Sleep While Fasting

Sleep While Fasting

Annika Pfitzinger
⁣Not sleeping well while fasting is pretty normal. Most people find that sleep issues occur at the beginning of a fast and go away quickly once your body adapts to the new regime. It can take as little as 2-3 nights for your body to “realign" with proper sleeping but for others it can be an issue for the entirety of the LFD. ⠀

There are a few reasons why this can occur:⠀ ⠀
• Orexin and glucose - If you’ve ever wondered why you suddenly feel tired after eating processed food, the answer is in glucose. Once glucose is released into our blood system, it smothers the flow of orexin which leads to fatigue and energy decrease. Without enough calories our body produces orexin, a neurotransmitter made for the purpose of increasing body temperature, craving food, boosting metabolism, and increasing alertness, which can lead to poor sleep while fasting. ⠀

• Another hormone associated with fasting is adrenaline. Adrenaline keeps us awake, decreases appetite and assists with weight loss by burning body fat. When we begin to fast, our body stops relying on the energy that it gets from food, and starts using energy from stored fat called “ketones", known as keto-adaptation. During the 2-3 day keto-adaptation phase adrenaline is released which can make sleeping difficult during this time. ⠀

• Since we have been relying on food as a source of energy for our entire lives, a sudden decrease in the availability of food can result in an energy boost as a way to try and help us find more food… some could call this “hunting” mode. Once one goes through this period, food cravings will decrease, and sleep should go back to normal. The more carbohydrate rich the diet is before the fast, the longer it can take. This is also true for those with high fasting insulin levels. ⠀

Tips to improve sleep wile fasting
1. Hydration – it is important to stay well hydrated during the LFD. Ensure you drink plenty of water during the day to alleviate hunger cravings, help with your mood and improve your mental state. Getting dehydrated will only inhibit your sleep further.⠀

2. Increase your salt intake – the usual recommendations around salt intake are inadequate during a fast so it is important to increase your salt intake. Extra salt is needed to decrease the rise in insulin which will reduce hunger. Research shows that 5-6g/day is beneficial. That looks like big pinch of quality salt in each litre of water you drink and add extra to the LFD meals. ⠀

3. Make your meals count – you’ll naturally want to demolish your food but try to slow down and practice mindful eating. Eat slowly, take small bites and don’t be distracted while you eat. You want your body to think that it is receiving more food than it is.⠀

4. Eat later in the day – if you really struggle with poor sleep at night during a fast, try to eat your last meal of the day a bit closer to bed. This will help ensure your stomach doesn’t feel empty when you are trying to drift off to sleep.⠀

5. Prepare – Decrease the amount of carbohydrates you get in your diet in the days leading into a fast. This will decrease the period of time that you are going through the keto-adaptation phase during the actual fast. ⠀

6. Mindfulness – Practicing mindfulness through breathing exercises and meditation can help to cope with hunger and food cravings before bed leading to improved sleep. It also helps to prepare yourself mentally leading into a fast and accept that there may be an adjustment period where you don’t sleep as well. This will help reduce the anxiety that can occur in the evening when you may not be sleeping as well as normal. ⠀

7. Binaural beats – listening to binaural beats at certain frequencies can increase the delta brainwaves which are usually connected to deep sleep. You can find binaural beats on Youtube or Spotify.⠀