Fasting has been very good for me. It has healed problems for me, sicknesses. It makes me feel good, and I enjoy it. It has also taught me a lot.
But fasting is not all pleasure, not all good. I have found that there are some negatives to fasting too.
So far I have written the following articles about the difficulties of fasting:
- Fasting is difficult
- Difficult: Dealing with people
- Difficult: The Plateau
Today, I want to write about another thing that is difficult about fasting.
I have found, and I see reports from others, that sleeping is difficult during fasting. I know this has really been the case for me.
I am 55 years old, which I don’t consider to be very old, more middle-aged, but for the past few years, I regularly go to bed at 9 PM. Sometimes a little before that even. I am a good sleeper, and usually, within a few minutes after laying down, I am asleep. Sleeping has never really been an issue for me.
When I started fasting, though, some months back, I noticed that I was not sleeping well.
Instead of going to bed at 9 PM, I started going to bed at 10 or 11 PM, and when I did go to bed, it took a long time for me to sleep, sometimes hours.
In fact, most of the time, now, I will lay down with my wife at 10 or 11, then after she is sleeping, I will get up and do something else. Usually, I watch something on TV or a movie. Generally, I find that I usually end up sleeping about 3 AM now. I used to sleep early, but would get up early, between 3 and 5 AM (I never use an alarm, just wake up naturally). Now, if I fall asleep at, say, 3 AM, I will wake up no later than 6:30, so I will get 3 to 3 1/2 hours of sleep.
Funny thing is, I rarely feel sleepy during the day. I rarely take naps, although I used to. I just find that my body does not need the same amount of sleep when I am fasting. I am not sure why that is and have not really researched into it. I have seen anecdotal information from others who fast saying the same things that I am experiencing, but I just don’t know why.
I speculate that perhaps our body does not need as much downtime because we are not putting our body to work processing this food that we ingest. I don’t know, though. Do you have any idea why this is the case? If so, leave a comment below to share your information, it would be greatly appreciated.
What I am going to do
I have decided that I am just going to sleep when I am tired. When I am not tired, I will do something productive. Maybe I will do research, writing or other work activities. When I feel tired, no matter the time, I will sleep then. No reason to lay in the bed for hours forcing myself to go to sleep. That is a waste of time.
When it comes to my health, my policy is to listen to what my body is telling me. If I am not sleepy, my body is telling me that it does not need the sleep at that time, so it is time to listen to that!
Do you have other solutions?
Melatonin helps me a good bit. Not sure why fasting would cause insomnia–I may do a little research on it.
This is only my layman’s opinion, fast and gives you so much metal clarity, that you have so many ideas going to head, makes it hard to sleep.
I know it isn’t completely relevant but recently I read somewhere that the 8 hour sleep night didn’t exist before we had artificial light to keep us up.
Lol in the article it said people would even go visit neighbors in the middle of the night..”hey bud, thought you was going to make it at midnight tonight”
Well it is good that you are listening to your body. I never really sleep 8 hours unless I have something in my system like medicine that makes me that way.
Maybe we don’t need as much sleep because for the most part our surgar/carbs are now way low…. honestly sugar is a drug and if I take certain drugs it puts us in a sleep state…all these years sleeping for 8 hours a night…the carbs was making us hubog.
Oh here is the article
Hi James, it’s really interesting about the history of sleep, and the times that we slept in the past. Never heard that before. Thanks for sharing.
Terry L Snyder
Hi Bob, I would speculate since your blood sugar is lower and more stable, you are not feeing the effects of blood sugar drop during the night which helps you sleep. It’s true as we get older we need less sleep. I have several doctor friends who are taking Melatonin to sleep, a brain transmitter chemical that can be depleted as we age. Check some articles about it, it may work for you.
It is the usual thing for the fasting person to sleep no more than three to four hours out of each twenty-four hours, and this frequently causes worry. Three general causes for this sleeplessness are recognized: (1) It may be due to general nervous tension. The faster cannot sufficiently relax. (2) Sleeplessness is often due to a deficient circulation. The feet become cold and the faster finds it difficult to maintain warmth. A hot water bottle or jug placed at the feet will usually remedy this. (3) The fasting person does not require the usual amount of sleep. In a general sense, the amount of sleep one requires is proportioned to the quality and quantity of one’s food. If you are comfortable and relaxed, you may be quite certain that you will sleep as much as you require.
In his narrative, from which I have previously quoted, Mark Twain records the case of one man who went without sleep for twenty-one days at a stretch, noticing during this period of fasting, no desire for sleep and no ill effects from not sleeping. Horace Fletcher frequently pointed out that when he ate less food he required less sleep. The sleeplessness and sluggishness that follow a heavy meal are well-known to everyone. If we are to be mentally alert, we must eat lightly or not at all. Such facts would seem to indicate that the digestion of large quantities of food is an exhausting process.
The faster who does not sleep is likely to fret and fuss about how long the nights are, but he does not feel the loss of sleep. It is true, of course, that all fasters who complain of not sleeping, like all other patients who declare that they never closed their eyes all night, sleep much more than they think they do. I have visited the rooms of fasters who complained of not sleeping and found them fast asleep, only to have them tell me the following day that they “never slept a wink all night.”
A few patients sleep more while fasting than when eating. Insomnia victims are especially likely to do this. Fasting is perhaps the quickest and most satisfactory means of remedying insomnia, although there are cases in which it requires six to ten days to secure the sleep. Sinclair says, of his first fast: “I slept well throughout the fast.”
I cared for one young man who slept sixteen hours out of twenty-four almost every day of a thirty days fast. Another man, an asthmatic, slept almost day and night for days during and following the fast. But asthma cases, like insomnia cases, having lost much sleep, usually sleep much as soon as fasting brings relief from the dyspnea so that they can sleep.