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  • insomnia

    I began eating Perfect Health Diet/Paleo in early January and then in early February I began having insomnia badly... 0-2 hours of sleep a night. I'm just about at the point of breaking. I began b/c of health problems, but could it be related to diet? Paleo? DOes anyone have similar experiences?

    I have tried everything... valerian tea, melatonin, limiting blue light on the computer, no light in the bedroom, etc. I finally caved in adn went to the doctor and got medication but I still want to get to the root of things.

    I eat a grass-fed red meat, lots nad lots of fish, free range chicken.... and some potatoes the maintenance range of carbs (100-150 g). No dairy, etc.

  • #2
    Some people find it helpful to eat their carbs later in the day to promote sleep.
    "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine


    Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.


    • #3
      Consider any other changes in your daily life that might have come around the same time. Stressors (even good ones) can disrupt your sleep a good deal.

      A few tips to consider:
      1. An hour or two before bed, write down a short list of all that is currently concerning you, then close the notebook and put it away to look at the next morning.
      2. Exercise regularly, but avoid high heart-rate exercise within an hour or two of bedtime.
      3. Don't go to bed hungry. A light snack can help, but not too much.
      4. Remove your clock from your bedroom (or turn it away if you need the alarm).
      5. Never read, listen to music, surf the web, or do anything in bed other than sleep or sex.
      6. If you've been awake in bed for more than 20 min (best guess, as your clock should not be visible - see #4), leave the bedroom.
      7. When out of the bedroom, do something that is somewhere between enjoyable and dull. It should not be so enjoyable as to be rewarding, but also not so dull as to be punitive.
      8. Once you sense a degree of tiredness, return to bed knowing you might be out again in 20 minutes - be OK with that.
      9. If you find yourself waking in the morning in the living room, next time have a lower threshold for returning to bed.
      10. Consider some relaxation exercises (diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, etc.).
      11. Keep track of your sleep totals each day.
      12. If you're only getting 5 hours, and typically wake at 6am, don't go to bed until 1am. If that gives you a solid night's sleep, the next night you can try going to bed 15 min earlier. Repeat and adjust as needed.

      If you've started eating new foods you've never had before, you might want to take turns staying away from some of them to see if something is causing the trouble. Otherwise, those few tips above are a good start.

      For more, this is a fantastic book by the godfather of insomnia research: No More Sleepless Nights (9780471149040): Peter Hauri, Shirley Linde: Books

      It sounds like you have time to work though it. Good luck and sleep well!
      My blog: Regular Guy Paleo and please feel free to "like" my Facebook page.


      • #4
        Thank you! I am open to any and all suggestions. I am eating more of my carbs later in the day.

        I have not tried tip number 9 or 12, although the others I do implement.

        Before January (and again, insomnia began in February, but I did have health problems before), I was a vegetarian and living on legumes and rice (no gluten and no corn).... so my diet underwent a radical, radical change. I am now eating meat, no legumes, and no grains... SOOOO much changed.

        But seriously Iam getting 0-2 hours of sleep a night. I am at the cracking point and am no longer functioning as a person.... which is why i caved in and started the medication the doctor slapped on all too quickly. Hate medication, but body can't survive on 0-2 hours.... THe very basic blood tests indicated all was normal.

        I will look at that book though....


        • #5
          Sometimes sleep medications can get you some basic relief from total sleep deprivation, and that is a great start. I like to work with folks on the other habits around their sleep so that they can undo the root cause of their difficulties and eventually get off the sleep meds so they can get better quality sleep (sleep meds often delay REM onset or can reduce slow-wave sleep, but still suboptimal sleep is still better than no sleep!).

          Hang in there. Once you get this under control, you'll feel a million times better.
          My blog: Regular Guy Paleo and please feel free to "like" my Facebook page.


          • #6
            I've been having trouble sleeping since I went Primal, too.
            One night I had a cup of turmeric tea, and I had a much better sleep. I googled it, and apparently it's commonly used for insomnia.
            Hope this helps!


            • #7
              Sandman - Thank you. I too want to solve this naturally, and get to the root cause.

