Can't sleep past 3/4 AM - feels like I'm slowly DYING

by (390) Updated March 29, 2014 at 8:08 AM Created August 10, 2011 at 4:28 AM

I have some stress and adrenal issues...

Even if i don't drink any water 4 hours before going to bed, i still get up to go to to the bathroom 1 or 2 times per night. It used to be 3.

In either case, I can't sleep after 3-4AM. I've tried:

  • Meditation
  • Reading books
  • Melatonin
  • Kava Stress Relief (tea)
  • Hypnotic/subliminal tapes
  • Plenty of carbs at night

Nothing worked. So here I am at 5AM writing on an online forum and feeling like dying.

Total Views

Recent Activity

Last Activity
1118D AGO


Get Free Paleo Recipes Instantly

29 Replies

2357 · August 10, 2011 at 12:04 PM

I've been there.

Do NOT fast if you have adrenal fatigue. Eat regular meals and eat breakfast every day. Completely cut out caffeine, alcohol and any other stimulants for now. Eat enough carbs and don't over-exercise. In fact, STOP exercising for the time being. Identify everything in your life that is causing extra physical or mental stress and find a way to mitigate it. Try a supplement like AdreCor (this helped me get over severe insomnia related to adrenal fatigue where I was waking up at 3am every day). Alternatively, try licorice root in the morning and/or lots of B vitamins. Look into the supplement phosphorylated serine. It can be helpful for some depending on the pattern of insomnia.

If you are desperate and need a sleeping pill, try Unisom with doxylamine, NOT diphenhydramine. This is a really powerful sleep aid (works better than prescription ones, IMO) but use it very sparingly and not every night. It can cause dysphoria and a hangover.

Other things that have sometimes helped me and sometimes not over the years are Natural Calm and melatonin. I tried IsoCort once but had bad side effects and wouldn't recommend it.

Also, I swear by my earplugs. I wear them every night, even on vacation.

24412 · August 10, 2011 at 8:11 AM

Have you been screened for depression? I noticed it as one of your tags, but no mention in the question. Depression can really screw up your sleep and cause terrible insomnia. It might be time to break out the big guns and consult with a professional.

An overall physical is probably a good idea too. Sometimes our bodies freak out and make us feel anxious when there is an underlying medical condition or vitamin/mineral deficiency.

Just out of curiosity, what are your macronutrient ratios? Some people need a lot of carbohydrates to produce sufficient serotonin, and others need a lot of fat to feel good. Could you be getting too much protein for your body? That can cause the need for extra urination.

It might take some diligent experimenting to get to the bottom of this, but hang in there, we've all got your back.

3142 · August 10, 2011 at 7:25 AM

Are you in ketosis? Being in ketosis has been known to cause insomnia, or exacerbate preexisting insomnia. If so, getting out of ketosis or adding a bit more carbs in before bed might help.

Have you ever tried 'Valerian Root'? It's an herbal supplement that aides with sleep, it lowers the activity of the central nervous system, calming you down. It's been known to work far better than allopathic "sleeping pills" and it isn't addictive, thus safe to use. (You local grocery probably has it in capsule form.) Note: it does smell ... but once you swallow the pill, no worries :)

When do you go to bed? Do you stay up on the computer before hand or watch TV? The lights from the monitor and TV stimulate the brain too much, perhaps getting away from these things at least an hour before bed will help.

Note about the Melatonin: I wouldn't advise this ... while taking it seems to help some people ... when you take melatonin for sleep this actually reduces your bodies natural production of melatonin, thus, making you more dependent on the supplement in order to sleep ... not that great ... imo ...

But, 5-HTP, which is a precursor to serotonin, and eventually melatonin, doesn't have this affect (reducing the body's natural production) and has been known to aid with sleep issues (as well as carb cravings and mood). Though, side effect: some people get night terrors .. I never did ... but I got some pretty awesome dreams .. ^_^

Oh ... and silly me ... I just realized you mentioned going to the bathroom as a key factor in all this ... I'll reference some books and then edit this post if I find anything more specific to that ...

