Vitals - 40 y/o male, 6' 165lbs, eating paleo for over a year, lifting weights for nearly a year. I formerly suffered from reactive hypoglycemia, but cured it with the aforementioned diet and exercise.
Overall I'm fit and physically I feel good during the daytime, but my sleep is terrible. I fall asleep fine, but find myself waking up 3-5 times a night. It's not urination, I just wake up and have to fall back to sleep all over again. Take last night for example: went to bed at 10pm, woke at 12:49, woke at 2:09 and woke twice more before my 6am alarm.
Two possible causes as I see it - First, it's my blood sugar getting low that wakes me up. (I don't eat after 8pm) Second, I've been pretty stressed with work, money and family stuff lately, so it could be high nighttime cortisol. I know I need to A) reduce my stress and B) get my saliva tested.. I working on the former and plan on doing the latter when I free-up some cash. In the meantime is there something I can take that isn't pharmaceutical poison? GABA? ZMA?
Thanks in advance!
EDIT - Thanks for the responses! Yes, my room is very dark. Last night I tried melatonin and it didn't help. Probably because the effect fades before my sleep troubles begin. Maybe instead of before bed, I need to take it when I wake at 1-2am.
UPDATE - Last night I ingested 1 tbsp of gelatin before bed. I still woke twice, but was able to immediately fall back to sleep, which was very nice. I plan on going up to 2 tbsps tonight. I need to find a better way to take it, though.. disgusting stuff. (great lakes porcine gelatin, btw, thanks edrice)
2nd UPDATE - Took 2 tbsps gelatin before bed last night and sleep poorly. So much for that. Going to get some time-released melatonin and call my doctor for a cortisol test. I should probably just schedule a whole battery of tests while I'm at it.
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on July 29, 2011
at 01:42 PM
You could try the Seth Roberts method of stand on one leg:
He had the exact same issue as you, waking up far too early.
Also bear in mind our sleep is naturally bi-phasic:
The idea that an uninterrupted eight hours is the only sleep pattern natural to mankind is surprisingly recent. Before someone who wasn't Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, people in areas with more than eight hours of darkness usually slept in segments: three to five hours of sleep, an hour of wakefulness and then another three to five hour nap. The hour or so of awake time was used for quiet reflection, sex, smoking and pretty much everything except staring at the wall terrified of insomnia. In fact, this small window of consciousness was renowned as the best time for boning, as the tranquility between the first and second sleep was known as being uniquely suited to getting up to mischief with the person lying bored beside you.
Read more: 7 Basic Things You Won't Believe You're All Doing Wrong | Cracked.com http://www.cracked.com/article_19121_7-basic-things-you-wont-believe-youre-all-doing-wrong.html#ixzz1TV9POMRO
on July 27, 2011
at 02:13 PM
For years I was supreme leader the super sleepless stress squad and had the exact same problem with waking up in the middle of the night, except that most of the time I did not so easily just drop off back to sleep. I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, but after a week or so of this with 4-5 hours sleep per night, I was a wreck and this went on for years. Sleep drugs (or any prescription drugs) are anathema to me but things got so bad I eventually had to resort to Ambien or Xanax or not go on living. This was during my last job where I spent eight years in a telecommunications software company as the last stop for extremely urgent software fixes for accounts worth millions. After eight years I was a shambles and looking back after much reading I now realize just how much hypercortisolism played a part as well as leptin resistance.
So the first order of business is get the stress under control. Believe me, I know that's easier said than done after what I went through, but probably something that diet will not be a total solution for.
Melatonin has been mentioned but while regular melatonin helps you drop off initially, a better solution to help prevent waking during the night is a time-release melatonin. Natrol Melatonin TR is an example.
Also something you might try is gelatin before bedtime. Here is an excerpt from an article by Ray Peat -
"Although I pointed out a long time ago the antithyroid effects of excessive cysteine and tryptophan from eating only the muscle meats, and have been recommending gelatinous broth at bedtime to stop nocturnal stress, it took me many years to begin to experiment with large amounts of gelatin in my diet. Focusing on the various toxic effects of tryptophan and cysteine, I decided that using commercial gelatin, instead of broth, would be helpful for the experiment. For years I hadn't slept through a whole night without waking, and I was in the habit of having some juice or a little thyroid to help me go back to sleep. The first time I had several grams of gelatin just before bedtime, I slept without interruption for about 9 hours. I mentioned this effect to some friends, and later they told me that friends and relatives of theirs had recovered from long-standing pain problems (arthritic and rheumatic and possibly neurological) in just a few days after taking 10 or 15 grams of gelatin each day."
