Sleeping Issues

This topic contains 62 replies, has 44 voices, and was last updated by  alexm_ 2 years, 5 months ago.

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  • I’m on my second attempt at the Fast Diet. My aims are to lose body fat and maintain a steady weight. I find the fasting easy and go for a 4 : 3 regime. I am a poor sleeper at the best of times, averaging about 6 hours sleep a night, but the Fast Diet has made things much worse. I’ve had nights without any sleep at all and I cannot envisage keeping on the diet long term. The disruption in sleep happens on most fast days regardless of the amount of exercise I do. I’ve read through the posts and not found anything to cheer me. I’m considering adopting a ‘normal’ weight loss regime and including one fast day. Would I still get the benefits of intermittent fasting this way? In the past I’ve lost muscle and don’t want this to happen again.

    Well, I did a fast diet. Initially 5:2, then much less extreme over time. I of course did consult a doctor. After 40 years of normal sleep, my problems began with this diet. And as I said, a leading expert (perhaps the #1 expert in this area, who is often cited in support of calorie restriction diets), told me that actual fasting is likely to be dangerous to sleep because it disrupts circadian rhythms that are maintained by food consumption. If the same people who promote calorie restriction based on their science are also telling me to not eat at different times due to risks to sleep, and if it turns out that my sleep was indeed destroyed when I started doing this, I tend to believe the expert.

    Try different ways of entering ketosis. For example, eat a protein/fat only diet for dinner (e.g., salmon, beans, meat) and also for breakfast (yogurt, eggs). I changed to this and things improved. I didn’t get the radically quick weight loss like before, but I actually weight exactly what I did when fasting. It just took a little longer.

    A sleep disorder is a condition that frequently impacts your ability to get enough quality sleep. While it’s normal to occasionally experience difficulties sleeping, it’s not normal to regularly have problems getting to sleep at night, to wake up feeling exhausted, or to feel sleepy during the day.

    Hi Everyone,

    Anxiety, stress, and depression are some of the most common causes of the sleeping disorder. Other common emotional and psychological causes include anger, worry, grief, bipolar disorder, and trauma.

    I just read your post with interest and sympathy. I have been a poor sleeper for many years but after adopting the Fast Diet the problems have worsened alarmingly. I rarely get more than 3 hours sleep on a fast day and sometimes non at all. I’ve tried everything, including melatonin, but nothing has worked. I cannot sustain this long-term and need to find an alternative diet.

    TiredStephen – sorry to hear about your sleep issues. I too have my sleep affected by 5:2. Dr Longo in his Longevity Diet book does address this issue directly and speculates that 5:2 may cause jet-lag like symptoms in some people. I’ve been doing 5:2 about 8 months and I have found that my sleep is slowly improving but I still wake earlier than I used to. I have found recently that eating carbs in my evening meal helps. Unprocessed – eg a root vegetable stew – low enough in cals even for a fast day if prepared without oil. I know lots of people tend to avoid carbs but perhaps they are not all bad?

    Maybe you should try the Fasting Mimicking Diet for a bit? 3-5 days of fasting once a quarter or once a month. It is a good weight-loss programme if done once a month – a little slower than 5:2 but possibly more health benefits?
    Both Penguin and Diverdog have tried these and done well. You would get the benefits of fasting, which seem so much better than daily calorie restriction, and possibly less disruption to your sleep?

    Good luck in finding something that works and let me know when you do!

    Zopiclone tablets are highly effective at treating insomnia and increasing total sleep time. Zopiclone pills reduce the time it takes to nod off and that they prevent nocturnal awakenings so you’ll get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep. This medication is most beneficial when utilized in the short term as long-term use may result in dependency.

    I struggle sleeping on my FDs too. In the past, as well. When I have more to lose, it’s not a problem, but when I get closer to goal, it gets worse.

    I’m normally someone who sleeps a solid 9 hours per night, and I’m very active as well. But after a FD, despite saving all my calories for dinner, I get hungry before I fall asleep and this seems to keep me alert all night. Then I’ll wake up around 5.30, alert yet exhausted.

    I’ve done some reading on this and it seems to be due to higher cortisol and adrenaline from not eating enough. Biologically your body is stressed and needs to energise you so you can go out hunting for food. This keeps you awake longer, and then wakes you sooner than normal.

    As far as I can see, the only way you can get around this, if keeping fasting is a given, is to somehow increase what you eat before bed. Or at least give your body the sensation of this. So I would have thought something high in protein might be beneficial. Personally, soup really fills me up, so I am thinking of ensuring I have a small bowl or mug after dinner and before bed, to trick my body into feeling full enough to relax properly.

    I’ll see how I get on and report back, as these past few post-FDs have been a tired struggle. Otherwise I’ll have to think up something else.

    I’m checking back in after my first FD trying the above method. As I’d planned, around 10pm before bed I snacked on a few raw veggies, with a small mug of pea soup (high protein, and homemade – basically just a blend of peas and stock, and shockingly delicious). Followed it up with a FD ‘hot chocolate’ – plain cocoa powder, then half hot water and half creamy oat milk, and sugar free syrup.

    Hunger came around again at about 11.30 as I was beginning to get ready to sleep, but it wasn’t the same gnawing kind. I did wake up very early as usual, about 6, but I dropped off again quickly, and that happened again before waking at 8am. That’s less sleep than I’d have on a normal day, but certainly an improvement on before. And I wasn’t quite as distractingly ravenous during the night or on waking either.

    Perhaps those few extra calories slightly negate some of the benefits of fasting, but in the interests of making this sustainable and manageable for me, I think it’s worth it without a doubt.

