Blog Post

Going Keto? Here’s the Effects It Can Have on Your Sleep

10 January, 2019

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The keto diet has quickly become one of the most popular approaches to health and weight loss in New Zealand, one of Google’s most popular search trends for 2018. The high-fat, low-carb eating regime can not only have a positive impact on your waistline, but also affect your skin and even your risk of disease.

That being said, making such a big adjustment to your eating habits will also have effects on your sleeping pattern – so it’s important to know what you’ll be in for. That being said, it’s also important to recognise that everyone’s experiences when commencing a new diet will be different; so it’s worth a visit to the doctor before starting any new fitness or health plan.

Expect some insomnia

In the short term, you can expect some sleepless nights when you switch to a keto diet. The sudden lack of carbohydrates coming in robs the body of its traditional source of energy, thanks to their glucose content. This affects the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter which gets converted to the sleep hormone – melatonin. In short – you’re completely shaking up your body’s way of getting energy, so it will take some time to adjust. While you will probably feel tired a lot, getting to sleep will be tricky – not the combination we usually go for.

Quality over quantity

Keto diet followers tend to note a decrease in time spent asleep, but a higher quality of sleep overall. This can be attributed to more time spent in the REM phase of sleep, the deepest level of sleep we reach (when our dreams occur).

So once your body has grown used to its new routine, you may wake up feeling more refreshed than normal – even if it’s a little earlier than you’re used to.

Not all carbs are created equal

If you’ve taken the keto plunge and are struggling to find that sleeping sweet spot, reintroducing some carbohydrates to your diet could be the answer.

But there’s an important distinction to be made when it comes to carbs – the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates.

Simple carbs are the usual suspects – foods high in sugar, or starchy foods like pasta and some vegetables.

Complex carbohydrates are usually good sources of fibre and take longer to break down and enter the bloodstream. Brown rice and sweet potato get the tick of approval from nutrition experts, free of ‘anti-nutrients’ which affect our ability to absorb nutrients from our food.

If you’re wanting to give keto a try in 2019, set yourself up for success – keep to a regular bedtime, ditch the screens at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep, make sure you stay hydrated and remember to re-evaluate regularly to ensure any lack of sleep is not to the detriment of your health overall.