Sleep Hacking On A Budget

I have been trying some 'natural' sleep experiments lately to see how much sleep I truly need. This has varied between 6 and 10 hours! Yes you read that right, I slept 10 hours solid last night!! That was after a typical day so it wasn't like I was exhausted. This much variation is frustrating as whenever I need to get up with an alarm clock I find I feel anxious and don't get a good quality sleep, or I wake up late and realise I've actually turned off the alarm in my sleep! I am on a budget so I'm not really in a position to spend a fortune on gadgets/supplements. I'd really appreciate it if anyone can help me pinpoint something that will make my sleeps better quality and more predictable.

Here's some more detail about my lifestyle:

I'm female, age 30, and weigh 230 lbs. I've been doing a low-budget version of Paleo/Bulletproof for a couple of months, have lost weight and improved my allergy symptoms enormously. I'm fairly fit for a fatty, I have always enjoyed hiking and I now am able to add running intervals. I enjoy bodyweight exercises although I do them infrequently as I struggle a bit at this weight. I usually leave one or two rest days between my long hike days.

My diet was fairly good before, I ate grains and milk but was already off most processed stuff for a while. I supplement with omega 3, iodine, evening primrose oil, and a basic multivitamin. I get a good variety of Paleo type foods, including plenty of fats. I also do IF regularly - I never breakfast until the afternoon and some days have only one large meal in the evening, about 4 hours before bedtime. I limit fruit to one portion after dinner, or occasionally have some dark chocolate instead of fruit. I have either black coffee or bulletproof coffee, and diet cola in the daytime, and herbal teas such as chamomile/peppermint/nettle/gotu kola in the evenings, with a bit of honey - a hot drink with honey seems to help with any allergenic blunders I may have made!

So what mistakes could I be making that affect my sleep quality?

Chronic cardio? Should I do shorter/less hikes and more sprints? A little strength training on the 'rest' days to tire me out?

Do I need to quit my beloved bottled aspartame? I know it's a cheat but would it really affect my sleep?

Am I eating enough? I feel satiated but perhaps I'm overdoing the fasting? I thought back-loading carbs is good but am I having too much carbs near bedtime maybe?

I eat a lot of local beef and bacon from the supermarket and I've no idea what the animals are fed on - I make up for this by eating fish, free-range eggs, grass-fed butter and omega 3 supplements. (I also prefer fish to beef and bacon anyway) Would meat quality affect my sleep?

Is the extra sleep just my brain adjusting to my new body chemistry? Only been doing this for 2 months.

I guess I shouldn't complain about being able to sleep like a brick! I suffered with insomnia much more often before I started this lifestyle change and am pleased to be sleeping well. I would just love to know when I go to sleep at night that I will probably sleep for X number of hours rather than be surprised by an unexpected sleep marathon!


  • I used to sleep for up to 11 hours and not feel rested. It turned out I had sleep apnea. That means I snored... a lot. It also means, my throat would collapse and prevent air from coming in. I had a sleep study done, and ended up on a CPAP machine. It really changed my life. Before using the machine, I never felt rested, and couldn't concentrate. Since then, I've started writing and I feel much better.

    I don't know if that's your issue, but if you find you're sleeping a lot and not feeling rested when you wake up, sleep apnea is a common cause.

    BTW, as I've lost weight, I found I can sleep on my side without the machine, and sleep OK. I'm hoping I can some day be off the machine completely.
  • I would cut the fasting out completely. IF is something you do only when you are in near perfect hormonal balance (IMO). Continue the practice of having any source of sugars after dinner or before bed.

    Are you sleeping in an extremely dark room and eliminating any source of blue light hours before bed?
  • edited June 2012
    More details... have now been primal/paleo for 3 and a half months, have lost 20-odd lbs. Also my monthly cycle is slightly shorter and more regular, I take this as a sign that my hormones are balancing out. I stopped taking the multivitamin and various others and now supplement with D3, Magnesium, Omega 3, and probiotics.

    Other half says I only snore when I'm drunk, haven't been drunk for a long time though! I usually have some herbal tea with chamomile and valerian, and read a book before bedtime to help switch off my brain

    It seems kind of weird that my other half works 12 hour shifts, eats crap, is obese, snores sometimes, rocks/talks in his sleep sometimes, gets about 6 hours of sleep and yet is always full of energy. And he's 16 years older than me! I'm sure all his cells must be bulging with super-mitochondria or something, he's like the Energiser bunny!

