I’ve been struggling a lot with sleep these past several months. I tend to wake during the night and have trouble falling back asleep. I’ve tried the following to no avail:
Cutting out coffee completely
Eating a bit of cheese before bed
Using a weighted blanket
Using an Ooler sleep system
Wearing a sleep mask
Using earplugs in bed
Cutting out naps completely during the day
Trying to get more sun during the day
Practicing cognitive behavioral therapy, e.g. focus breathing
I fall asleep quite quickly, usually within 15 minutes. But I’ll wake up between 1-3AM to go to the restroom and struggle with falling asleep again.
Recently I came across an article from TrainingPeaks here, talking about vitamin D and its effect on training. According to the article, 80%-90% of vitamin D is produced by UVB exposure, which is present only when the sun is at 35º overhead (solar noon). But during the winter months, those north of the 35º latitude get no UVB exposure at all which means virtually no vitamin D production.
That said, I came across this health study which concluded that people with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL could suffer from sleep disorders. I looked at a blood test I had from a couple year ago where my vitamin D was measured, this was before I started cycling but it was right smack in the middle of summer when vitamin D production from the sun should be at its peak. My vitamin D levels were measured at 25 ng/mL.
So I know this is N+1, but given that my vitamin D levels were “lowish” at the peak of Summer I have a strong suspicion that my vitamin D levels are even lower now than during the Summer. My next step is to get another blood test to see where I’m at. In any case, I really want folks to examine this and let me know if I’m off kilter in my thoughts. I also hope, if this is valid, that it will help other folks struggling with sleep issues.
If you test low for vitamin D, would you get a sun box?
Benadryl - it’s now marketed as a non-habit forming sleep aid. I’ll take one when I absolutely need to sleep through the night. It works, and I would consider this the safest bet for a universally accepted sleep aid. Don’t use melatonin, it is habit forming and does more harm than good.
If you’re open minded: cannabis via oral dosing.
Turn off the screen an hour before bed, change your pre bedtime ritual. don’t drink alcohol.
Good luck, I feel your pain but the above has all helped me.
I would look more into long term use of Bendryl. I’m sure it’s fine on the occasional night that you can’t fall asleep but I have read that it can have detrimental effects such as links to dementia, etc.
I’ll have to dig where I saw that it’s probably OK short term but probably best to avoid it long term. Take it for what that’s worth; my thoughts are it’s a hormone that should be made by our own bodies, and when you start taking in more of it it sends a message to your body to stop producing as much of it - leading to that dependency. I took it regularly for awhile and noticed I would become stressed if I didn’t have it as I knew I would have a harder time falling asleep. When I did use it, it would allow me to fall asleep better but didn’t necessarily allow me to sleep through the night. I also experienced strange headaches, it’s not for me.
Please anyone correct me, I think @Nate_Pearson has discussed this on the podcast as well. If my facts are wrong I’d like to know too. I quick google didn’t get me where I thought it might…
For me (at 42ºSouth), similar sleep issues went away when I started getting regular exercise. (I’m guessing you’re doing that, though ).
But, I have the luxury of sleeping as and when I choose (yesterday’s bedtime was 6am, today’s will be more like 10am) - I go to bed when I feel like I need to sleep. I haven’t resorted to melatonin, Vit D supplements, decaf, a significant change in dietary content (maybe really spicy curries a bit less often within 2 hours of bed), or increasing my cannabis consumption. I am getting a little more sun (deliberately: to help prevent psoriasis flare-ups in winter), so maybe I crossed some Vit D threshold - though my prison pallor 9 months of the year argues “probably not” (I mostly ride my bike at night). I generally don’t wake at all once asleep (well, not for more than a change of position, or to locate a pillow I’ve thrown overboard), and even when I do have a bathroom visit, I can get back to sleep almost immediately… becomes a little difficult, sometimes, on hot nights (or days - given my habits).
Has this been a recent issue, what changed?
You said your summer levels of Vit D were already pretty low… if you’d been taking steps to increase exposure (thin or short-sleeved clothes, no hat, no sunscreen, …), were other issues related to Vit D absorption investigated? (gut inflammation, kidney & liver issues can all play a part, apparently).
Not sure if anything in this ramble helped. “I know some of what you’re going through” probably isn’t much comfort, but I hope you find your fix, whatever it is.
Although natural Melatonin production declines with age, you can maximize your own production by avoiding all artificial light after dark. The body’s signal that it’s daytime is a frequency of light in the blue part of the spectrum which in the natural world only comes from sunlight. If you don’t want to resort to candles and firelight after dark, you can us blue blocking glasses. Melatonin production starts a couple of hours after the darkness signal.