Let’s talk sleep on keto. I’ve never had a problem falling asleep and staying asleep. I can fall asleep on a bed, on a couch, on the floor, in a plane, in a taxi, in a train, at a desk… need I go on? I can make myself fall asleep within seconds. It’s a skill I developed while traveling and definitely came in handy when I was backpacking. It makes my husband furious because he struggles with insomnia but, hey, we all have our skills.
But something terrible has happened. I lost my skill. I’m a week and a half into keto and I haven’t had a good nights sleep. I can still fall asleep almost instantaneously no problem, but I wake up after a few hours. It’s not like before when I’d just use the bathroom and go right back to sleep, no, I’m wide awake. Once I’ve woken up in the middle of the night there’s no going back to sleep. I’ve tried all of my tricks and nothing works. I just can’t sleep.
Because of this I’m not getting a full eight hours of sleep (which I normally always get). Once I wake up I’m awake for at least three hours. It’s driving me crazy!
In search of answers I turned to Google. I searched high and low and read dozens of forums and articles. Turns out, I’m not the only one having trouble sleeping on the ketogenic diet. Unfortunately, a lot of the answers to those forums was simply: “eat carbs again.” Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, there has to be a scientific explanation. And there is! Well, there are actually several.
Carbs actually do help you go to sleep because they help with the production of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid and it produces serotonin (which makes you happy) and melatonin (which helps you sleep). How do you fix this? Well, apparently you can take tryptophan as a supplement. Will this work? I’ve found a few different supplements and I’ll give them a try.
But there are other reasons. Dr. Eric Berg, who has a YouTube channel I follow, has a short and informative video on the subject. Check out Dr. Berg’s video here. Dr. Berg suggests that there are a few reasons why sleep doesn’t come easy on the ketogenic diet. He says that because your body is producing more energy you’ll need to do more activity to wear yourself out. I think I’ve been doing plenty of activity with serving at the restaurant, but maybe it’s not enough.
One main factor that Dr. Berg suggests fixing is a calcium and magnesium deficiency that is common on a ketogenic diet. To help with this deficiency I purchased chelated magnesium and calcium pills. I’ll keep you updated with how this is affecting my sleep (I’m trying this before I try out a tryptophan supplement).
He also says that potassium levels affect sleep. If you eat enough vegetables like kale you should be fine. I consume a lot of kale in my veggie shake so I should be fine with my potassium levels. Remember, micronutrients are important!
I’m going to try to make some minor adjustments such as taking the magnesium and calcium supplements and exercising more to see if there is a difference in my sleep quality. I’ll keep you updated!