Can Carbs Help You Sleep?

My hubby was following a ketogenic diet, which keeps the total carbs per day extremely low. He lost weight for awhile, but also began to suffer with terrible insomnia. He tried all kinds of supplements, including melatonin, magnesium, theanine, chamomile tea, bone broth, red wine, and massive amounts of cheese. Nothing helped.

Then he read about how some people cannot sleep without eating some carbs before bed.

It seems that for some of us, a very low carb diet can cause a release of cortisol during the night. Cortisol is a stress hormone, like adrenaline, which wakes us up and makes us more alert. Great if you are fighting off a saber-tooth tiger or running for your life, but super annoying if you are just trying to get some freaking sleep.

If this sounds like you, you might want to experiment with eating some carbs before bed. Because acid reflux can also be an issue, I like to finish eating by about 8pm. I normally hit the sack somewhere between 9-10pm, which gives my digestive system a little time to move things out of my stomach before I lie down. While fats and proteins take longer to digest, carbs are processed out of the stomach more quickly.

Which type of carbs work best before bed?

I would avoid refined sugars. You don't want anything too stimulating, so no chocolate. Something starchy--potatoes, plantains, rice, oatmeal, etc--might work well. My hubby has tried a single can of beer, a turkey sandwich on oatmeal bread, mac and cheese, and nachos. (He didn't try all of this on a single night!) He slept all the way through the night after all of these different choices! In fact, he is now on a roll and has been sleeping well for almost a full week.

Does this mean ketogenic diets are bad? No! Many people lose weight and sleep fine while on keto. But some people don't. If you are suffering from insomnia, your diet is one more thing you might want to try adjusting in order to get some shut-eye!