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Low leptin, refeeds and sleep

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  • Low leptin, refeeds and sleep

    Hello guys - just thought I would ask the primal crowds for their thoughts on the following:

    Do you find that after quite a few days of hard training and low-carb eating that you can't fall asleep? If so, could this be a side-effect of low leptin and an indicator that a refeed is due? Other side-effects: I tend to feel grumpy, tired and run-down.

    Some contextual info: I'm a 26 year old woman, quite lean (64k/141lb @ 176cm/5.8ft) and quite fit, well adapted to low carb eating (since New Year), practise intermittent fasting occasionally, and with a good work-out schedule involving some intense cardio (4d/week) and demanding weights sessions (3d/week). I can associate with all the positive aspects of low carb eating but following the initial 'this is amazing' honeymoon period, I ran into the above mentioned problems: particularly sleep. I had not incorporated refeeds (did not know about them) but I am experimenting with higher carb meals now and have noticed that eating a good portion of sweetpotato when I'm starting to feel jittery, makes me sleep better and generally elevates my mood.

    I've searched the forum for sleep&refeed posts but have not found what I'm looking for.

    Has anyone else had similar experiences?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    YES, and had been meaning to post similar! Will go into more detail alter - at work.

    ---

    So, yeah for a while my sleep was interupted at night, and I would wake up randomly feeling restless/bored of sleeping!

    I haven't any experience with specifically re-feeding yet but I'm going to have a sweet potato before tomorrow's deadlift workout.
    Last edited by chronyx; 08-24-2010, 05:35 AM.

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    • #3
      I hadn't connected it before, but I've been eating low carb for quite some time, and I have a high-carb meal every 4-6 weeks. I've found that I tend to sleep more soundly for 2-3 days after that carby eating, whereas normally I wake several times during the night.

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      • #4
        Just to give some more info on what I define as sleep problems:

        I am tired and feel like I need to sleep when I go to bed, but once in bed I just keep turning and turning, sometimes even for 2-3 hours! Feels terrible, and I never had any problems before going low-carb. While in bed I occasionally feel palpitations, and my thoughts are racing all over the place - I feel restless even though I'm completely shattered.... I am also more likely to wake up quite a few times, like once per hour. Which for me is quite weird. Anyone identify with this?

        Lately I noticed that after adding some potatoes/sweetpotatoes I can sleep through the night without waking, and fall asleep relatively effortlessly. So this - together with me reading up on the importance of carb-refeeds - got me thinking that low leptin levels could be the culprit.

        Thanks for the replies so far - hoping to hear of some more experiences!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by newbeme View Post
          Just to give some more info on what I define as sleep problems:

          I am tired and feel like I need to sleep when I go to bed, but once in bed I just keep turning and turning, sometimes even for 2-3 hours! Feels terrible, and I never had any problems before going low-carb. While in bed I occasionally feel palpitations, and my thoughts are racing all over the place - I feel restless even though I'm completely shattered.... I am also more likely to wake up quite a few times, like once per hour. Which for me is quite weird. Anyone identify with this?
          i identify!!!!!!!! thats my night in a nut shell and i have tried refeeds with no difference. had a refeed sunday and the only side effect was excessive sweating, bloating and general not-at-all wellbeing in bed. i lay in bed wanting to sleep ALL night then my alarm goes off... it's crazy i cannot fall asleep at night.

          i even tried over 1 lb of sweet potatos about 2.5-3 hours before bed (so i couldnt blame it on digestion) and it didnt do a damn thing for my sleep.

          some people here claim 5-htp works... but its supposed to work l-tryptophan to 5-htp to serotonin so i dont know i havent used either.
          Get on my Level
          http://malpaz.wordpress.com/

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          • #6
            Thanks again for your replies.

            chronyx: Did the sweetpotato post-workout make a difference to your sleep?

            MalPaz: thanks for your feedback - although a bit disconcerting. I wonder if - assuming excessively low leptin is the cause of my insomnia, and maybe yours - I wonder if maybe a prolonged refeed is necessary for restoring leptin back to 'good' levels. Did you have those 2-3lb of potatoes all in one meal or throughout the course of a whole day? Also, had you been suffering from insomnia for some time?

            I'm thinking of keeping a portion of potatoes for my post-workout dinner on my 3 weight training days, as I seem to respond well in to that in terms of sleep. I suppose I have to match that with higher fat, low carb eating on the remaining 4 days.

            Does anyone know whether a carbohydrate rich day in terms of eating has to be couple with eating at or over maintenance, or can you still raise your leptin levels sufficiently if you are at a caloric deficit but with a higher ratio of carbs to fat (proteins kept stable)?

            Thanks again for letting me pick your brains!

