Honestly, the deepest effect I've been able to determine through personal experimentation is that coffee contains some sort of stimulant. Anything else is too subtle for me to be confident about.
The answer to variables and problems is better setups (more blinding, more randomization, more data), and not counsels of despair. I agree that there's a lot of variability in sleep scores, which is why I run things for as long as I have patience for (in this case, ~43 days; with melatonin, I could run for many months because it wasn't hurting my sleep but helping it).
A nutritionist recommended I take at least 5000IU a day (with regular blood tests to confirm I wasn't going over the limit.) My blood test level started out at 18 (extremely low, despite the fact that I lived in San Diego at the time) and is now a more respectable mid-50s.
Most Americans are chronically Vitamin D-deficient (sources: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=vitamin-d-d... and http://planetgreen.discovery.com/food-health/vitamin-d-defic...) and at this point, it's pretty much safe to assume that you're not getting enough of it and to consider taking a 2000-5000IU daily supplement.
Anecdotally, I can say it's made such a huge difference in me getting less sick on a regular basis (and is SO cheap) that I've been recommending it to pretty much everyone I know.
I've also become a huge fan of NOT wearing sunscreen, especially if you're going to be out in the sun for less than an hour. With proper Vitamin D levels, you actually burn less. Try it for yourself and see--it's been a massive difference in my life.
Vitamin D I use (Only $8 for 4 month's worth! Disclaimer--Amazon affiliate link, but it is actually what I use) http://amzn.to/zJYS1X
Your skin's pigment density is an important aspect of how you handle sunlight. Your ability to process these chemicals is a function of all three, lifestyle, and other health factors.
I dasn't - I'd be accused of being a sociopathic animal abuser (again). On the other hand, there must be some way to rig the door to open at, say, 1 AM with 1:1 odds. Hm...
1. One night's sleep is likely to influence the next night, and this cannot really be controlled for in the current design.
2. I think there is 'information' or statistical power available in the scenario where you sleep poorly on a melatonin off day after sleeping well on a melatonin on day, because this supports the hypothesis that melatonin helps sleep rather than the null. The key to making n=1 experiments more relevant is harnessing this fact statistically. Not sure how one would do this however.
I'm not an expert either; I just do the best I can, and using a t-test is better than not using any test, y'know?
> 1. One night's sleep is likely to influence the next night, and this cannot really be controlled for in the current design.
Seth Roberts actually said something like that about my vitamin D setup, arguing there could be spillover effects to the next day, which is why I spent any time looking at the 'lagged nights' to see if there was any odd behavior in the following nights. His suggestion was to randomize blocks of nights or even weeks, rather than individual days. Of course, it was a bit late to start over and I didn't really feel like running another experiment...
I don't think that's true. This is what the concept of 'effect size' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effect_size) was developed for, quantifying how big a divergence we're talking about. I didn't calculate it here because I literally just starting using R a few days ago and I don't know how.
A quick and dirty way is to look at the difference in the 2 means and compare it to what is the 'normal range' (intuitively something like a standard deviation or two), which in this case, my ZQ ranges normally from the mid-80s to the very low 100s (a range of ~20 points), and the difference in ZQ means is 4 points. So that's 1/5 the normal variability - that's nothing to sneeze at! (By a strange coincidence, this is almost the same sort of numbers as for grades in class, so we could analogize: not taking vitamin D at night would improve my sleep grades by one letter. When I was in school, I would not have turned my nose up at such an intervention.)
So, your comment is wrong as stated, I think. But as it happens, I do have something which could serve as your 'positive control': my previous (unblinded non-randomized) experiment with melatonin over half a year or so, which found a shift in mean ZQs of ~8 points. I was really impressed with melatonin when I first started (as have many people been), so to find vitamin D is half as hurtful as melatonin was helpful... I had no plans to take vitamin D in the evening before, but I sure as heck don't now!
A couple years ago I wrote a little lucid dreaming app for the zeo you might be interested in.
(Also, I do plan to look into programs that work with the serial cable - more for meditation than lucid dreaming - but I haven't bought the cables and connectors yet.)
My point is that he's collected a lot more anecdotes since then, and there seems to be some indication that Vitamin-D helps sleep when taken at sunrise rather than at night. I was curious about why you didn't mention this. I'm guessing that the posting just pre-dates his newer observations.