    Hi Endellion. I put back on 10kgs eventually as I just didn’t have the discipline to maintain the 1 fast day a week with my chaotic work life. I am now retired the 10kgs are gone. I’m following the fashionable Keto diet combined with intermittent fasting (stop eating at 8pm and start again after 12pm the next day). No problems sleeping or maintain weight. Keto should not be maintained permanently but a low fibre and carb diet suits my body. I find the intermittent fasting easy too. Plenty of U.K. Facebook groups and other English speaking ones that are very supportive. I was introduced to Keto by a retired general practitioner doctor.


    Hello and thanks for your message. Wow, congratulations! It sounds like your diet is really working well for you, which is brilliant.

    I’m not sure it’s the right thing for me, though. The main reason I love 5:2 is that on my NFDs nothing is excluded. And I’m really working on maintaining a good balance on those days too, and treating them as ‘practise’ for how I want to make an average day look in the future. I can’t envisage a future without many carbs, unfortunately…

    I’ve seen there’s lots of benefits for some people, though. And I’m wondering whether maybe trying to aim for higher fat on my FDs might help with the sleep.

    Last FD I went to bed not too hungry, after a good dinner of stirfry and then a low calorie hot chocolate. I still struggled dropping off, and woke at my customary post-FD 5.40am. It’s odd as I wasn’t gnawingly hungry when I woke up, so it seems the belly sensation isn’t necessarily what causes me to wake. I think I’ll try a spoonful of coconut oil in a drink before I sleep to see if that helps next time.

    Didn’t feel too hungry on my FD today, and felt quite relaxed as well. Often on my FDs I feel quite alert rather than sleepy by the evening but touch wood this’ll continue tonight into drowsiness.
    Have been around 700-800 calories total today, allowing for a sensible amount of filling pasta for dinner with veggie sausages. Then I decided to try some fat before bed – 1 tbsp coconut oil stirred into some warm milk with vanilla extract and a dash of sugar free syrup. This actually tastes amazing and very indulgent too, and I’m hoping will be what I need to have a proper sleep.
    Luckily today I woke up early and did a good workout, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to drop off and sleep well.

    Yes I ate around 700 calories on fast days but still had poor sleep. Like you I think the body knows it hasn’t had enough calories so it wants you to go and find more calories rather than sleeping. Will be interested if the late night calories boost help

    Lost my post…

    Anyway, the gist was it still took me a little while to drop off, and I still woke up at 5.40 this morning (I have no idea why it’s always that exact time post FD?!). But I fell asleep again, woke up at 7.15, and feel rested enough to go about today as normal. Unlike after some of the bad sleeps I’ve had where I just have no energy for anything.
    I certainly felt more satisfied and drowsy before bed, and didn’t have that gnawing hunger during the night or on waking.
    It’s too soon to say what helped directly this time, as I woke early yesterday and also did an energetic workout.
    But I’ll be keeping up the coconut oil or similar before bed on my next FDs and report back.
    In other news I hit a new low on the scale this morning so it’s good to know my experimenting isn’t impacting negatively on my progress!

    Even though I’m not doing 5:2 because I do dirty Keto and intermittent fasting, I too have a strange habit of waking up and wake up on the dot at 5am. No one else in the apartment block at the moment getting up at that time. The traffic outside may start up at that time. I do go to sleep again. Glad the extra calories late at night are helping.

    Reporting back following another FD, and my best post-FD sleep. I went for a long walk, and worked out. Then I was very satisfied after a bbq dinner, a huge plate of veggie sausages and lots of different grilled veggies and salads, for around 450cal.

    I enjoyed a half cup of warm oat milk with coconut oil and a splash of vanilla extract before bed, at around 10.30pm. Fell asleep easily, and slept right through til 7am.

    Reporting back following another FD, and my best post-FD sleep. I went for a long walk, and worked out. Then I was very satisfied after a bbq dinner, a huge plate of veggie sausages and lots of different grilled veggies and salads, for around 450cal.

    I enjoyed a half cup of warm oat milk with coconut oil and a splash of vanilla extract before bed, at around 10.30pm. Fell asleep easily, and slept right through til 7am.

    You seemed to have nailed it. Once you get to your desired weight, try intermittent fasting to maintain

    So, I think I’ve figured out the problem. In an attempt to bring my FDs back nearer 500 rather than the 700-800 I’ve been hitting lately, I suffered one of those dreaded FD bad sleeps last night. I still did the the milk/coconut oil combo before bed, but my total for the day including dinner was 500. I felt tired around 10.30, went to bed, but then hunger came in angrily and I just couldn’t sleep until close to 2am. In the end I had a small boiled potato and lots of water and could drop off.

    I think the lesson is that for me, there’s a sweet spot of around 700 calories on a FD where my body doesn’t feel deprived. So that’s what I’ll be aiming for now, without fail!

    I never did 500 calories because I read another 5:2 recipe book. Unfortunately even
    eating 700 calories was too low for me. I achieved the weight loss anyway at between .5 of a kg to 1kg a week. I upped to 800 calories. Always had dodgy fast nights.
    Glad you have found success.

    tnx for sharing

    I recall one scientist explaining importance of sleep and shown most of mind effort during sleep goes to repairing digestive system. From that study follows: if you don’t eat -> less need to repair -> less sleep needed. You do not report fatigue etc., so just find something interesting to do in them additional hours – you have more time to be awake, to live!

    Disclaimer: that was just some videos of somebody I recall watching long ago, not peer-reviewed study and I’m not sure I have checked studies he mentioned, but his talk seemed logic and scientific. However I won’t guarantee results are correct, anyway I kind of like this idea.

    Addendum: my previous post was a reply to OP (starting post):

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