Dear Mark: Bad Sleep Tips, Cold Extremities, and Sweet Feed

Cold HandsIn today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’ll be covering a trio of topics. First is a parent with a problem common to members of her species: enforced sleeplessness. She wants, nay, needs, help with amelioration of the situation. Normally, I’d say “get more sleep,” but the point is that getting adequate sleep isn’t always a choice. Next, I discuss some potential causes of, and strategies for, chronically cold extremities. Luckily for the reader, strategies for fixing cold extremities can be as enjoyable as eating more food, using more salt, and breathing more mindfully. Finally, I allay a reader’s concern with the “sweet feed” being used to supplement the mostly-grass-and-hay diet of the cows he hopes to eat.

Let’s go.

Dear Mark,

Firstly, thank you so much for your blog. As a scientist, it is so refreshing to read articles where papers etc have been reviewed and referenced; it is nice to have a trusted source (that’s not to say I don’t check myself occasionally, just to be sure….!).

My query is on enforced sleeplessness. I’ve had a good look through your site and, others’ comments aside, I can’t find a lot on surviving parenthood.

I’m not looking for parenting advice, but information on how to ameliorate the effects of years of broken sleep. It is easy to get into vicious cycles of bad sleep -> tired -> hungry = eat more + little sprinting-type exercise (the moving around a lot is not a problem!). Primal living has transformed my family (especially after my son and I were diagnosed celiac) but we are plateauing a bit. Are there any primal hacks to get through these years?

Many thanks for any info.

Kind regards,


Bad sleep can’t be out-trained, out-eaten, or out-hacked on a longterm basis, but that doesn’t mean you should throw up your hands and accept your sleepless fate. You can ameliorate the situation to a certain extent.

Certain supplements may help. Cinnamon has been shown to reduce the glucose intolerance that stems from a poor night’s sleep, so you could work some of that into your diet. In sleep-deprived adults with elevated inflammatory markers, magnesium supplementation reduced inflammation. The researchers were unable to conclusively determine if magnesium status was related to sleep status – poor sleep certainly increases oxidative stress – but it can’t hurt to get more magnesium.

I would caution against relying on coffee or energy drinks to get you through the day. A well-placed cup can certainly make the difference between a crappy day and a productive one, but it becomes less of a boost and more of a crutch if you continue to miss sleep. Consider coffee a stop-gap solution to poor sleep, not a long-term, regular solution. Try not to become that person who lines up for a coffee at 4 in the afternoon. Coffee is far more effective when you’re already getting great sleep. It’s a poor long-term replacement for it.

Modifying your training can help, but perhaps not in the way you think. When suffering from sleep deficiency, I’ve found that decreasing workout volume is the best move. All too often people will try to out-train their bad sleep by training more, training harder, and training longer, as if they could overcome the insulin resistance, increased appetite, and increased sensitivity to stress by sheer will. In practice, adding a significant stressor (increased training volume/intensity) to perhaps the most significant stressor of all (poor sleep) doesn’t work very well. Stick to lots of slow moving (which you’re already doing) and throw in some heavy lifting for short reps. Don’t do extended Crossfit-esque workouts, don’t run HIIT on an empty stomach, don’t do any super-stressful workouts on bad sleep.

It’s also important to not lose sleep over losing sleep. In other words, being the parent of a young kid sometimes means you’re simply going to miss out on sleep on a regular basis. You can’t always change that, so you have to accept it. And accepting it is a crucial step toward ameliorating the negative effects. Lack of sleep will still be exerting negative health effects (and even those reduce a bit as your body adapts to the reduced sleep volume), but stressing out about it will only compound the problem. If you can eliminate that added unnecessary stress, you’re going to be healthier in the long run. This is what makes humans so uniquely susceptible to bad health – we stress and worry and fret over the initial health malady, thereby making it even worse.

Dear Mark,

I’ve been a follower of your website for almost a year now and I have a question that I would like your help on.

For a long time now (2 years or so) I have suffered from very cold feet and occasionally cold hands. I visited my doctor who basically told me that it’s “normal” and “to live with it”. Wearing extra socks does not cut it and I often have to use a fan heater to keep my feet warm.

I know that these things don’t just happen for a reason but I’m not sure what the cause could be. I have read somewhere that it could be related to stress where blood rushes back towards internal organs for emergency usage. I have to say that I’m not at all stressed, in any form.

Thank you


We can be stressed without “feeling stressed,” if that makes any sense. Some people call it hidden stress, and it usually occurs when someone has gotten so accustomed to chronic stress that it doesn’t even register in his or her waking consciousness. Just to be sure that stress isn’t bothering you, try a few simple strategies for reducing it:

  • Deep diaphragmatic breathing exercises. Take ten minutes out of every day to do long, slow, deep belly breathing, split into two five minute sessions (noon and night).
  • Meditation is also highly useful for reducing stress, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Get really adept at it and you can even raise your body temperatureGuided meditations are good for beginners.
  • Do some gentle movement first thing in the morning, preferably outside if it’s not too cold. Five, ten minutes max. I’ve linked to this before, but Angelo’s (from PrimalCon) VitaMoves is fantastic.

Check out a previous post on the subject.

If it turns out stress wasn’t the culprit, hey, at least you’re doing healthy breathing, meditation, and morning movement! Since you’ve been having this problem for two years, and you’ve been Primal for around one year (maybe a bit less), it’s not the cause, but it’s not fixing the problem. Something is still causing lower body temperatures. Does that sound right? I’ll discuss some potential culprits. All or none or some of them could be the answer.

Lack of sleep: Seems to be a theme today, doesn’t it? Sleep deprivation reduces body temperature pretty consistently (PDF). Are you getting around 8 hours a night? Are you waking up relatively refreshed, with steady energy throughout the day?

Lack of food: Are you eating enough? Eating under maintenance, especially on a chronic, ongoing basis, can reduce body temperature. This problem can get even worse if you’re exercising on top of a massive calorie deficit. If you’re trying to cut weight, consider throwing in a few days per week of major overfeeding (preferably situated around exercise) so that you’re not in a constant state of deprivation.

