I woke to the gentle alarm of wind chimes. The wind had come up, and the sun was well into its morning journey. It had been another rough night. Dreams woke me. My bladder woke me. My very sleep position woke me.
From 3am until nearly 6, I sat out in my reading chair not wanting the light to disturb my perfectly slumbering man. I read from a mindful eating book. I started a new novel. I did a guided meditation. I journaled. I perused the different blogs I follow. I brushed Gypsy the cat.
And then bleary eyed and beyond tired, I went back to bed waking up three more times between then and 9:30am. The steady hum of The Angle’s spring traffic was already underway: ATV’s towing trailers loaded with septic straw. A Bobcat precariously hefting a long culvert. Lumber trucks. Work trucks. Rangers hauling trash.
The Angle has woken up. But, I feel like I’m watching it come back alive through a grump-induced fog.
Spring chores beckon, and the stretching and movement feel familiar and good. The sun’s fingers grow longer and hotter and even they in their perfection aren’t curing me of my current woes.
But so far, this has been a year of experimentation, a year of trying on new things to see what works. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” And I agree. “N=1” is clinic-speak for a control group of one. It means I’m running an experiment on myself, and that’s what I intend to keep doing until I solve these so-called “problems”, like not getting enough sleep.
I follow many topic-based blogs: nutrition, minimalism, philosophy, politics, lifestyle, etc., and something I read during the small hours last night stuck with me. One writer has chronicled his health-journey in minute detail, specifically his success following a ketogenic diet. One of the many benefits he listed and the only one he wrote in all caps, was GREAT SLEEP. According to him (renaissancemen.org), “Something happens 1-2 weeks in to doing keto. Your sleep becomes amazing.”
Oh, how I want amazing sleep! Or even just normal sleep. I want to wake feeling refreshed and ready. I want energy that continues throughout the day. I want to feel ready for bed in a natural, healthy way, not exhausted and near tears as I have been for the last few weeks. Based on my own health journey these last 6-8 months, and based on a TON of reading, I now believe nutrition plays a much larger roll in sleep, mood and my overall mental health than I ever before expected.
I have been loosely following a low-carb diet and doing well losing a little then maintaining, losing a little more, and so on. But from time to time, when life gets busy and routines get broken, sugar and flour sneak back in. And then I notice the moodiness return. Sleep suffers. Energy flounders. Motivation declines.
It’s all connected.
So I’m on to another experiment, one I trust intellectually but haven’t proven experientially. One week at a time, I’m going to study how eating low carb, high fat, moderate protein affects my 1) sleep, 2) mood, and 3) energy-level. I’ll keep a running food diary, get some movement each day and use this column as an accountability check-in.
I promise not to bore you to tears with the minutia, it will simply be another aspect of the journey worth cataloguing. Hopefully, new habits will form, and I’ll start waking up to spring the way the rest of The Angle has.
(First published in the May 1, 2018 issue of the Warroad Pioneer)
2 thoughts on “N=1”
Sleep is something I found improved a lot after I went low-carb with Whole30, then Paleo, and finally with the Keto/Paleo mix diet my wife and I are doing. I no longer snore (more likely due to weight loss than the change in diet itself) and the rest I get is much more solid. I use a sleep tracker (Garmin Fenix 3 HR) and while I used to wake up as much as 8 times in a night, now, I only wake up when the dog barks or if I’m getting TOO MUCH sleep. lol. Good luck in finding your right mix of diet and sleep schedule.
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Wow, I can SO relate to this. I have been following a low carb diet, mostly without the flour and sugar. But sometimes things in our psyche stir us awake, and while I am never happy about that, I am learning to make peace with it. As women, I think sometimes hormonal cycles are more sensitive to food inputs. But that is a gift in a way. I totally do the “N=1” experiments too, and try to be mindful of how my daily routine affect sleep and health. I love reading others’ reflections on their experiments and I look forward to following your journey and reading your insights.
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