Weight Loss Support - Sleep and weight loss!

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12-24-2008, 12:27 AM
OK, now that I'm feeling like I have my disordered eating under control, I'm still having trouble with my disordered sleeping. When I first saw my doctor (pre lifestyle change) she said my sleeping problems were probably linked to my weight. Soooo...when I started working out and changed to a whole, clean foods diet, I did start sleeping better for about a month.

Now I come home from the gym and I *feel* physically tired but I just can't get myself to sleep. Before I thought maybe all the junk I was eating, the preservatives, the food additives, and the TONS of Red Bull and booze ;) were messing with me, acting like stimulants.
Now I've cut back on coffee, cut back on booze (except for the last two weeks) and I CUT WAY back on cigarettes because I run...and I STILL can't seem to get my sleep cycle right.

Even if I go to bed at like 3 AM and wake up at 7, I can work all day, do 45 minutes of HIIT cardio, 20 minutes of calisthenics, go to class for 3 hours, be totally engaged, drive home and stay up until 3 AM again. I always, always, always feel tired but never tired enough to not do what I have planned for the day...including sleep. After the first month of getting healthy and exercising, my robotic tendencies have gotten even worse.

I'm at a loss. I guess it hasn't compromised my weight loss so far, but I'm worried it may compromise my maintenance. And I'm not sure going to some American prescription happy doctor who will blame it on the fact that I'm still overweight anyway will help.

**On a side note, it would be nice to have a doctor that stayed in my network for more than a year so I could freakin' have a history with someone! This is such a huge problem in the city!**

I'm thinking about trying melatonin. Anyone have any experiences on that or any general sleep related problems they'd like to share.

Sorry this is so long. I'm just venting to some degree. I'm a freakin' mess!

Thighs Be Gone
12-24-2008, 12:33 AM
It's very common for exercise to "wake up" women. Any chance of you getting exercise in earlier? Also, television can be stimulating. Try to keep it off in the evenings. You could also try warm baths, soothing music, lavender and the like to wind down.

12-24-2008, 12:49 AM
I sometimes suffer from insomnia in the worst way. It comes and goes but there are months where I just cannot sleep ... no matter how tired I am. I know it's intensely frustrating and I hate going through the days being tired and then not being able to sleep at night. It sucks.

A few tricks that do sometimes help for me - and at the very least do help relax me so that I can at least feel rested, even if I don't *sleep*:

1 - Try to have the same bed time every night. If you're going to bed at 10 one night and 2 the next, it sends weird signals to your body and it doesn't know when to start winding down.

2 - Try to have a pre-bed routine that's exactly the same every night. For me that means washing my face, brushing my teeth, putting moisturizer on my body (and the little bit of self-massage helps), getting into bed and doing some relaxing stretches (nothing invigorating, just flexing my feet and ankles and shoulders and consciously relaxing), and then usually reading for 1/2 hour before turning off the light.

(those are the two most important things)

3 - I stop drinking caffeine in the early evening. It never used to bother me, but as I get older, I find that it does keep me awake in the evenings.

4 - It might be cliche, but herb tea helps relax me as well - something warm and soothing. Chamomile is one of the best for relaxation and sleep - sometimes I'll take a cup to bed to sip on while I'm reading.

5 - If you really can't sleep and keep waking up, tossing and turning, take a WARM (not hot) bath and if you have something lavender scented, try putting that in the water. Lavender soothes and helps some people relax.

Mostly the trick is be consistent.

And also for me something that's REALLY important is that my bedroom be a relaxing place. I don't have a TV in my bedroom (never have, never will). It's always clean and uncluttered. I burn soy candles so that it smells good. I always have white sheets on my bed because I love the look and feel of clean, fresh white sheets, and my comforter is always fluffed and covered with a cozy duvet. (And you have to understand that this is not what hte rest of my house is like - as much as I'd like it to be! :D I make a special effort for my bedroom.) I keep the bedroom quite a bit cooler than the rest of the house when I can. And I run the ceiling fan all the time - both for the air circulation and for the white noise value. So when I go into my room it's soothing and peaceful and stress free.

