Can intermittent fasting cause sleeplessness/insomnia?

Fasting can affect sleep in a positive and negative way. This is a result of the amount of time you are fasting. Is it short or long duration fasts?

For the most part, fasting has a positive effect on our circadian rhythms as it helps to regulate hormone fluctuations and optimize sleep.

It also better regulates the balance between rapid eye movement (REM). The result of this is fewer awakenings during the night’s duration. That also indicates a better quality of sleep.

The opposite side of the fasting spectrum is when we are prolonging our fasting period for too long. A lower caloric intake (or a very limited one perhaps) has shown to cause a substantial rise in the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can inhibit your ability to fall asleep, and reduce the quality of that sleep.

Again, there is so little research done in this area, but we can use a bit of common sense when doing our research into fasting to understand the body’s reaction to certain situations.

When you fast with a realistic energy deficit, there will not be an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, and your sleep will improve a lot. But, when you eat too little during the feasting window, the extra secretions of cortisol will increase and sleeping will therefore suffer. You may also experience low moods, poor concentration and generally feeling run down. These are classic symptoms.

It’s really important to make sure when you feast, you are getting the right amount of nutrients and eating a balanced diet. There is no right or wrong in discovering how much you can and should eat. It’s an evolution of your experimentation and general tweaking. The whole part of fasting is trial and error until you get it somewhat right for your body type and lifestyle.

Next time this does happen to you, ask yourself, what is currently the most stressful situation that is happening in my life right now, and is it causing me to eat less or experiences longer durations of stress? It’s only natural to be more stressed now than ever before, but do try to find ways to ease this in any way you can. Remember that tough times don’t last forever – let it shape you to become a better person.

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