Do you need less sleep?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 25, 2011 at 12:59 AM

There have been a few questions about sleeping differently, but I think my question is quite different.

Prior to Paleo, I used to need 9 hours of sleep ??? if I didn???t get it (which was most of the time), I felt tired the whole time and would regularly be struggling to stay awake at work and would fall asleep in front of the TV every single night.

Now I???ve been Paleo for a couple of years, I never struggle to stay awake and feel awake and energised. I also find that when I don???t get as much sleep as I???d like, I feel absolutely fine. I feel great on as little as six hours of sleep a night. I know this isn???t optimal (and I always strive for more), but sometimes not enough time for sleep happens.

I suspect I don???t need as much sleep, and have devised a theory that eating a SAD diet requires a lot more sleep than eating a Paleo diet?

Is there any evidence or logic to support a lower sleep requirement with a Paleo diet? If so, biologically, why would this be the case? Perhaps it???s a lot simpler and a healthy body just requires less restoration time than an unhealthy body?

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9 Answers



on November 25, 2011
at 01:27 AM

My experiences are pretty close to yours. At first, the change was sleeping a full night without waking. Then, gradually, it was requiring an hour or two less per night. Now, on the rare occasions when I don't "sleep through" I don't suffer from grogginess and it's never more than one night.



on November 26, 2011
at 12:51 AM

Lifelong insomnia, misery of tossing and turning, fractured sleep when I got it -- resolved. Relief at last. Sleeping more than two hours in a row, at last! I now sleep through the night, wake naturally, and wake not still tired.

This way of eating has been a miracle. I wish I'd realized 25 years ago how badly food was impacting my body. What a different life I could've had if I wasn't fighting chronic, relentless, wretched exhaustion due to various undiagnosed food allergies. I dragged myself through life sleepwalking, and nearly didn't make it. I'm awake for the first time since I was a pre-teen.

I think that the logic is if you're not constantly dealing with an overload of toxins and allergens, sleep is simply going to be easier, and sleep can accomplish what it's meant to in the allotted time. When I was sick, ten or twelve hours was never enough to heal the day's collected insults.



on November 25, 2011
at 03:39 AM

The amount of sleep I get per night can vary between 6-10 hours, it just depends on what my body needs. I don't limit myself by saying I need 9 hours every night, I go to sleep at approximately the same time every night and sleep until I have had enough sleep and if that means I wake up 2 hours before my alarm clock is set to go off then I get up, fully rested and begin my day early, other times I may sleep until just before my clock goes off. I have learned to listen to my body over the years.



on November 25, 2011
at 01:22 AM

I definitely have noticed the same thing. However, I view sleep as a luxurious recreational activity. I love it and can never get enough. I'm definitely a champion marathon sleeper. Of course I never get to do that anymore since I've had kids. I'm kind of glad too because as much as I love sleeping in, I always lament how much of the day I've wasted doing it.


on November 30, 2011
at 06:29 PM

I've only been doing (fairly strict) paleo for 4-1/2 weeks, but this is one of the biggest changes I've noticed, personally.

Prior to paleo (i.e. the very SAD period in my life) I'd take hours to get to sleep and would wake up groggy unless I had gotten exactly 8 hours of sleep. Too little and I'd have to battle brain fog all day; too much and I'd have to fight off frequent urges to nap on any available firm surface. Nights after getting too much sleep, it'd be even more difficult than normal for me to fall asleep. After too little sleep, I'd almost always crash in the late afternoon and nap until being awoken by some loud noise or something--sometimes I'd even stay asleep until the next day, thus encouraging the beginning of a new crappy sleeping schedule!

Being in college, it isn't always easy to get the amount of sleep I need (I try for 7 hours, having read a few studies that this was optimal and which doesn't seem unreasonable to me). I tend to get around 4-5 hours of sleep on most days, but here's the kicker: after about 2 weeks of strict paleo I noticed that on days when I wouldn't get much sleep, instead of being sleepy in the late afternoon, I'd be sleepy at an appropriate time, and I was able to fall asleep faster. As time passed I began to notice that I had more energy during the day regardless of how much I had slept the prior night. If I napped in the afternoon after not having slept much, instead of sleeping 13+ hours, I'd wake up after 1 or 2.

As I type, I am running on 3 hours of sleep (which would normally have left me feeling shaky, unfocused, hungry, cold, and just plain crappy) and feeling AWESOME.

I'm hoping this is due to my quality of sleep increasing and won't catch up with me later, so to speak, but as for the past 4 weeks, the change has been amazing.


on November 25, 2011
at 12:06 PM

I've been on Paleo for about 14 days now and already feel the difference. My normal bedtime is about 11pm, and i sometimes catch myself thinking "oh, i'm not sleepy yet" I also wake up already a bit before the alarm goes off.



on November 25, 2011
at 11:50 AM

Yes, I've experienced the same. Ever since I started eating full Paleo I have more energy and require less sleep per night.


on November 25, 2011
at 10:36 AM

Gluten makes me groggy and need more sleep - my sleep has improved and at least in part I attribute it to being wheat-free (as near as dammit).


on November 25, 2011
at 06:42 AM

I've only been on the diet for about a month now & come to think about it my sleep pattern is a lot better than it was. Used too struggle to get 6hr now seem too be getting between 7-8hr without waking up in the middle of the night as well.

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