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  • Sleep - how to

    I'm sure this has been covered before, so apologies for covering old ground, but a quick search didn't unearth much of relevance.

    I hear lots of talking about getting enough sleep and the importance of doing so, however as someone who sleeps badly and has done for years, it irks me slightly when the answer to so many questions is "get more sleep". Oh wouldn't I love to...if only it was that easy.

    I average around 6 hours solid sleep a night. I'm in bed by 10pm, completely dark room, earplugs, no tv etc in the bedroom.

    I've tried pretty much everything - magnesium supplementation, inositol, carbs before bed, melatonin, you name it - but I still wake up around 4am every morning.

    I manage fine on the sleep I get, but it clearly isn't enough and I know I could be feeling better if I got more sleep.

    So, how can I stop myself from waking up at 4am every morning? All constructive suggestions appreciated.

  • #2
    Arrghh really sorry - just realised I've posted this in the wrong place...meant to be in 'Odds and Ends'

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    • #3
      I have tried various sleep patterns over the years. I've ranged from 14/10 (awake/asleep) to 20/4, spent 18 months on a 24/12 cycle (every "day" was 36 hours...no, it isn't as bad as it sounds), another 6 months on a 17/8 cycle (25 hours). It's amazing what you can adapt to in your teens and 20s.

      My general view is that segmented sleep works best for me.

      Segmented sleep - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      So maybe the answer is to get up after 4-6 hours, do something, then go back to bed? It takes some getting used to but I find that break in my sleep can be the most productive in my day. Give yourself 10-11 hours of down time and get 7-9 hours of sleep. There are some nights where I sleep through...all depends on what my body needs.

      This is definitely a "what works for me could be horrible for you" area.

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      • #4
        i get about 6 hours a night too, even when i'm on vacation and don't anywhere to be or anything to do. i suffered with insomnia and apnea for years, so i'm pretty thrilled with that time. but, one of things i learned from learning to sleep is that it really doesn't have to come all at once. can you nap at all? not every day, but from time to time? you still get all the restorative power and health benefits, just more periodically. some of the best sleep i get is for a half hour after work.

        and definitely consider biphasic sleep as mentioned above. 2 four hour chunks can do wonders.
        http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread60178.html

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        • #5
          Originally posted by spuggygirl View Post
          I'm sure this has been covered before, so apologies for covering old ground, but a quick search didn't unearth much of relevance.

          I hear lots of talking about getting enough sleep and the importance of doing so, however as someone who sleeps badly and has done for years, it irks me slightly when the answer to so many questions is "get more sleep". Oh wouldn't I love to...if only it was that easy.

          I average around 6 hours solid sleep a night. I'm in bed by 10pm, completely dark room, earplugs, no tv etc in the bedroom.

          I've tried pretty much everything - magnesium supplementation, inositol, carbs before bed, melatonin, you name it - but I still wake up around 4am every morning.

          I manage fine on the sleep I get, but it clearly isn't enough and I know I could be feeling better if I got more sleep.

          So, how can I stop myself from waking up at 4am every morning? All constructive suggestions appreciated.
          Almost all the things you mention are good, but they all relate to the actual time you spend in the bed. Sleep is influenced greatly by other factors that occur throughout the day, when you're awake. I'm certainly no expert, and I struggle with sleep myself, so with those disclaimers, here are my questions/thoughts:

          Are you being exposed to blue light during the true daytime, but cutting off your exposure (at least to your eyes) when the sun goes down, or at least for some hours after bed? I definitely sleep better when I wear my orange safety goggles while watching TV at night.

          Have you had your cortisol levels tested? I know I sleep terribly when I'm stressed. If your adrenals aren't under control, no amount of blackout curtains, white noise, melatonin, or even having somebody read you a story are going to do the trick. Also, if I eat anything with MSG before bed, I feel my heart racing like I just drank 20 cups of coffee. Not sure if this is a potential issue for you.

          Also, what kind of magnesium are you taking? I remember reading that glycinate is the best at actually being absorbed on an intracellular level, rather than just making your intestines fill up with water, but I don't have a citation or anything for that.
          The Champagne of Beards

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          • #6
            Thanks guys - some interesting points there.

