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Sleep, Mood and Energy from the 5AM wakeup call

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 18, 2013 at 12:45 AM

I am exhausted upon waking (5am) and feel burnt-out every afternoon. Please hack my sleep!

My hours at work changed last summer and I needed to start waking up at 5am instead of 6am for the opening shift. It didn't work out well. I???d get between 6 and 7 hours of sleep/night and often times I was so tired in the afternoon I???d have a nap. Although I enjoyed 20 minute powernaps, most of the time I???d be so overtired I???d sleep for 2 to 4 hours and wouldn't be able to fall back to sleep until after 10pm. I did the longer naps (on average 2 hours) plus the night sleep (about 6 hours) for a while but felt out of sync with life. I also didn't have to wake up that early everyday and slept in as late as 9am on my days off.

I used to be a textbook 8 hour/night, deep sleeper, now I ALWAYS wake up through the night since these changes...usually to pee. I???m back working this shift 5 days a week after having 4 months of just doing 2/week and am back to feeling like a zombie. From the get-go I decided I wanted to move towards the deep 8 hour sleeps so I go to bed around 8:30. I can usually sleep on command and don???t stay up thinking; the problem may be that I wake up frequently. For example, yesterday I napped (1 hour) and went to bed at 9pm and woke up, wide-awake at 1am...went pee, walked around. I fall back to sleep easy but wake up 2-3 times/night. There is a bit of a pattern of waking up at 4am if I attempt to get the straight 8 hours without a nap: at 4 I???m ready for the day but go back to sleep because it???s so early???.at 5am I am an angry bear.

I wish I understood my sleeping patterns and better understood why my rhythm changed from the glorious 8 hours to the interrupted sleep and feeling ridiculously tired upon waking and every afternoon. Between 7am-1pm and after 5pm my energy is good. I wish I could wake up at 5am and have constant energy, know when to go to bed and be cool with waking up during the night...if it is cool. If it's a stress-response/adrenal fatigue thing that's not cool. What do you think?

More information:

  • Usually take magnesium citrate before bed

  • Sometimes take melatonin (6mg) if napped and not tired at night

  • Almost always have caffeine upon waking and sometimes binge (250mg+) but stop before 1pm

  • Often don???t eat until 10-11am

  • Don???t eat carbs during day but will have some post-workout (banana) and last meal (50-100g around 7pm)

  • If sleeping-in the early morning hours are never interrupted by pee-sessions and I always wake up feeling great

736662d9fd6314d426cc6de1896aa045

(175)

on August 11, 2013
at 05:19 PM

Yeah, I've been looking into the carb thing and sleep. The OP said he takes carbs as his last meal. It maybe that not enough starch is taken, resulting in a cortisol spike and broken sleep. There's been an ongoing experiment by a few people on eating resistant starch in the form of potato starch, with comments on how it affects their sleep: http://freetheanimal.com/2013/04/resistant-assimilation-resistance.html The main guy - tatertot - also wrote a lot on a thread at Paul Jaminet's site.

737471a5bc1c8b81d968c3f3fcd13b71

(389)

on April 13, 2013
at 01:42 AM

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783 Doing a little research on this subject has helped me become much less stressed when I wake up in the middle of the night. I end up falling back asleep sooner (ironically, you'll notice if you click the link), and my insomnia is pretty much gone now that I don't freak out when I realize I'm not asleep yet.

C0ddf5f88d3d0cfab0c5d875b0eae9ec

(91)

on March 09, 2013
at 05:26 PM

Look into Pumpkin Seed Protein powder. It has one of the highest if not thee highest tryptophan available. Low light will convert it nicely to melatonin. During the day, it converts to seratonin... a nice mood lifter. The high Magnesium and zinc work really well with the tryptophan. Here is where i get it. http://www.seedoilcompany.com/pumpkin-seed-protein-powder-1-lb.html

705e66484ed64fe8e188123de398413e

(1013)

on February 19, 2013
at 09:48 PM

Are you actively trying to lose weight? I played with intermittent fasting as well, but decided to prioritize resolving adrenal fatigue, gut health, and caffiene addiction before dealing with weight loss via ketosis or intermittent fasting.

