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Why Can't I Sleep?!

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Updated November 19, 2014 at 4:10 AM
Created March 25, 2014 at 6:56 PM

I used to sleep so well - fast asleep within 7 minutes, and now, it takes me forever to fall asleep, and when I wake several times in the night, I'm not sure if I've really slept. I'm so frustrated, and I'm hoping you'll find something I'm missing? Any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated!

My husband and I have been following the Paleo diet for a year - sometimes to the T and sometimes we are a bit more lenient. The past 3 months, we've been pretty strict and have mainly stuck with Paleo foods only. The more we cut out, the more the things I do put in seem to affect my body.

Things you should know: I eat nothing sugary (even from fruit) after 6pm. We work out usually 4-5 times per week - mixture of cardio and weight training. We usually are at the gym between 6-7pm or so. I eat my last meal around 8pm. We get ready for bed about 10pm every night, and lights out around 11pm. I usually wake up at 7am. I've started doing 10-15 minutes of yoga before bed. (usually 30 minutes before bed). I've started reading before bed instead of watching tv. (usually 15 minutes before bed).

My typical food: (I usually eat around 1,600 calories - I am actively trying to lose weight. I have lost about 2lbs per week for the past 4 weeks. I started at 315, currently at around 250, working my way down).

Breakfast: 1/4 avocado, 2 scrambled eggs, 1.5 pieces of turkey bacon, 1 cup spinach Lunch: kale and spinach salad with chia seeds (1/2tbsp), 1/2 piece boneless skinless chicken breast, sunflower seeds (1tbsp), blueberries (or other in-season berry) Snacks: 1 banana, 1 apple (sometimes I eat both, sometimes I only need one or the other) Dinner: 1 night a week we have salmon, 2 nights a week we have either ground beef or steak, 1 night a week we have ground turkey or turkey sausage, 3 nights a week we have chicken. We usually have brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli, zucchini or cauliflower (or another similar vegetable) with what we're eating. -- this all varies week to week, but this is pretty typical. Drinks: occasional white tea, otherwise water with lemon or lime.

What am I doing wrong? Or, what could I add to fix this? I just want to sleep! :(

7904c7276d7e48f1be887fabd263bfd9
245 · March 26, 2014 at 12:06 AM

Disagree with this. Who are you to say what should be. :P

I would argue even if it provides no benefit or is harmful people should be allowed to low carb. I would argue that it being done just for the sake of doing it provides information - which benefits you and I even if we don't practice paleo that way.

And well...if it turns out it is the best way to do things, then that's that.

Medium avatar
0 · March 25, 2014 at 8:29 PM

Paleo should never be low carb unless you got a special condition. Ya need carbs yo!

Cf08ad26759fdd206a2c9f9385080a57
1005 · March 25, 2014 at 8:26 PM

It might be worth playing with and would only be beneficial to your health.

Niacin you don't want to take too much of at once or you will feel like your skin is on fire for a minute. 25mg is right around where this starts to happen on an empty stomach, and 50mg is more the spot with a meal.

Magnesium you could try citrate or glycinate. The chelated one is more bioavailable. You could try epsom salt baths.

B6 I don't know if you need to mess with. There's a synthetic or active form in supplements. It's added to Natrol Melatonin supps.

Medium avatar
0 · March 25, 2014 at 8:15 PM

I do think that the glow light will affect you. I would strongly encourage you to not use a glow light and see if that helps. Please let me know how it goes :)

86464ef9b442df9de954ad48a75c0e0a
0 · March 25, 2014 at 8:02 PM

So, I should increase my intake of magnesium, niacin and B6 (possibly in the form of supplements)?

86464ef9b442df9de954ad48a75c0e0a
0 · March 25, 2014 at 7:58 PM

Thank you for the link! Potatoes are one of the things we've cut out as we approach a more restrictive diet. This definitely could be a good starting point.

86464ef9b442df9de954ad48a75c0e0a
0 · March 25, 2014 at 7:52 PM

Hey Stephanie! Thanks for your questions. When I read, it's usually on a Nook. Do you think this affects sleep if I'm using the glowlight? Otherwise, the only light in our bedroom is from the alarm clock. I've thought of putting masking tape over it so I can still see it, but less light gets through. This is it though! We've stopped watching tv in bed, hoping that would fix it but no luck yet.