Hyperhydration: I’ve always questioned the standard “8-glasses-a-day” mantra, and hyperhydration is an effective way to lower body temperature. Don’t drink so much water if you aren’t actually thirsty. And when you are thirsty, go for mineral water or add trace mineral drops to regular water.

Lack of salt: A common result of eliminating processed food is a spontaneous reduction in salt intake. You’re no longer going out for fries and burgers, you don’t buy potato chips, you’re eating lots more vegetables and fresh, rather than processed, meats. It’s pretty common to eat less salt than you were before. Some people even get the idea that the PB restricts any added salt, which just isn’t the case. Eat more salt, because sodium can increase body temperature. Go ahead and monitor your blood pressure if that’s a concern, but as long as you get plenty of potassium and magnesium with your salt, it shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re stressed, salt needs increase during stress.

Hypothyroidism: You could be hypothyroid, as cold hands and feet are common symptoms. If you have other symptoms, like general fatigue/malaise and weight gain, try eating more seaweed and other seafood for the iodine.


I have a question for you that I don’t remember seeing anywhere. I contacted a local farmer to see if they fed the cows any grains and the answer I got is as follows. “No our cows are not grain finished, we give them minimal sweet feed (50 pounds for 36 cows) 3 times a week so they come to us when we rattle a bucket. We do not give them hormones or steroids they are grass and/or hay fed.”

I’m assuming that a little over one lb of sweet feed a week is very minimal?

Please advise,


For those who don’t know, sweet feed is just normal livestock feed sweetened with molasses.

A pound of sweet feed in a week for an animal that eats 30-50 pounds of grass a day (if grass-fed) or 20 pounds of feed a day (if grain-fed/finished) shouldn’t be a big problem. If they’re truly living off grass and hay and getting a little sweet treat a few times a week for conditioning purposes, it should be fine. I bet they’re even happier than the average cow. Molasses-coated grains taste great, after all. Less stress, too, since the 80/20 principle applies to cows.

Looking more closely at how the farmer responded, I actually think they might be providing 50 pounds of sweet feet three times a week for a total of 150 pounds for 36 cows, rather than 50 pounds split across three feedings. Even then, that’s a mere drop in the bucket and I’m sure the meat will be great and nutritious.

Thanks for reading, folks. Be sure to leave any tips for Nathan and Elizabeth, if you’ve got ’em!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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120 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Bad Sleep Tips, Cold Extremities, and Sweet Feed”

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  1. Good point on sleep and caffeine: I cut down from 4 double espresso’s per day to decaf coffee… took me a month and it was painful for a frenchman but now I genuinely don’t need caffeine pick me ups to increase energy and I seem to sleep more soundly/ deeply. Well worth trying out.

    On cold hands/ feet, I used to always get that driving: seems I was on alert mode and that triggered the symptoms. I have started having 1L of coconut water daily and the minerals (potassium, etc.) have helped stave off this issue.

    1. Also when you’re driving, you’re holding your hands above your heart, and the blood may not be circulating to them. I was told recently by a veteran hiker that using poles while hiking in winter makes your hands cold, and you need to drop them below your heart or shake them out frequently.

  2. Love the quote saying to “not lose sleep about losing sleep.” This can be the most stressful part of sleep deprivation for me!

    To the person with cold extremities, make sure your Doctor has worked you up for something called Raynauds phenomenon, which manifests precisely as cold extremities!

    It’s also nice hearing that Cows can have cheat meals once in a while! Molasses… Yum!!

    1. 50 pounds of sweet feet? That’s a lot of feet. Would that be chicken feet or cows feet?

      1. It is great you checked what feed the farmers use. I’ve been to a farm that feeds their cows garage bags of donuts. Gross.

    2. I came here to post about Raynaud’s too. I have it and it goes way beyond what could be solved by more clothing, or even really by meditation, breathing and so on. It’s characterised by a colour change in your extremities – in my case entire fingers or patches of my feet go white and feel stone cold to the touch. Definitely worth looking into, although it’s not really curable.

      1. Yes I have Raynaud’s Disease also. My fingers just look dead & go numb, so that I can’t feel anything with them. If I put them under hot water, it hurts like anything & they go through various shades of black, blue & purple before coming red.

  3. Great post, Mark.

    Regarding the cold hands and feet, I used to have this problem. I started taking a supplement called Gingko Biloba, some asian herb.

    I took it for the purpose of memory enhancement and I’m pretty sure it works.

    One of the mechanisms is that it improves blood flow. After I started taking it, my hands and feet are rarely cold.

    Just a thought, it’s a natural supplement and pretty cheap.

    There are a bunch of studied on it too, including this one:

    “The blood flow in the nail fold capillaries also increased significantly by about 57% (p less than 0.004) 1 h after administration.”

    1. I do the same, Kris. I started taking the stuff after hearing about it on Chris Kresser’s podcast on the nebulous gut-brain axis. I haven’t noticed any mental performance enhancements personally, but it’s hard to tell these kinds of things qualitatively when it’s n=1. I do think that my extremities are warmer, though, so I’m happy enough with that result by itself.

      1. Ginseng promotes better blood flow too.
        A good book Keep Your Brain Sharp says that for a mental boost use the three “gins” : ginko, ginseng, ginger.

  4. For cold extremities try adding more good fats to your diet. I don’t remember where I learned that, but if I drink a glass of cream it really helps.

    1. Drinking raw cream used to be Dr. Mercola’s personal remedy for feeling cold. I don’t know what he does now.

  5. Thank you very much Mark, fantastic to be told not to worry about it overly. Funnily enough, we’ve been adding more and more cinnamon coincidently into our diet the last couple of years. Really appreciate the advice, looking forward to reading Primal Connection. Please keep up the great work!

