Friday, May 18, 2012

Energy Check

My energy levels have been quite good over the last six weeks, corresponding to the timing of my return to running. The reason this is surprising and notable is that I've been sleeping horribly and I'm starting to wonder if this is related to lower body fat, age/gender, or just a phase...a long phase.


This sleep issue has been going on for the past two months. I'm asleep by 10:30 (sometimes as early as 9:30), but then every night I wake up 2-3 times, and always around 3:15 am. After that, I drift in and out until 4:30 or 5 when I finally get up.

The dog sleeps just fine...
This means I'm getting around 5 hours of decent sleep, which just doesn't seem like enough....or is it? I feel pretty good during the day and my workouts have been strong. I've had a few days where I hit a wall (i.e. kids, feed yourselves..I'm fried!), but otherwise, no complaints.

I've tried melatonin, GABA, and arnica, but I wake up at least twice during the night regardless. It doesn't seem to be stress or busy-brain...neither is it the need to pee! I have NO problem falling asleep, just staying asleep. Maybe this is just the way it is going to be now, and since I feel OK I guess I just won't worry about it.


I am about at my leanest right now and I am wondering if that is playing a role in my sleep issues. I mentioned in a previous post that I made some small changes in my diet this spring - mainly ditching the grazing, upping the green veggies, and giving up Diet Coke (yay!).

Over the past few years as I was changing my eating habits, I did a good bit of detailed meal planning and macronutrient tracking, but I would only keep that up for a couple of weeks at a time. It's very tedious but it was/is an important part of the process. Now I am happily at a point where I have a basic plan and can eat intuitively to maintain.

With Kurt's help over the past year, I fine-tuned what works well for me. I prefer to keep complex starchy carbs (rice, grains, potatoes) to a minimum and include more complex fibrous carbs (veggies, mainly green). I stay more sated this way. My main meals used to consist of veggie + protein + starchy carb, now they are veggie + protein. I have a more carb-heavy breakfast but otherwise I don't deliberately add in starchy carbs, other than the days leading up to a race. Enough carbs find their way into my diet without me trying.

Here's a typical day of food for me right now. I have a nut/nut butter addiction...yes.
  • Breakfast (5:30 am) - 2 slices of sprouted Ezekiel bread with crunchy almond butter + coffee
    ====== morning workout =======
  • Mid-morning (10 am) - Greek yogurt + flax seed meal + mixed berries
  • Lunch (1 pm) - Broccoli + lean ground beef + feta + Stubb's BBQ sauce (sounds strange but yummy)
  • Mid-afternoon (4 pm) - Apples and peanut butter with the kids. A piece of dark chocolate.
    ====== afternoon workout =======
  • Dinner (7 pm) - 2 egg scramble + mixed peppers + spinach + tomato + hummus
  • Pre-bed (9:30 pm) - casein protein + quick oats + peanut butter (all mixed together with water)

I'm by no means a food "puritan". I do enjoy the occasional pizza, meal out, french fries, ice cream, frozen yogurt WITH toppings, wine, beer, and all things chocolate. I just include them thoughtfully.

I'm happy with where I am in terms of training and nutrition, but I am hoping I can get this sleep issue turned around.


  1. Oh, bad sleep SUCKS! You know I sympathize! Have you tried mixing the melatonin with magnesium? I have whole handful of supplements that I take before bed. CoQ10, vit D, probiotic, magnesium, melatonin, and if I haven't eaten recently I'll add enzymes ... all either support sleep or manage inflammation. If I am particularly wired, I'll wash it all down with either a Kava or Valerian tea. I think my issues are related to hyper brain, inflammation, and a lack of melatonin production (due to sleeping during the day). Does it work because it works or is it placebo? DON'T CARE!!! If I miss my vits and I have been on a night sleeping schedule, it's no big deal. If I am on a fluctuating schedule or sleeping during the day, no vits means no sleep. Also, if I go to bed hydrated, I will wake up to pee then go right back to sleep. If I am at all dehydrated, sleep is hopeless. Also, all lights out, ice cold room temps, covering the little ready lights on electronics, and white noise are part of the program. If you are like me, you've already read every article, picked 1000 brains, studied every label, tried EVERYTHING you came across, and when people post well meaning advice like this, it is slightly insulting. Still, for me it was that last little detail, how I combined things, that made all the difference, and I got that from that recent RW article about Tera Moody. Good luck!!!

  2. Do you think your sleep problems started around the time change? Usually I struggle for a few months every time we leap forward or fall back. Then again, I have had trouble sleeping all my life - your bad nights would be a good night for me, and I'm still able to function. I think. :o)

    Usually I do go through phases where I sleep better for a few months and then worse for a few months, so if you are generally feeling okay, I'd give it a little time and see if it irons itself out. I'd also check and see if there is something happening at 3:15 that is disrupting your sleep - your heat pump kicking on, for example.