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How Keto Improves Your Sleep (2 Ways)

Published January 31, 2019 (Revised: January 14, 2020) Read Time: 9 minutes
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

Fact-Checked By: Ana Reisdorf MS, RD

keto-sleep
<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context":"http://schema.org", "@type":"BlogPosting", "author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "Ben Kissam, BS" }, "publisher": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "Warrior Made", "logo": { "@type": "ImageObject", "url": "https://www.warriormade.com", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2020/01/keto-improves-sleep-thumbnail-0065.jpg" } }, "headline":"How Keto Improves Your Sleep (2 Ways)", "datePublished":"2019-01-31", "dateModified": "2020-01-14", "description":"Quality sleep is absolutely essential for overall health and weight loss. Here are 2 ways keto can improve your sleep.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2020/01/keto-improves-sleep-thumbnail-0065.jpg" } </script> <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Does the keto diet affect sleep?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "The keto diet can affect sleep, especially when you first start using it. But your sleep will eventually go back to normal, and may even improve. Remember, diet and sleep quality are intertwined. What and when you eat has been scientifically proven to impact your sleep, either positively and negatively." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "Why am I exhausted on the keto diet?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Your body is still adjusting to running off ketones and not using stored glucose for energy. The keto diet became popular largely because it promises fast weight loss results. You lose weight on keto by restricting carbohydrate intake to 50 grams of less per day. This helps deplete your body of its stored glucose, and eventually your body enters a state called ketosis. In ketosis, your body uses ketones (a chemical produced by the liver), made from stored body-fat, instead of glucose, as your primary fuel source. Understanding this may help you see why you're exhausted on the keto diet. Your body is used to getting its energy from glucose, and the initial metabolic adjustments it has to make can leave you feeling a little fatigued or even completely exhausted." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "Does keto insomnia go away?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Yes. In fact, most (if not all!) of the negative symptoms you get when you go keto should subside within a week or two. Insomnia, or not being able to sleep, is another common symptom of the keto flu. The good news is your insomnia, fatigue, or any other displeasing side-effects you're experiencing—will likely go away within a few days to a few weeks. And once your body does adjust to running on ketones, you may find your body responds quite well. Not just when you're awake, but when you're sleeping, too." } }] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">Benefits of Good Sleep</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">A Good Night's Sleep, Defined</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">Does the Keto Diet Affect Sleep?</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Why Am I Exhausted on the Keto Diet?</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">Does Keto Insomnia Go Away?</a></li> <li><a href="#section6">How Keto Improves Sleep (2 Ways)</a></li> <li><a href="#section7">Keto Sleep: Wrap Up</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>Several studies have shown that diet quality and sleep quality are intertwined. <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6476615/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">1</a>, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015038/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2</a></sup></p> <p>Namely, <i>what</i> you eat (the quality of nutrients in your food) and <i>when</i> you eat (nutrient timing) can have a positive—or negative—impact on how restful and restorative your sleep is.</p> <p>So if you've recently switched to keto, you might be wondering about your sleep. </p> <p>Especially, because it's possible that you're having trouble sleeping (if you just started) or that your sleep quality has improved over time.</p> <p>Both outcomes, depending on how long you've been following the diet, are common.</p> <p>Here's some important info about the keto diet and sleep, how symptoms like insomnia might affect you early on, and 2 ways keto can actually improve sleep quality in the long run. </p> <p>But first, let's look at why good sleep is important for both health and weight loss, and define what it means to get a good night's sleep.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/getting-good-sleep-0065.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/getting-good-sleep-0065.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/getting-good-sleep-0065.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/getting-good-sleep-LR-0065.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="getting good sleep"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section1"> <h2>Benefits of good sleep</h2> <p>The more research done on sleep, the more science confirms that a good night's rest is essential for both health and optimal well-being.</p> <p>For example, one <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6281147/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2018 study</a>, labeled sleep as "extraordinarily important", saying that it offers health benefits like:</p> <ul> <li>Decreased risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dementia</li> <li>Improved immune system function</li> <li>Improved cognitive function</li> <li>Improved metabolism</li> <li>Hormone regulation </li> <li>More stable moods</li> </ul> <p>And if weight loss is your goal, quality sleep plays an even more important role. Consider:</p> <ul> <li>Sleep-deprived people are more likely to gain weight, and have a harder time sticking to their diet, according to a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22402738" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2012 study</a> in <i>Obesity</i>.