You were excited to start doing intermittent fasting. Everyone is talking about it. You hear all around how it’s going to give you more energy, longer satiation, and better sleep. Fast forward to now, you’re lying in bed and simply can’t bring yourself to fall asleep.
This is something I’ve never experienced myself. But after working with people doing intermittent fasting and being in several online groups and forums about the diet, I have the ultimate solution you need if you’re experiencing this.
Almost every fitness guru out there wants to talk to you about how awesome the diet they are cheerleading for is, and tells you a hundred times a day about the amazing health benefits it offers. But oftentimes, they forget to prepare you for what negative experiences you might run into before you get to all those benefits.
Intermittent fasting is a great pattern of eating. If you’ve been at MasterMinding Perfection enough before, you probably know how much I love it and love talking about it. Nevertheless, nothing comes without downsides.
One of the downsides people report to me is insomnia. They start doing Intermittent fasting and they just can’t sleep.
In this article, we will dive together into how sleep and fasting affect each other, how fasting can cause you sleep problems, and what you can do to fix it.
Note: In almost every instance in this article, we’re talking about insomnia caused by Intermittent Fasting, the same also applies to insomnia caused by Keto. Because, as you will understand throughout the article, it’s a result of the same problem.
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 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. One study has gone even further to suggest that doing intermittent fasting before and during a plane flight can decrease the effects of the jet lag that would be felt otherwise.
Some positive effects intermittent fasting has on sleep include having deeper and more restful sleep and getting enough sleep with fewer hours.
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. I’ve mentioned these above. 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 only slept for 4 hours, even though you’re sleeping more than 8.
Does Fasting Keep You Awake?
Fasting can cause you insomnia, especially if you’re new to the diet or have taken it too far in the calorie deficit. However, in the long term, it can great benefits on the quality of your sleep, making you get better sleep with fewer hours.
Why Is It Hard To Sleep When Fasting?
There are two reasons behind fasting-induced insomnia. First, you’re doing a big caloric deficit and your body is not yet fat adapted. Or, two, you’re doing a longer fast (5-day fast, for example) and you’re overdoing it beyond your body’s abilities to handle it.
The first reason is a much relevant one and is responsible for more than 90% of insomnia caused by fasting. So, let’s talk a little more about it.
You’ve probably heard before about how on intermittent fasting and/or Keto, you don’t need food as much as you did before. And that’s true. That’s one of the coolest things about the diet. However, that does not happen on the first day. Especially if you’re doing the diet for the first time, your body will need a certain amount of time to realize, that:
1) No, we’re not in a desert, you don’t need to slow down my metabolism and abstain from using my own fat. And 2) Yes. This is the new normal. I’m only getting that much food now, and you have to use my fat for the rest of your needs.
This process can take anywhere between one day and one month. And during that period, your body will release more of the stress hormone, cortisol, which will try to increase your blood sugar levels, thinking that that is the solution.
If you’re doing for example the 16:8 pattern of intermittent fasting, and you started your fast at 6 pm and went to bed at 11, these are 5 hours of fasting, of no food whatsoever going into your mouth, while just a few days ago, your body was getting an additional meal and two snacks within that time, every day. So, of course, it’s not gonna like what you’re doing.
But trust me, down the line, it will love you for it.
How Can I Sleep Better When Fasting?
I’ve saved the best for last. You know I usually don’t do that teasing, and I just give you the answer upfront, but I wanted you today to understand why the problem is occurring, to better understand how we would attempt to fix it and get rid of it as soon as possible.
- Keep Your Caloric Intake The Same As It Was Before. This one is for those of you doing intermittent fasting to help them reduce their caloric intake in order to lose weight. For the first few days, I suggest that you do fasting but do not limit your calories. Eat as much as your body is used to. Moreover, remember, even then, you might still lose weight. Because remember the equation we talked about?
Here, when you’re fasting and not limiting your calories, it’s true that you’re not getting your body into a caloric deficit, but you’re making it need more energy and calories by boosting up your metabolism through higher levels of GH, which is one of the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Ultimately, if your goal is to lose weight, you probably want to cut back on calories. However, by then, your body will be ready for that.
- Keep Your Carb Intake The Same. This is crucial for those with insulin resistance. They will have the hardest time trying to sleep when they first attempt intermittent fasting. Down the line, fasting can help you reduce your carb intake and reverse your insulin resistance. However, now it’s more practical for you to keep your carb intake as is, until you’re comfortable playing around with it.
What will be very beneficial for you now is switching the sources of the carbohydrates you’re consuming. You can do that by replacing sugar with starches (e.g. rice, potato.. etc.), which take longer to digest and keep you full for a lot longer.
- Get Enough Electrolytes. It’s crucial for you to invest in some good electrolyte product when first starting the diet. It can save a lot of unnecessary frustration and sleepless nights. I recommend this one, as it has personally helped me a lot.
- Eat More Healthy Fats (More MCT Oil & Especially At Night) This is a great tip to help get you fat-adapted a lot sooner. It will save you from other negative effects you could face otherwise. Some people, even those doing intermittent fasting without Keto, report that they are experiencing symptoms of the Keto Flu. They also report the disappearance of those symptoms when they start adding more MCT oil and other healthy fats to their eating window.
- Drink A Cup Of Decaf Bullet Proof Coffee In The Evening. The reason it’s decaf is that I’m suggesting you drink it in the evening. And the reason I’m suggesting it in the evening is that you can go to sleep having had a meal of some sort.
What makes this tip work, is that bulletproof coffee does not break your fast.
This is great for those who read the previous tip and wondered how they would include MCT oil in their routine, especially at night. Well, there you go.
- Move Your Fasting Window To Accommodate Your Sleeping Schedule. This means that if you sleep around 10 pm, it might be a good idea to start fasting at 9 pm. Thus, you will go to sleep having just eaten a meal, and you will sleep like a baby.
This is only recommended in the case of insomnia, and only in the beginning when you are experiencing it. Later, you can move your fasting window to the perfect time for you. We have talked about that in detail in this article.
The tips mentioned here will help you speed up the process of fat adaptation and reduce your insomnia. Apply as many as possible of them to have the best results. The feeling of insomnia will go away with time, however, I’m here to help you suffer the least amount possible.
This is just a phase that will pass soon. After that, you might start to notice that you’re needing noticeably fewer hours of sleep to get the same amount of rest at night.
So don’t give up on intermittent fasting just yet. It has wonderful surprises for you down the road.
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