  6. I wonder how Grok slept. Did he get a solid 8 hours every night? Could there be any benefits of being deprived of sleep for short periods of time a la intermittent fasting?

    1. Check out Biphasic sleep/ Segmented sleep. Suggests without artificial light most of us would sleep for 4 hours, wake and be active for c. 1 hour and then sleep for further 4 hour. Some people swear by it as a stress buster. That and the good old naps Spanish style!

      1. I was forced into having to do a biphasic sleep last some for work – I put in an 8 hour shift followed by four hours off and did that cycle twice a day for just over a week.

        I was well rested, but I sure did get confused as to what day it was. “Yesterday”, “this morning”, “tonight” etc lost all meaning to me, and after a week I felt like I had been working straight for a month.

      2. That sounds awesome but it also sounds like it provided Grok with the amount of sleep he needed. I’m talking actual deprivation. From personal experience, when I’ve not had enough sleep, I have an energy about me which is hard to describe. I’m tired but I’m wired. Kind of weird.

        1. That’s caused by glucocorticoids. You’d get a similar feeling if you ever come down with something that your doctor prescribes prednisone for. I spent a week in the hospital with it in an I.V. drip and had this strange compulsion to go outside and do demanding yard work, despite feeling bad enough to require hospitalization.

          Asking if Grok was sleep deprived is like asking if your dog or cat is sleep deprived-if you don’t have a schedule that you have follow you can find plenty of time to take a nap or two. Even new mothers would get to sleep since she’d live with her extended family, who would play and watch the baby without her even needing to ask them.

        2. That ‘energy’ is cortisol. It is a natural stimulant. When you are sleep deprived your body produces more cortisol in a sort of fight or flight response.

          This is not good as it is excessive stress on your body. Typically it also means your immune system and anabolic processes are turned off to conserve energy.

          Chronically elevated cortisol is very bad. Hence the need for real sleep.

  7. I ALSO get really cold hands/feet sometimes, and I never really thought anything of it until this post. I’m definitely going to pay attention and see if I’m stressed when they get cold, because I actually think that might be it. I also struggle with some hypothyroidism, so that could be it too… never knew.

    1. I have cold feet in the morning, even after interval training or heavy lifting. However, in the afternoon my feet are warm and cozy. I only get cold hands if I sit at the computer too long. The thermostat (for winter) is set at 68 from 5am to 8pm, 65 after that.

  8. Hi Mark. You said:
    “If you’re trying to cut weight, consider throwing in a few days per week of major overfeeding (preferably situated around exercise) so that you’re not in a constant state of deprivation.”

    I clicked the “major overfeeding” link and it says:
    “I wouldn’t recommend it for overweight individuals.” You say it’s for already-lean individuals who just want to drop that last percentage or two of body fat.

    Has the information changed since the “overfeeding” post was written? Thanks.

  9. Per the cold hands and feet, the reader could be suffering from Raynauds Disease. It is a condition that can be brought on by an underlying condition or simply be prevalent on it’s own. I have been suffering from it for almost 5 years now. Even in the summer time if you feel my hands/feet they will be cold.

    What happens is when I am stressed or cold the blood vessels in my hands, feet and nose will constrict, causing less blood to reach them. From what I understand my body gets the signal there is a crisis and subsequently moves all blood towards the center. Basiclly trying to sacrifice my lesser appendages. I realized it was not just a case of “a woman feeling cold” back in 2010 when I installed a digital thermostat to save energy. I had set it to drop to 64 degrees at night, since I would be under blankets, and gave my self frost bite. I woke up the next morning to red swollen toes. It even hurt to walk. I went to the doctor and got my official diagnosis, she basically affirmed the suspicions I had been having over the last two years.

    I have been 80/20 Primal for the length of my diagnosis and have seen no change in the conviction. It is just something I have learned to live with. I drink a lot of broth, tea and coffee to keep me warm and often take a bath to warm up before I go to bed.

    1. I was going to suggest Raynaud’s. My dad has it and I’m sure I’m on my way to it. My feet are painfully cold some days and when I shake hands I usually get some type of startled response, but nothing’s changing color yet!

      There’s not much you can do to treat it except Vitamin D and fish oi, unless you want to go on some pharmaceuticals… A couple of things can relieve the feeling *in the moment* First is meditation – I seem to get warm all over, but within about 5 mins of finishing, it’s back to normal. Warm bath is also great and the feeling lasts longer 🙂

      Good luck!!

      1. There are tons of things one can do for Reynaud’s. Look into vitamin D, coQ10, niacin, pycnogenol, natural folates and b12, on and on and on.

        Erica — you might try drinking LESS fluids and see if your hands and feet warm up. Maybe try more salt — add salt to your water. You might be diluting your electrolytes…

    2. I second this. I recommend asking your doctor if it could be Raynaud’s, especially if your hands or feet ever turn white when they’re cold. Unfortunately I haven’t noticed any improvement in this area since switching to a primal lifestyle.

    3. Thanks for your reply.

      I’ve looked at Raynauds Disease and I definitely don’t have that. My hands or feet never really change colour and you wouldn’t really be able to tell that they are so cold unless you was to touch them.

      I’ve never had frost bite or swollen feet thankfully. So was your doctor unable to give you anything? Is Raynauds Disease “incurable”?

      1. Unfortunately is it as of now 🙁

        I thankfully never have gone full blue feet, but my feet will constantly go white on the soles and my toes. If when they are white i jump in a hot tub, then they go blue. It is kinda strange to see.

        I was given an expensive cream to try that was supposed to open the vessels back up, but it smelt weird and I did not notice an effect so i did not continue use.

    4. I was also thinking Raynauds Disease.

      I actually didn’t start devolving symptoms until I went primal (and lost 10 pounds)but I have a strong family history, so I am sure it’s just a coincidence. However, I does not make me feel confident that there is a primal/paleo solution.

