Only a small number of studies have closely examined how keto diets affect sleep, but what they show so far is that this very low-carb, high-fat diet may offer benefits for getting more restful sleep, Michael J. Breus, PhD, tells Healthline.
For instance, in a recent study published in the journal, Nutrients, a group of Spanish and Columbian scientists found that a very low-calorie keto diet significantly reduced daytime sleepiness in a group of obese patients.
A separate Swedish study found that children with hard-to-treat epilepsy who followed a keto diet slept better, experienced more REM sleep, and felt significantly less sleepy during the day — all of which improved their overall quality of life.
One theory as to what’s going on: Ketogenic diets could have an effect on a brain chemical called adenosine that’s important to sleep regulation, Breus says. “Adenosine builds up in the body throughout the day and contributes to our feeling increasingly less alert and wakeful as the day goes on, eventually helping to promote deeper slow-wave sleep at night,” explains Breus. “Studies show a ketogenic diet promotes adenosine activity in the body, helping to relax the nervous system, as well as reducing pain and inflammation — all of which can help improve sleep.”