</li> <li>A study from the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18564298" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Journal of Sleep Research</i></a> found that even <i>one</i> night of sleep deprivation increases ghrelin, a hormone responsible for hunger. Higher levels of ghrelin cause you to feel hungry more often.</li> </ul> <p>Quality sleep, as you can see, is very important for human health.</p> <p>But how do you define good sleep, and what should you aim for? We explain in the next section.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/sleep-diagram-image-0065.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/sleep-diagram-image-0065.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/sleep-diagram-image-0065.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/sleep-diagram-image-LR-0065.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="sleep diagram image"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section2"> <h2>A good night's sleep, defined</h2> <p>Many factors contribute to a good night's sleep, but <i>how deep</i> and <i>how much</i> you sleep are two of the most important.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6361305/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">3</a></sup></p> <p><i>Deep sleep</i>, also called level IV sleep, is a state where the frequency of your brain waves are the most settled.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10996/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">4</a></sup> There is little brain activity, which makes this a deep rest period.</p> <p>In this state, your body is able to repair tissues, restore brain function, and process and store memories, among many other things.</p> <p>So getting deep sleep is a priority. Unwinding before bed, having a set schedule, and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/the-most-effective-natural-sleep-aids/" rel="noreferrer">natural sleep aids</a> can all help you accomplish this goal.</p> <p>In terms of <i>how much sleep</i> you should get, the current science varies. Consider:</p> <ul> <li>A 2015 study in the journal <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4434546/" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Sleep</i></a> said that adults should sleep 7 hours per night for optimal health. </li> <li>In contrast, a 2018 study in <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6267703/" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Nature and Science of Sleep</i></a> found there is no "magic number" of hours that adults should sleep each night. Still, they reiterate the importance of sleep, and cite previous studies that say between 7 and 9 hours is optimal.</li> </ul> <p>But again, other factors, such as diet, play a role in quality sleep, too. We'll dive into this in the next section.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>Does the keto diet affect sleep?</h2> <p><i>The short answer</i>: The keto diet can affect sleep, especially when you first start using it. But your sleep will eventually go back to normal, and may even improve.</p> <p>Remember, diet and sleep quality are intertwined. What and when you eat has been scientifically proven to impact your sleep, either positively and negatively.</p> <p>If, for example, you eat lots of unhealthy foods before bed, you're less likely to get a good night's sleep.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015038/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">5</a></sup> You're also more likely to gain weight.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425165/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">6</a></sup></p> <p>Alternatively, if you eat healthy foods on the daily and limit food intake before bed, your sleep quality will improve.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164745/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">7</a></sup></p> <p>And if you follow a <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101/" rel="noreferrer">ketogenic diet</a>—a low-carb, high-fat nutritional plan that prioritizes healthy, nutrient-dense foods—you may notice your sleep is affected in a few, specific ways.</p> <p>After all, there are some common sleep-related short and long-term side-effects to going keto. </p> <ul> <li>In the short-term, you may experience negative symptoms like fatigue or insomnia when switching to a keto diet.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5858534/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">8</a></sup> (See section: "Why am I exhausted on the keto diet?" below for more).</li> <li>But long-term, a low-carb diet like keto may help you sleep better. At least one study shows that going low-carb may increase the amount of deep sleep you get.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681982" rel="nofollow noreferrer">9</a></sup></li> </ul> <p>So basically, you may experience short-term negative side-effects that lead to positive, long-term benefits when you go keto.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/exhausted-on-keto-0065.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/exhausted-on-keto-0065.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/exhausted-on-keto-0065.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/exhausted-on-keto-LR-0065.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="exhausted on keto"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section4"> <h2>Why am I exhausted on the keto diet?</h2> <p><i>The short answer</i>: Your body is still adjusting to running off ketones and not using stored glucose for energy.</p> <p>The keto diet became popular largely because it promises fast weight loss results.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6251269/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">10</a></sup></p> <p>You lose weight on keto by restricting carbohydrate intake to 50 grams of less per day. This helps deplete your body of its stored glucose, and eventually your body enters a state called <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/87-things-to-avoid-on-the-keto-diet/" rel="noreferrer">ketosis</a>.