All of these things really tend to help. I"m not gonna say they do the trick every time, but my bouts of insomnia have been less intense and less often since I've adopted a lot of these strategies.


12-24-2008, 12:57 AM
You know that sounds like what happened to me. I was so tired all the time and finally I had to make an appointment with an endocrenologist (i hope i spelled that right). They found out that I had low vitamin D and so now I have to take a mega dose of vitamin D per week. I took my first dose this week and i can already feel the difference. However, I feel exactly the way you do, I didn't have any energy for a long time and I thought I was lazy, so you might want to get that checked out eventually. Good luck with everything.

12-24-2008, 10:21 AM
What Photo said.
(Darn, Photo always posts such detailed informative posts that it makes the rest of us redundant. :^: )

I try to live by the same principles - no matter what mess there is in the other rooms, my bedroom is clean and uncluttered. No TV in there, and I usually read for 1/2 hour before turning off the light, too.
I find that exercise too late in the evening makes it hard for me to fall a sleep (or stay asleep all night). I love "Sleepy Time" tea from Celestial Seasonings - it is a mixture of chamomile, mint and other herbs (no caffeine) - I actually drink it several times during the evening because I like it.

Stick to a bedtime routine - apparently, it is very important and for those of us who have some problems with sleeping it is extremely important.
Oh, I also cannot talk on the phone too late in the evening. THat also "wakes me up".

Typically, my insomnia means not that I cannot fall asleep (except for individual cases) but I wake up at 3 - 3:30 a.m. and I cannot go back to sleep. It is pointless for me to toss and turn and try to fall asleep because it won't happen so I turn on the light, get a cup of hot milk and read for a bit. That usually makes me sleepy again but it takes about an hour out of my night. Sometimes, I go through spells when this happens every night and I feel like a zombie. Then it goes away on its own. My doctor says there the only two choices she has is either to put me on antidepressant or some sleeping pill. I refused both - I was on Wellbutrin for years and it did not help with my sleep and other than the occasional insomnia, I have no other depression symptoms (thank you, exercise!!!!) I don't want to get on any sleeping pill because I am afraid of developing an addiction. So far, it is not severe enough and I can function without any meds.

12-24-2008, 10:56 AM
(Darn, Photo always posts such detailed informative posts that it makes the rest of us redundant. )What that means is that Photo has too much time on her hands OR is avoiding work. ;)

I do take a sleeping pill once in a rare while. I took one Monday night in fact - just a Tylenol PM - because I HAD to be productive on Tuesday and I could feel a night of no-sleep setting in. It helped me sleep but I always feel a bit groggy in the mornings after I take one, so I try to avoid them as much as possible.


12-24-2008, 10:58 AM
Oprah has an interesting segment on her website about sleep. You should check it out.

12-24-2008, 11:34 AM
I have a terrible time with OTC sleep meds - they contain the antihistamine that's in Benadryl, because it has a side effect of sedation. But some people metabolize it slowly, and I guess that's me. I took relatively high (read = just the full recommended dosing) for one day for an allergic reaction one time, and I was sleepy and drugged out for days :(.

OTOH, my sister takes trazodone as needed for sleep. It's an anti-depressant that is also used for sleeping. It doesn't have anything to do with being depressed when prescribed as a sleeping aid :). She loves it. No grogginess in the morning, no dependence, and she sleeps through the night.

12-24-2008, 11:39 AM
Wow! Thank you guys so much for your help!
Some of these things I've tried to implement already... No more coffee after 2 PM, no TV in the bedroom. I even went so far as to move the book shelves out of the bedroom! I also put a humidifier in my bedroom that blows cold air and white noise! We have steam heat with no thermometer, very old school! My temperature choices are cold like an igloo and hotter than ****! Sometimes I even open the window so while the air is cold in the bedroom, the warm under the duvet should want to keep me in bed.
I do my workouts right after work. So like 5:30 or 6 I hit the gym. Keeps me from going to happy hour! But right now because its winter it FEELS so much later since its already dark out. I wonder if that has anything to do with it. I seriously HATE the non-daylight savings time part of the year.

