By now, you have probably settled into your Keto diet routine.
Let’s cut to the chase: have you been staring at your ceiling all night long because sleep seems to elude you?
Well, you have reached that stage in your diet where you are slowly experiencing insomnia.
The good news is — like all the other effects that accompany this diet, insomnia will not last for long… that is if you do something about it.
In the first few months, your weight will increase as the body tries to adjust to the new diet, then you will feel like your weight is at a standstill, then comes the time when your hair will start to fall because you are not taking enough Biotin and then there’s this pesky problem: insomnia.
The diet does seem to follow a pattern and each one of these problems can be addressed easily. So, we are calling on all you Keto insomniacs to give you a solution to your sleepless nights.
How the Keto Diet Affects Sleep
In our blog post, Counting Carbs – How to Read Food Labels When on the Keto Diet, we talked about how much grams of carbs you should consume.
To answer your question, “What causes Keto insomnia?”
Let’s dive into reactions that happen in your body when you are on a low carb diet. When the body experiences such a huge amount of deficit, it starts to lose energy.
Carbohydrates improve the entry of an amino acid called L-tryptophan into your brain. This amino acid assists with serotonin production, which is a neurotransmitter that calms the body.
Melatonin (a sleep hormone) is produced from serotonin and this process is what helps you sleep better. It’s a chain reaction, which when gets interrupted; your circadian rhythm goes out of order.
What Contributes to Keto Insomnia
While extremely low carbs are one reason behind your insomnia, there are a few other factors that also contribute to it:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type-2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
When you don’t get a handle on your insomnia, it becomes difficult for you to reach the Ketosis state. Following are the causes behind this:
- Increased hunger drive
- Consuming more calories
- Increased Ghrelin levels (the hunger hormone)
- Decreased Leptin levels (the satiation hormone)
What Causes Keto Insomnia
The Keto Flu
This is not your ordinary flue with the dripping nose and sore throat.
This flu concerns your carbs intake. It often happens with over-enthusiastic Keto dieters when they start eating more fats and give carbs the cold shoulder.
This leads to:
- Foggy brain
- Stomach pains
- Sugar cravings
- Heart palpitations
- Dizziness or confusion
- Lack of concentration
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Muscle cramping and soreness
The good news is that the Keto flu is not big of a problem. All you need to do is adjust your diet and the symptoms will go away in 72 hours.
The best way to maintain your carbs is to create a meal chart and explore different options. If you eat the same thing over and over again, your body will start craving food items that are full of carbs.
According to the Keto macros (5% carbs, 25% proteins and 70% fats), the Ketogenic diet requires you to consume fats in a high amount.
Even in the Keto diet, too much fat can lead to weight gain. Such a dramatic change is a little difficult for your body to handle, which is what leads to Keto Insomnia.
This is why Keto diet beginners complain about gaining weight after they become too accustomed to the diet and get lazy.
Keto macros are not that big of a concern because if you follow the right diet ratio, your body will adjust to the deficit of carbs quickly.
This will restore your circadian rhythm in no time.
As your body will start adjusting to the high-fat content, you will find yourself more energized. This can lead to insomnia because your body will be working overtime to decipher what is happening.
The two main food items that everyone uses in the Keto diet are coconut oil and MCT oil.
In excess, these oils can cause anxiety, gastrointestinal distress, mood swings, headaches and loss of appetite. All these symptoms can lead to insomnia. So keep a light hand on them.
Depleting Glycogen Reserve
In the Ketosis state, the glycogen reserve gets depleted fast.
This is what directs water towards the making of urine, which means that you will be taking trips to the bathroom often.
A depleted glycogen store is actually a good thing because it means you are reaching the Ketosis state faster.
Once the body burns the glycogen storage entirely and starts finding alternative ways for energy, you won’t be forced awake in the middle of the night.
This is another trick that Keto diet beginners use to speed up the production of Ketones. Intermittent fasting affects males and females in different ways.
The former gender experiences more benefits such as an increase in testosterone and energy levels, bigger muscles, helps with focus and more.
On the other hand, the latter gender experiences an increase in cortisol (stress hormone), which makes them feel anxious.
There are different types of intermittent fasting methods you can try to find out, which one suits your body the best.
Don’t try to fast two days in a row, rather try it once or twice a week with gaps and find your threshold level.
Following are a few intermittent fasting methods you can try:
- 16-hour fast
- 24-hour fast challenge – eat-stop-repeat
- Fast during the day and eat a huge meal at night
- The 2-day fast
- Alternate-day fasting
- Spontaneous meal skipping
It just so happens, when you are on a diet, it becomes quite difficult to find out if your body is getting all the necessary nutrients or not.
When the body does not receive the right amount of magnesium, it suffers from muscle cramps or Charley Horses. These are a series of uncontrollable ticks that make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
Try to include food items with high magnesium content in your diet such as:
- Nuts and seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Raw cacao
- Salmon, mackerel and tuna
Study Proves that Keto Diet Can Help You Sleep Better
You are probably confused right now.
Yes, we did say that the Keto diet causes insomnia but when you reach the Ketosis state, your sleep actually improves.
A study published in the Epilepsia Journal on “Ketogenic Diet Improves Sleep Quality in Children with Therapy-resistant Epilepsy” by the International League Against Epilepsy reported that even though the Ketogenic diet reduced the number of hours a person usually sleeps but it does deliver better REM sleep.
13 children, who were epileptic patients, took part in the experiment.
Not only were they able to sleep better but they weren’t bothered by daytime sleep and there was a significant decrease in their epileptic seizures.
10 Cures for Keto Insomnia
Now that you know what causes Keto insomnia, let’s have a look at some cures:
- Stop eating late at night
- Keep your electrolytes up (take a bath with some Epsom salt crystals in the water, drink bone broth, take electrolyte supplements, etc)
- Remove blue light from the bedroom (the darker the room, the lower your cortisol level will be)
- Maintain a cool environment in the room but keep your feet and hands warm
- Exercise in the day
- Before going to bed, try some simple yoga or meditation tricks
- Do not aim for low carbs at the start of the diet. Instead, slowly ease into it
- Save the carbs for later (try eating food with the high carb content 4 hours before bedtime)
- Watch your caffeine intake (drink coffee in the morning and settle for herbal or green tea throughout the day and at night)
- Once you have reached the Ketosis state, slowly add good carbs to your diet
And that gives you plenty of answers to your question: what causes Keto insomnia. Most of the symptoms that we have mentioned above are temporary.
Your body will always experience a few negative things when you start a new diet. At first, you might find yourself less energetic but as you start to eat healthily, the change you will experience then will be good.
Keto insomnia is just another one of those pesky side effects of the Keto diet like Keto flu. By taking the necessary precautions, you will be able to get a handle on it easily.
If you want to know more about the Keto diet, then browse our blog at Health and Fitness Promoter.