T Nation

Questions on Sleep


Coach Thib,

I can never seem to fall asleep at night and get a good 8 hours rest, but am always very tired mid-day. I find it hard to get a good night's sleep. I tried the "make your room like a cave" thing, but I could not stop thinking (my mind was constantly going and I was up for HOURS until I caved and turned on the television). I notice that I need to watch a television show that distracts my mind and then I fall asleep, but then I get up too early.

It's always been an issue with me, but now that I am working 12 hour shifts per day, I need to really focus on my sleep. I also know sleep is very important with building muscle and losing fat.

To get an idea of my diet: I eat low carbs, more fat/protein.

Like I said, this has been going on for most of my life. I refuse to use sleeping drugs.

If you need more information about me, let me know.

Any tips/explanations will help me a lot.


Hey Louis,
I just want to say that I've been there...and it's bad....with me, it was to a point where the insomnia was giving me crazy anxiety. I also refused to use sleeping drugs. I now have it under control, but I ended up having to eliminitate all stimulants from my diet for a while to make it manageable (amongst other things). Are you a coffee drinker? Are you stressed? I think finding the reason why you're not falling asleep is the first question you should ask yourself, then you can see what can be done about it...Did you try any natural products/supp. that can help make you drowsy?

Anyhow, let's see what Thibs says...

Good luck,
Not sleeping ain't fun at all..



I too have had this issue most of my life.

Here is what has helped me TREMENDOUSLY:

5 grams of Poliquin Glycine with each of my last 3 meals ( I also take 10 grams post workout)

400 mg (1/2 teaspoon) of Poliquin Phosphotidylserine 30 minutes before bed (I also take this same amount post workout with 1 scoop of Power Drive)

3 ZMA on an empty stomach 30 minutes before bed

Start with 1 capsule of Z-12 (and work up to 3 if needed) 30 minutes before bed

It may or may not be a cortisol issue (stress in general), but I would guess that you're "wound pretty tight" naturally and working 12 hour days, lower carb diet, and hitting the gym hard a few days a week will take it's toll on your nervous system.

All of the above things have helped calm me down (especially at night and the hour or so leading up to bed) and have allowed me to sleep better.

You mentioned you didn't want to use "sleeping drugs", so if you don't consider ZMA and Z-12 sleeping drugs, I would give it a try.

What time do your work shifts end?? Close to bed time?

Also, you could try reading in bed for 30 minutes before you hit the lights.....that has also helped me....light reading, nothing too intense.

Hope this helps.


Me too Louis,

Poliquin does make some great stuff for sleep as described above. ZMA and Z-12 are also obvious choices. I use and find both helpful.

Here's my added 2 cents and what I did to help my sleeping patterns. People I talk to about this find it pretty radical, but I think this is how we are meant to live.

1) Go to bed early, and I mean early. The closer to sunset, the better. I go to bed at 10. 9 would be even better.
2) Go to bed at the same time, every day. Even on weekends.
3) Wake up at the same time, every day. Even on weekends.
4) After sunset, DO NOT use electric lighting or turn on the television. Candles are wonderful.
5) Do not, under any circumstance, lay down in your bed BEFORE it's time for your nightly sleep. If you must nap, make it quick (under 30 min) and use the couch or floor.
6) Don't watch television. At all. Television serves no purpose other than to fill your head with useless nosie, which persists long after you turn the boob tube off.
7) Don't listen to music unless you are intentionally listening to the music and nothing else. This includes turning off the car radio.

Pretty much all of these violate our societal patterns, but I have been amazed at how my life has changed since incorporating these things. You'll be absolutely stunned at how much calmer your mind is by eliminating television and background music, and you'll find yourself being much more productive as well.

It's bed time for me!


Right on Professor Chaos!!! Totally agree, not radical at all, if you can fit it into your lifestyle/schedule.


Thank you for all of the responses. This is something that I really need to get figured out.

A few points:

  1. I do not drink any caffeine (I never did other than when I took a stupid supplement in the past or the trace amount when I used to drink soda as a kid)

  2. I find my body operates much better on a lower carb (little to no starch, some fruit, lots of greens) rather than the higher/moderate carb. I've tried all of it before and can confirm that I always go back to the fat/protein.

