My goodness it’s been a long few months. Life has been good, great even. But I’ve been having some serious sleeping issues and have been exploring all options in hopes to find something to help my struggle with insomnia. Let’s go back to when it all started. Whenever something goes a bit askew you often ask well, what changed? For me it was two things.
The first was I turned 36. No biggie, right? Just another year down. I wasn’t feeling particularly upset about it in fact I felt really great. Technically still in the mid 30’s range, it’s all good. 36 isn’t old, right? Maybe?
The second was I began Orange Theory and fell in love. Like with most (select) things I choose to devote my time to, I was all in. Since beginning aside from when I am out of town I have maintained a three to five class per week schedule. Not too shabby.
Prior to these two above things occurring I slept like a baby. I am one of those people that love and need sleep. I could sleep ten hours a night. My last words of the day when I get into bed are almost always ‘I. love. sleep.’ For some reason I feel I need to say that out loud just to affirm my devotion. On the flip side of it, I am terrible without it. Terrible. I am not one of those cool people that can glide through life on four to five hours, Starbucks cup resting in one hand. No no, I am rocking myself in a corner googling ‘where did it all go wrong.’ So we had a severe problem here. I was sort of a monster.
To be clear, this was not just getting up a few times a night and rolling over. This was basically only sleeping from 10:00-1:00. I would wake up almost exactly three hours after going to bed, to the minute. And I was up, up. Like wanting to run a marathon in the middle of the night up. It felt like adrenaline was coursing through my body. Sometimes I would fall back asleep around 5:00AM for a power nap before I got the boys up but it was rare. Many days I was running on three hours of sleep, hence the monster.
I started to think about what changed and immediately ruled out Orange Theory. Exercise is good for you! They even promote that doing three classes a week increases your ability to sleep very well. So no way, that was not my problem. Moving along.
I turned to the 36 issue. And began to research, a ton. I then convinced myself it was hormonal and that I’m just old although I have yearly checks at my OBGYN and my general practice DR all of which turn back great results and levels including my thyroid, which runs slow and I am on daily medicine for. When I mentioned my sleep issues to both doctors their immediate response was ‘I can prescribe you something.’ Nooooo, I don’t want to take a pill to sleep! I want to be able to sleep like I used to be able to. Something is just wrong.
I then researched magnesium. Almost everyone is magnesium deficient and it helps with sleep so of course that is my problem! I began to drink a magnesium sleepy tea at night. It did nothing.
Neither did melatonin. (NOTHING).
Or oils. (Sorry oil lovers).
Or a natural healing DR. (Wow, more on that later).
I began to lose faith. And I was losing my mind. Was it mental? Maybe this was just my new reality. I was old now, 36…..even ‘pre’ menopausal maybe? What the heck is that. I don’t know, but I read about it and hormones can start to go askew at 36 and oh my gosh that is me. What is my life.
The most frustrating part of all this is that I work so hard to stay as healthy as possible. I eat so well. I drink all the water. I work out intensely. I’m really, really kind to my body. So why wasn’t it being kind to me? I felt like it was torturing me. Also, hello, I HAVE NO BABIES! I raised mine to be independent awesome sleepers. I have no one to tend to in the middle of the night anymore. I deserve sleep. And then there is my snoring husband who can blissfully sleep through anything. During my insomnia I would pretty much just stare at him for most of the night with like, daggers coming out of my eyes. I can’t even. (I’m kidding, of course).
Then, exhausted at 4AM one day I googled the phrase “waking up exactly three hours after going to bed.” My research had never landed me there. And what I found was what I could begin to piece together as my answer. First of all let’s be clear about this, I am not old. Heck yeah. Everything seems to still working properly hormones included, thank you very much.
No, what I stumbled upon almost shocked me. Are you ready for it? I was waking up due to …….. hunger.
My body was literally starving. Ah so this does go back to Orange Theory! Ever since beginning the way more intense workout routine I never really changed my eating habits. To be clear, I eat. For sure. But apparently not enough to balance burning an extra 450-600 calories per class.
And since my goal was never to lose weight (my body is just not in that place) it was literally jolting me awake at night to be all ‘HELLOOOOOO! Feed me please! NOW! We need some fat!’
It’s funny, ok maybe not funny because I was OVER IT at the time, but I recall actually sort of being hungry in the middle of the night but thought it would be weird to start eating at like, 2:30AM so I ignored it. I then carried on with my normal breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner routine. I never ever thought I needed to add in calories to help me sleep. It just didn’t occur to me to connect the dots.
In researching all this one of my lovely followers on Instagram actually reached out to me. She is a nutritionist and confirmed my findings, I was probably quite hungry. She then suggested the best way to help my body was to up my protein and definitely give myself a mid morning snack (post Orange). I was going from 6:30-12:30 or so with no food. A HUGE no no, apparently.
So now I’m implementing a protein bar after my workout class. She recommended RX Bars because they have allllll the good stuff and none of the bad stuff. They come in around 210 calories per bar. I really like the mint chocolate chip and the salted caramel ones. Then, before bed at night if I’m feeling hungry (almost always a yes) I have another high protein snack. I’ve been doing a handful of roasted chick peas or edamame.
I’ve been sleeping like a B A B Y. I feel back to myself. I feel rested and HAPPY and well, fed. I am remembering dreams again! (Something I’ve always enjoyed). I think it had been three months since I last remembered a dream. I’m not being naive here and thinking this is the solution for me to have a perfect nights sleep every single night but my goodness has it made a difference for me. Who would have thought.
My point? Listen to your body. I can’t believe how strong it can be in terms of telling us what it needs. This can be something as simple as rest or food. I’m oh so glad I finally put it all together.