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Hack my sleep - following all the tips and I still barely sleep

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 11, 2013 at 9:20 PM

I know there have been a ton of sleep questions on this site (I've asked about it previously myself) but I'm stuck again. I just can't fall or stay asleep lately at all. We're talking maybe 2 hours of sleep, tops. I've been following all the Paleo sleep tricks I can find:

  • no caffeine after 1pm
  • bedroom is pitch black at night
  • no electronics in the bedroom
  • no looking at electronics at least 30 min. before bed (maybe should make it 60 min.?)
  • going through the same routine every night before bed, including taking 2 tsp. magnesium before bed

This was working pretty well for about the past year (sleep well 5 nights a week or so) but for the past 2 months it's barely worked at all. If I get 2 good nights in a row I'm excited. The rest of my life hasn't changed that much. I thought it might be connected to when I work out, but I've learned there's only a mild connection there. (I work out either on my lunch break or after work; working out in the morning is not an option.) I went to a sleep clinic once and they said I was fine and didn't have sleep apnea. The weird thing is that even though I'm tired, it's almost like I'm getting used to it, but I sure feel better when I actually sleep well.

Some stats about me: 33 year old male, 6'1", 170 lbs, Paleo for about 2 years (about 90%/10%), lift weights 3x a week (usually do sets/repetions of either 3x15, 4x10 or 5x5; sleep seems to be especially bad on 5x5 days, but not only on those days, and not only on workout days in general), occassional yoga and interval-based cardio, drink 1-2x a week, usually on the weekends.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks so much in advance!

Cfec3fb17e6d06f984ffedc2aae54920

(150)

on February 21, 2013
at 03:34 AM

According to my naturopath, carbs should be eaten at last meal b/c they up melatonin levels in body which helps you sleep.

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 13, 2013
at 03:49 PM

I take vitamin D first thing in the morning with breakfast, and that's the only supplement I take.

950efde057e2cc301543059b15f44374

(240)

on February 13, 2013
at 01:55 AM

i have had trouble with sleep in recent years. Was diagnosed with hypothyroidism with TSH at 4.8 I was reluctant to start medication as I though it would make my insomnia worse. Started on Armour Thyroid a few months ago and sleep has actually improved. So it's not always just hyperthyroid that can cause sleep problems. Hypo can too

C0ddf5f88d3d0cfab0c5d875b0eae9ec

(91)

on February 12, 2013
at 09:23 PM

A couple times a week. Although we make cookies and breads with it, so sometimes it can be 4 to 5 days per week that i'm getting a good dose. My daughter makes a pumpkin seed cookie that is delicious...

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10979)

on February 12, 2013
at 05:06 PM

Like I said, it's my n=1; It may have something to do with the hpa axis and resetting your circadian rhythm to go off temperature instead of light cycles; but that would be speculation. All I know for sure is that it puts me in a very sound sleep. Also 10-15 minutes may do the same, 20 was just an estimate. Results will vary.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on February 12, 2013
at 04:27 PM

Yep. I have to be careful not to take it at bedtime. Other supplements can do the same thing: Magnesium helps some people sleep, but keeps others awake. B-complex will usually keep me up too. I usually take all my supplements in the early afternoon for that very reason. Experiment and see what your body does.

4bd4e2fe6a095663f80c69656936e487

(744)

on February 12, 2013
at 04:05 PM

There are some who believe that today most doctors miss hypothyroid patients because they rely too much on tests and not on symptoms, and the ranges are too lax. Doctors are usually ok if TSH is less than 5, while natural practitioners mention that they rarely see a healthy person with TSH more than 2.

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:42 PM

I've been taking vitamin D with breakfast. If I take it with lunch or in the afternoon, it'll actually give me a boost of energy like coffee? Wow, I never knew that.

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:41 PM

You know, dinner is usually my lowest-carb meal. I eat root veggies with breakfast, lunch and after workouts but not dinner. Maybe I should add them in. And I've never heard about the sugar/salt idea. Interesting. Thanks!