77348 · September 14, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Just use Marijuana. You will sleep likea baby, for granted. Boolet proof, works for everybody, especially after prolonged usage. If you didn't use it so far you may need some time to adapt.

On the negative side, marijuna strongly promotes eating, especially suggary foods. If you are paleo, that doesn't matter much, I know bunch of people loosing weight while smoking in the evening.

Medically, marijuana, and its cannabionids boost melatonin production. Thats why its not wise to use it over the day hours. It also reduces stress quite a lot which influence sleeping, again, quite a lot. It will also promote homeostasis regulation.

Its that simple. Plus, its numerous times more healthy then anything else mentioned here.

Now, the more important problem seem night urination. With all this info you might want to add supplements, one or all of them: Ascorbate (will help clean urinary infection if you have one), Magnesium (calms you down, fixes restless leg syndrome), L-Tryptophan or 5-HTP (boosts serotonin). You may also want to try some prostate supplements and check your blood sugar levels during the day.

But seriously, nothing beats Cannabis Sativa few hours before sleep time.

Yet more, get this stuff: Dr. Jeffrey Thompson music with rhythms and sounds generated using sleeeping brain frequencies (beta, delta, theta) waves.

If nothing of that helps, you may even want to try experimental procedure of hormetics for sleep.

5002 · August 10, 2011 at 4:44 AM

Seth Roberts to the rescue.

He found that skipping or significantly delaying breakfast cured his early waking insomnia, exactly what you're struggling with.

The idea - SR speculates - is that your body is waking up as a conditioned expectation for nourishment. Stop giving it the stimulus, breakfast, and it will stop waking up early in expectation of it. As an added bonus, the practice of skipping breakfast will by default put you into a Lean Gains style fasting window.

Medium avatar
39204 · August 10, 2011 at 4:37 AM

You might want to try blackout curtains, a white noise machine, ear plugs etc.

Without the help of these, I have a lot of trouble falling back asleep. Ear plugs really made a huge difference.

2028 · August 10, 2011 at 7:11 AM

I'm not sure this is Jonas' problem as he says he's tried plenty of carbs, but I have read that low blood sugar causes adrenalin release and that will wake you and make it hard to get back to sleep. I have a drink of whole milk if I wake and can't sleep. A friend has one oatcake before bed to keep the blood sugar stable.

121 · August 10, 2011 at 5:45 AM

Jonas, I don't have any answers, but I can at least offer you this: misery loves company. So I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one. I scan the news on my iPhone, play Scrabble, check paleohacks and Facebook. Then I usually give up and eventually fall back asleep approximately 3 minutes before my alarm clock goes off at 4:45am. Just like you, I'm also going to bed between 10-11pm and waking up around 2 or 3am. All of my running and working out are done between 5 - 7am, breakfast by 8am. So for those who think exercising after noon or 4pm or 6pm or whatever... not applicable. I also don't drink any soda (obviously) or caffeine after 1pm so that's not the problem either. Certainly, I'm not an expert, but I doubt my body craving breakfast almost 5 hours early is causing me to wake up. Fortunately, I don't wake up like this EVERY night, but it does happen about 3 nights per week.

4232 · August 10, 2011 at 5:40 AM

Over the years, all things being equal, I have found that stress is all-important in sleep. I also have experienced this when I am stressed out about something in my life. Cure the stress and the sleep will come.

Waking up to go to the bathroom may also be caused by high blood glucose levels. Get it tested

This is not to say that all the other factors mentioned in this thread do not have merit.