            I'm a bit scared of getting up in the middle of the night to do something else - in case I'm missing out on sleep I could be having. I can't really see myself going back to bed once I'm up and about...and napping isn't really an option....but I'll definitely think about it more.

            I've tried lots of different types of magnesium - the one I'm taking at the moment isn't glycinate (it's actually what I tried to get but couldn't at the time) and am rubbing magnesium oil on the souls of my feet.

            MSG doesn't pass my lips - even before I went primal, I had a problem with it. A bit of MSG and I wake up at 3am with a raging thirst.

            Lifestyle-wise: I'm 45, single - live with my two english cocker spaniels in Scotland. I work in an office full-time and have a busy, but not particularly stressful life. I walk my dogs every day - 2 short walks and one of at least an hour, so get lots of fresh air (although not a great deal of sun - this is Scotland after all!). I watch less than an hour tv a day, lift heavy things 3 x a week and do regular yoga and stretching. I'm 100% primal, 95% of the time - by that I mean that I stick with it the vast majority of the time. Any lapses tend to be infrequent and minor - I'm at a stage where non-primal food just doesn't really appeal any more. I'm pretty low carb just now as I'm trying to drop some fat.

            I have some sinus problems and mild, but controlled asthma. My sleep problems started around the time I was diagnosed with asthma (1999-ish) but I was also going through quite a traumatic period in my life at that point. I further had a really stressful time 2005/6 when I nursed my partner through a short illness from which he died. However these events are, at least emotionally, dealt with and don't, I believe, still contribute to ongoing stress or sleep problems.

            As I said, I cope fairly well with it, but I know that if I could get enough sleep I would be feeling 'great' rather than just 'good' and it could well help with the difficulty I have shifting fat.

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            • #7
              re-disclaimer: I have no knowledge or any right to give advice on the subject whatsoever, and that listening to me is an inherently risky, dangerous, and stupid practice for which I take absolutely 0 responsibility:

              Bioidentical Hormones, Acne Scars, and Heavy Metal Toxins

              Scroll down to 6:30, sounds like some form of HPAD to me. (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal dysfunction). Probably stems from the same time as the asthma and traumatic events, and it can take a long time to remedy.
              The Champagne of Beards

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              • #8
                Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
                re-disclaimer: I have no knowledge or any right to give advice on the subject whatsoever, and that listening to me is an inherently risky, dangerous, and stupid practice for which I take absolutely 0 responsibility:.
                Haha - thanks

                Could be right...until recently I've suffered badly with low energy and always figured I had some kind of adrenal fatigue. Since I started lifting heavy, though, my energy levels have sky-rocketed.

                I've tried Ashwaganda and phosphatidylserine with no effects. I'm currently taking DHEA and think it has also contributed to the better energy levels, but it hasn't yet had any noticeable impact on my sleep quality. And being in the UK, there's not a great deal I can do - the joys of the NHS, and a GP who tells me I must be depressed any time I mention that I sleep poorly (I'm the least depressed person I know!).

                I will research it a little more though - so thank you RichMahogany

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                • #9
                  I sympathize on napping not being an option. I would be a nap-taker but it isn't really practical in my world (corporate job, US urban "lifestyle").

                  Speaking only for myself, I have never done well following the, "eight hours continuous per night", rule. I would think I had insomnia if I didn't think it was normal to get up after 4 hours of sleep, then go back to bed an hour or two later. As it is I don't get stressed if I wake up early...and if I sleep through the night I figure that's what my body needed. It does take some getting used to I guess.

                  I was amused when, after I mentioned my "discovery" of segmented sleep to my mother, she looked at me like I was saying I had discovered that the sky is blue. Apparently she has always used that time for paying bills, reconciling bank statements, correspondence, and doing other small "administrative" chores. I asked her why she never mentioned it, but her answer wad basically, "I didn't think it needed to be mentioned."

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by spuggygirl View Post
                    as someone who sleeps badly and has done for years, it irks me slightly when the answer to so many questions is "get more sleep". Oh wouldn't I love to...if only it was that easy.
                    Different people need varying amounts of sleep. To get what you need, you must be ready for sleep when your head hits the pillow.