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            • #7
              I started taking my magnesium supplement at bedtime and that seemed to help with sleep. I recall one of the other blog docs finding some of his patients get sleep problems if they take their Vit D too late in the day.

              Do you drink any caffeinated drinks? How many and when in a day is the last one drunk?

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              • #8
                Yes it did, also I think I may have been a little dehydrated from eating low-carb etc and my body wanted me to get up and drink some water. I've been having more recently and all is well!

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                • #9
                  I've also been having trouble sleeping. It takes me maybe an hour to go to sleep after getting in bed (too much reading) but I usually wake up after 4 hours or so and then keep waking up every hour or two until I have to get out of bed.

                  I tried a proper refeed once a coulpe months ago, but I don't think it really helped; the only thing I noticed from it was an insane cramp in my right vastus medialis, haha.

                  Lately, I've been having more fruit and a sweet potato or two on workout days in an attempt to somewhat follow the Leangains protocol, but this doesn't seem to have any affect on my sleep.

                  On another note, I usually do take my vitamin D late in the day, often right before bed. I will try moving it earlier to see if it helps. Thanks syzchan!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The inability to sleep despite being tired is often associated with melatonin hormone deficiency. Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin and tryptophan (an essential amino acid) is required for the body to make serotonin.

                    We probably get enough tryptophan in our PB diet. However, in order to make serotonin from tryptophan, the tryptophan must pass the brain blood barrier. An insulin spike is sometimes needed to allow the tryptophan to cross the brain blood barrier (which may explain why a carb refeed helps with sleep for some).

                    Solutions:

                    1) Create a blood insulin spike to trnasport tryptophan into the brain where it can make serotonin. When enough serotonin is created, the excess is moved to the penial gland where melatonin can then be created.

                    2) If you are deficient in tryptophan, the above will not work. The body cannot make this essential amino acid so it must be consumed via food or supplement. For supplement you will want to use the L-tryptophan form. Then you can proceed to solution 1 above.

                    3) You can skip both 1 an 2 above and supplement directly with melatonin, a fairly inexpensive supplement. You will need to experiment with dosage. Too much can lead to extremely vivid dreams (nightmares for some). Also, there is a risk for the body to build a pseudo-addiction to it and if you go off of it you may experience the sleepless nights again only worse.

                    I experimented with melatonin a couple of years ago for increasing vivid dreams (I'm facinated with dreams, especially mine) and then found I had to slowly ween my self off the melatonin gradually in order to stop taking it completley.

                    One other thing to keep in mind regarding melatonin is that production of melatonin by your body seems to be well correlated to the circadian rythms of daylight vs. night darkness. It may be all you need is to stick to a normal daylight rythm. It seems the shift in spectral intensity to red light during dusk hours is the trigger for the body to make melatonin. Our modern society with artificial lighting and long indoor work hours may have an effect in melatonin production for some of us. I use a sunrise/sunset alarm clock connected to an amber light bulb to simulate the red light of dusk before going to bed and it works fine for me. I also use it to gradually wake me up in the morning.
                    http://www.homedics.com/home/sounds/...a-sunrise.html

                    Sleep well.

                    Last edited by Asturian; 08-25-2010, 06:10 AM.
                    “It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creeds into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.”
                    —Robert A. Heinlein

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                    • #11
                      Hi all!

                      I'm a 24 year old female and very lean but need to gain weight - fat and muscle - I have been eating fairly primal for the past two months and have lost weight but this was not my intention! I have always been quite small framed, but I weigh 51kg now so have lost half a stone, and I am 5ft 7 so this is too low for my height, but I can't seem to gain any weight. I have had blood tests recently beceause I have had women problems (too low hormone levels to have my monthly flow - sorry guys!) So just trying to gain weight to make my body run normally again.

                      Once a week I do an "intensity" workout class - (an hour of intense exercises like squat jumps, pressups, lunges, burpees, mountain climbers, sprinting on the spot, high knees etc.) Then I try and do another 3 workouts, where I run for 25 minutes (sprinting then slower jog), and lift 8kg weights with squats, lunges etc, use the TRX and do bodyweight exercises - totalling an hour 10 minutes per workout.

                      Eating wise, a typical day for me is avocado with smoked salmon and a couple of oatcakes for breakfast, or on a carby day a bowl of oats with kefir milk (sorry not primal!) and berries and nuts, lunch usually consists of a big salad with steamed veg - on a carby day sweet potato included, otherwise just greens and tomatoes, peppers etc, with about 100g protein such as sardines, chicken etc. drizzled with olive oil, sometimes I have lentils or rice in my salads depending on whether I think I need the carbs.
                      Snacks - handful nuts, oatcakes spread with avocado, chicken breast slices, fruit.
                      Dinner - usually a sweet potato and carrots/green beans, with lamb, chicken, or fish cooked in coconut or olive oil. Sometimes brown rice when I've worked out quite hard.
                      Protein shake after workouts using sunwarrior protein (17g protein per scoop)
                      I put coconut oil in my tea daily to try and gain weight but no luck so far!
                      I am very good with eating healthily and never really have a cheat meal or desert - desert for me is generally full fat yoghurt with dark chocolate pieces and fruit with honey! So nothing "bad".