And here is the link for the background on gelatin - http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/gelatin.shtml
Hope this helps you. I'n not as bad as I used to be (I'm retired now) and I'm just starting to experiment with nightly gelatin. Would be interested in hearing your results if you should try it.
on July 27, 2011
at 01:58 PM
We all have stress and it sucks that it affects sleep and ultimately everything else. I feel for you! Here is what I do: ZMA while in bed then lights out. Dark room to sleep in. No laptop, iPad, phone - nothing, when I enter the bedroom. If I want entertainment I'll read a magazine as I can put it down easily. I do have snacks about 30 minutes before crawling in and it can be anywhere from a hard boiled egg, to a handfull of nuts or some cottage cheese/yogurt.
If I wake up at all it's stress. I hate to just lie in bed as it just seems to make me all tossy and not wanting to relax. I either use my journaling software that will cloud the most used words over 750 to see if there is a common thread, write in my dream journal, I've had these since high school, to examine in the morning, or if I'm doomed and I know that sleep has been chased away then I go for a night ride on my bicycle. Hope you get some sleep soon :)
on July 27, 2011
at 04:11 AM
1 - Blackout windows. Do it. It makes a big difference.
2 - Melatonin. If you don;t need help falling asleep then keep a bottle of 3 MG Melatonin and a glass of water on your nightstand. From 10-3 if you wake up take one. After a while you can throttle back to the 1 MG. I never hear people recommend this but it helped me. I also fall asleep easily but sometime wake up at 2 and can't fall back asleep. Melatonin is your friend. 3 - Address your elevated cortisol. I hypothesize that 6 hours of good sleep is better than 7 plus hours of crappy restless sleep. Try a walk around your neighborhood before bed. UNless you live in Hells Kitchen it should be dark and quiet and the walking is great for cortisol.
on July 26, 2011
at 10:26 PM
How dark is your bedroom?
I made two sleep-related changes recently. One is that I go to bed as soon as possible after sunset, and try to reduce artificial light in the evening. The other is that I block out as much light as possible at night. For me this means cardboard in the windows in addition to the curtains and blinds, a towel along the bedroom door to prevent morning light from coming in there, etc. I've also unplugged or covered up anything that has an LED light or some other night display light.
This has made a massive difference. I sleep very well now, and wake feeling rested.
I'm not sure this will solve all your sleep problems, but it could be worth a try.
on July 26, 2011
at 06:29 PM
When your blood sugar gets low, your body will release cortisol to help raise it. So cortisol could be implicated either way. Which leads to my second point.
I think the important thing to realize about cortisol is that it is attempting to serve a biological function, and it will continue to do so until you remove the source of stress. Anything else is just going to mask the problem rather than solve it. So figure out what your stressors are. It could be that you're not getting enough calories, enough non-protein calories, or even enough carbs. It could be that you need to meditate (or whatever) to reduce stress. But you should get that handled first--assuming that cortisol is your problem.
Next, the most commonly recommended supplements are ashwagandha, holy basil, and phosphatidylserine. I have not tried them and cannot vouch for their efficacy, so I'll leave that topic for others.
on July 27, 2011
at 02:15 PM
Get a sleep study. You could have Sleep Disordered Breathing. You air way shutting down could be waking you up so you will breath.
I've had it for 13 years. Lost 100lbs eating paleo and it didn't go away. It has to do with how your airway is built, not your weight. Get it checked out because it is a killer. It got my Dad before his time.
on July 27, 2011
at 12:14 AM
I have been having the exact same problem for months, and seemed to need to eat when I woke up, so I would guess it was blood sugar/cortisol issues too.
Yesterday my order of melatonin arrived in the mail and I slept through the night for the first time in...well, since I can remember. It shouldn't really be depended on forever but it might 'fix' your sleep by getting you back into a normal rhythm. Hurray for melatonin!
on July 26, 2011
at 09:54 PM
One thing's for sure, stressing about not getting enough sleep will not help you get more.
I'm interested in the fact that you haven't mentioned how this waking up is affecting the rest of your life. So I'll assume it's not having that much of an effect and I'll just say: don't worry about it. Have you considered the possibility that this is normal for you? Perhaps you'd be better off learning to live with it than trying to "fix" it.