    I feel more energetic than I used to thanks to the weight loss, but I still seem to live life in the slow lane! I wonder whether it's just the way I am and it might be unhackable? I sleep deeply and feel well-rested the next day, so on the days when I don't need to be up (thankfully I work from home so that's most of the time) it isn't really a problem. I'm just puzzled as to why I randomly need a loooong sleep sometimes, for no obvious reason. I would expect to need plenty of sleep as I use my brain a lot for my work - lots of reading/writing/typing/thinking creatively for 8 to 16 hours every day. I'm surprised that I need so much more than my active fella though.

    I find I have fallen into the IF habit and don't find it stresses me, but perhaps I'm not eating enough. Perhaps I just need to do intense exercise more regularly to give me more of an appetite? I wonder whether this sleeping a lot thing is something that is going to continue while I'm losing weight (have consistently lost weight at an average 1 or 2 lbs per week so far)??
  • I had a similar problem with my sleep and I was able to determine Vitamin D had a negative effect on my sleep. You may want to experiment with that. I posted the results here.
  • oh?so useful,thank you.
  • I have just written a report on resetting your body clock using a special acupressure point. I use this technique frequently in my acupuncture practice. You can read about the report here.

    As a way of saying thanks for all the great info here in the Bulletproof community, I'll be happy to send you the report for free, just send me a message or email me.
  • I'm also kinda in a budget. I can afford all my BP diet but not all the supplements, gadgets, etc.... yet.


    Anyway, I used to have problem sleeping but not anymore... and aside from the BP diet I have not tried anything at all to aid my sleep from Dave or the forum, simply because I haven't had the need. And I sleep during the day by the way. Here's what I've done:


    1- Black out my room.  Because I sleep during the day I had to go all the way putting black foam boards on my windows. They're hidden behind the blinds so they don't damage the look of the room at all. It can be noon and it looks almost like nighttime. Even if you sleep at night it would help to block other lights from outside.


    2- Sleep in a cold temp. -  I used to sleep at the same temp I was comfortable while doing stuff around the house (aprox. 77). Then I read somewhere how sleeping in a colder temp can aid sleep. So Right before bed I turn it down to 74. This was by far one the best trick I've found.


    3- Avoid extreme dryness - This again might not apply to all people but if you live in a really dry place like me (Las Vegas) sleep can be uncomfortable. The dryness will suck the water out of you and you will wake up feeling tired or thirsty or both.


    I came up with my own method. I take a regular towel (meaning, not a small one but one you would use after a shower), soak it in water..... and I mean, really dip it into water and get it as wet as you can. Then find a place in your room you can hang it to dry. Alternatively, you can simply take the clothes out of the washer and just hang them to dry in your room (in which case, they don't have to be that wet as the number of wet clothes is way more than the single towel).


    The dryness will use the wet clothes, not your body... or at least it will be WAY less.


    This was also another amazing trick that helped me A LOT!


    4 - Take a shower before going to bed if you're feeling warm.  Most of the time I don't need to do this as I've been doing stuff in the house and I'm not hot at all. But let's say I had to go to the supermarket or to pick up the mail right before bedtime, if I feel a bit warm that will mess up my sleep. A quick shower just to feel refreshed will help a lot too.


    5 - Do the BP diet - plain and simple, even with all my tricks I would sometimes need to take a melatonin pill. After doing the BP diet for a while I found that I didn't need the pill anymore.


    6 - Put a fan in your face! - again, not sure how this works for me and other people but having a fan at high speed almost 1.5 ft from my face makes wonders. It's the perfect lullaby.  All you hear is that noise from the fan... nothing else. No neighbors, no roommate, nothing. Even if you hear something, it just doesn't affect me.


    If you live in a place where it's too cold to have a fan in your face, just turn it to another direction. The noise will still help.


    Again, many may disagree with me and I know some people can sleep just fine with nature noises, music, etc. For me, even those nice rain/forest noises keep me very awake. Every time I try them I keep waking up. It's like my mind doesn't wanna let go of the noise.


    Also, if this even sounds very annoying or you dislike fans then don't even try it. The last thing you need is to add stress to your sleep. It's just something I do.


    It may sound complicated but it's free (except for the BP diet) and it has become 2nd nature.  I sleep like a baby everyday and I didn't need any extra supplements or gadgets. HOWEVER, remember the title of this thread "Sleep Hacking On A Budget". So I'm not all against upgrading your sleep even further, I'm just saying, to start, this really works for me.



  • edited October 2013
    Try vitamin d, magnesium and potassium. They aren't very expensive. 1000iu's of vitamin d for every 25lbs you weight, 600-800mg of magnesium, 200mg of potassium. Take the vitamin d with your first meal and the other two with your last.
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