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Sleep quality - "black out" feeling on VLC - good or bad?

by (610)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:37 PM
Created January 24, 2012 at 4:41 PM

Last night I had a type of sleep that I've experienced periodically when eating a very low-carb diet. I woke at one point in the night feeling like I had "blacked out" - I was lying in a position that surprised me, and I had no idea how I got there, or how long I had been like that.

(Normally I'm not surprised about the position I wake up in. I'm often semi-conscious when I shift.)

When I first experienced this while eating VLC I was excited, presuming I was sleeping deeper. However, I've had a mixed-bag experience with VLC, better complexion and more calm digestive tract, but also drier skin/eyes, and much worse body odor.

These days I try to have a moderate amount of "safe starches" which don't normally exacerbate acne or gut problems, but helped with the dry skin and body odor. I don't seem to get the "black out" feeling when eating more carbs though.

Yesterday I ate lower carb to resolve an unsettled gut, and also turned my shower cold for a few minutes, which I was also doing the last time I was getting this kind of sleep, and then felt the "black out" feeling last night. I did get a whiff of the unpleasant body odor a few days ago as well, so I may be skating close to the edge.

Does anyone have any insight into this "black out" feeling? Should I be trying to foster or avoid it? Perhaps a Zeo sleep monitor would provide some insight, but I don't have much disposable income.

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610 · February 13, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Whether this kind of sleep is good or bad, it isn't ongoing. I was just curious what might have been going on. I wasn't emotionally stressed during those two periods, but I was stressing my system by eating very low carb, some intense exercise, and, during the second period, cold showers etc... Melissa also suggested low blood pressure in a comment, and I think that's the most likely hypothesis.

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610 · February 13, 2012 at 4:31 PM

I agree, I was pretty psyched about it at first. But, as I said, I was getting a mixed bag of symptoms, some good, some bad, and I didn't know how exactly to file this one. The cold showers might have had a lot to do with it during the second period, but I wasn't taking cold showers the first time I was experiencing this kind of sleep.

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72 · February 12, 2012 at 10:31 PM

if you had moved, did you really "black out"? sounds like the sleep we all aim for. have you considered how the cold showers might be the bigger factor in improving your sleep?

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610 · January 26, 2012 at 3:19 AM

Hmmm... Low blood pressure does seem to be the best hypothesis so far. I think my blood pressure has been fluxuating more in the past 8 months or so than it used to in the past. Sometimes the veins on my arm are very visible, sometimes they seem to disappear.

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610 · January 26, 2012 at 3:17 AM

Hmmm... Low blood pressure seems to be the best hypothesis so far.

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56596 · January 25, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Yes, VLC can lower blood pressure significantly, and salt can help mitigate it

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610 · January 24, 2012 at 10:50 PM

I don't think it's related to a lack of sleep. I normally get around 8 hours, I've gotten a little less than that this week, but I'm not especially sleep deprived, and I almost always take a 20 minute nap immediately if I do feel tired (I work from home :)). This happened reliably every night during two periods - the first time that I went VLC, and then a period when I was eating VLC and experimenting with longer fasts and regular cold showers. I was getting the same amount of sleep, perhaps even a little more, but perhaps my body needed more sleep?

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610 · January 24, 2012 at 10:41 PM

@Melissa I'm not sure what my salt intake is. I don't use salt much, but I do eat a lot of fermented vegetables. Would low blood pressure only crop up when carbs are low? This has NEVER happened when carbs have been higher. @PaleoGran - I'm using a VLC definition I think I heard from Paul Jaminet - no fruit, no starches, not counting vegetable carbs (because they require glucose for digestion, leaving the net carbs around zero)

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4124 · January 24, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Arrowsican, what amount of carbs are you designating VLC?

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56596 · January 24, 2012 at 5:43 PM

What is your salt intake like? Low blood pressure can cause things like this.

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56596 · January 24, 2012 at 5:43 PM

WHat is your salt intake light? What is your blood pressure like?

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2379 · January 24, 2012 at 4:58 PM

VLC increases HGH production (human growth hormone) especially at night, which is linked to vivid dreaming, but imo it's a good think :-)

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610 · January 24, 2012 at 4:43 PM

One other dietary change that affected my sleep - I've found that I have much more vivid dreams when eating lots of rich bone broth. As I've had nothing but good results from bone broth I'm pretty confident this is a good thing!

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11557 · February 12, 2012 at 4:46 AM

"Blackout sleep" as in the hit the pillow fell asleep, woke up disorientated or drifted to sleep, woke up disorientated? I remember looking at charts of sleep deprivation for a course, and people who were exhausted from lack of sleep or lack of energy (exerted too much ie exercised or didn't take in enough ie didn't eat enough), and they both showed an increased REM, but decreased "deep" and "very deep" sleep (some textbooks don't distinguish between those two, mine did). They usually fell asleep very rapidly (couldn't remember "drifting off", just hit the pillow and were out) and woke up feeling like they had slept very solidly. The deep sleep cycle is an important part of the sleep cycle, as it is important to have the full "store memories" and "recover" process. Have you been feeling physically exhausted? You said you get plenty of sleep, but is there anything that has been stressing or tiring you out?

The other thought would be blood pressure, have you had it checked recently? This will effect your sleep, as well as some of those disorientated feelings you mentioned.

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610 · February 13, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Whether this kind of sleep is good or bad, it isn't ongoing. I was just curious what might have been going on. I wasn't emotionally stressed during those two periods, but I was stressing my system by eating very low carb, some intense exercise, and, during the second period, cold showers etc... Melissa also suggested low blood pressure in a comment, and I think that's the most likely hypothesis.

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0 · January 25, 2012 at 2:08 PM

I too am VLC (practically all-meat) and haven't experienced "blackout sleep." I've only been doing it for a few weeks now, so this could be a factor in me not having experiencing it yet. However, I personally wouldn't worry about it. As long as you feel rested, you should be fine.

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5188 · January 24, 2012 at 5:39 PM

I think very few of us truly have ideal sleep available to us regularly so it's hard to know what's normal. I can't see how it could be bad though, my guess is that you just really need to sleep! A calmer digestive tract should mean better quality sleep. How often does it happen? And what are you normal sleeping times etc?

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610 · January 24, 2012 at 10:50 PM

I don't think it's related to a lack of sleep. I normally get around 8 hours, I've gotten a little less than that this week, but I'm not especially sleep deprived, and I almost always take a 20 minute nap immediately if I do feel tired (I work from home :)). This happened reliably every night during two periods - the first time that I went VLC, and then a period when I was eating VLC and experimenting with longer fasts and regular cold showers. I was getting the same amount of sleep, perhaps even a little more, but perhaps my body needed more sleep?

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