15dfddb2195385569014b970890b12ad

(120)

on February 19, 2013
at 01:23 AM

daz... I hadn't thought of the glycogen depletion possibility, sounds plausible and makes sense with when I do add in more carbs... Lindsey... yes, coma-like, EXACTLY! For me, IF has not caused me any insomnia or anything though I've read other people, esp females with similar experiences as yourself

7d46edca72c2f8347f65d7b734d1f1eb

on February 18, 2013
at 04:33 PM

As a side note - now that I limit my coffee to 2 cups in the morning when and if I have the time to sneak in a nap it is more easy to do so without all the caffeine screaming through my veins and the quality of the nap seems to be better.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on February 18, 2013
at 01:02 PM

Really just a suggestion. Probably one that you'd appreciate if you were to take up. A lot of folks around here disapprove. But I think you'll find the majority of us who've actually tried it promote it. Elitism rarely exists without ignorance.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on February 18, 2013
at 12:57 PM

Adding butter and coconut oil to your coffee turns it into a meal. It seems to prolong the stimulant effect, which in turn synergizes with the fats to keep you sated. The coffee's not bulletproof. That is a word to describe how the plan will make you feel.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 18, 2013
at 04:28 AM

Shouldn't diet accommodate any deficiency, but absorption become the primary issue?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 18, 2013
at 04:10 AM

How does adding butter/ghee to coffee make it bulletproof... sorry explain it to me, I don't get it? haha

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 18, 2013
at 03:57 AM

Fasting can certainly become beneficial in accelerating healing of the digestive tract. It's recommended to make us feel more alert sometimes, as to encourage us to seek out food quickly, or to accelerate digestive healing as little to no food is passing through the digestive tract. However, this stimulation can effectively induce sleeplessness, as well, it can often be short-lived and energy can quickly plummet. Additionally, there is no need to fast when we are hungry if we eat a "healthy" (avoiding foods we are sensitive or allergic to) Paleo diet.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 18, 2013
at 03:44 AM

I would say, if it were truly the case that this is a gut issue, the negative impact on flora was the cause preliminary cause. Despite stress having a negative influence on your ability to sleep, it would not be as difficult to manage, i.e. relaxing before going to bed would be a simple fix. Your dependency on caffeine, as I've been reading, is a bit scary. I would start with withdrawing from it until you've been off of it completely. That can definitely effect sleep as caffeine impairs thyroid function, which also impairs your metabolism.

5e4c221c4d7a2895d34d28e80d9a4380

(80)

on February 18, 2013
at 03:27 AM

I've noticed when I cut back on caffeine, especially in the first two hours of waking when I feel the most stressed out getting ready for work and working hard to open, I feel much better during the afternoon and sometimes don't need a nap. It's hard not to reach for something to help comfort and move my sleepy ass out of bed. Caffeine is definitely not good for me...especially when stressed. Before a workout on a day off it seems fine though...

5e4c221c4d7a2895d34d28e80d9a4380

(80)

on February 18, 2013
at 03:17 AM

I went through some weird coma-like states when I was very low carb. When I could sit, I'd lay down...when I laid down I become a vegetable and my toes and fingers would go numb! So I ate more carbs. And when I did some intermittent fasting while being moderately low carb I had total mind-racing insomnia. I was hyper-alert all the time...with no lust for food or sleep. Now I feel I have enough carbs and don't fast long enough to create the crazy-insomnia. Perhaps I'm fasting just long enough to create enough stress to interrupt my sleep to make me feel like crap.

5e4c221c4d7a2895d34d28e80d9a4380

(80)

on February 18, 2013
at 03:10 AM

That's an interesting one! I have tried a lot of lifestyle changes to no avail for my zombie-life and I know my stomach isn't 100%. I'm paleo because of all my sensitives- gluten and lactose intolerance, sometimes fructose if I'm extra stressed/anxious. I have have also tweaked this one for a while...it's better but not perfect. I wonder what came first: the stress -> negative impact on flora or bad flora -> anxiety.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 18, 2013
at 02:32 AM

"unable to move my limbs I was so tired"...this could be because your muscle's glycogen reserves have become depleted, which i guess may happen when you are doing your low-carb eating? that's as far as my pseudo knowledge goes, how someone on a vlc or zc gets around or over this, or adapts to this, i do not know. i'm sure others here do tho...

