Ketogenic Diet & Sleep Problems: How are Carbohydrates and Ketosis Associated with Disturbed Sleep?

Why Ketogenic Diet?

A diet which is rich in fat and low in proteins and carbohydrates is called a ketogenic diet. Going on a ketogenic diet is one of the ways people revert to in order to achieve quick weight loss. While ketogenic diet can have adverse consequences to a person’s well being, it can also lead to sleep deprivation or insomnia over a period of time. Consumption of carbohydrates is vital for the body that not only keeps the energy equilibrium maintained, but also plays a role in your quality of sleep.

If you are planning to adopt ketogenic diet then beware my friend of the complications it can have in the long run over your sleep cycle! Maintaining a good body is essential, but it should not compromise with your sleep which is vital for your health and well being. Herein, we break down some valuable information on how ketogenic diet can be associated with sleep disturbances and how it can be managed.

Why Ketogenic Diet?

Getting Familiar with Ketogenic Diet and How it Works

A diet which is rich in fat and low in proteins and carbohydrates is called a ketogenic diet. Carbohydrates are called storehouse of energy as their breakdown results in enormous energy released by the body needed for performing its functions. In absence of these dietary carbs, the glycogen and fat is broken down thereby causing enormous loss of weight. It is during fat breakdown that causes release of ketones in blood also known as ketosis. The weight loss of a person of a ketogenic diet can be sudden and high in intensity often causing euphoric feeling, but leading to sleep problems over a period of time.

How are Carbohydrates and Ketosis Associated with Disturbed Sleep?

  • Known to cause a soothing effect on the body, carbohydrates are often referred to as “comfort foods” in dietary terms.
  • These carbs are responsible for maintaining steady glucose supply, maintaining energy equilibrium and at the same time keeping the protein balance in the brain.
  • An amino acid known as L-tryptophan is responsible for producing serotonin that is responsible for bringing calm to body thereby inducing sleep.

According to a proven study, sleep requirements can vary from individual to individual and also depends on a person’s age and nature of work. Most adults require at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep in a day to meet their body requirements. Upon neglecting this necessary sleep, people get sleep deprived which results in fatigue and lethargy all the time.

Managing Ketogenic Diet to Resolve Sleep Deprivation

A sudden change over carb intake can disturb the insulin levels in the body thereby causing sleeplessness. Therefore, to let the body adapt naturally, it is recommended to reduce carbs when following a ketogenic diet by 20 to 30 grams daily until the goal can be achieved. This step might slow the pace of your weight loss, but at the same time would reduce the intensity of side effects that could arise with ketogenic diet.

However, if you do not want to ease with lower carb diet, the body would take at least a few weeks to settle with ketogenic diet and then will be able to overcome the state of sleeplessness that can result with time.

Managing Carb Schedule in Ketogenic Diet to Avoid Sleep Problems

Sleep problems with ketogenic diet can be combated by allowing one to rely on carbs during the daytime as allowed by the dietician or fitness trainer. You can choose to keep your lunch and breakfast carb free by taking more eggs, leafy vegetables and protein rich meat such as chicken and fish.

Other Than Ketogenic Diet What are the Other Causes of Disturbed Sleep?

Sleep Disturbance can happen as a result of low carb diet but this does not necessarily imply that it can result in insomnia. Being under the effect of stress for long could trigger hormonal disturbances thereby leading to sleep problems. Also keep a track of your coffee and tea cups as that can not only squelch your diet plan, but also escalate the difficulty in sleeping.

Every time you go to bed ensure the environment is peaceful and conducive enough to let you keep aside all the worries and catch some sound sleep. Keep away from technological gadgets and manage your time well. A soothing bath just before going to bed or drinking a chamomile tea would induce sleep. Lastly, make sure the room environment is cool and dark to let you sleep comfortably.

Anxiety and Depression Can Also Cause Sleep Problems

People suffering from depression or high level of anxiety find it difficult to sleep and can suffer from excessive sleepiness. People who are suffering from depression have a tendency to ruminate that is the reason they find it difficult to shut down their thought patterns and sleep peacefully. High level of stress can also elevate sleeplessness in humans.

While on a Ketogenic Diet, How to Ensure a Good Sleep?

In order to ensure you can have a peaceful sleep after a long tiring day at work, you need to shut your phones off and keep them away at bedtime.

  • Exercising while on a Ketogenic Diet: Consider practicing light exercises as it helps to balance the sleep rhythm in the body.
  • Meditation with Ketogenic Diet: Yoga and meditation can prove helpful for people who are not fitness freaks and helps in keeping sleep problems at bay.
  • Avoid Late Night Eating to Avoid Sleep Problems: Also, keep a check on what you are eating after 7 pm in the night. Food with high cholesterol and fats should be strictly avoided as they can disturb digestion causing sleep deprivation.
  • Avoid Stimulants: Avoid overconsumption of beverages that are high in caffeine content like coffee, tea etc.
  • Sleep Medications: Doctor may prescribe you mild sleeping pills depending upon your level of insomnia. Hence consult a doctor at the earliest if you are having sleep problems with ketogenic diet and before it gets too late and causes serious health implications.

Lastly, prioritise your sleep. Having goals in life and working hard is good, but it should not come in your way to a good sound sleep. Remember, better level of fitness will ensure higher work productivity making you work longer and more optimally. While your daily workout and nutritional intake play a major role in making your body function well, small changes in daily life and a positive approach could help you with the same, bringing greater happiness and contentment to your life.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 2, 2017

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