                    The way I did it:- Set the alarm for the time to get up. When it goes off, get out of bed no matter what I feel like. Go through the day and do not go to bed until I feel I will be able to sleep within a minute or two of laying down. Get up with the alarm and repeat. I found that if I go to bed at 22:30ish, I now wake up with the alarm or even a few minutes before it goes off at 06:35. Sometimes like last night (23:20) I go to bed a bit later but still get up with the clock. I honestly believe you will find consistency is the key. The average person requires 7 - 8 hours sleep a night. It's a bit like saying the average height is 5' 9" which is very true, but, I have one son in law 5' and the other 6'2" which just means we are all different. I suggest you find what works best for you.
                    Why use a sledge hammer to crack a nut when a steam roller is even more effective, and, is fun to drive.

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                    • #11
                      My first question to the OP would be do you indulge in anything caffeinated during the day? Even if it's not keeping you from getting to sleep initially, it can, in caffeine sensitive individuals, keep you from reaching the deeper more restorative levels of sleep.

                      Adrenal function can also be compromised by caffeine which would tie in with what Rich Mahogany was telling you above.

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                      • #12
                        i find if i have too much caffeine during the day, i will wake at 2,3 or 4 am and not be able to get back to sleep either. too much caffeine is a relative thing but i am of similar age to you and live in a similar climate. similar exercise patterns too. i do have kids, a job and men and all those sorts of stressful things so lots to think about when i cant get back to sleep. for me, too much caffeine is over 4 decent sized cups of proper coffee a day. when i am being disciplined, i go for one with breakfast, one mid morning or lunch. one after school and then that is it. if i cut it down to 2 a day which i find really hard, i am feeling like falling asleep by 8pm and i sleep literally all night.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Paleobird View Post
                          My first question to the OP would be do you indulge in anything caffeinated during the day? Even if it's not keeping you from getting to sleep initially, it can, in caffeine sensitive individuals, keep you from reaching the deeper more restorative levels of sleep.

                          Adrenal function can also be compromised by caffeine which would tie in with what Rich Mahogany was telling you above.
                          I drink two cups of coffee a day - both before 8:30 am and no caffeine after that. I've gone for several weeks at a time not drinking coffee at all, and sadly it hasn't had any beneficial effect on my sleeping patterns....or noticeable effect on anything.

                          Nigel: I'm actually very consistent - I'm generally in bed by 10pm and up shortly after 6am, even at the weekends. I've considered that perhaps I only need 6 or 7 hours, but judging by the dark shadows under my eyes and the constant underlying fatigue, I'm clearly not getting enough restful sleep.

                          Some kind of adrenal compromise is the most likely culprit - I guess I need to keep on experimenting to find out how to help myself on that score.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by spuggygirl View Post
                            I manage fine on the sleep I get, but it clearly isn't enough and I know I could be feeling better if I got more sleep.
                            If you 'manage fine', why do you say 'clearly isn't enough'?

                            For many people 6 hours is perfectly adequate, especially as we get older. Not sure why that is, but I've heard it said many times.

                            When I was going to the gym before work I had to retire at 2200 to get up for 0545. This gave me enough time to get to the gym, workout and shower before starting work at 0800. I found 7.3/4 hours was more than enough and settled on 2300 bed time - for me at that time 6.1/2-6.3/4 hours was what I needed.
                            Having returned to PB recently I no longer visit the gym at all, let alone first thing but still only require 6.1/2-7 hours kip. Energy & vitality tanks are brimmed though.

                            Do you have any specific concerns or do you just think the number of hours clocked up in bed is 'low'?

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                            • #15
                              I have the same problem, and the only day of the week when I sleep heavily is after the first day of a carb-up, when i both overeat and have a lot of carbs. I go to bed after 8 pm and wake up on the clock at 2 am. My normal get up time is about 4 am, so it sucks. Sometimes I can fall right back asleep. But I could not get the system behind the sleep pattern,.

                              Keeping the room cool helps (need to wear socks to fall asleep), but I did not have any positive results from cold or hot exposure before bed (steam room or cold shower).

                              I also started doing candle-light dinners, and try not to do any cardio after 5 pm.
                              My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread57916.html
                              When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

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