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9 Answers

1
5e4c221c4d7a2895d34d28e80d9a4380

on February 19, 2013
at 04:00 PM

So, I really believe now it is the caffeine that's doing the damage. The last few weeks I know I overdosed as I was using it pre-workout/working out frequently and using it to cope with stress. At work I have the illusion of being 'pretty good' among people that guzzle 6 cups + of coffee...while I go for tea and a single coffee every once and a while. However, I believe I respond much differently to caffeine than the average person. It took years for me to develop a large enough tolerance to have one cup of coffee without spending hours on the toilet and for tea not to give me horrible jitters. But for some stupid reason I toughed it out and started taking pre-workout supplements like Superpump. Pre-workout supps make me feel superhuman-amazing during a workout but have developed a relationship akin to a crackhead and her crack. I became so addicted that I dragged myself in and out of horrible gut irritation and week long bouts of diarrhea. Am I stupid? I think just really addicted...but maybe stupid too.

And I've stopped several times only to start again. Withdrawal is weird comparatively, too. I have two, maybe three, really bad days and that's it. I go through withdrawal often too because every once and a while I will crash within an hour of ingesting caffeine and easily make the choice to stop without the superpump-reaction I crave. I also seem to overlap caffeine more easily; if I have a large dose (200mg) in the morning when relatively caffeine-sensitive I will feel it the next morning still...so if I have more caffeine for that day I'm actually adding to the previous dose. Maybe I think I'm sleeping but it's more of a caffeine-burn-out-coma.

As for the idea of bulletproofing. Last summer when my problems began I had coffee with butter or heavy cream. Didn't seem to help. Now I'll have a black tea/hot chocolate with coconut milk once and a while but it's mostly green tea and yerba matte (gourd-style, high-dose) not 'bulletproof'. On my days off I always do "fasted" training with Superpump and B.C.A.A.s. If I'm caffeine sensitive I'll be productive all day, working out and cleaning the house like a fiend. If I'm burnt-out, like I have been, I will immediately crash and sleep when I get home from the gym. I hardly have the energy to take a shower...

This was way longer then it needed to be...all I needed to say is Paul you're totally right. I gotta stop the caffeine and look after my gut.

Chris, the zinc, magnesium, B6 definitely help. When I'm really zombified I'll take them separately and it usually helps my energy over the long run. Thanks for the link and your advice.

Thanks for all of your answers!

705e66484ed64fe8e188123de398413e

(1013)

on February 19, 2013
at 09:48 PM

Are you actively trying to lose weight? I played with intermittent fasting as well, but decided to prioritize resolving adrenal fatigue, gut health, and caffiene addiction before dealing with weight loss via ketosis or intermittent fasting.

0
Fce356005a83353009c11567c217a9bd

on February 20, 2013
at 02:39 AM

Have you been tested for a parasite or fungal infection? Consulting a D.O. or an N.D. with experience in testing for and treating said conditions might be warranted, especially if your symptoms are chronic.

0
705e66484ed64fe8e188123de398413e

on February 19, 2013
at 09:45 PM

Why not buy the book on adrenal fatigue?: http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/

Some suggestions from the book could be:

  1. Find a functional medicine doc and work with them on cortisol testing / adaptogenic supplements.

  2. Take an ASI test (can do it by yourself) to test your your cortisol levels throughout the idea.

  3. Eat more carbs in smaller increments throughout the day to maintain a more consistent energy level.

  4. Eat another small snack before you go to bed. That mid-sleep wakeup could from low blood sugar resulting from inadequate glycogen in liver.

0
7beada3ebc72a170dec868d43787b538

on February 18, 2013
at 04:21 AM

One of the things that has helped me with sleep and something I'm considering doing again is taking a quality ZMA supplement. It's nothing crazy... just a balanced blend of Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6. It doesn't help with falling asleep but for me it causes deeper sleep and more vivid dreams. Deeper sleep is what I go for. If I can get 7 hours of deep sleep I feel much better than when I get 8 hours but I'm tossing and turning.

If you're working out at a high level or you are just more stressed out because of a different work schedule your body can become depleted in these nutrients. So replenishing them can help your body with recovery.

Here's a thread I found here on Paleo hacks talking about ZMA... http://paleohacks.com/questions/992/will-zma-help-me-sleep-better-at-night#axzz2LDfgeIeG

I'm not a doctor or sleep therapist... I just know that ZMA has helped me sleep deeper. My advice is to just test things out yourself and see if it works for you.

Cheers!

Chris

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 18, 2013
at 04:28 AM

Shouldn't diet accommodate any deficiency, but absorption become the primary issue?

