3

votes

Trouble sleeping...need help/suggetions!?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 30, 2010 at 3:07 PM

Hey all - for the last year I've been rather Paleo about 90% of the time. In the last two weeks I've been completely strict Paleo. Since then I haven't been sleeping. I put out blackout curtains, turned off my alarm light, and stopped using the computer right before bed. It will usually take me 1-2 hours to fall asleep, and more often then not I'll wake up in the middle of the night for another 1-2 hours. I don't understand why this is happening. The lack of sleep is affecting my daily life significantly - concentration, workouts, energy, etc. Any similar experiences or suggestions? I'm getting pretty worried!

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on October 07, 2010
at 05:17 PM

Unless I find some kickass doctor who understands the evolutionary paradigm of human health, I'd rather talk to Diane, personally.

5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on October 01, 2010
at 05:02 AM

And when that fails you should see a real Doctor.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on September 30, 2010
at 06:27 PM

Actually, eating can help me get back to sleep if stuck awake in the middle of the night. I usually go for a few bites of meat. If I feel hungry, I will definitely snack, but this doesn't happen often. It's hard to fall back asleep when you are hungry and I don't like being sleeping the next day at work.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on September 30, 2010
at 05:40 PM

Yes, we should never forget the stress. It's easy to overlook because it doesn't seem very "scientific." But if you're unhappy you're not going to sleep well. C'est la vie.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on September 30, 2010
at 04:50 PM

I Agree with the stress factor. If you're all stressed out, you'll have problems no matter what, possibly including sleep issues...

B4aa2df25a6bf17d22556667ff896170

(851)

on September 30, 2010
at 04:44 PM

A ZMA supplement works for me.. can get them pretty cheap on amazon

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on September 30, 2010
at 04:00 PM

Might want to start with, what foods did you cut out just recently before the sleep problems. If the goal is to track down the cause of the sleep problem, then those newly missing foods items may provide an important clue. Maybe there was something in one or more of them that your body is now missing?

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on September 30, 2010
at 03:49 PM

Unless you post a food and training log for 7-14 days, we're all going to be making wild speculations. What food, how much, when? What supplements? What kind of exercise, what times, how often, how hard? What do YOU mean by "strict Paleo"? (I have to ask, because some people will happily eat processed lunch meats and call it strict Paleo.)

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on September 30, 2010
at 03:32 PM

+1 I had a similar issue, but started taking magnesium and sipping some chamomile tea about an hour before I go to bed. It's helped significantly.

4a1966b5bc00a9aefd3abd63b9913284

on September 30, 2010
at 03:29 PM

Good call here, very possible!

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14 Answers

4
101b3a5c96d313d22262f65bdff20acf

(539)

on September 30, 2010
at 06:11 PM

You may be experiencing what's called bimodal or segmented sleep, which is discussed here: http://paleohacks.com/questions/9143/how-does-bimodal-segmented-sleep-feel

I've read several books this year on sleep and the history of sleeping and nighttime things, and bimodal sleeping appears to be quite natural -- in fact, most languages (including English) have historically had a whole vocabulary around the first, second and sometimes third chunks of sleep we all seem to have enjoyed in pre-industrial times.

I especially recommend "At Day's Close" by A. Roger Ekirch. It's a fascinating subject.

I myself experienced a sort of "settling in" period once I committed to Paleo, where my sleep seemed to kind of rewire itself -- an hour or two here, four there, then back to sleep -- what's important is not to get anxious about it and sabotage what's probably a natural rhythm. Also, recall that the sleep cycle itself is varied -- that REM state that you go through every 90 minutes or so is the period of sleep closest to actual wakefulness.

Ancient advice for that 1-2 hour period of wakefulness was generally to lightly converse with your bed-partner (assuming you had one and that they were also awake), or put on a candle (assuming you could afford one) and do some light or sacred reading, catch up on your mundane affairs assuming they were not too mentally or emotionally taxing. Other common advice warned against eating during this time. Students in some countries were advised to get a little studying in. There were also clever inventions specifically designed to help one do various things by low or no light during the dark but wakeful hours, like the box they invented so all you had to do was stick your hand in a hole, take the pen in there and write in your journal which you cleverly left open to the next blank page. Many of the fancier beds had a kind of hinged desk built in.

Also, married couples were routinely advised that this was an especially good time for sex and conception.

Your mileage, of course, may vary. I had to break myself of the habit of reaching for my laptop -- getting online just because you're awake in the middle of the night is a sure way to never get back to sleep.

