Intermittent fasting is a relatively popular dietary trend and is gaining a lot of traction due to the countless health benefits it brings.
Many people have reported enhanced health, excess fat loss, and even believe it helps them sleep better.
Most of the benefits of intermittent fasting have been discussed widely for years now, but the role intermittent fasting can have in helping you sleep better is rarely talked about as much.
This post will tell you everything you need to know about intermittent fasting and how it can lead you to sleep better. So let’s dive right into it!
What Exactly Is Intermittent Fasting?
Fasting is an old practice and one that humans have used for centuries due to religious, cultural, and health reasons.
As the word “intermittent” implies, intermittent fasting is fasting done at intervals in contrast to a continuous type of fasting.
In this dietary practice, you allocate fixed times of the day to eat in, and the rest of your day is spent fasting by avoiding food mainly.
There are many different ways you can incorporate intermittent fasting into your daily routine. For example, some people choose to restrict eating to 8 to 10 hours a day and fast the remaining 14 to 16 hours.
For example, you could choose to eat only from 12 to 8 pm every day and abstain from eating the rest of the 16 hours.
Others prefer the 5:2 fasting method, which restricts around 500 calories each day for two days of the week. The rest of the days include normal eating.
This regular and consistent form of fasting promotes using fat for energy, leading to weight loss. Additionally, your body concentrates on repairing and restoring itself at a microscopic level in the fasting state.
The Relationship Between Intermittent Fasting And Sleep
One of the lesser-known benefits of intermittent fasting is its role in helping you sleep better.
Recent research has suggested that intermittent fasting can significantly improve your sleep quality and alertness by altering the levels of orexin-A. This neurotransmitter has a vital role in controlling sleep.
Circadian rhythms are natural biological processes that occur every 24 hours as part of our body’s internal clock. These rhythms help carry out crucial biological functions such as sleep-wake cycles, appetite, etc.
Natural sunlight has the most significant effect on the circadian rhythm cycles, but recent studies suggest that food can also be a secondary “time cue.”
Therefore, following regular and set meal times as with intermittent fasting can strengthen natural circadian rhythms. Thus, it can help in resetting your circadian clock and help you sleep better.
Additionally, intermittent fasting positively affects the circulating levels of beneficial hormones such as Human Growth Hormones.
This hormone’s production usually takes place during sleep. It promotes the burning of excess fat and promotes cellular repair.
Therefore, people who fast intermittently often feel more refreshed and energized after sleeping.
A study has shown that the beneficial effects of intermittent fasting on sleep can become prominent after only one week. This study also suggests that intermittent fasting increased the overall sleep quality and alertness in most participants.
The Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep was also reported to increase. This stage is essential for processing memories and emotions.
Some Other Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
The vast number of beneficial effects of intermittent fasting on our health is probably why it’s gained popularity. Some of the proven health benefits of intermittent fasting on our bodies include:
- Increased utilization and burning of fat for energy that results in weight loss.
- Reduced baseline blood sugar levels and enhanced insulin sensitivity.
- Decreased blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels.
- Significantly improved cardiometabolic health and reduction in inflammation.
- Better cognitive functions and mood.
Some Bonus Tips On How To Sleep Better
Now that you have understood how intermittent fasting can help you sleep better, you should incorporate healthy sleeping practices alongside as well. Some of the tips on how to sleep better are:
Don’t Try To Sleep When Starving
Everyone knows how difficult it can be to try to sleep with a growling stomach. In addition, hunger can release stress hormones that can negatively affect your quality of sleep.
Try to adjust your plan to include a meal within at least three to four hours before hitting the sack.
This practice ensures you won’t have difficulty sleeping because of a starving stomach. Additionally, you could try these four bedtime snacks to help you sleep better.
Stay Away From Caffeine And Alcohol
Additionally, going to sleep feeling dehydrated can cause difficulty in sleeping and worse quality of sleep. Therefore, make sure to take an adequate amount of water daily to make it easier to sleep at night.
Avoid Sugary Foods
Foods high in sugar content, especially junk food, can negatively affect your sleep quality. Studies have shown that excessive intake of sugary foods can have several adverse effects on your sleep.
Try to substitute such foods with whole foods such as healthy green vegetables and fruits.
Test What Works Best For You
Everyone’s body is built differently, and something that works for one person may not necessarily work for another.
Finding what works best for you involves a lot of trial and error, don’t be afraid to experiment. But always remember to be gentle on your body!
Intermittent fasting definitely has a lot of hype around it, and for a good reason! Extensive research has shown the numerous health benefits it has to offer.
If you find it difficult to fall asleep at night, intermittent fasting could be an easy and effective solution.
Health and fitness experts swear by the benefits it has to offer, but it might not work for everyone.
Therefore, it’s always better to see and try for yourself. Who knows, maybe it might help you sleep better and wake up feeling more energized than ever.