Nutrition

The What, Why, How of Keto Insomnia

keto insomnia

Not being able to sleep properly can be troublesome for both your personal and professional life. And when you are also trying to follow the low-carb, high-fat keto diet, you have a whole other reason to have poor quality sleep. Although the Keto diet has a lot of benefits, it includes some risks too.

What is this connection between keto and sleep? Why does someone struggle with keto insomnia? And how to beat it? We’ll answer all your questions in this article. Read on!

What Is Insomnia? Why Does It Happen?

The American Psychiatric Association statistics estimate that about a third of adults suffer from insomnia. (1)

If you aren’t aware, insomnia is a sleep disorder that means you either have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep for a long, peaceful slumber. Some people suffer from both kinds.

In general, insomnia can happen due to excessive exposure to screens, stress, anxiety, poor sleeping schedule, and disorders like sleep apnea.

Your diet, however, plays a crucial role in your sleep, too.

One example is the intake of caffeine. If you drink coffee or black tea in the evenings, you are bound to have trouble sleeping.

Another example is following a keto diet plan.

Why Does Keto Cause Insomnia?

Keto diet causes insomnia for primarily 4 reasons:

  • You suffer from Keto flu symptoms.

With keto come keto flu symptoms like vomiting, nausea, headaches, irritability, constipation, brain fog, muscle cramps, and diarrhea, among others. All these keep your mind and body occupied with the discomfort, pain, or stress, thus making it difficult to sleep. 

  • Your body is taking time to adjust to the lack of carbs.

Considering how easy it is to get addicted to chocolates, it should be no surprise when we tell you sugar can be as addictive as any drug of abuse. (2)

So, just like with other addictive drugs, when you shut your body’s sugar/carbs supply, you experience withdrawal symptoms. 

One of the withdrawal symptoms you face when following the Keto diet is insomnia. 

Why? 

Research suggests eating a carbohydrate-rich meal may increase the brain’s ability to synthesize serotonin. It’s a hormone that further creates melatonin – the sleep hormone. (3,4)

This means when you don’t have enough carbs, you don’t have enough melatonin to make you sleep like a baby.

  • You have to pee… a lot.

Do you know every time you eat carbs, your body produces a hormone called insulin? Among its many duties, insulin is also responsible for helping your kidneys retain water. 

However, when you reduce your carb intake, you also decrease insulin and thus water retention. Therefore, causing your body to release the fluids in the form of urine.

The outcome is you waking up multiple times in the middle of the night to pee, making high-quality sleep impossible.

  • Your body lacks electrolytes which are essential for sleep.

If you have subscribed to our free newsletter, you may already know what happens when you pee too much. Excessive loss of fluids causes a loss of electrolytes, further causing an imbalance that leads to sleep troubles.

Does this mean you need electrolytes on a keto diet? Yes. In fact, it’s essential because the keto diet specifically has a shortage of electrolytes. For instance, it lacks sodium because of the minimal salt usage. It also lacks potassium and magnesium because of the small number of green veggies the diet allows.

Such electrolytes help power down the secretion of hormones like norepinephrine. The hormone can otherwise stimulate your brain cells and keep you awake. 

A high-fat, low-carb diet like Keto isn’t the standard in many homes, which makes it difficult to follow. HealthyStripe brings you everything you need to know about Keto, including tips and tricks to make following this diet, stress-free. Sign up to our free newsletter today and get ready for all the Keto rewards.

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    Does Keto Insomnia Go Away? How Long Does It Last?

    Keto insomnia is not a permanent condition. It goes away as soon as other keto flu symptoms vanish. This may take anywhere between a couple of days to 4 weeks, as your body adjusts to the high-fat content and the shortage of carbs in the keto diet. (5)

    How Do You Treat Keto Insomnia – 10 Tips & Remedies

    Here are ten keto insomnia remedies and ways to cure and prevent this condition:

    • Consume plenty of water-rich foods: 

    Understand how much water you should consume during keto and make it a part of your diet with water-rich foods or drinks to help replace the lost fluids.

    • Consult your doctor and see if you can take melatonin supplements

    The more melatonin (sleep hormone) you have, the easier it will be to sleep. 

    This will help keep the electrolytes balanced.

    • Ensure there’s enough salt (sodium) in your diet: 

    Sodium is an essential electrolyte that helps keep sleep hormones in check.

    • Avoid consuming caffeine in any form (tea/coffee/chocolate) anytime after 2-3 pm: 

    Doing this will ensure you do not suppress any melatonin in the body and let it do its job. Plus, caffeine is a diuretic, so it can cause you to pee more.

    • Keep your carb consumption for the second half of the day: 

    Carbs help release serotonin which further creates the sleep hormone. Since the keto diet has very few carbs allowed, it is better to keep them for later in the day instead of the mornings. This way, they can do their job by sleep-time and help you enjoy a deep slumber.

    Doing this will bring you the benefits of the keto diet without keto flu symptoms like insomnia.

    • Exercise: 

    Working out will help your body digest the high fat better, thus making it easier for the body to adjust to the new diet.

    • Meditate or do yoga before bed: 

    Relaxing with a 10-minute session of meditation or pranayama will help release the right hormones for quality sleep. It will also reduce the stimulation in your mind, so you fall asleep quickly.

    • Dim the lights and don’t use any screens at least 1-2 hours before sleep: 

    Doing this will ensure blue light exposure from lights and screens, which reduces melatonin (sleep hormone) production isn’t the reason for your poor sleep.

    Keto And Sleep – Goodness In The Long Term 

    Now you know that a low-carb can cause sleeping problems. But according to a study, a high-refined-carb diet also contributes to insomnia. (6)

    So, stay away from processed foods, desserts, and dinner with rice as the primary food in the evenings. This way, your body can focus on sleeping instead of the sugar crashes high-carb food brings. 

    With the reduced sugar fluctuations, you make way for fewer nighttime cravings, as well. 

    Plus, when you eat fewer carbs, you lose weight and get rid of the risk of obesity that contributes to sleep apnea – another sleeping disorder. 

    Therefore the keto diet is good for sleep, but its perks are often visible only after the keto flu period of 4 weeks is over.

    Over to You…

    There you go! We have discussed what keto insomnia is, why it happens, and what we can do to treat it.

    But if you still can’t find relief from the condition, it’s better to try other health practices instead of the Keto diet that can get you similar benefits. 

    For instance, you can learn how to do intermittent fasting or try the paleo diet. Some say paleo is much better than keto.

    Still, have questions? Drop them in the comments below.

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