The one thing I've never been successful at was the 'bedtime routine.' What do you think is realistic if I'm a night owl? 11 or 11:30 maybe? I don't want to say 9:30 or 10 and then never stick with it.

I love the tea and hot bath idea! I'm more of a shower person. I live in this old brownstone apartment and you can tell it was built when people had a different notion of vanity, because the bathroom wouldn't fit two people standing up (unless one is in the shower) and the tub barely fits my little legs, and I'm 5'4". Pre war, apparently people went to the bathroom for business and nothing else. But I can still get some scented candles and warm water and that's all I need! Sounds like a great idea!

I love the tea suggestion too. I have to do some shopping today and I will grab some to try.

I hope its not some sort of medical problem or vitamin deficiency. I take a One A Day Women's, its not a mega dose of Vit. D and Calcium but its a dose. I swear, pre-lifestyle change my doctor acted like if I lost the weight everything would be fine. Garrrrrgh. They always say that. Like all problems will be fixed with healthy lifestyle. A lot of problems can probably be fixed by healthy lifestyle, but not all or you'd never see skinny people at the doctor or hospital (except for accidents.)

I know when this all started. It was when I was finishing undergrad and doing my honors thesis. At the same time I was doing an independent research project, related to, but separate from my thesis and I swear to god I didn't sleep for 4 months. I did library research from 4 PM to 2 AM, and writing in my apartment until 6 AM. Grabbed a couple hours of sleep and went to classes between 10AM and 4 PM and then I'd do it all over again. That was like...4 years ago. And I still can't fix the pattern.

But PhotoChick is right! It is BEYOND frustrating trying to sleep when you can't. I've had nights where I got out of bed and was literally crying in the living room because I just wanted to fall asleep! Thanks again for the advice, and the website suggestions!

12-24-2008, 11:48 AM
I'm totally a night owl. Left to my own devices, my natural rhythm would be to go to sleep about 3 a.m. and then wake up around 10 or 11.

I generally get to bed around midnight most nights. I aim for 11:30 but most nights don't make it. I'm in bed around 12 or so, read for half an hour and usually (hopefully) asleep by 1. Then I get up around 7:30 or 8. I probably *should* go to bed a little earlier and/or sleep a little longer, but I just CAN'T. I have far too much to do. ;)

So that's my compromise to get 6-7 hours of sleep each night and aim for 8 on weekends (but not get too far off that schedule anyway).


12-24-2008, 12:22 PM
If you have a sleep study done they can tell you what is going on. Contrary to popular belief there are dozens other sleep related conditions besides sleep apnea.

I hadn't had a good nights sleep in 20 year. I had chronic insomnia. I couldn't sleep more than 4 or 5 hours at a time. I was tired all the time and was fodder for jokes by my friends and family for my sleepiness.

I finally had a sleep study done and as it turned out I had mild sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. I had the problems corrected and now for the first time since I was a teen I sleep 8-9 hours straight.

12-24-2008, 01:08 PM
Some of these things I've tried to implement already... No more coffee after 2 PM

For some people, any quantity of caffeinated coffee at all, any time of day, will lead to insomnia. My mom is one of these and recently discovered that it was coffee leading to her sleep issue, when she went off of it for a different reason. I'd suggest doing at least a 2-week trial of no caffeinated coffee to see how that affects your sleep.

12-26-2008, 04:27 PM
I read in a book on depression once that different people just need different amounts of sleep. Margaret Thatcher famously had only 5 hours a night, or similiar (according to the book).

12-26-2008, 09:19 PM
I feel for you - my DH has suffered from insomnia for the last 10 years - after undergoing chemo and BMT. He has tried absolutely everything aside from some very scary side effects drugs. CUrrently he uses a low dose of anti-depressants, and a very controlled routine. He goes to bed between 10 and 10:30 every night, after going through the tooth-brushing, etc. He reads for about 15 minutes and then turns out the light. He still seldom sleeps all night, but finds that if he goes to another place - the couch or guest bed - he can sometimes get back to sleep. THis is a huge improvement for him. He also tries very hard not to nap during the day.