0
Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

on February 18, 2013
at 03:28 AM

1 word... Bulletproof

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 18, 2013
at 04:10 AM

How does adding butter/ghee to coffee make it bulletproof... sorry explain it to me, I don't get it? haha

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on February 18, 2013
at 01:02 PM

Really just a suggestion. Probably one that you'd appreciate if you were to take up. A lot of folks around here disapprove. But I think you'll find the majority of us who've actually tried it promote it. Elitism rarely exists without ignorance.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

(3452)

on February 18, 2013
at 12:57 PM

Adding butter and coconut oil to your coffee turns it into a meal. It seems to prolong the stimulant effect, which in turn synergizes with the fats to keep you sated. The coffee's not bulletproof. That is a word to describe how the plan will make you feel.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 18, 2013
at 02:55 AM

I have similar problems with sleep. Figuring that I could do something to change it, I had changed minor lifestyle habits. For instance, I would not eat before bed, I would not drink before bed, I would take 30 minutes to relax, etc. However, nothing seemed to work! Alas, I came to figure the primary cause is my gut symbiosis. Likewise, it's likely that there is a biological problem going on rather than a lifestyle issue. It takes intense knowledge of oneself to figure these out; doctors are generally not very helpful unless you visit a motivated naturopathic doctor. I would take the first step as to stop drinking caffeine. Period.

I would still relate it to your gut flora. I may be out of the park on this one, but your gut health is very related to anxiety and sleep dysfunction. Good luck on this.

5e4c221c4d7a2895d34d28e80d9a4380

(80)

on February 18, 2013
at 03:10 AM

That's an interesting one! I have tried a lot of lifestyle changes to no avail for my zombie-life and I know my stomach isn't 100%. I'm paleo because of all my sensitives- gluten and lactose intolerance, sometimes fructose if I'm extra stressed/anxious. I have have also tweaked this one for a while...it's better but not perfect. I wonder what came first: the stress -> negative impact on flora or bad flora -> anxiety.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 18, 2013
at 03:44 AM

I would say, if it were truly the case that this is a gut issue, the negative impact on flora was the cause preliminary cause. Despite stress having a negative influence on your ability to sleep, it would not be as difficult to manage, i.e. relaxing before going to bed would be a simple fix. Your dependency on caffeine, as I've been reading, is a bit scary. I would start with withdrawing from it until you've been off of it completely. That can definitely effect sleep as caffeine impairs thyroid function, which also impairs your metabolism.

0
7d46edca72c2f8347f65d7b734d1f1eb

on February 18, 2013
at 02:36 AM

I've been trying to take steps to improve my sleep as of late and have had some success with some things I've tried. I've always suffered from erratic sleep which usually meant sleep for 2-3 hours, wake up for 1-2 hours, and sleep for another 1-2 hours if I was lucky. Few things beyond the obvious things everyone talks about relative to sleep and the things you listed above that have helped me:

-I try not to drink much water after about 7:30 at night. I found I was waking up to pee and couldn't go back to bed. Sounds silly like something you'd do with a puppy but I like you were getting up to pee often at night.

-I reduced my coffee to 2 cups a day and only in the morning. I use to drink more throughout the morning but always stopped before noon time thinking it would be out of my system and it wouldn't make a dif. Not sure exactly how it has helped but it has. Little tough the first week but don't miss it at all now and I like the more stable energy and better sleep.

-Alcohol - this is obvious but it does make a difference. Even one drink I notice can impact my sleep even if it is hours before I go to bed.

-Watched my carb intake later in the day and definitely avoid any sugar or treats close to be time.

-I keep my iPod next to my bed and if I can't fall back to sleep I put in a podcast (usually Paleo in nature) on very low volume and it usually puts me back to sleep. Some may argue I'd be better off have complete quiet but if it puts me back to sleep so be it. I don't like reading in the middle of the night.

-Exercise every day - even if it is just a walk.

5e4c221c4d7a2895d34d28e80d9a4380

(80)

on February 18, 2013
at 03:27 AM

I've noticed when I cut back on caffeine, especially in the first two hours of waking when I feel the most stressed out getting ready for work and working hard to open, I feel much better during the afternoon and sometimes don't need a nap. It's hard not to reach for something to help comfort and move my sleepy ass out of bed. Caffeine is definitely not good for me...especially when stressed. Before a workout on a day off it seems fine though...

7d46edca72c2f8347f65d7b734d1f1eb

on February 18, 2013
at 04:33 PM

As a side note - now that I limit my coffee to 2 cups in the morning when and if I have the time to sneak in a nap it is more easy to do so without all the caffeine screaming through my veins and the quality of the nap seems to be better.

