For some people, sleep difficulties are a major problem when following the ketogenic diet.
Ketosis and Insomnia
Ketosis, withholding carbs to the point where your body runs on fats for fuel. You basically deplete your glycogen stores and your glucose to the point where your body uses ketones, fatty acids for energy. Your brain ends up working on ketones in the absence of carbs and you feel better after adjusting to fat for fuel.
However, many people experience sleep side effects to a ketogenic diet. With the right approach, there are ways to minimize sleep disruption and improve precious resting time when following a low carb lifestyle.
Control Insulin Spikes
Controlling your blood sugar is essential for improving sleep quality and reducing insomnia. Especially in the Keto-adaptation phase.
- Avoid snacking throughout the day. If you eat three big meals a day with snacks in between plus eating late at night, you are going to have too much food in your system and spiking insulin all day.
- You can wake up from blood sugar fluctuations either in the middle of the night or wake up craving foods.
Tip #1: Instead of eating at night time you could consume some apple cider vinegar mixed with a little water at bedtime which will help balance out blood sugar.
Tip #2: To improve sleep and overall health you may want to combine ketogenic dieting with intermittent fasting.
Limit Coffee Consumption after the Morning
Too much coffee equals too much caffeine which in turn affects the central nervous system. One of the main causes of insomnia for any diet including Paleo and low carb is excessive amounts of caffeine.
Tip #3: Stick to one cup of coffee any time in the morning and eliminate any caffeine intake after noon.
A bloated and heaviness in the stomach is a reason for poor sleep on Keto. Ketogenic diets focus on vegetables but some can stay in the stomach for many hours and create gas. Having lots of food in the stomach prior to sleep keeps your digestive system working when you are trying to sleep.
Tip #4: If you experience restlessness and feel uncomfortable change the vegetables you eat. Cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts are some culprits. Simply change for other vegetables whatever works for you and try to eat earlier in the evening to improve absorption of nutrients.
Workout Earlier in the Day
Working out late in the evening can throw your hormones off balances. All the blood is rushing everything throughout your body when you are trying to get to sleep.
Tip #5: Whenever possible, exercise in the morning. If you have to exercise in the evening, it is good to relax in a hot bath to open up the blood vessels and allow the blood to get into the muscles. Hot baths or even a sauna is a good strategy as it puts you in a sort of pre-sleep state. Overall it is a great approach to help get a better night’s sleep.
Not Enough Minerals
On a ketogenic diet, the requirements for certain minerals are far more significant than on a typical high-carb eating plan. The body needs more potassium on a high-fat diet, not just to help prevent "keto flu" but to help balance electrolytes and calm the nervous system down. You could end up with a potassium deficiency if you do not eat a nutrient dense meal plan and consume enough potassium foods.
Low calcium levels in the body may also cause you to have cramps or difficulty getting to sleep.
Tip #6: If you have mineral deficiencies, consider consuming bone broth regularly to increase your body’s mineral levels. You may also prefer sodium and potassium supplements for a more relaxed way to get your electrolytes.
Routine. Routine. Routine.
Having a structured plan is one of the best ways to avoid sleep deprivation and maintain good quality sleep on a ketogenic diet. Not enough shut-eye impacts a variety of things especially your ability to lose weight.
Tip #7: Try and get up at the same time each day. Practice going to bed the same time each night.
Like many diets and changes in your lifestyle, there are side effects that come with the benefits. Ultimately, to get the most of a Ketogenic or low-carb diet, it's important to understand the implications and make a plan so you lose the fat, gain energy and still get the sleep you need.