I discovered something cool I want to share with you. Obviously what works for me isn’t going to work for everyone but I think I made an important connection between Vitamin D and sleep quality that I’ve never heard mentioned before. Correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t read everything out there.
The major thing I took away from the Ancestral Health Symposium is that self-experimentation and the dissemination of said results is the absolute key to helping others find their Paleo solution. We have to experiment on ourselves to tweak what is optimal for us, and sometimes we just can’t think of what to tweak. For those of you that haven’t heard of it, these experiments are being referred to as N=1.
You may remember from a post long ago that I was having problems sleeping. I tried pretty much everything that was recommended – even resorted to eating sweet potatoes before bed – to no avail. I knew how important light exposure after dark was so I made sure I limited it. At this time I was taking about 6000U of Vitamin D3 a day. My sleep improved somewhat when my stress level declined, but I was still waking up a couple times a night and a lot of mornings felt pretty damned tired. During this time, I went pretty strict Paleo, bumped my Vitamin D intake up to 10,000U a day, upped the fish oil as per Robb Wolf’s fish oil calculator, dropped a couple workouts per week and headed off to the Symposium. I was feeling freakin’ fantastic during the day once I got going, but was still sleeping like shit.
Enter Dr. Seth Roberts. He stands on one leg to improve his sleep. He swears it works. (I tried it, couldn’t get through two days.) In fact, he did a scientific experiment on it. (Click here for some of his other experiments. They are unconventional to say the least. The one that proves butter makes you smarter is gold.) I asked Dr. Roberts about my sleep quality. He recommended all sorts of things, one of them being getting at least one full hour of sunshine first thing in the morning. Not 2 hours after you get up or in the afternoon – first thing in the morning. He was very clear about that. I hadn’t thought about the time of day I was getting sun, but it made a lot of sense that that would be the optimal time to get it, if you were to get any at all. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to actually do this – my current life is such that the first hour of my morning is spent dressing children for preschool, changing diapers, making coffee, breakfast, checking email.
One day as I was taking my supplements, I was thinking about how many units of Vitamin D your skin produces in 30 minutes of sun (20,000 I believe). I looked aghast at the 10,000 units of Vitamin D I was taking. It was 7 o’clock at night! I was essentially giving my body 15 minutes worth of bright sunlight energy. No wonder I was waking up in the middle of the night! I was telling my body that it wasn’t really time for bed, it was still the middle of the day. I wondered what would happen if I only took my Vitamin D first thing in the morning. It wouldn’t be an hour naked in the sun, but 15 minutes is better than nothing. That night I slept like shit. Worse than normal.
I usually took my supplements mid-afternoon. I vowed to take them first thing every morning. If I forgot, I would not take the Vitamin D at all that day. I tried it the next day and that night I slept like a rock. And the next night. And the next. Days I forgot and skipped the D3, I still slept great. That was the only change I made to my lifestyle and my sleep issues completely resolved.
Now, this may seem really fucking obvious to you. It wasn’t to me and I bet some of you are smacking your palms against your foreheads right now. The thought had never once crossed my mind. Everyone suggests taking supplements, but I’ve never heard anyone mention the optimal time to take them, or if they can affect other aspects of your life if taken at the wrong time.
If you are having sleep issues, please try this and let us know if it worked for you! Of course, you should always sleep in a completely darkened room, avoid caffeine in the afternoon/evening, eat a Paleo/Primal diet and go to bed early for optimal sleep. But if you’ve tried everything and you’re still having issues, try this. Or you can try standing on one leg.