After following a paleolithic diet, I think prioritizing sleep is probably the most important thing you can do for both your short- and long-term health. But sometimes just trying to get more sleep doesn’t really work. If you wake up frequently at night, have a hard time falling asleep, or wake up super early in the morning without feeling refreshed, here are some ideas that might help.
1. Avoid sugars in the evening (even from fruit). Avoid alcohol altogether and avoid caffeine after late morning. This helps your metabolism slow down while you’re sleeping.
2. Do not eat for at least 2-3 hours before going to bed. When you do, you kick up some growth hormones and boost your metabolism right when these things are supposed to be slowing down.
3. Make sure to have “wind-down” time before bed (not TV) in a dim room. Read, solve a cross-word, cuddle with a loved-one, do some yoga stretches or listen to music.
4. Sleep in a cold, dark, quiet room. Maybe use a white noise generator if your bedroom isn’t very soundproofed. Dark means REALLY dark: black-out curtains, no alarm clock light (turn it so it faces away from you), no little LED lights from phone chargers etc.
5. Manage stress. Stress increases cortisol, which decreases sleep quality, which increases cortisol. One of the sneaky ways you can tell if high cortisol levels are a problem is whether or not you need to pee in the middle of the night (high cortisol levels mean the kidneys don’t slow down at night the way they are supposed to). If stress is a problem, try getting more low-strain exercise, like walking or yoga. Also eating a low-carbohydrate paleo diet, limiting caffeine, getting sufficient vitamin D3, and taking a fairly large fish oil dose will help too.
6. Take a magnesium supplement before bed
. Try Bach’s Rescue Sleep
, Bach’s Rescue Night
, Gaia SleepThru
or Natural Calm
or even a cheap straight magnesium supplement (but be warned that this may upset some people’s stomachs, acting like a stool softener and won’t be as easily absorbed by the body). It also helps to eat more dark green vegetables during the day.
7. Try melatonin
. Of course, check with your doctor first. Melatonin is the hormone normally produced by your pineal gland that is the dominant player in regulating your circadian rhythms. It normally peaks at night, but Taking a little extra (go low dose, 0.5-1mg) will help you sleep more soundly. I recommend a sublingual tablet
(stay away from the extended release capsules unless your doctor suggests it) when you start your wind-down time (less than 30 minutes before bed). Be warned that bright light after you take it will be very confusing for your body. It can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months to reset your circadian rhythms, so one you feel like you’re sleeping well, you can wean off the melatonin slowly.
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