My “paleo” experiment is over.
Sans dairy and gluten-free grains, my sleep pattern got pretty rocky... so rocky, in fact, that I called into question just about everything I was and wasn’t eating. Lack of sleep will do that. It makes you a little crazy.
First of all, if you read my last post, I thought my problem, why I wasn’t sleeping, might be coconut. Now, I’m thinking, that probably wasn’t the whole story.
Because, in addition to eating more coconut during my two-week foray into “paleo” eating, I also gave up yogurt, cheese, and ice cream and cut way back on fruit and sweet treats made with almond flour and honey.
Actually, since about mid-September, I’d been sleeping a little less soundly, but during the two week “paleo” trial, my sleep pattern got so much worse. I started waking up at 2 a.m... mind racing, with adrenaline rushes, feeling ravenous and nauseous at the same time. The only way to get back to sleep was to eat something sweet like a banana. And I never eat in the middle of the night.
Every few days, I’d take Dramamine or Tylenol PM to make sure I’d sleep. That worked okay but I’d be groggy till noon the next day. I hate taking pills to sleep, but I was getting desperate. Finally, I called my doctor and made an appointment for later this week. In the meantime, he prescribed Restoril, which worked for about 2 nights but soon I was back to tossing and turning.
He also upped my estrogen. I’ve been trying to get off it for years... maybe that was part of the wakefulness problem I’ve been having since mid-September, when I was getting really close to switching to a lower dose.
But I don’t think estrogen is the whole story either. I think it’s mostly about the carbs... or lack thereof.
This article from Robb Wolff was helpful. Of course he favors sweet potatoes and blueberries over ice cream, but he does talk about the effects of a too-low carbohydrate diet.
So as I said, I’m done with “paleo.” Two weeks of not sleeping sealed the deal.
Sweet potatoes, bananas, oatmeal, and brown rice are back on the menu. It took about a week, but I am sleeping much better. I’m still avoiding coconut, most refined sugar, and gluten.
My theory, since I’m an intermittent faster (I only eat 2 meals a day and fast from 8 p.m. until noon the next day) is that on a low-carb diet I don’t store enough glycogen to get through the night. Thus the ravenous wakefulness. It took a few days, but now that I’ve upped my carbs at lunch and dinner, a sweet potato or some brown rice, I’m sleeping much better... without pills.
This article,“The Paleo Problem: Examining the pros and cons of the Paleo Diet,” helped me sort out some stuff out too. Without dairy, a food group I’ve enjoyed all my life, I was feeling really deprived... so there is probably a psychological component to my insomnia too. Anyway, now ice cream is also back on the menu.
Here’s a quote: “...strictly following a list of “good” and “bad” or “allowed” and “not allowed” foods tends to be problematic for most people. Generally, this approach leads to anxiety and all-or-nothing thinking. Maybe it makes us feel more confident and (falsely) sure of ourselves in the short term. But it’s less effective over the long-term — because ultimately, it decreases our consistency.