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:39 PM

Good to know. I make almost all my meals myself so now I'm wondering if I'm not putting enough salt in/on them. What kind of salt do you use? I use iodized sea salt.

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:38 PM

Hmmm, that's a nice way to end the day. Usually I do meditation in bed but I like using that time to think of what I'm grateful for. Thanks!

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:37 PM

I've actually thought of the separate room idea! Or at least separate beds. But unfortunately we're in a 1-bedroom apartment right now and can't make that happen. I do meditate in bed, sometimes it helps, most of the time it doesn't. Thanks for the other ideas, too.

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:36 PM

Anon - good question. I haven't had it tested in a while. A dr. once diagnosed me as having very mild hypothyroidism and put me on meds, but then my next doc said the meds were probably making it worse and took me off them. I get a physical with blood tests every year and my physician has said it's fine. Olivier - interesting idea. I've never asked to have those checked specifically.

F15e0bae42dbf0b8cfc71e62902497b4

(2036)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:53 AM

I'd also love more info on this.

F26fbc92b18f4689769d6f8746ea40f7

(334)

on February 12, 2013
at 01:15 AM

You should get your cortisol levels checked. You might have an issue there (i.e. cortisol high in the evening and low in the morning ... or maybe high all the time).

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 11, 2013
at 10:42 PM

20 minutes? That's a long shower, especially for a cold one. How did you find out that that worked for you? I'm not sure I have the patience to add a 20-min. shower to my before-bed routine. Plus my boyfriend goes to bed before me and I think that would keep him up. But thanks for the interesting idea.

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 11, 2013
at 10:41 PM

So interesting. Do you take that every day? In the morning?

4bd4e2fe6a095663f80c69656936e487

(744)

on February 11, 2013
at 09:35 PM

How's your thyroid function?

  • E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

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8 Answers

1
Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10979)

on February 11, 2013
at 09:53 PM

A 20 minute cold shower right before bed knocks me out like a baby. That's just my n=1 though, if you try it let me know if it worked for you too.

F15e0bae42dbf0b8cfc71e62902497b4

(2036)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:53 AM

I'd also love more info on this.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10979)

on February 12, 2013
at 05:06 PM

Like I said, it's my n=1; It may have something to do with the hpa axis and resetting your circadian rhythm to go off temperature instead of light cycles; but that would be speculation. All I know for sure is that it puts me in a very sound sleep. Also 10-15 minutes may do the same, 20 was just an estimate. Results will vary.

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 11, 2013
at 10:42 PM

20 minutes? That's a long shower, especially for a cold one. How did you find out that that worked for you? I'm not sure I have the patience to add a 20-min. shower to my before-bed routine. Plus my boyfriend goes to bed before me and I think that would keep him up. But thanks for the interesting idea.

0
B7e1ad6bb9ab814b8e90bdad4a472d5e

on February 12, 2013
at 03:51 PM

hey man you taking any supplement that could be messing with your sleep? you taking vitamin d at night?

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 13, 2013
at 03:49 PM

I take vitamin D first thing in the morning with breakfast, and that's the only supplement I take.

0
32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on February 12, 2013
at 01:28 PM

No coffee after 1? If I even have coffee after 9 am it affects my sleep that night. I notice that as I get older I get even more sensitive to this. I usually have green tea (or iced green tea) at lunch, then NO MORE CAFFEINE at all after that. If you need a pick me up in the middle of the day, try Vitamin D.

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:42 PM

I've been taking vitamin D with breakfast. If I take it with lunch or in the afternoon, it'll actually give me a boost of energy like coffee? Wow, I never knew that.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on February 12, 2013
at 04:27 PM

Yep. I have to be careful not to take it at bedtime. Other supplements can do the same thing: Magnesium helps some people sleep, but keeps others awake. B-complex will usually keep me up too. I usually take all my supplements in the early afternoon for that very reason. Experiment and see what your body does.