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8 Answers

B08d3f06c83d115caa0d561355f51795
0
0 · April 01, 2014 at 11:36 PM

Things that have really improved my sleep:

- Tough physical exercise

- A pitch black room using these blackout window shades

- Daily vitamin d exposure

- Long barefoot walks (watching the sunset is even better)

- No artificial lights an hour before bed time

- Not eating two hours before bed time

86464ef9b442df9de954ad48a75c0e0a
0
0 · April 01, 2014 at 9:24 PM

Just wanted to give you an update, and say Thank You!

Suggestions that have seemed to help:

Making our bedroom as dark as possible

Adding in a bit more carbs to my weekly diet (putting potatoes back in after taking them out was hard! We've added potatoes to our rotation 2 or so times per week).

Eating a banana about two hours before bed.

It seems hit or miss - either I have a great sleeping night, or a really bad one. But I've had more good ones than bad ones since following advice! I truly appreciate all of your comments. Thank you again :)

Medium avatar
0
598 · March 26, 2014 at 2:20 AM

Calorie restriction can produce a stress response resulting in restlessness. From what I understand this can be more prominent in females. Women tend to respond worse to IF and probably general calorie restriction. Female rats tend to become hyperactive and spend more time foraging/nesting and less time sleeping under calorie deprivation. Male rats tend to be generally more lazy... (source: I have owned meany rats plus I read it somewhere).

The best solution I can think of has been mentioned: carbs. Eat something starchy (or sweet) in the evening a few hours before bed time.

Try not to stimulate your mind, eyes, or ears in bed. Maybe read in the living room instead and then retire. Your circadian rhythm will respond to habit. If bed is just a place you sleep, it will make you more sleepy to be there.

3e0e57c7428e1fa0b2fcada9fc1659b0
0
0 · March 25, 2014 at 11:55 PM

I've hard good experiences with the following:

  • A spoonful of raw local honey about 30 minutes before bed
  • Binaural beats app. Might be placebo, but I don't actually care.
  • Reading in bed.

Medium avatar
0
208 · March 25, 2014 at 7:50 PM

forsakenwarrior and I agree. I had awful sleep issues when I was VLC. Since adding back potatoes & raw potato starch sleep comes easily again. Check out resistant starch info.

Medium avatar
0 · March 25, 2014 at 8:29 PM

Paleo should never be low carb unless you got a special condition. Ya need carbs yo!

Cf08ad26759fdd206a2c9f9385080a57
0
1005 · March 25, 2014 at 7:22 PM

It sounds like you have a good natural light cycle going. You could try plugging yourself into the ground port of your wall outlet while you sleep to kick it up a notch.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15650465

Calorie restriction + carb restriction can lead to excess adrenaline. You could try to supplement around adrenal metabolism cofactors like magnesium and niacin. B6 is a cofactor for melatonin synthesis. You might do better with a little more calories in your diet and a slower weight loss goal.

86464ef9b442df9de954ad48a75c0e0a
0 · March 25, 2014 at 8:02 PM

So, I should increase my intake of magnesium, niacin and B6 (possibly in the form of supplements)?

Medium avatar
0
0 · March 25, 2014 at 7:11 PM

I upped my carbs dramatically in the form of potatoes and sleep has improved dramatically. This is because of serotonin as it can only get into the brain only after sweet or starchy carbohydrates are eaten. Serotonin converts into melatonin in the night and therefore you will sleep better. Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-antidepressant-diet/201008/serotonin-what-it-is-and-why-its-important-weight-loss

86464ef9b442df9de954ad48a75c0e0a
0 · March 25, 2014 at 7:58 PM

Thank you for the link! Potatoes are one of the things we've cut out as we approach a more restrictive diet. This definitely could be a good starting point.

Medium avatar
0
0 · March 25, 2014 at 7:09 PM

I have to ask about your bedroom. Do you use things like your phone in bed, or watch tv in bed,or anything like that? It is often recommended to not use any electronic devices in the bedroom (insert joke here) because it disrupts sleep. People also recommend making certain that the room is completely blacked out including LED alarm clocks.

I hope this helps,

Stephanie Stuart

Original Eating

Editor

86464ef9b442df9de954ad48a75c0e0a
0 · March 25, 2014 at 7:52 PM

Hey Stephanie! Thanks for your questions. When I read, it's usually on a Nook. Do you think this affects sleep if I'm using the glowlight? Otherwise, the only light in our bedroom is from the alarm clock. I've thought of putting masking tape over it so I can still see it, but less light gets through. This is it though! We've stopped watching tv in bed, hoping that would fix it but no luck yet.

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