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">11</a></sup></p> <p>In ketosis, your body uses ketones (a chemical produced by the liver), made from stored body-fat, instead of glucose, as your primary fuel source.</p> <p>Understanding this may help you see why you're exhausted on the keto diet. Your body is used to getting its energy from glucose, and the initial metabolic adjustments it has to make can leave you feeling a little fatigued or even completely exhausted.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-energy-how-the-keto-diet-combats-fatigue/" rel="noreferrer">Fatigue</a>, along with headaches and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-breath/" rel="noreferrer">bad breath</a>, are part of a list of very common early-day keto symptoms known as the "keto flu". </p> <p>You could also have trouble sleeping or even develop insomnia, which we'll look at in the next section.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section5"> <h2>Does keto insomnia go away?</h2> <p><i>The short answer</i>: Yes. In fact, most (if not all!) of the negative symptoms you get when you go keto should subside within a week or two.</p> <p>Insomnia, or not being able to sleep, is another common symptom of the "keto flu".<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664869/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">12</a></sup></p> <p>The good news is your insomnia, fatigue, or any other displeasing side-effects you're experiencing—will likely go away within a few days to a few weeks.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">13</a></sup></p> <p>And once your body does adjust to running on ketones, you may find your body responds quite well. Not just when you're awake, but when you're sleeping, too.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/keto-and-sleep-improving-0065.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/keto-and-sleep-improving-0065.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/keto-and-sleep-improving-0065.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/keto-and-sleep-improving-LR-0065.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="keto and sleep improving"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section6"> <h2>How keto improves sleep (2 ways)</h2> <p>Here are two ways a low-carb diet like keto can improve your sleep.</p> <h3>1. Low-carb diets may help you sleep deeper</h3> <p>As discussed earlier (see section: "Does the keto diet affect deep sleep?") at least <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18681982" rel="nofollow noreferrer">one study</a> shows that a low-carb diet such as keto may promote a more restful night's sleep.</p> <p>Compared to healthy sleepers that ate a high-carb diet (more than 70 percent carbs per day—which if you were on a 2,000-calorie diet equals 350 grams of carbs), low-carb dieters not only entered stage IV (deep) sleep states more often, but also saw a reduction in their amount of REM sleep, or dreaming sleep.</p> <p><i>REM sleep is defined as a period where you're more prone to having dreams because brain activity is much higher, and isn't as restorative as deep sleep.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11121/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">14</a></sup></i></p> <p>The scientists concluded that the change in sleep quality may have to do with the fact that our bodies metabolize fat differently (and more efficiently) on a very low-carb diet like keto.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945587/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">15</a></sup></p> <h3>2. Losing weight improves sleep quality</h3> <p>Like diet and sleep quality, studies show that <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/will-i-lose-weight-on-keto/" rel="noreferrer">weight loss</a> and sleep quality are related.<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28476339" rel="nofollow noreferrer">16</a></sup></p> <p>Namely, you're more likely to lose weight when you get good sleep. But it actually works both ways—you'll also sleep better once you reach a healthy weight.</p> <p>According to a study at <a target="_blank" href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/losing-weight-and-belly-fat-improves-sleep-201211145531" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Harvard Medical School</i></a>, losing weight decreases your risk of sleep apnea (a disruption of breathing during sleep) and improves sleep quality.</p> <p>Because keto is an effective tool for weight loss, and losing weight will help you sleep better, this is another way keto improves sleep.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/keto-sleep-0065.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/keto-sleep-0065.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/keto-sleep-0065.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/keto-sleep-LR-0065.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="keto sleep"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section7"> <h2>Keto sleep: wrap up</h2> <p>Several factors matter when you define quality sleep, but how deep and how much sleep are two of the biggest. </p> <p>Sleep time and depth allow your body to recover and restore itself, ward off disease, and even help you manage your weight.</p> <p>But it's not just about how deep or how much you sleep, either. Diet and sleep quality, for example, directly affect one another. </p> <p>If you eat healthy and don't go to bed incredibly full, studies show you're more likely to get a good night's sleep. </p> <p>Specific to the ketogenic diet, you may notice that you have trouble sleeping when you first go keto. Your body is making metabolic adjustments and still learning to run off ketones instead of glucose.</p> <p>But long-term, you may find that the keto diet actually improves your sleep quality.</p> <p>The benefits of sleep are well-known, and it's no exaggeration to call sleep "extraordinarily important" for human health.</p> <p>Make it a priority, eat a healthy diet, and if you're keto, do what you can to make it through the negative side-effects early on. On the other side of those symptoms is a more rested, healthier version of you.</p> </section> </article>

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