1

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Help! Week-long insomnia without obvious cause

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 25, 2011 at 7:06 PM

For the last week and a half, I've had a very hard time getting to sleep before 1 or 2am. The only other times I've had trouble sleeping is the night before a big stressful even (not the case here) and I took care of it with a single Benadryl. I'm getting frustrated because I've tried to solve this on my own and haven't had any luck.

I'm 80% paleo (I think? maybe more like 90%). I don't eat: wheat, rice, potatoes, sugar, more than 2 servings of fruit/week or corn. about 3x a week I have one small cup of coffee with breakfast. But I do eat: pastured butter and drink around a cup of organic whole milk or cream a day, 15g of 77% dark chocolate/day, the meat I eat isn't always grassfed or organic.

I was taking fish oil, and read on here that it causes insomnia, so I stopped taking it, no result. For the past month I haven't been as active as I usually am (went from 4+ hours a day of moderate exercise to nearly none) so I got off my butt and played some intense ultimate the other day. No result. Went to an obstacle course race training even yesterday and got my butt kicked, no result. Didn't fall asleep till 2 last night. I am on Lutera oral birth control. I tried getting up really early after a late and restless night in the hope of being tired by 11pm. Didn't work.

Breakfast is organic nitrate free bacon and eggs, I have a snack of carrots and nut butter or some smoked (sugar free) salmon, lunch is usually leftovers from the night before. dinner is usually some sort of meat (steak, fish, shrimp etc) with veggies sauteed in butter. I usually wake up hungry in the morning.

Also, I'm 25, female and weigh 62kgs/136lbs and I'm 5'2" tall.

B4ec9ce369e43ea83f06ee645169cee0

on May 25, 2011
at 11:01 PM

good point NN. Same thing happens to me some months, but the opposite happens on other months... (extreme tiredness - on the couch at night napping and then going to bed).

Medium avatar

(2169)

on May 25, 2011
at 08:17 PM

well I just started this new birth control. I've been on it less than a month but longer than 2 weeks. Since you're cycle messes with your sleep pattern, maybe this hormonal BC is messing with mine.

Medium avatar

(2169)

on May 25, 2011
at 08:16 PM

Thanks Eric! I should be taking magnesium anyway because I have really low blood pressure and I'm super susceptible to cold. I didn't know all of that about carbs and sleep. Especially that I shouldn't wake up hungry. The odd thing is that I spent all of Feb and March eating less than 50g/carbs/day and slept like a baby. Now I'm probably around 100g/day. Could I be backwards from everyone else? I'll definitely experiment with the timing of breakfast and see if that helps. I used never want food for at least 45 minutes after I woke up, and now I'm hungry as soon as I open my eyes.

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4 Answers

2
77ecc37f89dbe8f783179323916bd8e6

(5002)

on May 25, 2011
at 08:07 PM

I think its a bad sign that you wake up hungry. Since we paleos typically run on fat rather than carbs, our hunger is less acute and more stable because our blood sugar doesn't go crazy. You, like me, might be higher carb than average, since you say you're only 80% paleo. So, I suggest:

(1) Only eat carbs (starches, unprocessed) for breakfast or post workout.

My brother's crossfit instructor eats sweet potato for breakfast. And Stephen Guyenet eats potatoes in the morning and mid-day as well. That, basically, ought to give you carb-based energy for the day, and let you fall into a natural state of ketosis at night.

Relatedly, some people find that going too low carb affects their sleep negatively. So, you might just be too low. If this is the case, try:

(2) Incorporating more carbs into your diet in general, especially sweet potato and white rice.

Finally, Seth Roberts finds that if he eats breakfast too soon after waking up, then he tends to wake up earlier the following day or days. This is the response of a food expectation system. Your issue is both different (falling asleep v waking up early) yet similar (mistimed hunger). So, consider:

(3) Skipping or delaying breakfasts for several days and tracking the effects.

Finally, following the Jaminets and others from similar posts on this site, consider supplementation:

(4) ZMA (zinc & magnesium) and melatonin are natural supplements that assist falling asleep. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant, and melatonin helps get the falling asleep process under way, via the hormones that blue light suppress (if I recall correctly)

Hope these ideas for self experimentation prove fruitful - good luck

Medium avatar

(2169)

on May 25, 2011
at 08:16 PM

Thanks Eric! I should be taking magnesium anyway because I have really low blood pressure and I'm super susceptible to cold. I didn't know all of that about carbs and sleep. Especially that I shouldn't wake up hungry. The odd thing is that I spent all of Feb and March eating less than 50g/carbs/day and slept like a baby. Now I'm probably around 100g/day. Could I be backwards from everyone else? I'll definitely experiment with the timing of breakfast and see if that helps. I used never want food for at least 45 minutes after I woke up, and now I'm hungry as soon as I open my eyes.

2
531c407095af44ba5bf72868120c4d98

(140)

on May 25, 2011
at 07:33 PM

I have found that in the 7-10 days leading up to my menstrual cycle that I sometimes suffer insomnia. Can you note any correlation? I know we are all different in that respect. I know sometimes for me it is worse some months than others and I consider myself to have a "normal" cycle.

Medium avatar

(2169)

on May 25, 2011
at 08:17 PM

well I just started this new birth control. I've been on it less than a month but longer than 2 weeks. Since you're cycle messes with your sleep pattern, maybe this hormonal BC is messing with mine.

B4ec9ce369e43ea83f06ee645169cee0

on May 25, 2011
at 11:01 PM

good point NN. Same thing happens to me some months, but the opposite happens on other months... (extreme tiredness - on the couch at night napping and then going to bed).

1
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on May 25, 2011
at 08:20 PM

Sometimes if I am low on sleep for a few days, my body gets into this overdrive mode where I don't sleep at all. This can also happen if I am stressed about something or am eating a poor diet. This goes on for about 7-8 days and then suddenly I crash and get extra sleep for 2-3 days.

Lack of exercise destroys my sleep schedule too. If I go 2-3 days without some kind of exercise, it's possible to fall and stay asleep. Then it can take 2-3 days to get back to normal. So moderate exercise for me every day or every other day is really the only way to go. If I have real blowout exercise and am sore or injured and can't get any for a few days, it puts me back into a bad sleep cycle.

All of that said, all of this is way better with a strict Paleo diet. I have never slept so well for so many weeks in a row.

0
1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on May 25, 2011
at 07:47 PM

You might try a standing desk or strong lights upon waking which Seth Roberts found worked for him

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