Do you get enough sleep? I mean, not just in terms of how much sleep. We all know we’re supposed to be getting 7-8 hours every night – although I’ll bet most people I know don’t pay much attention to that piece of advice. But I also mean in terms of really good quality restful sleep. Do you get enough? Well, I do. Especially since starting this AIP challenge.
It only took me a few days of starting this new diet to realise I was sleeping better. Not only was I not struggling to get to sleep on an evening, but I was also having really vivid dreams, some of which I’d remember and detail. And when I woke up, I was rested and ready for the day.
I haven’t had a problem with sleeping since I was a child and even then, it was never too big an issue and didn’t last for very long. Or at least I didn’t think there were any problems with my sleep. I’ve been bugging boyfriend for ages now for us to go to bed earlier and read a little bit before bed and I’ve been slowly winning that battle over the last few months. I think I’d managed to get the number of hours I actually spent in bed (including reading) up to about 7 1/2. I thought I was doing really well on the sleep front. That was until I started this diet.
This diet, which bans:
- too much sugar
I’m sure all of these items play a part in stimulating body and mind and preventing a fully restful night, but I imagine the big culprit here to be coffee. I love coffee. I haven’t had a coffee in 13 days and it drives me crazy as I walk to work from the train station every morning and walk past the many independent coffee shops the city has to offer. I know how good they taste. I know how satisfying it will be to have just one. And I know they’re banned on AIP. So I get into work, make a steaming hot mug of camomile tea and feel a little bit sorry for myself.
BUT, I have to admit this sleep thing is amazing. The difference is unbelievable. And although I would consider myself a coffee addict, I was pretty good at limiting myself to two cups per day and I hardly ever drank coffee after 11am, which I assumed was early enough for it to not affect my sleep in the evening. But where before I was sprinkling lavender drops on pillow to ease my into unconsciousness, now I just lie down for a couple of minutes feeling completely secure that in a short while I’ll be asleep naturally and I won’t need to worry about it.
And sleep affects all kinds of things, including mood, appetite, hormones, and of course the obvious – energy levels. Many paleo and primal bloggers have written about the benefits of a good night sleep, including:
- Mark Sisson – The Definitive Guide to Sleep
- Robb Wolf – The Importance of a good night sleep
- Chris Kresser – Beyond Paleo #9 – Get More Sleep
In fact, if you type ‘paleo sleep’ into Google, it brings up 3,090,000 results. Although I’m not crazy strict with my morning routine, here are a couple of things I try to adhere to.
- I try and keep bright lights to a minimum after dinner. We have a fire and candles and they’re my preferred lighting choices of an evening.
- I have apps installed on my phone and Chromebook, which automatically replace blue light with red-light spectrum depending on the time of the day and sunrise and sunset times. Blue light has been shown to keep you awake.
- I try not to eat big meals too late. Hard to sleep when you’ve got a belly full of beef.
- I always read before bed, even if it’s just one chapter. Somehow, engaging my brain in reading even just a small amount seems to tire me out pretty quickly when it’s late and gives me something else to think about other than the stressors of the day, which can keep you up going over and over them.
- I almost always have a cup of camomile tea. I think this is just habit, but it does make me feel nice and sleepy.
I think all of these things are good things to do – otherwise I wouldn’t do them. And they work for me. But none has had such impressive effects as the AIP challenge. Whether it is just that I’m eliminating caffeine and alcohol, or whether it’s a combination of all the other things that are omitted, this is another thing I can be truly thankful to this diet for.
What does your evening routine look like? Have you noticed you sleep better on the AIP diet?
Breakfast: Berry smoothie with freshly squeezed orange and lime juice
Lunch: Honeydew melon (we had a lie in and then grazed all day. Just eating up the remainder of the fruit)
Dinner: Tropical Grilled Tuna with Simple Roasted Butternut Squash
Snacks: Kale Chips (salt and vinegar – I do mine in the Actifry), Porkitos
Pain level (out of 10)
Started at about 3, but by time I got out of bed, it was down to 0. Had a little twinge after all the fruit this morning, but then I’m down to 0 again and pain free into the evening so far.
Pain went up to about 3 again just before bed.