Intermittent fasting popularity has grown in recent years.
Now, that people care much more about their diet, their eating habits, and sleeping needs, it only seems logical that so many of them are open to new eating styles, although some of them may be old for centuries.
Intermittent fasting has ancient origins and is by many recommended as a highly beneficial eating style.
Food experts claim that intermittent fasting offers a wide range of benefits, from weight loss to stronger and much improved cognitive performance.
Lately, experts claim that intermittent fasting can lead to better quality sleep.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a unique practice of restricting your eating to specific times a day and fasting the rest of the day.
Fasting means that no food is allowed.
It’s up to individuals to choose how long do they want to restrict themself from eating.
As a general rule, people choose to restrict their eating to an eight, 10, or 12-hour period of the day and fast the rest of the time.
For example, some people choose to follow a schedule in which they get to eat for only eight hours, and fast the remaining 16 hours of the day.
Some choose to limit their caloric intake by 25% for two days of the week, and eat as they usually do for the rest of the week – this is also known as 5:2 fasting.
Intermittent fasting, by many, is pushing the body to go into ‘fasting mode’ and start transforming fat reserved into energy, leading to weight loss.
By doing so, your digestive system is actually taking a break, and your body focuses on cellular repair and restoration.
It’s important to note – again, that fasting is an old practice, that used to be practiced by religious groups.
For example, Muslims fast from dawn until dusk durign Ramadan even today – this serves as a way to learn self-control and discipline, and so on.
Intermittent fasting is more linked to weight loss than it’s linked to a specific spiritual cause.
In theory, intermittent fasting is supposed to help decrease your appetite by slowing down your metabolism.
Plus, it should encourage you to drink water or even tea during the fasting period.
Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Could there be any health benefits from not eating for a long time?
Researchers claim that intermittent fasting may strengthen immune function and even support hormone secretion growth.
On top of that, it can help fight off diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s.
Additional research claim that fasting might improve mental health adn overall well-being, next to supporting cellular repair, which is what actually happens when we sleep. Bear in mind that fasting isn’t for everyone.
In fact, intermittent fasting isn’t for pregnant women, children, and anyone who is at risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels).
If intermittent fasting is something that you are interested in or is definitely something that you want to try, but you are not sure where to and how to start, make sure that you speak with your doctor about it first.
Does Hunger Interfere With Sleep?
The human body is a perfect machine, created to work constantly, even when we are sleeping.
Did you know that the human body is so busy that it burns calories while you are sleeping?
This doesn’t mean that you can eat unhealthy foods, avoid exercising and still expect to lose weight while sleeping – it just doesn’t work like that. However, as mentioned earlier, our bodies are created to regulate appetite to some degree while we sleep.
Leptin, the hormone, increases overnight as we sleep. Leptin is a hormone that makes us feel full.
How does this hormone helps with fasting? If you experience hunger while intermittent fasting, that hunger could dissipate overnight as a result of increased leptin.
Intermittent Fasting And Sleep Quality
The true link between intermittent fasting and sleep quality is yet to be confirmed, some conclusions witness the link between intermittent fasting and sleep quality.
Simply sid, some documents claim that there is a strong connection between intermittent fasting and sleep, and vice versa.
Various research claims that intermittent fasting may improve sleep quality by reinforcing your circadian rhythms.
As you may know already, circadian rhythm is responsible for biological functions, from appetite and metabolism to the sleep-wake cycle.
To perform these functions, circadian rhythm relies on sunlight, while food is a powerful secondary circadian time cure, following meal times can reinforce your natural circadian rhythms.
People who tend to practice intermittent fasting have higher levels of human growth hormone, which is produced during sleep.
Human growth hormone is responsible for burning fat, restoring muscles, and helping the body repair at a cellular level. On top of that, people who fast regularly may wake up refreshed after sleeping and overall restored.
They may also feel more energy and focus. The main reason for this claim lies in the fact that fasting increases the production of orexin-A, a neurotransmitter tied to alertness.
Plus, people who fast have lower orexin-A levels at night, and higher levels in the daytime – this means that they may feel more alert during the day. As a final result, they may enjoy a more restful sleep.
How Fast Can You Experience The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
Many claim that sleep quality during intermittent fasting can be noticed after a single week.
You must admit that a single week is pretty much impressive for any change.
Participants of one experiment noticed that after a single week of intermittent fasting were less likely to wake up durign teh night. They also had less need to move while sleeping, making their sleep more restful.
They also spent more time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep: REM sleep is responsible for emotional and mental processing, which is much needed for humans to function properly.
On top of everything, they reported better sleep quality, better mood, and stronger focus during the day.
How To Sleep When Fasting
What may work for you during fasting, may work differently for everyone else?
Fasting is a highly individual period with standard rules, that not everyone will experience identically. Simply said, each individual responds to fasting differently.
Some people can’t fall asleep, some get restless, while some people cannot sleep on an empty stomach.
To have a good night’s sleep while fasting, you need to be careful of what you eat as your last meal of the day.
That after-dinner beer or coffee may sound perfect, but in reality, it can bring enormous disturbance and make it harder if not impossible to fall asleep.
Plus, drinking alcohol before bed will make you drowsy, and leave you restless during the night. Why?
Alcohol will always interfere with REM sleep, in fact, it can block REM sleep.
How Fasting Affects Sleep
To many, it seems as intermittent fasting can improve sleep experience, but it could also lead to many sleep issues.
This is usually linked to the timing of your meals. When people eat at irregular times, it can significantly affect their sleep, and not in a good way.
This is especially true if you tend to eat late at night. As you may know already, eating too late can raise the body’s temperature, which is the opposite of what usually happens during sleep.
You still need food to keep your body running, but your body isn’t too fond of heavy meals late at night, or at least not too close to bedtime. This can easily affect upset yoru stomach and make it hard to fall asleep.
As you know already, sleep disruption leads to waking up tired.
For example, Ramadan fasting, in which you fast during the day and eat at night, follows an eating pattern that conflicts with the body’s natural circadian rhythms. This leads to lower levels of melatonin, and less time spent in REM sleep.