10 · May 04, 2012 at 12:36 PM

I seriously think this is related to stress and depression. I used to sleep like a baby and now girlfriend problems have me continuously waking up at 2am or 3 am spot on the hour and unable to fall back to sleep. Tried melatonin, reading, stretching, meditating.. nothing works. However, whenever the problems wane a bit, the good sleep returns. Unfortunately I'm on an emotional rollercoaster and so I notice that this recurring problem or mental fixation is seemingly causing this. Not sure what exactly is bothering you but I'd suggest working it out if its a mental/psych life issue. Also, make sure you are warm enough sleeping at night with a nice warm comfy blanket.

10 · December 14, 2011 at 10:36 PM

  1. It could be just zinc deficency; and/or

  2. Too much MCT or coconut oil during the day ? that stuff will make you hot and excited 5 to 10 hours later.

1073 · September 14, 2011 at 12:36 PM

I had exactly the same problem [bathroom visits] a few years ago. After getting my prostate checked [it was fine] my GP put me on a very light diuretic which I took at 5:30pm.

After that I didn't drink any more unless specifically thirsty.

After a month or so of this, I stopped the diuetics, kept up with the no drinking after 5:30 and I'm sleeping fine.

If you don't fancy getting prescription medication, there are a few over the counter products that may help. Aquaban do a herbal product which contains no caffeine.

10 · August 11, 2011 at 4:18 AM

in chinese medicine, you have meridians that run all along your body. certain hours of the day and night are associated to the organs in your body and if you are waking up between 3-4am this is a deficiency in your lungs. you carry the emotion of grief in your lungs, so in essence, you truly are grieving. you could be grieving the death of someone literally, or metaphorically. perhaps even you are transforming and are dying, or belief systems are dying or need to die. there is a breathing technique you can do, to smile down into your lungs, link text

you can do this technique when you wake up at 3-4am. it is also said that 3-4 am is the hour in which we are most highly connected to the divine self, or our purpose on earth. it is the hour in which you are inspired, where an idea takes hold of you, and you can allow yourself to let it flow through you. for example, if you are a writer, an artist, whatever your passion or desire is, it will be in its fullest potential at this hour. you admitted yourself that you have stress and adrenal issues. you can go to the doctor and pop all the pills and herbs in the world, or you can empower yourself with your own body and clear your blockages. there is a tapping technique that is much like acupuncture minus the needles. the video is a little cheesy, but it only takes a few minutes to do the technique, throughout the day and you will feel instantaneous relief. here is alink text link to this tapping technique:

so, if you're exhausted with buying herbs and seeing doctors, give these techniques a try. i think what's really going on with you, is you are blocking your full potential.

40 · August 11, 2011 at 3:13 AM

hey Jonas, there are some great suggestions here re: Valerian, NaturalCalm, blackout shades, wave machines - I've used all at one point. I just wanted to throw out a long-shot idea as well: dehydration caused by the way you breathe.

I was sleeping horribly for a long time. I would wake up dehydrated constantly, need to keep a jug of water by my bedside sipping throughout the night and would consequently wake up repeatedly to urinate. What I discovered was that I have a deviated septum and that my nasal passages tend to close up and force me to breathe through my mouth (causing dehydration). At the suggestion of my physician I got nasal strips (specifically Breathe Rite extra) which are drug free and function like stents keeping your nostrils open throughout the night. It fixed my breathing and worked miracles helping me sleep soundly. Something perhaps worth trying before you go turn to medication.

77348 · August 11, 2011 at 1:29 AM

Here's an answer I gave on that some time back and this works very well for me -



1344 · August 10, 2011 at 2:57 PM

I am with you. I haven't slept through the night in years. Some nights I wake up, go to the bathroom and fall right back to sleep. Other nights, I am wide awake. I wish that I knew what caused the waking up. I am assuming it is a blood sugar thing, but why? I am a low-carb, Paleo eater, but only for about a year. The change in diet did not change my issues. I try not to stress about it. I never turn on anything. I just lay there and try to relax. I take GABA and 5 HTP, which I think help the quality of my sleep. Most days, I feel just fine.

