Any suggestions to help me sleep?

Answered on June 01, 2014
Created May 27, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Sorry this is so long: I have been having trouble sleeping for several months and would appreciate any suggestions to help me. First of all, I'm a 29 y.o. female, 5'3", 173 lbs. I have been a light sleeper for years, but as I come close to the end of my Ph.D., and since having a rotator cuff injury in August, 2013, I have noticed a decline in my sleep. I began eating paleo July 2011 and lost about 27 lbs in the first year, then plateaued at about 167. I thought it was eating that kept me from losing, but now I think sleep is a bigger contributor, and I want to get that dialed in. For eating, I have been following a fairly low carb paleo because I thought it would help me lose, but if I'm not sleeping I'm not sure it will help. I have been following Jack Kruse's leptin reset for about a week, just because I wanted some guidelines on a protocol and 3 meals/day seems to make sense hormonally. For sleep patterns: I use minimal lighting in my house in the evening---maybe 1 lamp, whatever light is coming in through the windows, and candles. I'd like to get to bed around 10, so I start getting ready for bed around 8---drinking some bedtime tea, putting on pajamas, etc...Sometimes I feel hugely drowsy around 9, and if I can get to bed at that time, I sleep. But if I miss the window of time that I am sleepy, I am up till 3 or 4. Even if I do get to sleep, I frequently wake up at 3:30...almost on the dot! I am frequently awake with racing thoughts, and my heart almost "thuds" in my chest as if I was running, but I am lying down. I went to see my doctor, and I felt dismissed because she said it was an anxiety problem and told me to take up to 60 mg melatonin and to journal my problems. I titrated up to 16 mg but felt close to fainting if I exerted myself (like, climbing a flight of stairs) so I discontinued it. I don't have a naturopath in town, but my friend's mom is, and over the phone she said it sounds like I have adrenal fatigue and suggested I take an adrenal support with adaptogens and magnesium oxide. In the AM I take: B-complex, fish oil, Now Super enzymes, Now Super Cortisol support (also at lunch and dinner). In the PM I take: 250 mg mag oxide, 1000 mg GABA, and 50 mg HTP. I started to see a chiropractor and my doc prescribed 15 mg meloxicam for shoulder inflammation. I was working out 5x's/ week doing lots of strength training and cardio, but I have since dialed it back to yoga, pilates, qigong, and walking. Based on all this, is there anywhere I can improve so I can get more restful sleep? Thanks so much!



on May 27, 2014
at 07:16 PM

ZMA supplements work great for me. A couple of caps half an hour before bed. Pleasant side effect: amazingly vivd dreams.

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on June 01, 2014
at 07:39 PM

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on May 28, 2014
at 08:57 AM

When you go to bed, it should be as dark as possible,

Use f-lux software, warm LED lightning(yellow-orange-red),

try to slowly go to bed earlier, like 5 minutes earlier than the day before, until you find the most comfortable time, which should be at least 2 hours after your last meal,

expose yourself to intense light in midday when possible(such as just walking when it's sunny) or try a light therapy device,

try increasing your paleo carbs,

you may also take a look at serotonin production factor of your diet and try increasing it, which is the ratio of tryptophan / (phenylalanine + leucine) in your diet. For example dates and hemp have one of the highest ratios, it may be helpful to have especially your last meal with a high serotonin production factor.

Did your sleep pattern change as you changed your exercises ? Can you be undereating ? What are your macronutrient ratios ?

There are also some things to help speed recovery such as more broth and l-glutamine supplementation, and you can cook the broth with cucumbers for silica. You may have a genetic methylation defect that you can correct with animal foods high in b vitamins such as chicken liver which is a rare source of methylated folate.

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on May 27, 2014
at 09:34 PM

I had rotator cuff surgery six weeks ago for a complete supraspinatus tear. I have no idea when I did it, but for the last two years my sleep has been bad because of it. I would roll to a comfortable position, and after an hour or two would wake up from pain and roll to a new position. Over and over all night.

It took an MRI to show how bad the damage was; the x-rays didn't show it. It seems to be getting better. Not nearly as much rolling at night. Today I threw away the sling, and am allowed light active exercise No overhead lifts yet. People I talked to said it takes 6 months to get full strength back.


on May 27, 2014
at 07:38 PM

Take 600 mg of mag citrate, not oxide. Magnesium supplements that have ingredients ending in 'ate' are better absorbed, and will probably help you sleep (especially if you're deficient). When I first started taking mag citrate before bed, my body literally felt like a big floppy noodle and I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow. That doesn't happen anymore, which I attribute to my body no longer being as deficient.

Are you fasting at night? I find that when I eat an early dinner and go to bed late (say, an 8 hour period in between my last meal and bedtime) I'm in a fasted state and have too much energy/am too wired to sleep. Your timeline of sleeping and waking made me think that maybe this is happening to you. Some people say that eating their carbs at night, closer to bedtime, helps them sleep, too.

Another thing- stressing out about sleeping and trying to fall asleep in certain windows will be counterproductive to you actually falling asleep. You're right in saying that sleep is a huge component of weight loss and health, but so is stress. Just let your body do its thing as you do Kruse's leptin reset protocol, and start on mag citrate. Don't stress!

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