      A low level of coldness is almost always there, but when I am more active throughout the week have noticed that I suffer fewer acute attacks (when my extremities get to the point where they change color). When I have an acute attack i try to move as much as I can, even if it’s just wiggling my fingers or toes. It can hurt, but generally lessens the severity and duration of the attack I read somewhere that taking chili powder can help, but I’ve never given it a try.

      1. Yes I too noticed that a higher activity level helped ward off attacks. If ever you have an attack that will not go away I have found any sort of warm liquid will do the trick takes about 10-15 minutes to warm up the feet, my usual nemesis. Now if hands r your problem holding the mug can actually be rather painful so be careful

        Chili powder huh? Might have to go hit up google on that one

      2. No cold problems here, but spicy food can make me feel warm, and even literally start sweating. Don’t know about chili powder specifically, but the presence and strength of the effect seems to depend more on the source of the capsaicin than how hot it is (how much capsaicin is present).

    5. I was going to suggest the same thing! I, too, have suffered from cold hands and feet for years. A lot of people have just told me, “Oh everyone gets cold hands and feet every once in a while”. But this was constant and painful! It’s even brought me to tears a couple times. Now that I’m more aware of it, I just make sure there’s a way I can make my hands/feet warm if I need to whether that be carrying gloves in my purse all the time or putting feet warmers in my shoes.

    6. i also have had Raynauld since high school (i got frost bites on most toes & fingers — they looked like baby carrot sticks; horrible)

      doctors basically just told me to “stay warm”

      it got a lot better after switching diet. cutting down sugar & junk food + bone broth really help.

      exercise sometimes helps; sometimes it makes it worse.

      now i just keep warm, & avoid cold food/drinks.

      sorry, not much help.

      ps. ginkgo biloba does not seem to do anything for me.

  10. As to the 50lbs vs 50lbs per cow dilema, its probably a total of 50 per feeding. The feed comes in 50lb bags and that is more than enough to keep them happy to come when called.

    1. I don’t feed sweet feed to my animals, because it’s almost certain to contain GMO grain.

  11. Yep, I was suffering from the cold hands and feet for quite a while. Iodine certainly helped, but I noticed the coldness coming back after a few months, even with the iodine. Upping my food intake and also the number of meals helped me (I was usually only eating two meals, and it just wasn’t working for me). I have been eating more salt, and that seems to help too. Also, a glass or two of wine seems to work in the evening. I’ve also heard that a lack of magnesium can be to blame.

    1. I’ll look into iodine – it seems quite common on these comments as well as the blog post. I tried seaweed last year but the texture was just not for me. I do eat around 600g of Wild Alaaskan Salmon per week and take Green Pastures fermented cod liver oil butter blend but I know that has no iodine in it.

      I’ve also been supplementing with 200mg Magnesium daily and Epsom salt baths for many months, once or twice per week.

  12. Regarding belly breathing, this is frequently misunderstood. Your lungs are in your chest, not your belly. Your belly should expand slightly with a deep breath, but you shouldn’t be trying to “breathe” by consciously pushing out your abdomen. The result (at least for one person I know who was taught to belly breathe by a trainer) was stomach muscles that became so tight she couldn’t relax them. Very uncomfortable.

    1. Your lungs may be in your chest, but your diaphragm is in your belly. Check out Mark’s recent post on belly breathing. As usual, it’s full of really good information. Sounds like your friend received poor training and that’s too bad. I learned to belly breathe as a singer and it just comes naturally to me now.

      1. Actually, the diaphragm separates the chest (thorax) from the belly (abdomen). It is not “in” the abdomen, but forms the cranial (superior) border of that body cavity.

  13. I used to be an absolute energy drink junky up until a year ago. Stopping those cold turkey was the best thing I ever did.

    On days when I need a mild boost, I’ll reach for a cup of coffee. In most cases, however, my green tea is enough to get me through the day 🙂

  14. I’m 37 years old, and I’ve had cold hands and feet for about 18 years. It’s just something I’ve learned to live with, though it is bothersome, particularly in the winter. I’m one of the few that has trouble gaining weight. I’m 6’2″ and I weigh 165 lbs. I know that’s not extremely underweight, but I feel too thin. I have found that eating a lot of carbs helps me gain weight, but diabetes runs on both sides of my family, so I have to be careful with carbs. Diabetes is not something I want to mess with.

    Anyway, recently I discovered something that seems to have improved my circulation. I take magnesium citrate (Natural Calm) before exercising. I walk and do light weightlifting. I’ve noticed that I feel warmer at night, and my hands feel better the next day. I don’t know why this is. Magnesium is a known vasodilator, which may explain it. I have not tried taking l-arginine before exercising, but from what I’ve read it may help.

    I hope this helps someone else.

    1. I’m similar to you, 6″2 and not particularly heavy (around 150lbs which is 14lbs heavier than I was a year ago) I do feel “thin” but I don’t gain wait easily. I’m starting to eat “ensue carbs” at every meal but that also because I’m following an autoimmune protocol and Greens don’t digest well with me. (though I’m eating a lot of Sauerkraut) My Grandmother was diagnosed with Diabetes shortly before passing away (from cancer)

      It’s good to hear again that magnesium may help – I’m taking 200mg a day and having Epsom salt paths weekly.

      Thanks for your comment. (BTW I was the person whom asked Marks the question)

    2. You take mag citrate?? Doesn’t it give you the sh*ts? We administer it as a colonoscopy prep. There is no way I would take that.

      1. I tried citrate to help with sleep (being type 1 diabetic really doesnt help with sleep) and it didn’t give me the sh*ts. If it affects you that way i’ve read it’s because you’ve overdosed.
        I find mganesium citrate and magnesium oil doesnt help sleep at all. They make me have very vivid dreams which wake me.

  15. For instant relaxation, try this: Inhale, hold briefly, then without exhaling, inhale again right on top of the first inhalation. Again hold briefly, then exhale completely. I can feel the stress and tension leave my body immediately whenever I do this.

