T Nation

My Parents....


hey guys....im zach and im 16 years old.

recently ive been having some trouble getting to sleep at night. ive had imsomnia off and on for awhile now. Upon asking my parents to see a doctor, my dad got online and starting researching his theory that i cant sleep because of "all that protein i eat."

he found some study straight off the msn homepage. it was not related to sleeping or insomnia, simply to the benefits of eating more protein. it stated the protein "prompts the brain to manufacture epinephrine and dopamine, chemicals that promote alertness and activity." all of a sudden, i cant sleep because i eat chicken or whey protein at 8:00 (i go to bed at around 10)

i obviously dont believe protein protein promotes insomnia, but because of that one sentence, my parents do. they now dont let me eat after 7:00. can anyone link to any good articles saying that protein has no link to sleep loss, or better yet, have a doctor post it up here themselves? id greatly appreciate it.

unless im completely wrong and eating at 8:00 is whats making me not able to sleep. im still planning on going to see a doctor for the insomnia, but ive had that for awhile and i honestly dont believe it has anything to do with my eating habits.

thanks alot, -zach


How are your lifts at the gym? Made any progress lately or are you finding you are having trouble putting up weights you could go rather easily before. Having trouble sleeping is a sign of over-training, search it on here and maybe take a few days off from the gym, could help a bit.


Well this should of course only be seen as a data point, but I am doing the V-Diet at the moment, where the main food is protein drinks. My experience is that I sleep much better than normal. Only other change is vivid dream, but I wake really rested.

I should add that I am about three times older than you, lift mainly to maintain strength and agility after a rugby injury. So I am by no means a hardcore lifter (and definitely not a bodybuilder;-)


Do some research on tryptophan, an essential amino-acid (protein) and sleep.

Some proteins actually make you sleep better.


the internet in the hands of jumpy, mostly computer illiterate parents is a teen's worst nightmare.

My parents were convinced my supplements had unlabeled 'addictive' (lol, coke?) ingredients and steroids, so kids would just keep buying and buying. It was also of no use to explain that 'steeeroids and whey' would cost a bit more than 20 a canister. I feel your pain.


If your urine smells strongly of ammonia, then you're probably taking in more protein than you're using - otherwise you probably aren't so things should be fine. Unless your late meals are high in calories and/or carbs then they shouldn't be a problem.

In regards your insomnia;
1] do you use stimulants (HOT-ROX, Caffeine, Ephedrine etc.?) or drink coffee much?
2] are you training too much (as already stated).
3] are you allowing yourself get up late in the morning? This just prolongs the hic-cup in your circadian rhythm.
4] do you have alot on your mind at the moment?

How are you sleeping now that you can't eat after 7?


Personally, I doubt that your protein eating habits have anything to do with your insomnia. It could be, as has been suggested your workouts or, gasp, stress. Are you heading for exams? Got some girlfriend(s) on your mind? Big game coming up? You know typical teenager type stuff. Oh and I've also read previously that teenagers are wired to stay up later and sleep in later (some high schools in the states have recoginzed this and have changed their start times).

More info on teenage sleeping here:




Wait, you HAVE INSOMNIA... and your parents are blaming you not sleeping on you eating protein after 7 pm.

This is some good shit.


  1. i used to drink energy drinks and coffee, but i stopped in an effort to help the insomnia go away. i havent drank any of that stuff for about 3 weeks or so and the condition persists, do im guessing its some underlying problem.
  2. no i dont think im overtraining. ive overtrained a few times in the past 3 years and ive got a pretty good idea of where my limits are now and where i need to be to make good progress, so i stay there for the most part.
  3. well, i do wake up later (around 9) on the weekends. this is because by the time the weekends come i havent had a good nights sleep in quite awhile, so its hard to not sleep in.
  4. no i dont particularly have alot on my mind

thanks for the help everybody, i think i just need to see a doctor....but i appreciate all of your replies


Dude my dad is a total d-bag about this shit too. He's the kind of guy that does squat rack curls and kickbacks as his primary wokrouts. He's what I like to call a "bitch lifter". He also eats like a little girl (he's a major yo-yo eater), and wonders why he's getting a gut at 5' 10" 156 Lbs. He completely rfuses to buy Grow!, Surge, or any other quality PWO must have (since he does a 2 hour starvation immediatly PWO).

Him and my stepmom fucking piss me off because they think it's insane that I eat more than 100g of protein in a day (I usually get about 250), and my dad thinks 2 small sized eggs with about 1/4 cup of black beans is an "ultra-high protein meal".

Ok, sorry for the thread hijack.


Wait a second guys. It actually could "be the protein." He said he's on the V-Diet. I think the V-diet is a great thing, but unless he's morbidly obese he should absolutely not be on at age 16. He needs milk, and meat, and veggies. I guarantee the Doc [and Shugs, for that matter] will say the same thing.

That said, the problem probably isn't too much protein so much as not enough everything else. [Although, it could be too much protein.] and the timing certainly doesn't matter.


He's not on the V-Diet...someone else in this thread just stated they were and that they find it's HELPING their sleep.


ack my bad. . . I don't know how i did that. Zach, when you speak to your doctor, ask him explicitly to tell your parents that protein doesn't cause insomnia.




Consider this: If you haven't eaten after 7 for a number of days (and your parents forced you to cut back on protein) and you are still not sleeping right, doesn't that mean that the protein wasn't the problem?


Play with you'r nozzel before bed and you're sleep like a baby.


That was great (the quote plus your avatar), thanks for the laugh HvRv


Dude, he's 16... you think he's NOT doing that? :^)


Have you tried reading in bed? Also, is there ANY light in your room when you try to get to sleep? Even a streetlight shining through the cracks between the blinds can be disruptive to sleep.

Some other things to try:

Roll out a sleeping bag and sleep on the floor.

Buy a new pillow.

Turn the heat down or crack a window.