Does Sleeping Count As Fasting? Pro Tips For Better Results

When I first heard about the concept of intermittent fasting, and how I should stay 16-20 hours without anything entering my mouth, the idea frightened me. “I’m a food fan.” I thought. “I love food. Am I even able to withstand all that deprivation?” And then it hit me. I’m sleeping 8 hours each night. That’s half of the fasting window.

But then, the question became:

Does Sleep Count As Intermittent Fasting?

Yes, we can count the time we sleep as part of your intermittent fasting window. However, an average person sleeps 7-8 hours per night, which is not enough to start the significant benefits of fasting.

These benefits typically kick in around 12-14 hours, activating processes like autophagy (cellular cleansing), hormone regulation, and metabolic shifts that switch your body from using glucose to using fat as its primary energy source.

In the remainder of this article, we will be talking about how to best include sleep in your intermittent fasting plan, how Intermittent fasting affects sleep, and what to do when you can’t sleep because of it.

As I myself had that question at the very beginning, I don’t get surprised when people ask me it now. And that question is:

Can I Sleep While Fasting?

You can and you should definitely sleep while fasting. It’s an incredible way to make the fasting window pass faster. When you’re first starting to fast, you can use sleep to ease your way into it. Start by not eating 1 hour before bed and 1 hour after waking up. Expand these to 2 hours, 3 then 4.

And before you know it, you’re doing Intermittent Fasting.

The Best Way To Include Intermittent Fasting In Your Routine

After speaking to countless people now about it, from friends to clients, I realized that everyone does it their own way. I used to think that everyone did it like me, 4 hours of fasting before bed, 8 hours sleep, and then 4 hours of fasting after waking up.

But then I realized that even I do it differently throughout the week. On weekdays not the same as on weekends for instance.

So, the best way is the most convenient way for you.

It’s better to be able to fast for 18 hours because you made the fasting window accustomed to your day than to fast for 14 hours because you read some study that said it’s best to fast from hour a to hour b, and then you couldn’t commit fully to it.

– (Yours Truly)

Pick a pattern that works for you. Something that can make it easier for you to commit to it.

Because commitment and consistency in your new lifestyle are what will bring you the results that you’re striving for.

That being said, there are some tips I can give you after years of doing intermittent fasting, that can help you speed up the process.

If You’re Struggling To Begin:

  • Start with 1 hour fast before bed, 8 hours of sleep, and then 1 hour after waking up. Increase the 1 hour to 2 hours the next day, and do it for 2 days. Then 3 hours for 3 days. And then 4.

    You will find yourself easily fasting 16:8 in a week. Remember. Achievement is achievement, no matter when. If your body is not helping you achieve results as fast as you would like, just give it time. Don’t give up on it. And, most importantly, don’t beat yourself up for it.

    You will only get there with patience.

If You’ve Been Doing It For Some Time, And Want To Shake Things Up:

  • Try OMAD 1-2 times a week. If you don’t know what OMAD is, it stands for One Meal A Day.

    This is taking intermittent fasting to a whole new level. You can start by trying it once a week and test what it can do for you.
  • Move Your Workout Routine to Right Before You Break Your Fast (Or One to Two Hours Earlier)

Pro Tip:

  • Know The Difference Between Wanting To Eat And Needing To Eat. This can help you fast longer when you realize that you’re only breaking your fast because you miss food.

    By understanding that you do not need food yet, you can maximize your fasting window and double your results.

How Does Sleep Affect Your Intermittent Fasting?

Sleep can affect your ability to commit to intermittent fasting. When you’re sleep-deprived, you tend to need and want more calories than usual. This can result in breaking your fast earlier and not fasting enough. Or eating so much during your eating window, that you don’t see progress anymore.

This can be avoided by getting a good amount of sleep (7 hours, on average) and also looking into the quality of that sleep.

Making sure you’re sleeping in a quiet environment, reducing screen time before bed as well as avoiding alcohol and caffeine late in the evening.