  16. Regarding the cold extremities:

    I am a professional flutist who also has Raynaud’s. I primary perform as a soloist playing extremely virtuosic (vigorous) repertoire. Cold hands on stage are routine for me (stress), and holding a cold metal pipe (i.e. flute) doesn’t help.

    FYI: Playing flute uses more air than any other instrument.

    Years ago, I had a biofeedback lesson to learn to use breathing to warm my hands. I learned that belly breathing is an oversimplification and that warming breaths are the opposite of flute-playing breaths.

    Now, before performances (and during, whenever I have a few measures rest), I follow my teacher’s advice.

    Slow inhale through the nose, hold the air in the lungs for a few seconds (think warming thoughts such as rubbing a cat’s belly or waving hands in front of fire), and exhale quickly and completely. Repeat.

    If you focus solely on the belly, you might be merely pushing the belly in and out. Try it- belly breathing without really breathing. Sometimes I encounter flute students who are expert at this; their bellies move, but they don’t have enough air to sustain their playing.

  17. Hey Mark thanks for answering my question about cold hands and feet! It’s funny that the suggestions you mentioned, other than stress are what I have been working on quite hard lately!

    I have a thin frame for a 6″2 male (around 150lbs) and I never really ate that much before primal, though I was obese as a kid. (I’m 22 now). Over the past 2 months I’ve been following an Auto Immune Protocol (PracticalPaleo helps!) and have made great efforts to plan every single meal in advance. Everyday I go to and calculate my calories (from fat too), Carbohydrates (from sugars too), Dietary fibre , Protein and Inflammation. I’m happy to report (and quite shocked) that I get between 2500-3500 calories a day, but sometimes it is less. At least half of that is from fat. My carbs are never above 200g and sugar is never above 80g. Protein is around 120g-180g per day. I need to work on fibre as it’s almost always below 15g. (I’m eliminating FODMAP’s and eggs too)

    My sleep is getting a lot better too; 8-9 hours before midnight. I’ve also started taking a Magnesium supplement (200mg per day, Chelated form).

    I tried seaweed last year but really could not get past the texture. I’ll search the website for other forms of iodine and if that will help me.

    I meditate occasionally and I’m trying to move more and get more sunlight.

    Thanks for your help.

  18. RE: Cold Extremities

    My wife and I moved to Boston years ago and she suffered from cold extremities-hands, feet and then her hips. Her hips were so painful that her doctors recommended cortisone shots.

    By chance we met someone who upon hearing her symptoms recommended a chiropractor. She and I were both skeptical but we also knew the dangers of cortisone.

    Long story short: ALL of her cold extremities issues went away, quickly. They have never returned and she only rarely needs to return for adjustments. No drugs, pain free, other benefits as well.

    I do not know the scientific justification, and I was as big a skeptic as one could find. But no drugs, no potions, just touch and the bodies naturall desire for health.

  19. I also have cold hands and feet ALL the time…unless I am vigorously working out. This seems to be pretty common with women…some speculation that we are responsible for keeping a baby warm inside us, so most of the blood stays there…this is pure speculation, but an interesting theory to me.
    I have also heard that iron deficiency can lead to cold hands and feet…does anyone know if this is true? This is also a common nutrient deficiency in women…not sure about men.

    1. iron deficiency huh?

      Don’t protein sources contain a lot of iron? I would think people who follow a primal diet would not have iron deficiency issues. Though according to a quick google search, dark chocolate is a better source for iron that protein.

      Looks like I now have one more excuse in my arsenal why I need to eat chocolate LOL

    2. I’ve heard too much iron is a common problem for men. A multivitamin/mineral supplement I was looking at that’s designed for men advertises having less iron.

  20. I am a chiropractor and I see cold extremities frequently. I have great success in relieving this symptoms with adjustments to the spine especially the lower cervicals (neck) and lower lumber (low-back). All nerve supply and therefore function to the extremities comes from the spine. Arteries, veins and nerves travel together but typically restoring nerve flow relieves the sypmtoms very quickly. I highly encourage adding a chiropracic wellness physician to your Primal Lifestyle. I have been reading your blog for a few months and look forward to it daily. I have been living Primal at least 80% of time for the past 4 months after having a baby in August and have lost 20 lbs and love the way I’m eating and can definitely live this way forever! Thanks!!

  21. 50 pounds of sweet feed would maybe fill 2-5 gallon pails. Spread over 36 cows,that is not very much at all. Fifty pounds of light oats on the other hand – that would be different. The feed measurement should be based on volume, it’s more accurate and easier to visualize.

    1. Decided to test your theory. 4 of the 5 gallon buckets was pretty close.

  22. I was diagnosed with Raynaud’s several years ago and try my best to manage symptoms to avoid long-term damage to my fingers. Living in Colorado, that’s not always easy. The best way I’ve found to stop attacks and keep my hands warm is a regular practice of hot yoga. I do Bikram several times a week. It warms me up for a long time and lessens my number of Raynaud’s attacks, particularly in the winter when I am most susceptible.

    1. Interesting! I started doing bikram last year, and that’s when my body temperature went way out of whack. I also lost 45lbs from going primal, so not sure if it’s the weight loss or the hot yoga that is to blame, but I even lose sleep from shivering. Then, after piling on the blankets and socks, when I do fall asleep, I’ll wake up sweating hot and have to peel off all the layers. It’s weird. My thyroid was normal last time I had it checked. I love the bikram though and don’t want to give it up.

      1. I’ve done Bikram for years, but the Raynaud’s only started a few years ago — could be related but for me I don’t think so. Something to try at night — a couple year’s ago my husband bought a king-sized, super-soft electric blanket with dual controls. I turn my side on about an hour before bed to warm up the sheets and blanket. I turn off the blanket when I go to bed. Feels sooo good crawling into a warm bed. My temperature stays stable through the night — no need for piles of stuff, layers of socks, etc., because I prefer to sleep in the nude. I seriously love that blanket! My husband’s motivations may not have been pure (our sex life was suffering because I was always freezing cold), but that blanket has saved my sleep (more sex, too).

