How Dieting Can Cause Sleep Problems

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

If you need to lose weight, dieting and exercise is a good thing. However, be watchful of insomnia. Not being mindful of your dieting and exercise can cause a variety of sleep issues.


Most people increase their water intake dramatically while dieting. Water helps to flush toxins out of the body and it gives a full feeling that can reduce feelings of hunger. Just note that if drinking large amounts of water is part of your diet program, your sleep may be interrupted by trips to the bathroom at night.

Solution: Work around this issue by drinking the largest quantities of water in the morning and taper off as the day goes along. Avoid drinking water a few hours before bedtime.

Bedtime Hunger

Cutting calories is the goal of dieting. Many people eat their evening meal earlier in the day and also cut out nighttime snacking when trying to lose weight. This means the body goes to bed hungry. But when the body is hungry, it is unable to relax, which may cause insomnia.

Solution: To avoid this issue, have a small snack before bed. Opt for a healthy one that will not hinder your diet such as granola or yogurt. If possible, choose snacks that help you sleep such as a slice of cheese, turkey, or chicken.


If you are trying to lose weight, there’s a good chance that you are exercising. If you exercise in the hours leading up to bedtime, your body may have trouble falling asleep. Too much stimulation and excitement in the late evening can put off sleep for hours.

Solution: Try to exercise as early in the day as possible. If you have no choice but to exercise at night, opt for a type of exercise that de-stresses the body such as stretching or yoga.

General Dieting Issues

There are many different ways to diet. Some of the ways people diet can hinder their sleep. For instance, someone who opts for diet shakes for breakfast and lunch, and eats their largest meal of the day at night, may find they cannot fall asleep. The reason this happens is the body may feel uncomfortable and digestion issues may arise. On the other hand, if you eat your largest meals early in the day and opt for only liquids at night, you may keep your body awake if you are consuming the wrong types of drinks. Even unsweetened coffee, tea, sodas, and cocoa contain caffeine and can stimulate you.

Solution: No matter the type of diet you are on, try to eat lightly throughout the day and closely watch your caffeine intake in the evenings.

If you are overweight and looking to modify your diet, the good news is that shedding those extra pounds not only improves your health, it can help you sleep better at night. The key is to keep your sleep schedule as normal as possible during the weight loss process. A rested body will aid in your weight loss. If you are not sleeping well at night it can lead to midnight snacking and lack of energy that can keep you from exercising the next day.

If you want to learn more about healthy sleep you can enroll in my free online sleep training course for insomnia. You get one email every day for two weeks. If you follow the advice contained in each email, you should see improvements in your sleep.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.