0
15dfddb2195385569014b970890b12ad

on February 18, 2013
at 02:03 AM

I'm no expert here, so take my experience with a few grains of sea salt.

I am a single parent of a young, still nursing toddler. I have to get up between 4:45 and 6am daily and have for the past nearly 3 years, so I can really relate to the early rising.

Something I noticed is that when I made the switch to low-carb a la paleo/primal eating, my sleep got really crazy. Like feeling drugged in the morning and literally unable to move my limbs I was so tired, and leaving the TV ready for my kid to watch in the morning so I could sleep until 7am (and to let you know HOW tired I am to do this, well I am pretty much anti-TV and little one didn't even see 5 seconds of TV before age 2 1/2).

I also overuse caffiene to get going in the AM.

I think I am still adapting to the dietary shift (low carb vs. high carb) because on days I eat higher carb and lower fat I don't have the drugged exhaustion thing happening. The higher fat I eat the more I notice the tiredness as well.

I do moderately better when I get myself in bed before 8pm, but that doesn't happen often.

I'm curious to see what other people who know more have to say on this.

5e4c221c4d7a2895d34d28e80d9a4380

(80)

on February 18, 2013
at 03:17 AM

I went through some weird coma-like states when I was very low carb. When I could sit, I'd lay down...when I laid down I become a vegetable and my toes and fingers would go numb! So I ate more carbs. And when I did some intermittent fasting while being moderately low carb I had total mind-racing insomnia. I was hyper-alert all the time...with no lust for food or sleep. Now I feel I have enough carbs and don't fast long enough to create the crazy-insomnia. Perhaps I'm fasting just long enough to create enough stress to interrupt my sleep to make me feel like crap.

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on February 18, 2013
at 02:32 AM

"unable to move my limbs I was so tired"...this could be because your muscle's glycogen reserves have become depleted, which i guess may happen when you are doing your low-carb eating? that's as far as my pseudo knowledge goes, how someone on a vlc or zc gets around or over this, or adapts to this, i do not know. i'm sure others here do tho...

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 18, 2013
at 03:57 AM

Fasting can certainly become beneficial in accelerating healing of the digestive tract. It's recommended to make us feel more alert sometimes, as to encourage us to seek out food quickly, or to accelerate digestive healing as little to no food is passing through the digestive tract. However, this stimulation can effectively induce sleeplessness, as well, it can often be short-lived and energy can quickly plummet. Additionally, there is no need to fast when we are hungry if we eat a "healthy" (avoiding foods we are sensitive or allergic to) Paleo diet.

15dfddb2195385569014b970890b12ad

(120)

on February 19, 2013
at 01:23 AM

daz... I hadn't thought of the glycogen depletion possibility, sounds plausible and makes sense with when I do add in more carbs... Lindsey... yes, coma-like, EXACTLY! For me, IF has not caused me any insomnia or anything though I've read other people, esp females with similar experiences as yourself

736662d9fd6314d426cc6de1896aa045

(175)

on August 11, 2013
at 05:19 PM

Yeah, I've been looking into the carb thing and sleep. The OP said he takes carbs as his last meal. It maybe that not enough starch is taken, resulting in a cortisol spike and broken sleep. There's been an ongoing experiment by a few people on eating resistant starch in the form of potato starch, with comments on how it affects their sleep: http://freetheanimal.com/2013/04/resistant-assimilation-resistance.html The main guy - tatertot - also wrote a lot on a thread at Paul Jaminet's site.

-1
11dd498f60a90f879580aa3f11529cb4

on March 01, 2013
at 11:10 PM

Have you checked out the Paleo Sleep Challenge?

Here is the link to sign-up (it is FREE).

The idea is to help you establish specific sleep goals. The goals will revolve around "sleep efficiency" metrics and aggregate time slept and will be measured using an app (the phone accelerometer enables the detection of movement which allows you to quantify sleep quality).

The challenge will be to sleep for 8 hours a day, 30 days in a row without the use of any pills or potions.

The overall philosophy is to relax all your senses in manner that induces sleep (taken a supplement is just the tip of the iceberg...). Here is what I mean...

1) aromatherapy for smell 2) light-eliminating eyemask for sight 3) noise reducing ear plugs for sound 4) goose feather pillow for feel / body posture 5) calming tea for taste).

Let me know if things improve!

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