  23. For the folks that are suffering Raynaud’s type symptoms they may wish to try a course of chiropractic care after undergoing a full orthopdedic & neurological assessment of their spine with a suitably qualified doctor of chiropractic.
    In my 23 years in practice I have observed many (not all) patients improve with this condition. It is considered that removing interference from the nervous system which controls blood vessel diameter helps the brain regulate peripheral blood flow better. Blood vessel diameter is under control of the autonomic nervous system & a Raynaud’s sufferer may have nerve irritation/pressure in the neck or lower back effecting this pathway from working accurately.

    1. Hmmm. I wonder if Esther Gokhale’s posture stuff would help. I found, when I started with her ‘shoulder rolls’ and freed up / opened up my shoulder (so the blood flow and nerve signals could actually get THROUGH my shoulders down my arms), I could actually feel the diff in my arms and hands. From ‘pinching down’ on the pathway into the arms, to having them open was a huge and noticeable difference!

    2. That is very interesting about the spine and Raynauds. I was diagnosed with Raynaud’s Disease when I was little, and I was born with a deformed spine (at about breast level). I also have spondilitis in my neck. At the moment, my Raynaud’s is worse and I have low back pain as well, so I don’t know if that is maybe related at all?

  24. Nathan Stocks: if you dont like the texture of seaweed, try putting kelp into soups and stews. if it cooks a long time(like overnight for bone broth)then the kelp dissolves and you wont even notice it. Kelp has loads of iodine, and one small strip per batch of stock wont break the bank.
    Good luck!

  25. While going through a personal event, I tried to train and hit the dreadmill while I was supposed to be sleeping. My logic was that I wasn’t sleeping anyway, might as well do something productive instead of laying in bed with a wandering mind staring at the ceiling. Didn’t work and only compounded the already stressful problem. I solved the temporary problem with an old teenage solution, sleeping with the TV on. Admittedly, that’s a very poor sleep habit, but a poor sleeping routine is better than no sleep routine.

    Glad that’s all in the past now. Sleeping like a baby now.

    1. Instead of the TV, I use (and still use) a CD on ‘repeat play’ that is this incredibly well-done seaside waves. No seagulls, no extraneous noise — and it isn’t like those fake noise makers where it’s mechanical. This is an by Joe Baker I picked up for a buck on Amazon –burned it to a CD, and have it playing all night (quietly) in the bedroom. It’s a 72-minute “live” recording — so it’s fractal and natural. Like sleepin’ on the beach!

      1. I fell asleep listening to a burned CD of underground death metal once. Felt hardcore after waking up.

  26. I’ve been using CBT-I to get my sleep back on track and it’s amazing helpful. And yes, not letting the lack of sleep stress you out is a big part of the cognitive-behavior approach. They give some good science and data for why you don’t need to be freaking out in the middle of the night. I have Sudoku puzzles printed out and ready to go should I wake and not be able to get back to sleep within 20 minutes. SUCH a nicer was to pass 30 minutes before trying again.

  27. For all cold-feet-and-hands sufferers, magnesium will indeed do the trick. It’s not for nothing that it is known as ‘the spark of life’ – it really does help produce plenty of internal heat. Magnesium deficiency is very common (estimated in 80% of Europeans), so it’s not unlikely that all the above sufferers have it, too.

    The key is the kind of mg supplement used. By far the best is LIQUID magnesium (which is actually magnesium oxide, not citrate; citrate is the best format for a tablet, but the oxide-liquid compound works far more quickly and effectively). Mineralife do an excellent and not very expensive version ( Nathan, take double the recommended amount divided into two: 1/2 in the morning, 1/2 in the evening. Expect improvement within 2-3 weeks.

    Magnesium has far reaching, beneficial effects on many symptoms. I have used it successfully with my patients to help with migraines, sleep problems, anxiety, stress, inability to relax, muscle pains and cramps, cold extremities, you name it. Hopefully it’ll help you, too.

    1. Magnesium hasn’t helped my Raynauds. I take 500mg of magnesium glycinate every day.

    2. It can also prevent fasciculation (tics and twitches), providing deficiency is the problem.

    3. Funny, that product in fact doesn’t contain magnesium oxide, but rather magnesium chelated to fulvic acid.

  28. Oh cold hands and feet. Had them since grade school. Not much of a problem until I became I’ll with Lyme and Bartonella that knocked my whole body for a loop. Most symptoms associated are gone with the paleoish diet, but my feet kill! Me. Always cold, but when I exercise or shower they become warm, burn, itch, swell, and tingle. It can almost drive me mad. And occasionally this happens in the dead of night and awakens me for hours. I haven’t a clue how to heal this 🙁

  29. Hi Mark, big fan here!

    I’m a large animal veterinarian in Colorado and I just wanted to amend your info on “sweet feed.” This is a generic term for grains coated in molasses. Yep, grains, not grass. You’re right in that the amount they’re getting is probably negligable, since feeding high amounts of sweet feed intermittently to any large critter is a great way to invite someone like me out for a late-night emergency visit! Feeding volumes exceeding a couple pounds intermittently would have a bacterial overgrowth effect in the animal’s rumen (forestomach), so bottom line: they’re getting grain, coated in sugars, but in what sounds like very small amounts. These animals are not being grain-fed or “finished” on grains like most feedlot and otherwise non-grass-fed critters whose products populate the grocery store shelves. Hope this helps. And, yes, it’s minutia.

    1. The devil is in the details…especially when it is food going in our mouths!

    2. Minutia or otherwise — thank you so much for your eye-opening input

  30. And I thought I was the only one!…My fingertips go white now and numb from time to time…This has gone on for about the past ten months…I will definitely be trying the warm bath and magnesium advice…perhaps trying more carbs as well as I have been, purposely, keeping them very low (around 20-30 grams total per day).