2180 · August 10, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Wearing an eyemask is not the same as sleeping in complete darkness. Ambient light is detected by all parts of the body and inhibits melatonin production. Make your bedroom pitch black; when your eyes are open it should seem like you are blind. (I still keep a flashlight on my night table in case of emergency). You might not see immediate results, but it will happen. I used to be a night owl, then recently I switched to your same bedtime. Sometimes I would still wake up at around 4, but usually would fall back asleep after an hour or so and then sleep until daylight. I keep a jug next to the bed and get up and urinate in it as needed, so I never leave the complete darkness. Regardless of any interruptions in my sleep I feel alert and energetic every day.

10 · August 10, 2011 at 1:30 PM

I pretty much had the same problem...it is getting back to sleep after getting up, for me. I have recently had wonderful success supplementing with a warm cup of Natural Calm in the evening and GABA (NOW foods) Seems to work great so far.

0 · March 29, 2014 at 8:08 AM

Here i am..another night awake, 3:30 to 4:30/5am. Then I fall back asleep and don't wake up until 7:30-8:30,which is a problem for getting to work. I'm thinking the adrenal fatigue hits home and too much stress. Illness in family, no control of this stressor. Got to be there. Time to re evaluate my nutrition and supplements. Maybe try some paleo. This blog has been helpful. Thanks to all. Dodie

15261 · June 27, 2012 at 8:28 AM

I have learned that I have naturally biphasic sleep -- I get tired at 9-10pm and always have a period of wakefulness at around 4am. If my stress levels are ok, I kind of half wake up at 4am and can usually drift back to sleep. But if I have stress, I often wake with a start at 4am, sometimes after a very visual nightmare, and can't go back to sleep.

No amount of supplements or dietary changes can help me go back to sleep when I am stressed. I have tried a bunch of things but unless it is strong enough to knock me out completely (which means side effects and probably not that good for me anyway) I am just awake.

Managing stress can be tricky and all kinds of things stress people out, but I have learned that stressful periods do end, and take steps to keep stress out of my life.

0 · June 27, 2012 at 2:06 AM

Ever since I done a 104 mile cycle event a couple days ago my sleep has been disrupted, the first night I was out for the count and the past couple can't sleep. Struggling to go to sleep at first and waking around 2-3am. I crave fluids and am drinking about 3-4 litres aday. I'm on a week off and everyday since been working hard gardening for several hours aday. I enjoy it so am not stressed, I think it might be my blood sugar levels effected by the ride a few days ago. It's 3 am now and I'm laying in bed feeling like I could run a marathon or raid the fridge for anything going.

15334 · April 18, 2012 at 10:33 AM

I thought I'd already answered this question, because I definitely recall providing the same answer to a similar question, but seemingly not this one.

I have found that high protein intake can increase the need to drink/urinate, so I would try drastically cutting back, and eating protein away from bedtime (and remember, it takes quite a while to digest) and seeing if it helps. Eating a modest amount of carbs, particularly near bedtime also helps me- I seem to find that I need to drink more water when low carbing.

334 · April 18, 2012 at 8:36 AM

I've had sleep problems for years too - I can get to sleep no problem but often wake between 3 and 4am. Sometimes I go back to sleep but other times I'm awake for the rest of the night.

I've tried pretty much everything. I've used earplugs and sleep mask for ages as I'm a light sleeper, but a blackout blind has also helped.

I'm also supplementing D3, Magnesium (with calcium) and Phosphatidyl Serine at the moment and that also seems to be helping. Certainly my sleep seems to be more restful.

Sometimes eating a banana helps if I'm fully awake and tossing and turning.

But if I'm consistently waking at 4am every morning, that tends to my body's way of telling me I'm stressed/run down and need a break.

390 · April 18, 2012 at 8:24 AM

This is solved more or less ever since I stopped doing paleo.

I now only sometimes wake up at 4 am, but stay semi-asleep until 6 or 7 am, giving me enough rest.

