Most of of us don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night as it is. So when we start intermittent fasting it’s crucial that we are getting a good night’s sleep to help our body to eliminate and shed toxins and unwanted fat.
Not only does intermittent fasting help us to lose weight but it also kick starts our body in to detoxification mode which can cause a restless night’s sleep. This can occur because, as our body releases toxins from our fat cells and tissues into our blood stream, it can cause our body to release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
The side effect? You are wide awake when you don’t want to be.
Some intermittent fasters even report feeling shaky or having night sweats. Don’t panic if this happens to you. It may just be that you need to help your body with this detoxification process. If you keep having these symptoms obviously you should consult your doctor, but generally once your body gets used to fasting these symptoms should subside.
So don’t make intermittent fasting harder than it needs to be.
Here are some tips to help with a good night’s sleep when you’re starting out fasting.
Help Your Liver to Process Toxins
When fasting its crucial that you assist your liver with it’s sudden increase in work load to process the toxins that have been released in to your blood stream.
You can help it in the following ways:
- Drink plenty of water to help your body to eliminate the toxins. But make sure you don’t drink too much before bed time! Try not to drink after 7pm.
- Squeeze half a lemon in hot water first thing in the morning to wake up the liver. The sourness of lemons also prompts the liver and digestive system in to action.
- Or take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water, which has the same alkalizing and detoxifying effect as lemon, but also has the added bonus of replenishing your gut bacteria which aids your body’s digestion and elimination.
- Taking herbal supplements that are known to help your liver such as Milk Thistle and Dandelion Root or my favourite, a natural liver support blend designed to help your liver and to aid elimination. You can find natural herbal detox remedies at you health food store. Try to keep your supplements as natural as possible, because we are trying to help our liver not add more chemicals to the mix! These liver supporters are essential if you are suffering the effects of detoxification.
Make Sure Your Digestion and Elimination Pathways are Working Optimally
Before your body is able to detox optimally you need to make sure that you are properly digesting and eliminating (i.e. pooping) the food you eat. If you release toxins in to your blood stream and you are constipated or have irregular bowel movements then many of the toxins will not be able to be excreted from your body. So you may feel unwell and have trouble sleeping.
If this is happening to you then you may need to add some foods to your diet that not only support the liver but also aid with digestion and elimination. Drink plenty of water and try adding the following foods to your diet.
Eat to Support Your Liver
These foods may help your body to detox optimally. You won’t need to change your diet but try to add these foods as often as you can.
- Dark leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and silverbeet are an excellent source of fibre to help with elimination and are also jam-packed, full of the nutrients that your liver needs to do it’s job well.
- Fermented foods– These are essential for replenishing gut bacteria. Foods like Kim Chi and Sauerkraut and drinks like coconut water kefir are great options.
- If you don’t have time to eat a whole bunch of leafy greens and fermented foods then instead just take a wholefood supplement like this one which is not only packed full of alkalising and detox-supporting greens but is also fermented so you get the bonus of good bacteria for your gut. A double whammy!
Take it Easy On the Caffeine
No only does caffeine add to the stress on your liver. but it is also a stimulant so it can add to the effect of any stress hormones in your body. If your liver is already busy detoxifying your body and then you add caffeine in to the mix it is less likely to be able to cope with the workload. Caffeine is also a toxin that your liver needs to eliminate from your body and will most likely prioritise getting rid of the caffeine first which will leave you at square one. Most of those toxins will be released back in to your blood stream and cause you to feel wide awake.
If you are having problems sleeping, try limiting caffeine to before 11 am, or consider not having any caffeine on the days that you fast.
Turn Off all Screens
Believe it or not, the soft glow from your smart phone, computer, or television can impact your sleep hormones. When light hits your skin, it can disrupt your natural circadian rhythms because it confuses your body in to thinking it’s day time. These electronic lights as well as checking your email and watching an exciting television show can be too over stimulating for our brain so when we turn off the light to go to sleep our brain in buzzing and we are wide awake. Try reading before bed (not a kindle), or use a meditation or relaxation app on your smart phone instead (and not looking at the screen of course).
Make Your Bedroom Your Sanctuary
Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and comfortable. Draw the shades until morning, turn your clock away from you, and keep all electronics at least 3 feet away. Also be sure to keep your bedroom clutter-free, as clutter can cause stress and over-stimulation of the brain.