My own sleep is a mess lately -- active dreamwork combined with no fixed schedule (thanks to being unemployed). Yay.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on September 30, 2010
at 06:27 PM

Actually, eating can help me get back to sleep if stuck awake in the middle of the night. I usually go for a few bites of meat. If I feel hungry, I will definitely snack, but this doesn't happen often. It's hard to fall back asleep when you are hungry and I don't like being sleeping the next day at work.

4
C90eecdd76cf57a387095fa49de23807

(960)

on September 30, 2010
at 03:46 PM

How is your stress level? I find that no matter how my diet varies the number one factor that determines my sleep--whether its trouble falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night wide awake--is determined by how stressed I am at any given time. And often, I think, its a latent, subconscious form of stress, that I really only recognize in hindsight. "Oh god, I can't believe I lived through all that stress and thought I was fine," I find myself thinking far more often than I'd like.

And really, I've been through the ringer a lot on this one myself. Spent a couple years in college either unable to fall asleep or taking NyQuill (mostly effective) for months at a time. It ended up not being addictive, so if you're desperate, you can do it for a bit. One thing I found that helped a lot was setting up a regular sleeping schedule. And I often achieved that by doing the sleeping pills at the same time every night for about a week, and then just continuing that sleep pattern. But of course sleeping pills are the absolute PITS and I never take them now, even when I'm not sleeping. I'd rather be under slept than walking around in a drug induced haze all day that's destroying my liver in the process.

In any case, where I was going in that last paragraph before that giant Nyquill tangent was that on high carb, low carb, no carb, CW, calorie restricted, and calorie unlimited diets, whatever--stress always manages to trip me up. No matter how good or bad I'm eating. Eating well, with low carbs (and lower protein in the evenings) certainly helps. It does. I'm way less...jittery. But--again. For me, its all about cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, is designed to keep us awake. Its no wonder that Americans have problems sleeping.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on September 30, 2010
at 05:40 PM

Yes, we should never forget the stress. It's easy to overlook because it doesn't seem very "scientific." But if you're unhappy you're not going to sleep well. C'est la vie.

6fa48935d439390e223b9a053a62c981

(1676)

on September 30, 2010
at 04:50 PM

I Agree with the stress factor. If you're all stressed out, you'll have problems no matter what, possibly including sleep issues...

3
0dc1d63c3d5975f5115f535c6a90c9dd

(2283)

on September 30, 2010
at 03:30 PM

Have you tried taking magnesium? Robb Wolf recommends Natural Calm and I really like it, too. Also, you may need more carbs.

B4aa2df25a6bf17d22556667ff896170

(851)

on September 30, 2010
at 04:44 PM

A ZMA supplement works for me.. can get them pretty cheap on amazon

A8d95f3744a7a0885894ee0731c9744c

(3761)

on September 30, 2010
at 03:32 PM

+1 I had a similar issue, but started taking magnesium and sipping some chamomile tea about an hour before I go to bed. It's helped significantly.

1
D0a103cafaf4768c6dc69b1772a55877

on September 30, 2010
at 04:19 PM

I have issue sleeping in general- I am 90% paleo/ black out curtains/ etc.

I spoke with Robb about it he recommended that I take magnesium (http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Calm-Superior-Magnesium-Powder/dp/B0001WNF0O) morning and evening- and take a melatonin supplement (http://www.amazon.com/3mg-Melatonin-Natrol-100-Tabs/dp/B00024CKTS) about 30 mins before I go to bed. I have to say this has begun to work wonders for me. I'm only a couple of weeks in but I'd highly recommend it.

1
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on September 30, 2010
at 03:48 PM

These are all good points. Just because you are eating completely healthy foods does not mean you happen to be choosing foods that completely meet all your nutrition needs. Try typing your food intake choices into fitday.com and see what you might be missing. It doesn't cover every nutrient, but it's a start and it's free. SAD diets are typically unhealthy but if you cut out a food that is mostly unhealthy but has one key nutrient you are lacking, you could actually feel worse for it. THe trick is to find out what nutrient or nutrients are involved and eat healthier foods that contain that nutrient. Magnesium is a common one to lack as it is not present in high amounts in many foods. Also, some people actually need to maintain good salt intake. Cutting out salt might not be the right move for you. PLus, as others mentioned, salt has that added iodine which you may lack if you cut it out.

You might also want to consider other issues like overall energy levels. If you are more energetic and less tired, than could have an impact as you may be more accustomed to sleeping when tired and now you are less tired. Or maybe there are not enough or too much carbs, fat, or protein than you are accustomed too. If other things don't work, you could try replicating your previous approx macronutrient intake that you had on SAD but just get those calories with healthier foods. LIke if you were high carb before, try eating more fruit and potato now and see if that helps. Just get those carbs via fruit and potato instead of via french fries and bread. See if that helps any.

