but worth discussing. If you are following a keto diet and are unable to sleep properly, it is most likely because your body is still adjusting itself to the lack of carbohydrates. It may also be a sign that you are slowly moving towards ketosis.
This is similar to the keto flu, the most common side effect of the keto diet. So to overcome this problem, you must enable your body to enter ketosis as fast as it can and start burning fat for energy. The slower you enter ketosis, the longer you will suffer from keto insomnia.
Some experts also suggest reducing the process of carb removal as your body is entering ketosis. This means that you must eliminate carbs from your diet at a much slower rate than usual. This will give your body enough time to adapt itself according to the new circumstances and prevent you from experiencing keto insomnia in the first place.
How long can keto insomnia last?
There is no specific answer to this as it depends on each individual’s body, efforts, and other factors. However, if you are following the aforementioned tips while being on a ketogenic diet, chances are your body will adapt to ketosis soon, and the dreaded keto insomnia will fade away in a couple of days or weeks.
How does sleep deprivation lead to gain weight?
Studies have shown that sleeping less than six hours each night contributes to gain weight by:
- Increasing appetite and calorie consumption
- Increasing ghrelin (an appetite-triggering hormone) levels
- Decreasing leptin (a hormone that is responsible for hunger control) levels
Keto Insomnia Conclusion
The keto diet is a popular and effective way to lose weight if followed correctly by tailoring your meals with a low-carb and high-fat diet. Unfortunately, it also brings out many health challenges like keto insomnia that, if ignored, can really suck the life out of you.
This dreaded side effect worsens in evening and night hours. But it is quite simple to fix this issue if you follow the above-mentioned ideas.
Also, you’ll need to incorporate good sleep hygiene in order to cure keto insomnia and bring your vitality back in no time.