I've been paleo free for 4 or 5 months, and my mood and sleep have drastically improved.

The only thing I'm not ingesting is gluten, but I drink milk, nut butters everyday and all the other possible things as a former paleo I would consider "evil".

My dinner is peanut butter everyday along with whatever else I feel like, just before going to bed.

If the former me was here, he would be telling me how I'm going to die because of what I'm doing. When I look back, I can only feel sorry for having "found out" about paleo and wasting so much time on websites and forums and following this expert, or that expert, or telling myself I can't eat this or can't eat that.

Ever since I "got out", my personal and business life have improved.

I wish you all good luck on this.

And how did I end up sleeping better?

Just leaving paleo behind. I still don't eat gluten because my gut doesn't like it much, but everything else I'm doing is paleo blasphemy (1.5 liters of pasteurized whole milk everyday, peanut butter, etc etc).

8883 · April 17, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Ice cream solved my sleep issues, sugar helped a lot too. I tried a huge amount of things (different vitamin D supplementation timings, GABA, valerian root, catnip, magnesium citrate, magnesium threonate, epsom salt, pitch black room, safe starches, no artificial light before bed, no water before bed, meditation, ...). The calcium and the combination of all macronutrients in one food probably is the reason.

You can make it yourself with egg yolks, grass-fed milk, ...

11476 · December 14, 2011 at 11:43 PM

When you wake up do you feel high energy/stressed out, or are you just exhausted and can't fall back to sleep? I knew a fellow in the military for a while, and he would wake up so high energy, almost out of habit from having to wake up and be super alert. What he would do, instead of lying there feeling buzzy, is get up, put the kettle on, and walk around the apartment, sort of like walking meditation. He would then make a very small cup of sweet cinnamon tea, and drink it while he walked around. Then he would lie down and tense all the muscles up in his body very tightly, several times, then release. Then he would tense all up and then one last time release his muscles, but very, very slowly. It sounds pretty crazy, but I never forgot it after watching him do it one time, and I've tried it many times myself and have passed it on to other people, for some reason it really seems to work for me.

Also, just because no one has said it, that bit of time when you can't get to sleep but really want to, is not a bad time for some sort of sexual activity. You know, all those hormones and some temporary exertion. Might put you right back to sleep...

I have found that when I depressive (I noticed that was one of your tag lines), it is much harder to go to sleep. While there are many things that can cause depression, and those roots need to be dealt with individually, it is very hard to suffer in the meantime. I hope that some of the comments hear help, and wish you luck on your journey.

10 · December 14, 2011 at 10:38 PM

It could be just zinc deficency; and/or

Too much MCT or coconut oil during the day ? that stuff will make you hot and excited 5 to 10 hours later.

For more Paleo hacks: http://paleohacks.com/questions/57056/cant-sleep-past-3-4-am-feels-like-im-slowly-dying#ixzz1gYFHhU1k

140 · August 11, 2011 at 4:29 AM

Biphasic sleep is how we all sleep in a natural environment. That means being awake, in total darkness, for one to one and a half hours in the middle of the night is how sleep is SUPPOSED to be for humans. However, if you turn on the light, or have a little light coming in to your room, then your ipRGCs whack your master hormone melatonin, that starts the steroid daylight hormonal cycle and then that may be all the sleep you get. Stick with real darkness, and you'll get the rest of your sleep. I love that period in the middle of the nice. Lots of groovy endocannabinoids (which cannabis is a shallow imitation of). So I'm happy in the dark, and after a few weeks you will be too.

Turn the lights off and leave them off for the same ten hour period every night. Actual darkness - if you can see your hand in front of your face it ain't dark. Red light is ok, the ipRGCs in your eyes that govern your whole biological clock can't detect red.


0 · August 10, 2011 at 8:01 PM

Have your hormone levels checked. If these are out of balance which is probable when under stress your sleep can be affected along with energy levels.

Answer Question

Login to Your PaleoHacks Account