0
50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on December 02, 2010
at 04:02 AM

I've been using Kava and Melatonin. Both work very well for me.

0
149af6e19a06675614dfbb6838a7d7c0

on October 01, 2010
at 08:02 AM

Hey plant lovers, have you tried any herbs? This is how I get my phyto chemicals. Nerve relaxants like valerian, skullcap, blue poppy, hops are good calmers. Lobelia and kava (in small doses) and again skullcap are great muscle relaxers. Use separately or in combination. Yoga, meditation, warm baths, candles ritual, no electronics and no reading vegetarian blogs before you want to drift off to lullaby land lest you love to punch veggies out in your sleep.

0
8287c6ddae0d78eae0a09fdd5999617c

(2581)

on September 30, 2010
at 10:18 PM

Melatonin should help you fall asleep. I've tried it and it works well. It's not a drug like Ambien, it's a supplement.

0
B294438548c32ed878905baf6cd1b332

on September 30, 2010
at 05:27 PM

Hi, Joey. I've been using White Noise (actually, brown noise, to be specific) for about 2 years now, and I feel like it's helped me to sleep really well. It not only seems to help me fall asleep much faster, but also to stay asleep through the night.

I originally started using it when there were construction crews from other homes being built in my neighborhood. Now, the construction's gone -- but I still love my brown noise.

There are a few ways to get a hold of background noise like this. Web sites, stand-alone devices, etc. I personally use an app on my iPhone. My phone plugs into my bed-side clock-radio and produces the sound for me.

I like it so much, I even pack a small set of external speakers when I travel to ensure I can get my brown noise.

I asked the PaleoHacks crew if anyone had heard anything negative about using brown noise in this thread: http://paleohacks.com/questions/10189/what-about-sleeping-in-silence-not-just-darkness

...the responses were mostly positive and in favor of using it if it works.

Hope this helps!

0
Fff1e82d27998ef1d66c0b11bc669152

on September 30, 2010
at 04:52 PM

When it happens to me I take a 3mg melatonin at bedtime, it reduces sharply the time required to fall asleep (from 1.5 hour to 30 minutes most of the time). I noticed that sometimes it's because of low-level hunger (when in a fat loss phase), or sometimes stress. I try to read boring material half hour before going to bed, also.

0
Cb2415c2aef964ab499a09dc92ae7e01

(783)

on September 30, 2010
at 04:28 PM

In general I second Jae's point. Without details there are several possible factors. But two things to come to mind. If you happened to go lower carb, then this might be part of it. Some carbs help the brain make serotonin especially in the evening. But you don't need grains for this, a small portion of yam/sweet potato/squash will do it. Second, all my sleep issues resolved when I went totally decaf. CW says 1 serving caffeine in the morning shouldn't affect sleep that much, but for me it does.

0
D628a7339e8567f7246fc0cf652acacf

on September 30, 2010
at 03:35 PM

After I'd been paleo for 6 months or so I started having a lot of problems sleeping. Some reading and other symptoms I noticed made me try taking iodine (in the form of kelp). It took a month or so to kick in, but I'm pretty sure that that is what fixed the problem.

0
4a1966b5bc00a9aefd3abd63b9913284

on September 30, 2010
at 03:32 PM

Have you tried the Natural Calm magnesium supplement drink? Do you drink caffeine? If so, until what time of day? Stopping before lunch is pretty much a best-bet.

Don't WORRY about it- that makes it worse. Do some breathing exercises and try to just picture serene scenes in your head until you drift off. If you lay there stressing about not falling asleep you'll make it worse.

I agree with Sue, however, that there may be some kind of other issue here to resolve like yeast, fungus or a parasitic infection keeping you up at night. I'd seek out a naturopathic doctor for some testing.

5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on October 01, 2010
at 05:02 AM

And when that fails you should see a real Doctor.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on October 07, 2010
at 05:17 PM

Unless I find some kickass doctor who understands the evolutionary paradigm of human health, I'd rather talk to Diane, personally.

0
A7dce2dbc21a563086d0cf98efb258ec

(10)

on September 30, 2010
at 03:21 PM

Yeast and Fungus infections are almost always the reason I can't get to sleep, and sleep poorly. Maybe backing off fruits will help.

4a1966b5bc00a9aefd3abd63b9913284

on September 30, 2010
at 03:29 PM

Good call here, very possible!

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