Is Your Diet Making You Sleepy?: March 6, 2019

Day time sleepiness is a common complaint, Dr. Jose Colon, a sleep medicine physician with Lee Health, hears from patients.  “Patients typically come in here because of fatigue or excessive day time sleepiness, and there are times where we can identify obstructive sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.”

But if patients are getting a full a night’s sleep and still feeling fatigued the next day, they may have what doctors call--an imbalance of the neurotransmitters of wakefulness. “Nutrition has been shown to be helpful with these cases. Really low carbohydrate diets, such as a ketogenic diet, have shown to be helpful,” said Dr. Colon.

What we eat can impact how we feel. For patients struggling with particular sleep disorders, the ketogenic diet has been shown to help them feel more awake during the day. The diet consists of high fat, low carbohydrates, and moderate protein.

“What happens is our body and our brain utilizes glucose the majority of the time, but if you don’t have glucose your brain still needs energy, so what it does is it takes fat, and it brings it into your liver, and it generates something called a keto-body, hence a ketogenic diet. Another thing is high glycemic states or high sugar states actually induce fatigue,” he explained.

Studies show the brain utilizes ketones much more efficiently than carbohydrates--While the diet is not a sleep aid, it can help patients feel more energized throughout the day.

“Before I do a ketogenic diet on anyone I do baseline laboratories. I get inflammatory markers, insulin markers, lipid markers, and I test them both at the beginning as well as 21 days into it. It’s amazing how these people’s inflammatory markers go down, how their lipid profiles actually go down,” Dr. Colon said.

A lifestyle change that can help people feel better rested and less fatigued during the day.