After ceasing to take Natural Calm, I decided maybe I would give Melatonin a shot. This stuff kept me awake until 4am this morning.
The main reason I'm experimenting with all these sleeping remedies is because I want to get my cortisol down.
Does anyone have any suggestions as it relates to getting 8-9 hours of sleep each night? I feel like this is the last piece of the puzzle that needs to be in place if I want lose weight.
asked byTim_3 (487)
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on April 19, 2011
at 08:47 PM
I've struggled with insomnia my entire life, so this is right up my alley.
I just bought a blindfold/sleeping mask and UBEX "Amber" colored safety glasses from Amazon. I've also been using Hearos Ultra-Soft ear plugs for about a year and half now.
Last night was my first night wearing the eyemask and slipping on my completely ridiculous orange shades at sunset and taking them off at lights out.
The past several nights I've slept very poorly. Last night, I fell asleep about 45 minutes earlier than usual and only awoke once at about 2:30 AM, but I quickly fell back asleep -- no harm done. This was VERY different from my typical night with just the ear plugs where I wake up twice, always once at 4:30ish, and it takes at least an hour to fall asleep, if I fall asleep at all (nothing worse than laying in bed for 8 hours only to hear your alarm clock go off -- horrible cosmic irony).
A blue-light photoreceptor separate from rods and cones exists within the retina with a direct neural link to the pineal gland in the brain which produces melatonin. The wavelength that stimulates this receptor best is the same as that of the sky -- evolution at work, if I've ever seen it. When this receptor is stimulated, melatonin production ceases. Makes sense: you wouldn't want excessive melatonin production during the day if you were a hunter-gatherer because day-time is your time to be productive and, well, hunt and gather. Night time is for winding down, tying up loose ends, sitting by the fire (which emits almost no blue light, mind you), and sleeping. Modern conveniences like light bulbs, computer screens, TVs, etc. all emit a spectrum of visible light that contains the wavelength that stimulates this melatonin inhibition pathway.
Supplementing melatonin, as with any hormone, is playing with an extremely delicate balance with a truly absurd number of feedback mechanisms in place. Any number of weirdo things could happen to your endocrine system when you introduce a glut of exogenous hormone, one that came with no stimulus to increase its concentration in the body. One of those weirdo things is taking the "sleepy hormone" in a large amount and... not falling asleep. Go figure!
I obtained the transmission spectra for the glasses I bought and for ones from lowbluelights.com, and I could send them to you, if you'd like. The UBEX Amber glasses I bought were $10 and transmitted less (blocked more) of the offending wavelengths of light than the ~$60 lowbluelights.com glasses. Get the UBEX glasses if any.
I sleep in a room with a ton of light leaking in through the window from the parking lot, mostly blue light. At night, lay in bed, turn off all the lights, close the curtains and blinds, then close your eyes. Note how dark it is. Now, place your hands over your eyes. If it seems much darker, you probably need a blindfold because some ambient light is leaking through, perhaps stimulating this specific blue-light photoreceptor to cease melatonin production.
It's too early for me to say what effect the amber glasses and eyemask REALLY had on my sleep light night was my first night using them, but I can say that there was absolutely SOME effect. I wanted to go to sleep earlier, and I woke up in the middle of the night at an unusual time. I also woke up an hour or so earlier than I usually do, well before my girlfriend's damn alarm clock. All in all, I'm excited to see where this takes me. Maybe it would help you out, too?
EDIT: I missed the workout part. I also lift heavy 3 days a week and try to walk at least 5-20 miles a week. The first few weeks of my lifting program killed my ability to go to sleep. Then, I learned about a condition called adrenal fatigue in which you deplete most of your adrenal hormones and sympathetic neurotransmitters as a result of your heavy lifting. This greatly impairs the ability to fall asleep. The remedy is to increase carbohydrate intake (I do about 0.75-1lb. potato/sweet potato PWO now) and saturated fat intake (should be no biggie on a Paleo diet). It certainly helped my sleep once I upped the carbs a bit PWO.
on April 20, 2011
at 01:35 PM
At first I'd try something real simple: eat more carbs your last meal before bed. I know this probably makes you cringe, but try eating some sweet potato, or some root vegetables. It could be as simple as this. As your sleep patterns improve, you can slowly reduce the carbs if that's part of your goal.
If that doesn't work, you can try some of the other suggestions but give the carbs a shot for a few days and see what happens.
on April 19, 2011
at 10:39 PM
As with Beckers comments, I would suggest a multi pronged approach.
1) How many weeks have you been low-carb (I assume) paleo? It took me eight weeks to ketoadapt. Eight weeks of no more than 90 minutes of sleep at a time and never more than 4.5 hours at a time. Eventually, I did adapt.
2) Some carb-cycling is helpful for me. Read NN Taleb's essay, excerpted from The Black Swan, called "Why I Walk": http://goo.gl/pc5s1 Chris Masterjohn talks about needing some starch in order to sleep.
3) Magnesium can be very helpful, likely necessary for most and most are deficient. Why was the Natural Calm stopped? If it was related to gut issues, consider Jigsaw Health Magnesium - it's mg dimalate, time release and is the only one I can tolerate.
4) Phosphatidylserine may help reduce cortisol - among other things http://goo.gl/KHiZz Bone marrow is your best bet, but some use supplements. I use Doctor's Best, Best Phosphatidyl Serine, 100 mg, 60 softgels when bone marrow just isn't happening.
5) Good sleep hygiene - no screens two hours before bed, consistent activity (not just 'exercise' but a non-sedentary lifestyle), white noise, earplugs, pitch black (my husband sleeps in the closet to achieve this..seriously).
6) if there is any possibility of sleep apnea (do you snore?) get a sleep study and CPAP machine asap. Without treating the sleep apnea, it's unlikely that you will loose weight or improve your sleep. Quite a catch 22, isn't it?
7) in the end, do what you must for sleep...dh still, in spite of all other measure in place, has to take ambien every night. the combo of ambien and c-pap has changed his life...and probably saved it too.
Best to you, Katherine