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When you have to wake up earlier than usual (42floors.com)
72 points by sethbannon on Dec 27, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments

I had suffered from insomnia most of my life until recently. I tried various things some mentioned here and also prescriptions. But what has helped me is pot. It may not be for everyone but for me it has helped immensely. But do your research some types are better for sleeping than others. And please, this is a sincere post.

It may be anecdotal, but I too have had success with pot. My sleep schedule has been more regular, compared with the alternatives. At any rate they are less harmful for you compared to say benzos or z-drugs like Ambien.

Pot won't work long-term. The problem is that your body will build resistance, and you'll have to use more and more of it.

I am in the same boat! Got my recommendation for insomnia and have slept well ever since :D

My usual trick is to drink a couple big glasses of water right before you you to sleep. You'll be ready to hop out of bed and empty your bladder bright and early.

My understanding is that particular trick dates back to the Native Americans at a minimum.

I'm guessing you're young.

Yeah once you get up towards forty you're going to be hopping out of bed at least once a night for a quick slash. Especially if you're on certain medications.

I'm in my mid-40's and this trick has worked for me for over a decade, including just a couple of weeks ago. (@mjklin - I'm not an MD and I'm not being flippant, if you're already having problems in this area you might want to see a urologist about it. Nocturia is a problem for relatively few people our age - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nocturia#Prevalence)

I can't use the water trick day in and day out, because I get habituated to it and end up sleeping through my bathroom visit.

I also have to be careful about how much I drink; too much and the bathroom visit happens in the middle of the night and back to sleep I go. But 10-12 oz consumed rapidly within 10 minutes before my head hits the pillow seems to be the sweet spot.

This sounds similar to a technique that I heard about some time ago for overcoming jet lag:

Decide what time you want to wake up, locally, in the new time zone. 16 hours before that time, stop eating and sleeping. If possible, try to arrange to fall asleep by 8-6 hours before that time, for a normal night's rest.

When you wake up the next day, you will be famished. Eat a large, filling breakfast. Supposedly the hunger/full cycle has an impact on the body's circadian rhythms, and fasting followed by eating is an especially good way to reset the clock to think "morning" is when you woke up and ate. I read some evolutionary-biology hypothesis that starvation was a larger threat to ancient mankind than sleep deprivation, such that when an individual becomes extremely hungry, the body clock pauses to favor alertness, and then can be switched back on with a large meal.

However it works, it's worked well for me when I needed to travel long distances (compared to previous trips where I did not).

I totally believe that a similar technique could work on a daily basis to help 'anchor' your sleep to the desired time.


If you use a 16 hour fast on a daily basis, you'll end up with some interesting intermittent fasting pattern.

I have to say, I was hopeful up until he mentioned the hunger bit. The delayed sleep phase disorder sounds exactly like me, and I already eat a strict low carb diet, but that fact means that I'm never really hungry. In fact, I believe many people who eat low carb experience the same reprieve from the constant cycle of hungry-satiated-hungry as their blood sugar and energy levels remain constant.

Maybe it's just because I'm not a breakfast eater. Oh well!

Hey, co-q-10 in the morning might help. It is the co-enzyme for melatonin, so it wakes the brain up instead of putting it to sleep. About 12 to 14 hours later, it will cause the body to produce a bit more melatonin than normal. In contrast, taking melatonin will NOT cause the body to produce more co-q-10. I took co-q-10 for several years (in fairly high doses) to fix my sleep issues. I don't have them anymore.

Also, it helped me enormously to seriously clean up the area where I slept. Wash everything, look for hidden mold issues, etc. I am super sensitive to such things. But, also, I have given that advice to several other people who tried it, all with good results. I think it is an oft overlooked issue.

Best of luck!

Yeah, I both have a shifted sleep phase as well as a shifted eating disorder, where I consume most of my calories after 6pm and don't really get hungry at all until 3pm or later most days, even if I go to bed famished.

Also, melatonin gives me depressive episodes. My brain chemicals just aren't a fan of this guy's methods :(

I wrote a post on how to defeat delayed sleep phase disorder. The key is light regulation. See HN thread here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1409107

I'm curious if there are more up-to-date recommendations for his light regulation technique, linked at the beginning of the article:


For example, the "NatureBright Per3 Deluxe Wake Up Light" recommended in the 2012 update is no longer available on Amazon.

I actually just did some research on this a few days ago, and the most promising thing I found was this: http://re-timer.com/

I've been using a NatureBright SunTouch Plus for a couple years, and it's good, but not particularly convenient to sit in front of for half an hour a day. The glasses are expensive, but would be great if they work. (And most of the reviews I was able to find were positive.)

Complete opposite of my experience. As a weight-class athlete I alternate between high-carb in the off-season and limiting carbs to peri-workout hours in the afternoon during periods of dieting down. I only wake up hungry during the high-carb periods, even though I go to sleep with much higher blood sugar.

It's pobably highly individual, but I found that heavy red meats are bad for my sleep, but fish is good. I also found wine to be bad, but light beer is just fine.

I guess the lesson here is to play with various food compositions and schedules, and see which one works for you.

I've noticed similar behaviors in my own sleep patterns. But for me, another problem arises - there's a huge chance I might wake up at 3 am, hungry and unable to go back to sleep.

Are there any academic studies about how low carb diets and going to bed slightly hungry impact morning energy levels? This is consistent with my experience but my sample size is too small

I had huge problems falling asleep for several years (10 years or so). Then I stopped reading in bed, avoided coffee after five and started to consistently go to bed before midnight. Now I regularly fall asleep within 20 minutes or sooner.

I'm just saying that for some people, you may want to first try out the general tips from sleep experts. Do that seriously for a good while (I think it took me several months). Then you can try more advanced stuff.

As I commented on the article, this will not work for me. I frequently go to sleep hungry (fasting) and I will not be hungry for several hours after I wake. My metabolism is obviously different. I usually have no trouble fasting for 24-36 hours and I rarely feel uncomfortably hungry.

These days everything is attributed to the low carb diet. This time it's waking up early.

True, its not a cure-all, and also not for everyone. Still, there is pretty significant effects both physically and neurologically for most people.

I can relate to this article so much!! I'm in my late twenties and I sleep in like a teenager. The mornings are so painful for me. I also eat a lot of pasta.... so will try this new trick!

So he wakes up earlier, but is his sleep as good as it was before? Sleep is meant to be a recovery process and without the building material from food, it might not be very efficient.

What is the evidence for this other than this personal anecdote?

He mentioned DSPS. I have it too, and there's research on it. Check out http://www.circadiansleepdisorders.org/. Light therapy seems to work best. Especially wearing glasses that filter out blue light at night.

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