  3. I work in a call center where I answer phones and look at a computer screen all day. I've been getting some headaches after lunch (12-1 o'clock PM) and then it eventually subsides. What I did today was took all of the brightness off of the screen. I adjust the volume of the phone to the lowest that I can get away with (depending on the caller's voice), but it is still noisy in the background. It's also busy.

  4. As of right now, I go to the gym 2-3 times per week and have not been on a planned routine. That will (hopefully) change very soon, but I'd be going on the weekend and two nights per week (an hour or so before I need to sleep. I have been lifting heavy (actually gained some strength) though.

  5. Generally my mind is always racing.

  6. I believe a lot of these issues will be cured when I get the proper sleep.

  7. I want to supplement my already "perfect" (given my situation) lifestyle. I'd like to make as many adjustments as I can before I resort to a supplement.

  8. Professor Chaos, I have tried turning off the car radio and it has helped (especially in the morning). I am much calmer. My main concern is how to get to sleep at night.

Again, thank you all for the responses. I appreciate them very much. If any other information is needed, feel free to let me know.


You workout close to bed time?

There's your problem right there.


I didn't always do that and still had the same problem; even on days where I do not work out!As of right now, the only option I have to workout on weekdays is at night. It would be ridiculous to get up at 3:30 to go to the gym at 5:00 to get to work at 7:00 AM to get home at 7:30 PM.


A girl I've been fucking who I havn't seen in a week and a half told me today when I called her that she had a dream where I died. Tire blew out or something... Is she going to try and kill me?


Sounds like final destination crap( worst movies ever!)


Seems like you keep pretty long work hours. Is there any way you can sneak a workout in during lunch? 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week is nothing to sneeze at if you're intense about it.

If you focus on only one thing, make it disciplining your sleeping schedule. For example, no matter what, your ass is in bed from 10PM to 7AM, every day. It may take a couple weeks, but eventually body will respond to that schedule.

If you can cut out all TV and electric light after dark, that will really help too. Please try it for one night and tell us what you think.


I am trying. I notice not going to the gym helps as well as getting off of the computer an hour or so before bed. I still watch TV before bed right now, but I am making small improvements. Also eating a good dinner -- with the hours and everything else, I haven't been eating as good of meals.

I will get back to everyone with the updates.

Thank you all.


guess you don't want to sleep that bad. How hard is it to skip TV for a week to see what happens...


Simply eliminating background music helped for me.

To me, following all those rules seem a bit too much, it's not drastic, just too much too give up


I've had this problem since I was a kid. I'm grateful for the advice in this thread. I'll try and incorporate it into my daily routine and see what happens.


I use a natural herb remedy called "Asphalia" which has been really effective for me. You can pick it up in any good health store.


I see you're not living far north, like some of us, where the sun starts to set at 4pm in the evening in winter-time.

Good sound advise on some of the other stuff though. Keeping a sleep-journal and being precise with bed-times (same time every day, both going to sleep and getting up) is one of the keys to good sleep.


+1. You're asking your body to perform at it's max, then an hour later to turn around and drop to it's most calm.


see I disagree. I lift weights 2 hours before bed and I drop like a rock on workout days. Many BB's and athletes train in the day and sleep (nap) after.

now if you are talking cardio before bed i might agree...a run wakes me up. good thing i rarely run :wink:



  1. I actually got to the gym twice this week (and once on Sunday so three total days) in the morning and my strength remained the same/increased. I got up at 4 to get to the gym at 5 to get to work at 7 to leave at 7:15 and to get to bed at 10:30.

My energy is actually higher and my mood is better. I hope that I can keep up that pace.

  1. I am planning on starting phase I of the Beast Building Program (this will be my second time doing it) using Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday as training days. I first needed to put my body through the stress of training in the morning like that before I start a program and I think I can handle it.

  2. A person posted on here (on another thread) stating that people who say they can't get to the gym just do not want it bad enough, it stuck with me and pushed me to find a way to the gym.

  3. My sleep is a little better because of the routine/more consistent exercise, but I notice I usually catch up on sleep on a Saturday/Sunday rather than being able to have consistent rest. Unfortunately, I still need the television on to relax me and get to sleep. I still need help with this one. It's not the television, I just want to get into really deep sleep more often.

Thanks to everyone on here so far. To anyone who has any more recommendations: please post.