                      I track my diet on fit day to make sure I'm getting enough protein and fat, and on a general day I get about 60-70g protein, 55- 60g fat, and 120-150g carbs.

                      Any suggestions? I feel quite tired the day after a workout and just feel zonked and low energy, also irritable. I had thought I was doing fine with the carbs but maybe I need to start eating more and doing 1 day of carb refeeding per week? I want to build lean muscle and gain fat and look more shapely! Thanks appreciate any advice.

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                      • #12
                        Sarah,
                        You're on a primal/paleo forum...so of course we are all likely going to suggest you cut the oats/lentils/oatcakes out of your diet and sub them in with another carb source. Squash, sweet potato, white potato (possibly). Given the macro's your describing there is no way you're eating enough calories to fuel your workouts or body. No wonder your irritable. Up your calories overall and you'll see a great increase in energy. Simple as that.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by newbeme View Post
                          Just to give some more info on what I define as sleep problems:

                          I am tired and feel like I need to sleep when I go to bed, but once in bed I just keep turning and turning, sometimes even for 2-3 hours! Feels terrible, and I never had any problems before going low-carb. While in bed I occasionally feel palpitations, and my thoughts are racing all over the place - I feel restless even though I'm completely shattered.... I am also more likely to wake up quite a few times, like once per hour. Which for me is quite weird. Anyone identify with this?

                          Lately I noticed that after adding some potatoes/sweetpotatoes I can sleep through the night without waking, and fall asleep relatively effortlessly. So this - together with me reading up on the importance of carb-refeeds - got me thinking that low leptin levels could be the culprit.

                          Thanks for the replies so far - hoping to hear of some more experiences!
                          I think this is your body's way of telling you to eat more carbs. If you're already quite lean (so I assume you're not trying to lose weight), why are you doing this to yourself? Sleep deprivation can cause all kinds of problems, and you'd be much better off eating more carbs and getting a good night's sleep than eating low carb. At least do carb refeeds regularly. When I was VLC, I did 1-2 days of carb refeeds weekly. I didn't have sleep problems (unless I'm severely restricting, in which case, I'd have trouble falling asleep, but that's just b/c I'd be too hungry to fall asleep).

                          I don't know how low carb you are or how intense your cardio workouts are since you didn't provide a description of what you do. But eating VLC (<50 g per day) and doing high intensity workouts on a consistent basis will wreck your metabolism and your body. In my opinion, it's okay to be VLC and run at a moderate pace (whatever that pace is for you). But anything more intense than that, and you're asking for trouble. If (1) you're not trying to lose weight and (2) you work out a lot, then I don't really see the point of also eating very low carb. Even Mark would agree that people who work out a lot should eat more carbs.

                          My journal

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                          • #14
                            A combination of melatonin/5-HTP/L-theanine works great for me! I also am sure to reduce any stimulants after noon. Dark chocolate, coffee, green tea, red wine, any sugars..ect...
                            As a side note, if my training volume increases and I'm undereating, I will chronically wake up about 90mins after falling asleep and find myself in front of the fridge NEEDING to eat before falling back to sleep. When I adjust my caloric and carb intake this problem goes away.

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                            • #15
                              Hi. I've experimented with very low carb days along side my friend who was training for a mens physique competition. I couldn't sleep, I was grumpy and literally couldn't get through the days without falling asleep.

                              Carbs are an emotional subject for people, but you definitely need to up the intake. I wouldn't worry too much about adding in some more. Based off your exercise routine, I think you will find you have better workouts, better moods AND better sleep!

                              If you try that and don't want to wait for the results..I have a couple recommendations.

                              Install a blue blocking app on your phone. Android makes this one.

                              Take a valerian root supplement. You will have incredibly vivid dreams and sometimes bad ones. But, it can be fun!

                              Drink some chamomile, skullcap or lavender blend tea during your bedtime ritual. Herbs have a very noticeable effect on how deep I sleep.

                              Lastly, make sure your room is absolutely dark! I've had a few people respond greatly to turning their phone or other devices over or covering them when charging. Your eyelids are the thinnest skin on your body, they are incredibly sensitive to even the smallest light.

                              One more thing, try deep breathing or some sort of progressive relaxation before bed. It takes work to make this a habit, but it can help loosen your stiff muscles as well. Tighten each muscle starting from the feet and work your way up to your neck. You can read more on progressive relaxation here.

                              Best of luck!!

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