I'm a 5'3, 120 lb female (age 28). I'm trying to improve my 'sleep quality' and have read multiple suggestions, such as getting to bed fairly early, no TV or screens (blue light) after dark, eating more carbs before bed, taking magnesium supplements, etc. However none of this seems to be working; I'm still waking up tired after 7-8 hours of sleep a night (going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.) I'm doing crossfit 4-5 times a week, eating paleo, taking omega-3, magnesium, potassium, and a multi-vitamin. Getting 100+ g of protein a day, around 100 g of carbs, and 65 g of fat. What can I do to increase my sleep quality?
No wonder you are tired! You need to eat more. You are only eating around 1400 calories a day. For a 28 year old woman doing crossfit 4-5 times a week, that is not enough.
Well, 7-8 is probably the minimum you want, 9-10 is probably much better. The biggest thing to improve sleep quality is DARK (I mean dark, black out shades, no LEDs, nothing!) room and quiet. My sleep was so much better when I lived up in the mountains outside of the city. I was 30 minutes from the nearest paved road and there was no noise (except for owls) and no light (except for the moon). After moving back to town, my sleep is much less good.
All the other things you mention are good to do, but have a much smaller effect than dark and quiet, so focus your efforts there first, then start to tweak from there.
you didn't mention whether you drink caffeine in the morning or throughout the day. the FIRST thing i would do to get my sleep back on track is to eliminate ALL caffeine. it makes the world of difference for me.
Kim its unclear to me what you mean exactly by "sleep quality"? Your sleep hygiene sounds pristine. Are you having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep?
You sleep 7-8 hours. Do you wake up during that time or do you sleep soundly?
If you are sleeping soundly but still tired after 7-8 hours then two things come to mind.
either you need a solid 8 hours (or 8-9 hours rather than 7-8) or
you have low AM cortisol (a common problem)
Also, many people with MTHFR defect have sleep difficulties. Methyl-folate is the fix for that.
1) Cut out IF (intermittent fasting). Some research shows that IF for females (human and animals) makes glucose tolerance WORSE but is better for men. Too little or too much carbohydrate can release cortisol and screw up your sleep.
2) Stress reduction and cortisol normalization. Consider meditation like emwave for Desktop by HeartMath Institute. Make sure you're sleeping in a dark room. Use free Flux program for the computer. Shut off all digital media 1 hour before bedtime. Use blue-blocking lights (amber color)as nightlights if you have to get up during the night. https://www.lowbluelights.com/index.asp?
3) Intense training (like weight lifting/Crossfut) for 30-60 minutes a week maximum twice a week.Too much intense exercise will increase cortisol and burn out the adrenals. Do not do cardio - just walk (NO JOGGING/RUNNING). Hubby and I hated cardio and GAINED weight with it.
4) Do low-level and fun activity like walking in park - especially with nature - parks, etc. This will help with stress reduction.
5) Do 2 carb refeeds a week - ideally on your intense training days (post work-out). MDA - great posts (recent: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dear-mark-should-i-increase-carb-intake-for-weight-loss/#axzz22LnOtoKk
Consider upping your daily carbs to 75-125 g/day, and increasing by another 50 g on carb refeed days. Play around with this. Everybody has a sweet spot for carbs and you have to test this out.
6) cut out sweeteners (other then 1 teaspoon max a day of raw honey or sugar). Xylitol, stevia, and artificial sweeteners can cause an insulin response in as many people and in my experience (among friends, family, and ourselves) - I've seen it happen with all the above. No dried fruit or fruit juices. .
7) Gradually reduce and if possible eliminate caffeine AND alcohol. Somebody's going to downvote me because most everybody loves the booze and caffeine. Both will interfere with sleep! If you need caffeine to get you up in the morning and alcohol to relax you so you can sleep at night, you are using uppers (stimulants) and downers (depressants) to mask your health issues. My husband used to drink 2-3 energy drinks a day pre-Paleo. Now we have NO caffeine. Wean off slowly so you minimize withdrawal effects. Caffeine tends to increase cortisol and alcohol blocks weight loss. Beer belly = carb belly. In maintenance stage, you can slowly add caffeine and/or alcohol but if you start to have symptoms and/or gain weight you know your threshold! Consider only eating dark chocolate in the morning, because it has caffeine, don't have it at night!
Wait until you have kids. Then 3 hours will feel great!
Really though, 8 might be too much sleep. Try 7. I hit a point after 7.5 where I might as well sleep 14 plus a 2 hour nap because I'll be so tired. Not sure why. But between6-7 I do very well. If you're having trouble falling asleep it is sometimes easier to "diagnose." But feeling like sleep quality is poor despite quantity is a little harder.
My last suggestion: black out curtains: try it for a week. If you get worse I'd say it's that you should go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.
I find that I sleep better when I go to sleep clean. Like having showered at night, and then being dry before I go to sleep. When I go to sleep on a hot day and it's been sweaty, I don't wake up as well (rested) the next day.
You probably know this but thought I'd mention it anyway. One of the things that may cause this is salt. If you use a lot of salt (or even a little), cut back drastically for a few weeks and see if that makes a difference.