I find that for me, I have to stop drinking coffee later than the early afternoon. I used to be able to drink it right up to bedtime, but now if I do I'm staring at the ceiling for several hours. :) I was drinking caffinated tea, but I'm thinking that's starting to bother me too. Sigh. Getting old is not fun! One thing that really does help me to get to sleep is listen to my MP3 player. (I'd use the radio, but any noise keeps DH awake) I have a bunch of downloaded podcasts of an hour or less (so the player will shut off; as opposed to an audiobook which goes on for several hours, plus I'd lose my place) and I almost never hear them even half-way through.

12-26-2008, 09:34 PM
Since my job has me working on call and getting my sleep disturbed on a regular basis, I am always struggling with insomnia, especially as I get older.
In addition to the "sleep hygiene" I find a few other things to be helpful.
One is virtually no caffeine, except first thing in the morning. Not even decaf: check out consumer reports, many types of decaf coffee and tea, have significant amounts of caffeine.
Stay away from the OTC sleep pills, they contain the same drug as benedryl, which in addition to making you sleepy, (sometimes too much as was said earlier) may also give you nightmares.
I like 5HTP ( a form of tryptophan) to help me get tired. Also works when you wake up in the night and can't get back to sleep, as it is very gentle.
Herbal remedies that include hops, passion flower, valerian etc are also good.
I like these things because if I get a call afterward, I can still function and think.
I agree with the idea of having a sleep study. I have sleep apnea, and sleep well now. It DIDN'T help me lose weight tho. No magic, but getting sleep is a much better way to get on track with my weight.
Good luck, anyhow

12-26-2008, 10:21 PM
I'm surprised no one has mentioned sugar or carbs late at night. I sleep great now that I've lost weight for the most part, but if I eat too much sweet stuff right before bed, I'll go to sleep OK but wake up two or three hours later. It's like I rebound off the carbs. I sometimes will also have a headache in the morning from carbs--almost like a hangover.

I have always had to be careful with caffeine late in the day, even when I was much younger.

Benadryl works fine for me, but 5HTP makes me feel very strange, so I stay away from that one.

Of course, from time to time I'll have too much stress going on, and that wakes me up. Don't you just love that--it's 4 a.m. and you're worrying about things you can do absolutely nothing about at that hour. :mad: Or you have to get up early for some kind of big thing the next day, so you wake up every hour to make sure the alarm clock is still set and hasn't gone off. ARRRR!


12-27-2008, 08:18 PM
How did you find out you needed to take Vitamin D?

My insomnia seems to come and go, but mostly the problem is that I'm a night owl. Always have been. It helps to use only dim lights after a certain time, like an hour before bed. No TV, computer, bright overhead lights. And no upsetting or energizing activities.

12-27-2008, 10:32 PM
I know when this all started. It was when I was finishing undergrad and doing my honors thesis. At the same time I was doing an independent research project, related to, but separate from my thesis and I swear to god I didn't sleep for 4 months. I did library research from 4 PM to 2 AM, and writing in my apartment until 6 AM. Grabbed a couple hours of sleep and went to classes between 10AM and 4 PM and then I'd do it all over again. That was like...4 years ago. And I still can't fix the pattern.

this part that you wrote sparked an idea -- adrenal fatigue. I have it and what you are going through reminds me of it. after taxing your adrenal glands for so long, your cortisol levels are shot and it's hard to fall into a natural rhythm of proper sleep.

maybe you can do a search for adrenal fatigue and see what I mean?


PS - there is always Valerian Root which is another herb to help sleep.

12-27-2008, 11:17 PM
re carbs< they are a great way for me to GET to sleep. I have modified this over the years, instead of having junk I have a carb rich meal, which helps me sleep. This is especially effective for me to have a long sleep during the day after being up all night. So I have a large bowl of chunky beef soup, or an egg mcmuffin with oj, or an egg/skillet melt with lots of potatoes. (I try to avoid the fried hash browns, but sometimes can't or don't) . Not waking up hungry is one way to stay asleep. I only do it when sleeping out of synch, and try to stick to regular mealtimes when sleeping at night, and not having a big meal before bed. That requires eating properly all day tho.

12-28-2008, 07:26 AM
Carbs put me to sleep also--but I don't stay asleep. That's the problem.