    1. Be very careful if you get in a bath with white feet and fingers it is VERY painful… be sure to work your body into the temp by standing in tub as it fills up. Also lots of tea

  31. Try Vitamin K2. I got the info over at Richard Nikoley’s blog “Free the Animal,” and it helps in addition to alleviate my varicose vein pain. I’ve been using the K2 for about 2 years for cold feet. NOW vitamins has a Vit K2 that costs around $12-$15 in Canada probably cheaper in the US.

    1. Hilda, I was wondering if you had any updated thoughts on treating your varicose veins. I want to try and help my mom, who’s veins are getting progressively worse.

      It’s looking like vitamin K2, collagen and vitamin C keep coming up, and simply considering the structural composition of veins, this would make sense. Also wondering if you’ve found any botanicals to be helpful. Heard Butcher’s broom, Horse chestnut and Gotu kola come up a few times.

      1. Justin, I see that Hilda hasn’t responded but I am curious as to what you’ve personally tried with your Mom that helps. Thanks!

  32. My Raynauds improved greatly a couple years ago when I segued into PHD, which for me meant upping my starch consumption and adding all the supplements the Jaminets recommend. My fingers and toes still get cold sometimes outside in the wintertime, but they warm up right away when I come inside. I no longer have to resort to the painful warm water torture to bring numb digits back to life.

  33. I’m pretty familiar with livestock (we have horses, I work on a beef ranch, and my fiance manages a feed store), and one pound a week of sweet feed is literally nothing for an animal that size. That’s like your square of dark chocolate/glass of red wine, if that. A totally grain-fed animal would easily consume anywhere from 1-5 lbs per day, minimum.

  34. Cold hands and feet: I had a noticeable reduction in the severity of cold extremities after taking a B-complex vitamin (50 mg/mcg) every day for several months. I can’t recall all of the details, but I believe the B vitamins are important for thyroid and hormone function.

  35. I used to get cold hand and feet until I gave up all caffeine (even chocolate) – so no tea, coffee, cocoa – I think the caffeine, over time, was messing up my circulation. I know studies show it promotes vasodilation, but over time it can lead to vasoconstriction – and I consumed a lot. Another thing that helped (while I was still drinking coffee, etc) was acupuncture. It was an unexpected side-effect. I was getting the acupuncture for another problem, totally unrelated to the cold hands and feet, but somehow I found my circulation improved immensely. For example, I used to never sweat when I worked out (and I could be running sprints or anything full-out) but I would get a bright red face and feel light-headed at times. After acupuncture, I would feel warm all over, I’d sweat, and no more bright red face!

  36. For sleep issues we have recently discovered melatonin – a hormone you naturally produce from your pineal gland. We moved my autistic son in to a bed, from a cot/crib, recently and he was getting up and playing in his room until 10pm and later. Turns out autistic people produce less melatonin. Couple of sprays of Mercola Sleep Support in a drink an hour before bed and he is sleeping by 7:30pm. It means he wakes naturally in the morning and is not tired at school

  37. Re: the cold feet. I, too, sometimes suffer from cold feet — which can keep me from sleeping. (I’ve read that you’ll fall asleep faster if your feet are warm, and I find it impossible to sleep if my feet are cold.)

    I’ve found compression socks — you know, the kind worn on the calf by runners and triathletes? — to be immensely helpful in warming my feet up! I can’t explain it, but if I put on a nice pair of wool socks, and then the compression socks, my feet are warmed perfectly. If you had the full sock version you probably wouldn’t need extra socks, but mine only cover the calf.

  38. Re cold hands and feet:

    My dad has suffered from this for years. I casually mentioned this to a neurologist who suggested “Slo-Niacin.” This has helped my dad tremendously.

    Nathan, you mentioned a seaweed fail. All seaweed is not created equal. One friendly version is made by Trader Joe’s as a snack. I love the one flavored with wasabi. You can buy online (eBay, Amazon, etc) if you don’t have Trader Joe’s. While it has tiny amounts of canola oil and sugar in it (boo), it’s one of the very few processed foods I allow in my LVC regimen because it crunches and the wasabi is awesome. (That might warm you up too).

    1. The seaweed I tried was the one that you need to re-hydrate so it was very tough to chew.

      I have found a similar product to what your described here in the UK:

      Yes, that also contains canola oil (all the products they sell do 🙁 )

      Would it be better to take iodine in oil form, or just go and buy the actual product, even though it contains canola oil?

      I undertook the Vitamoves as Mark linked on the first page for movement… That was very relaxing exercise and I really enjoyed that. I’m going to get back into yoga too.

  39. Do you realy think that having stress and therefor breathing to often needs to be treated with extra deep breathing (oxygen) exercises?

    Slowing down and having more co2 would be better, in my opinion.

  40. Dave Asprey over at Bulletproof Exec has some thoughts on hacking your sleep. Might be worth a look.

    I know what you mean about it being an issue. Even though I have been primal for almost two years, rarely have any alcohol, and do my best to reduce stress, a bad nights sleep makes me ratty, lethargic and nowhere near as able to perform – mentally or physically.

    I sympathise! In your shoes, I guess I’d try and sleep whenever I can. Take a nap when baby takes a nap (if you’re at home.) Sleep on the train. Just doze whenever you can! Easier said than done….but worth a try. Good luck!

  41. Actually, regular breathing exercises can improve health of the respiratory system as well as relieve stress effectively. We have to keep our mind with our breathing pattern persistently during the exercise. It is a form of meditation. It can help us improve our memory and other functions of the brain.

  42. If you have cold hands and feet you are not dressing warm enough. I regularly work outside in the winter (in temps down to zero degrees) with no gloves. Insulated bibs, winter coat, and a hat. If I have to handle metal or get snow on my hands they’ll get cold for a minute or two, until the blood rushes back to them. Then they’ll feel down right hot.