0
Becaa49eaad56bf1b1ecad25580e533d

on February 12, 2013
at 11:33 AM

Eat more carbs, and some within 3 hours of bed. Especially if you are on a pretty low carb diet and exercising intensely. That helped me a ton. Carbs are relaxing :)

If elevated cortisol/adrenaline are likely playing a role then another trick you can try is to keep a mixture of sugar and salt (5:1 or more) on your bedside table. If you wakeup in the night, scoop a teaspoon or two and let it dissolve under your tongue. This is a great way of quickly lowering cortisol and adrenaline without having to get out of bed.

Hope this helps.

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:41 PM

You know, dinner is usually my lowest-carb meal. I eat root veggies with breakfast, lunch and after workouts but not dinner. Maybe I should add them in. And I've never heard about the sugar/salt idea. Interesting. Thanks!

Cfec3fb17e6d06f984ffedc2aae54920

(150)

on February 21, 2013
at 03:34 AM

According to my naturopath, carbs should be eaten at last meal b/c they up melatonin levels in body which helps you sleep.

0
F53bd3f72eb170db2eafccbd6407d58c

on February 12, 2013
at 10:13 AM

I have struggled with sleep deprivation and discovered recently that adding more sodium to my food helped-- as well as a number of other issues I had with dizziness, fatigue, irritability. If you don't suffer from hypertension, try that. Sodium is a very important mineral for many functions in the body and brain, and many lowcarb eaters are getting too little.

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:39 PM

Good to know. I make almost all my meals myself so now I'm wondering if I'm not putting enough salt in/on them. What kind of salt do you use? I use iodized sea salt.

0
D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:27 AM

Make sure your workouts are earlier in the morning and afternoon. Also I have trouble sleeping usually, but noticed last night that doing a mental walk-through of everything I'm grateful for, starting with my health and moving out to my car, helped me fall asleep. That was the fastest I've fallen asleep in a few months actually so I'll be doing it again.

Also listening to podcasts help me sleep too. They take my mind off of everything I have to do, worries and fears, which helps me sleep.

Good luck!

0
Bad3a78e228c67a7513c28f17c36b3cf

(1387)

on February 12, 2013
at 12:02 AM

I sympathize. I went through two decades of insomnia, and it wears you down. Getting rid of dietary irritants, ie going paleo, was my solution, but that is not the answer for everyone. Some ideas: sleep alone in a separate room. Seriously. Use ear plugs. Learn some simple mindful meditation techniques to empty your mind to help you get to sleep or get back to sleep if you wake up. For example, three sighs and a body scan. Get comfortable in bed and then lie very still (you'll never sleep if you are twitching your feet or tossing and turning.) Try some gelatinous bone broth or maybe some glycine before bed. Good luck!

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 12, 2013
at 03:37 PM

I've actually thought of the separate room idea! Or at least separate beds. But unfortunately we're in a 1-bedroom apartment right now and can't make that happen. I do meditate in bed, sometimes it helps, most of the time it doesn't. Thanks for the other ideas, too.

0
C0ddf5f88d3d0cfab0c5d875b0eae9ec

on February 11, 2013
at 09:38 PM

Some people only require 5-6 hrs. sleep, especially when fit, and healthy.

Aside from mental/spiritual relaxation techniques a dose of tryptophan during the day, helps your body to sleep deep.

Here is a product i use for muscle, bone, and sleep. Pumpkin Protein

Tryptophan is photo reactive, in that when it is light out, it is converted to Seratonin (mood inhancer), and when the sun goes down, or one is absent from light. It converts to Melatonin (sleep aid).

C0ddf5f88d3d0cfab0c5d875b0eae9ec

(91)

on February 12, 2013
at 09:23 PM

A couple times a week. Although we make cookies and breads with it, so sometimes it can be 4 to 5 days per week that i'm getting a good dose. My daughter makes a pumpkin seed cookie that is delicious...

E3575e92da86cbf4d7803d3aa09f962a

(35)

on February 11, 2013
at 10:41 PM

So interesting. Do you take that every day? In the morning?

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