How the Ketogenic Diet Affects Sleep

The ketogenic diet (commonly called the keto diet) is a high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate eating pattern. On a ketogenic diet, carbohydrates from all sources, such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, are severely restricted. This depletes the body of glucose, the body’s main source of energy. When there is not enough glucose, the body breaks down fat into ketones for energy instead.

The ketogenic diet was originally developed and recommended as an evidence-based treatment for controlling epilepsy. More recently, the ketogenic diet has become popularized to manage weight loss, diabetes, and high cholesterol, among other conditions. However, the high-fat nature of the ketogenic diet is controversial, and its effects have not been fully studied.

A diet that is high in fat, especially saturated fats, is associated with short- and long-term risks, such as cardiovascular disease. It’s important to note that the ketogenic diet differs from general, healthful eating patterns recommended by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

This article will discuss how diet and sleep are related, how the keto diet can trigger insomnia, and what to do about it.

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The Connection Between Diet and Sleep

Increasingly, researchers are interested in the complex relationship between diet and sleep. A 2021 study associated consumption of healthier foods with better sleep quality while, inversely, an eating pattern with more highly-processed, sugar-rich foods was associated with lower sleep quality. This suggests that certain foods and eating patterns may improve sleep while others can make it difficult to fall asleep or to stay asleep.

What Causes Keto Insomnia?

A 2020 study about the relationship between diet and sleep linked high-carbohydrate diets, and foods containing tryptophan, melatonin, and phytonutrients to better sleep. Exactly how this occurs is unknown, but researchers believe that these foods support the production of serotonin and melatonin, important hormones that help regulate sleep. Therefore, it is possible that a diet low in carbohydrates can cause insomnia by disrupting these sleep-regulating…

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