The Low Carb Luxury Newsletter: 
Volume III / Number 17: September 13, 2002: Page 7
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      Answering Mail
Sweet Dreams

Dear Lora,

Now that I've been low carbing for awhile, I am feeling very, very much better health-wise, but one issue remains that I'd hoped the low carb would cure (although it has helped some.) That's sleep. I seem to be unable to really get a good night's sleep. I either can't get to sleep in the first place, or I wake over and over through the night and can't fall back to sleep.

Any suggestions?

Barbara Parsons

Dear Barbara,

Many people had sleep problems before low carbing, and usually it goes away with a firm low carb diet regime. Their sleep problems generally were caused by blood sugar swings through the night, or from heartburn/acid reflux. Both things "fixed" by low carb. Since your problems remain, there might be another cause. First, check with your doctor, and make sure you explain it fully... including the fact that it was a problem long before low-carb (as some doctors want to blame every concern on the patient's new-found diet plan.) But I do have some suggestions if you get a clean bill of health.
  • Do not use alcohol to help you fall asleep. Although alcohol may initially induce sleep, once it wears off, the sleep tends to be fragmented.

  • If you're still taking in caffeine, try and limit it significantly during the 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. Approximately 50% of the caffeine consumed at 7 PM remains in the body at 11 PM. Remember that caffeine is present in many different foods, beverages and medications.

  • Limit nicotine prior to bedtime, as it is a stimulant. But remember, if you do smoke, you'll see FAR more success with your diet if you quit.

  • Limit liquids of any kind for at least 90 minutes before bedtime if the need to urinate wakes you up in the middle of the night. It takes about 90 minutes for the body to process liquids.

  • Regular exercise can increase your odds of getting a good night’s sleep. But avoid exercise within 3 hours prior to going to bed as this will boost alertness and have a negative effect on sleep. Studies have shown that exercising more than 3 to 6 hours before going to bed has the most positive effect on falling asleep and staying asleep.

  • Some people find that foods containing tryptophan aids in sleep. Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid, (the building blocks of protein), which the brain converts to serotonin. Serotonin is a sleep-inducing hormone. Contrary to popular belief, foods high in tryptophan, such as turkey, do not necessarily lead to greater production of serotonin. This is because the other amino acids block the brain’s uptake of tryptophan.

  • Try a relaxing routine, like soaking in hot water (a hot tub or bath) before bedtime.

  • Consider a new pillow, a fan (for noise) in the room, or a whole new bed. Perhaps you are simply uncomfortable.
Hope this helps, and pleasant dreams!


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