Those tweaks can seem very simple, but can sometimes, especially when accumulated, be the things that are holding you back.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Affect Your Sleep?

Studies have shown times and times again that people who adopt intermittent fasting start to notice improvements in their sleep quality. These are things like having deeper and more restful sleep and getting enough sleep with fewer hours.

One study has gone further to suggest that doing intermittent fasting before and during a plane flight can decrease the effects of jet lag that would be felt otherwise.

That being said, there are obvious things you have to avoid before bedtime that can negatively affect your sleep, and make you think that it’s because of the intermittent fasting that you’ve recently adopted.

Alcohol, caffeine, excessive blue light (from your phone, laptop, or TV), and your sleeping environment. These are simple stuff that can disturb your sleep and make you sometimes feel like you slept for 4 hours, even though you’re sleeping more than 8.

How To Fix Insomnia While Fasting?

We have just spoken about how fasting has those great benefits on sleep. So how come now we’re talking about insomnia caused by fasting? Well, first of all, it’s not caused by fasting. It’s correlated with it. When you start any diet, you might get very excited and want to go all-in for it.

This can lead to aggressiveness in the diet and deciding to have a huge caloric deficit. Some bodies embrace that, other bodies shout in anger.

The second group of people were typically used to eating all day long, and now have either decided to go from that to fasting 16 hours a day (or more) or decided that they want to cut carbs or eat 1,000 fewer calories per day than usual.

That’s unsustainable for most people and can definitely hurt more than it helps.

How To Use Sleep To Take Your Fasting To The Next Level

Although they have good chemistry together, just like any good relationship, the bond between sleep and fasting needs some work. So here are a few additional tips that can help you fine-tune your sleep during your intermittent fasting regimen and go to the next level.

1- Create a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Our bodies thrive on consistency, so having a regular sleep schedule can work wonders. Aim for the same bedtime and wake-up time every day, even on weekends, as much as you can.

This habit reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps you get better quality sleep. And, let’s not forget, it also assists you in keeping your fasting schedule on track.

2- Watch What You Eat Before Bedtime

What you eat at your last meal before your fasting window can affect your sleep.

Try to avoid high-sugar foods, large meals, or caffeine close to bedtime. These can cause sleep disturbances and might make your fasting period more challenging.

Opt for a balanced meal with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs, and consider finishing your meal a few hours before sleep.

3- Consider Magnesium Supplements

Magnesium is a crucial mineral involved in hundreds of body processes, including sleep regulation.

Some people find that a magnesium supplement before bed can improve their sleep quality.

However, as always, it’s wise to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

4- Ensure Your Room Is Dark

Light can interfere with the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.

Invest in blackout curtains or a good sleep mask to make sure your room is as dark as possible. This can lead to more restful sleep, making your fasting journey easier to navigate.

5- Keep Your Room Cool

Your body temperature naturally drops to initiate sleep.

Keeping your room on the cooler side (around 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15-20 degrees Celsius) can support this process and help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.

6- Limit Electronic Devices Before Bed

As much as we hate to hear that, especially in 2023, the blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and TVs can interfere heavily with your sleep.

Try to turn off these devices or use a blue light filter at least an hour before bedtime.

This will support your body’s natural winding-down process and help you enter your fasting state with a restful night’s sleep.

7- Consider A Gentle Evening Exercise Routine

While intense workouts close to bedtime can interfere with sleep, gentle exercises like yoga or stretching can help improve it.

Additionally, regular physical activity, in general, can help manage your hunger cues during the fasting window and support better sleep.

8- Avoid Drinking Large Amounts of Liquids Before Bed

While staying hydrated is crucial, especially during a fast, drinking large amounts of liquids before bed can lead to multiple nocturnal bathroom trips.

These can disrupt your sleep, making fasting more challenging the next day. Aim to get most of your hydration earlier in the day.


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Nabeel Kallas

I'm a medical doctor with a lot of passion for Keto & Intermittent Fasting. They have completely changed my life and I am beyond honored to help you experience that same change. I'm ready when you are. Read more here.

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