    1. Someone told me this same thing years ago, and I have good luck with it: If your hands and feet are cold, put more layers on your body (and head), as maintaining heat around your internal organs is the priority. Don’t know how effective this would be with actual Reynauds but it helps me (until I get a hot flash, lol)

      1. That doesn’t help my Raynauds. I wear layers and layers of clothes and a hat, but my extremities still go numb.

  43. A message for Elizabeth about the sleep problem with small children. I didn’t sleep much at all for about four years after having twins in 2002 when I was 40. At times I was cranky and mentally and physically exhausted but managed to keep going. Once my kids started sleeping I slowly got back to normal and with the help of clean primal style eating and resistance based exercise I now look and feel in great shape for my age. I guess what I’m saying is hang on in there, it does all go back to normal and hopefully doesn’t have any long lasting effects. I am leaner, stronger and fitter than I have ever been and I’m 52! People always said to me ‘enjoy the kids while they are small as it is such a short time’, when you are so tired it can be hard to be in the moment and enjoy them but now my twins are nearly 11 I realise that all those people were right! Good Luck.

    1. What Julie said. I’ve had the very same experience. The idea about deciding to not care too much about the lost sleep when there’s nothing you can do about it is a good one from Mark’s article, too. I got that advice from another parent to, “Pretend to not care and it will kind of roll away.” And lowering my standards for household cleanliness in favor of sleep, also a help. Yeah. Enjoy life despite sleep misery, because the kids do give you back your time. Forever.

      1. Thanks guys. I think the pretending not to care thing is definitely important. Since accepting the situation it has become so much easier… maybe that’s what people mean when they say the 2nd one’s easier – it sure as heck isn’t easier having 2 lol!

  44. Mark, a suggestion for Elizabeth: get in the habit of shutting down early. Learn to tag team household responsibilities with your husband and go to bed as early as your body tells you to. There are many nights when my husband and I go to sleep at 7:30 or 8. Boring? Absolutely! But this is the stage in life we are in and we know that without sleep everything else will suffer. We get a lot less stuff done then we use to and dates are a rare treat, but we are happy when rested. Turn off the TV and computer, leave the clothes u folded and get to bed.

  45. I’ve been very interested in trying a magnesium supplement lately. Sometimes I could use a sleep aid.. can’t afford any pills but I got some cacao, which is supposed to be a good natural source, better for waking up than falling asleep though.
    I used to be all about caffeine but I think people are better off with theobromine.

    1. As for cold extremities, yes, go for movement. Winter camping gave me minor frostbite or something. My toes and fingers have felt numb, asleep, a bit painful, for a while, and often I’d be very unhappy after waking up for that reason, wincing and cursing, and hunching up in an instinctual attempt to conserve body heat. Movement was my cure for the cold. I’d wear extra layers and walk or get some form of exercise until feeling warm, then delayer when necessary. Sometimes I got too warm and sweaty and ended up feeling more shivery soon after resting.
      Interesting about the salt. That was another thing I tried that seemed to help. I figured more salt means more retained water means more retained body heat.

  46. It sounds like it isn’t your problem (not too much post-primal weight loss), but ever since I changed my eating habits and lost 70 pounds in the process (255 to 185), I’ve gotten cold hands and feet more frequently.

    I don’t see any correlation with lack of sleep or stress, but I do with being in colder environments – a problem I never had when I was heavy.

    Pretty much all I can do is have a nice cup of herbal tea, wear gloves more often and avoid cotton socks in favor of wool and moisture-wicking synthetics.

    Maybe doing simple cold-exposure control can help. Regardless, best of luck with this really annoying problem.

  47. I’ve said this one here before, but I just want to reiterate.

    If you consistently feel fatigued every day you may have apnea, not insomnia. A sleep study is worthwhile because it will diagnose the reason behind your fatigue.

  48. If you suspect you might have hypothyroidism then please go and see your doctor. Untreated hypothyroidism can cause serious physical and mental health problems and will make you feel terrible. I know because I suffered with it for several years before I was diagnosed and wouldn’t wish the hell I went through on anyone.

    Iodine can be helpful in some cases, but iodine deficiency is only one cause of hypothyroidism. Hashimotos disease is far more common and is an autoimmune condition that requires medication and will get worse over time if it isn’t properly treated.

    It’s also worth noting that too much iodine can also damage the thyroid, so only supplement if you know that you have a deficiency.

  49. I’ve been buying beef from a local farm that does something a little different. Their stock is nearly 100% grass-fed because they supplement with soy husks. I can’t get them to confirm if the husks are non-GMO. The meat is great and it feels good to buy local, however, the whole soy husk thing bothers me. Two of my local grocers have started to stock 100% grass-fed that comes from Montana which is perfect (other than the non-local aspect).

  50. @Elizabeth,

    I recently decided to tackle my sleep issues, which started after I became a mom, then got even worse w/ menopause.

    What seems to be working is a combination of cold-adapting, using a sleep mask, and deliberately relaxing as I drop off.

    Cold adapting: I started taking cool baths (70-75 deg F) a couple times a week — approx 30 minute per soak. (This seems to have helped with one issue in particular — I’m less tolerant of becoming too warm than I was when I was younger. I think I’ve re-set my inner thermostat; I’m not waking up too warm/too cold as often as I did before I started this.)

    Sleep mask: the idea was to block even stray light (in my case from the street lights outside my bedroom) that might be interfering w/ melatonin production.

    Relaxing: I noticed that even when I sleep I tend to carry tension in some muscles, such as my jaw, so I started doing progressive relaxation when I go to bed. The idea being that I have habitual tension, and if it’s a habit it can be broken 😉

    Oh, I also loaded F.lux on my computer (learned about it on this blog) so that I reduce my exposure to blue light after sunset. And I try to keep to a regular bedtime.

    Good luck . . .

    1. Those are all great tips. It’s not so much a problem of not being *able* to sleep though, more not being permitted to remain so! Thanks 🙂

  51. I didn’t know cinnamon could help with that. Or that there were other sleep supplements like that.

    But yeah, definitely stay away from energy drinks to power you through the day – and coffee is not much better.