              And I will try turmeric tea tonight.


              • #8
                Originally posted by grae_bird View Post
                .... which is why i caved in and started the medication the doctor slapped on all too quickly. Hate medication, but body can't survive on 0-2 hours.... THe very basic blood tests indicated all was normal.
                Did you go straight to prescription sleep meds? I ask because it seems people go right from herbal remedies to a prescription without ever trying Benedryl (or the generic). It's sold over-the-counter in a 2X dose as a sleep aid. The 1X dose is as an allergy med. I could never use it for allergies, except at night, because it knocked me out. I found, pre-primal, that 1/2X or 1X dose gave me 7-8 good hours of sleep. DH needed a 2X dose. It is recommended to pregnant women for severe morning sickness, so as sleep aids go, it's pretty safe. I certainly would try it in an emergency before something like Lunesta.
                50yo, 5'3"
                CW-125, part calorie counting, part transition to primal
                GW- Goals are no longer weight-related


                • #9
                  GABA works well and is natural. It also does well with melatonin.
                  "When the search for truth is confused with political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for power." - Alston Chase


                  • #10
                    Are you in ketosis? Ketosis can cause insomnia for some people. It usually resolves after a month or two (a long time when you are sleep deprived). If you are pretty low carb, a little honey or some other carbs before bed can help.

                    Do you take any magnesium? Natural Calm magnesium or topical magnesium brine before bed can help with sleep if you are deficient.
                    Using low lectin/nightshade free primal to control autoimmune arthritis. (And lost 50 lbs along the way )



                    • #11
                      I've had chronic insomnia for nine years, and I can safely say that diet is related! Low carb is a disaster for me. 150g carbs a day should be okay though. Are you eating enough food in general? Low calorie is pretty detrimental to my sleep too.

                      Also, be careful of the melatonin. I was taking it regularly but then I read about some negative side effects. I'll look it up...
                      "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

                      In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

                      - Ray Peat


                      • #12
                        There's herbal teas that you can drink that will help you sleep. Sleepytime tea actually helps me fall asleep, and I drink coffee throughout the day. There's also organic Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night tea. I'm just suggesting those because I understand that turmeric tea is very much an acquired taste.

                        Reading in bed also makes me want to sleep, even if it's a good book.


                        • #13
                          Like many have said above, carbs are a big part of the puzzle for me. I also have suffered from insomnia for years. If I'm not eating enough carbs I cant sleep. The same thing also happens if haven't eaten enough calories that day. I would mirror all of the above suggestions of no exercise close to the eve, elimination of light sources ect. What really helped for me were a combination of two things:
                          - I got a self hypnosis cd for sleep. It was 20 mins and help me to re-wire my brain and reduce the anxiety that was created about falling's a vicious cycle.
                          - A supplement called tranquil sleep by Natural Factors. It's a combo of melatonin, 5-HTP and L-theanine. It helped me get off the Rx sleeping pills and I take it every night (for the past 7 years) with excellent success.


                          • #14
                            Thank you all for your continued interaction.... You hit on one point I have been concerned about. I am extremely low weight and have been unable to get it back up due to unknown malabsorption cuases, etc. So I eat 2,300 calories a day and try to get 30% of my calories from carb intake, 50-60% from fats, and 15% from protein. This puts me at 165 g. of carbs daily--but I include green veggies in that, as well as some yucca, sweet potatoes, and potatoes. Should I not include green veggies? That should be enough to keep my body out of ketosis even though I am low weight, correct???? I do NOT want to go on ketosis. I started paleo hoping it would bring gut health.

                            I do not think my weight has changed since I have started paleo, so weight loss/low body weight would NOT be a reason for the insomnia. But insomnia did hit hard one month after I started paleo.... Still searching for WHY I am not sleeping.

                            Based on the above, do you think I get enough carbs?


                            • #15
                              Amazed no one has asked this yet, do you consume any caffeine? If you do, and go from a SAD to a lower carb diet and insomnia gets worse, you have an adrenal problem 98% of the time.