Your diet may be the reason you have trouble sleeping.



  • Before you assume that this is spam, please look at my profile for proof that I am a regular on here. I am not a spammer. All I am trying to do here is post something that may be helpful to others. After all, one of the goals of this forum is to help us improve the quality of our sleep. Thank you.

    Ok, so I just discovered something that has made me kind of upset. It has bothered me so much that I have decided to share it with anyone and everyone who might see this in hopes that it will help others. I mean, sometimes I'll see threads or posts on here from people saying they can't sleep even though they are doing everything correctly with light exposure and with a proper routine at night for unwinding and relaxing. Unfortunately, now I can say I have this problem too, whereas I never used to have it.

    About a month or so ago, I had a major craving for Cheez-Its for the first time in many years (perhaps 10+ years). I'm 39, my birth month is April, and I kinda grew up on Cheez-Its and so I guess that's where the craving came from. I think it's important for me to mention my age because I think my age has made me much more sensitive to what I put into my body than I have ever experienced before.

    Over the past couple of weeks or more, I have developed a major sleep problem: regardless of how tired I am or how long I have been awake (tested 30+ hours a few times with no success), I wake up every ~45 minutes to an hour. I used to sometimes easily sleep 6-7 hours straight before waking up. In addition to this, each time I wake up, I have to urinate as though I haven't urinated in several hours (but I'm not sure if this is related or worth mentioning, but it's very unusual for me). I have also experimented many times now by staying in bed for approximately 18 hours just to see what would happen, and I have noticed that toward the last 4-6 hours of those 18-hour periods, I begin sleeping slightly better with some sleep periods lasting nearly 3 solid hours and I have to urinate less and less, indicating that whatever is preventing me from sleeping is being eliminated through my urine.

    Even stranger is that, each short sleep period of 45 minutes to an hour feels like several hours. The first couple times this happened to me, I was confused by what time it was. Before looking at the clock, I was sure I was waking up from a long 5-7 hour period of sleep. After a few weeks of this happening each time I sleep, now I know it has only been 45 minutes to an hour. Another weird thing is, when it's time to go to bed, I don't feel like I need any sleep. Yet, I know I need sleep based on how many hours I have been awake, so I go to bed anyway.

    Frustrated with this problem, I tried to determine what the possible causes could be by trying to identify what's different now as opposed to before the problem began. The only difference I have been able to identify is the addition of Cheez-Its to my daily diet. I would eat about 60 Cheez-Its every day: about 27-30 from a box of plain Cheez-Its, and about 27-30 from a box of Extra Toasty, all in one sitting. The reason I count them is, I have to watch my sodium intake, and the box says 1 serving is 27 crackers. 10+ years ago, I never counted the Cheez-Its, but I can assure you it's likely I ate at least 4 times that much in one sitting - but I never had this much trouble sleeping. Over the past several years though, I have eliminated all harmful foods and ingredients, at least to the best of my ability. So I'm sure that's partly responsible for my increased sensitivity to junk food.

    I have discovered that the only ingredient in the Cheez-Its that isn't in anything else that I eat is something called "TBHQ". Everything else in the Cheez-Its is also in some of the other things I eat on a regular basis (except for Palm Oil, but my research doesn't indicate any links to sleep problems). So, I did a Google search with the criteria, "TBHQ and trouble sleeping": https://www.google.com/search?q=TBHQ+and+trouble+sleeping

    Here's the first article I looked at, and I recommend that you look at it too: https://fedup.com.au/factsheets/symptom-factsheets/sleep-disturbance-and-insomnia

    It includes a list of things to avoid so that you don't have trouble sleeping, and one of them is TBHQ. I confirmed this by doing further research to find more links between TBHQ and trouble sleeping, and I found several confirmations.

    I only learned about this about 30 minutes ago, and unfortunately it was AFTER having my usual daily snack of Cheez-Its. Still, I immediately threw away the remainder of my Cheez-Its, and so over the next several days, I will see how it goes. Based on my research, I expect to begin seeing improvements to my sleep in about 2-3 days, with further gradual improvement as time goes on from there. I will keep a tab open for this thread so that I don't forget to update it with my findings. I won't post again until I have had at least two or three nights in a row of reasonably good sleep.

    Thank you for reading this, if you did. I am hoping it ends up being helpful for others as well.

    Oh, and there's one more interesting thing to note: while doing this research, I also learned that TBHQ can affect mood and cause problems like depression. I can tell you with 100% certainty that yes, I have had that problem too. I have been feeling worse and worse over the past month or so ever since I added those Cheez-Its to my diet. Or perhaps I can put it this way: I have been feeling worse and worse ever since adding TBHQ to my diet. If over the course of the next few days or few weeks I begin feeling better, I will add that to this thread as well because I can only assume it is something that can affect sleep.



  • As promised, I am updating this thread. I haven’t eaten any Cheez-Its since I posted this thread (and again, there’s no TBHQ in anything else that I eat). So far, it seems I was 100% right. I am sleeping much better now, and I also feel happy for the first time in over a month. I also feel calmer and more relaxed.



  • Another update: for the first time in over a month, I actually slept for a solid 7 hours (it was almost a solid 8 hours). I think my body has finally eliminated 100% of the TBHQ! I'm also feeling even better than I did when I posted the update above.

    So yeah, please avoid TBHQ and all other related ingredients.



  • @twocables it's been a while, are you still unable to keep a 24h schedule, or has this gotten better? To be clear I'm not referring to this post but the sleeping situation you've discussed in the past.



  • @tungsten_smooth said in Your diet may be the reason you have trouble sleeping.:

    @twocables it's been a while, are you still unable to keep a 24h schedule, or has this gotten better? To be clear I'm not referring to this post but the sleeping situation you've discussed in the past.

    I think it's a lifelong thing. I'm 39 years old and I remember always having an extremely difficult time with a consistent schedule. I'm recalling my days in school (kindergarten through 12th grade), and then my days when I had full-time jobs. I would always stay up too late because I just never felt like sleeping. The only reason I ever went to bed was I knew I had to or else I'd have to spend the next day with no sleep at all. So, I always felt forced into sleeping when I knew I could easily stay up for hours and hours and hours. Come to think of it, that's what I did during the summer breaks when I was in school. I still remember being up all night and almost all day the next day very easily on a regular basis.

    I can easily stay awake for over 24 hours every day, so perhaps I come from a different planet where the days are much, much longer! LOL :) Sometimes though I do start feeling somewhat sleepy or tired after around 18 hours, but I have made a few attempts over the last 10-15 years to get on a consistent schedule where I always sleep at night and am awake during the day. Each attempt failed, always resulting in me doing fine for the first day or two, but then I gradually degrade to the point where I just can't keep it going and I crash.

    So for right now in my life at least, I have to just stay awake until I don't want to stay awake any longer, and then sleep until I don't want to sleep any longer. That way, I always feel great while I'm awake.

    Anyway, this reply can serve as another update with great news because I'm still sleeping very soundly thanks to removing TBHQ from my diet. It still kinda blows my mind that I was unable to sleep for longer than 45 minutes to an hour at a time, and now I can easily find myself sleeping for a solid 6-8 hours with no interruptions.

    I do have another ingredient to report though: Annatto. I have a vaguely similar reaction with a sleep disturbance from it, but at worst it limits me to just ~3-4 hours of sleep at a time. It's nowhere near as bad as TBHQ. Strangely, I had what I would consider a fairly large dose of Annatto recently and it didn't hurt my sleep at all. I slept for a solid ~7 hours. I would've kept sleeping, but I was jolted out of sleep by a loud noise. LOL Oh well. :)



  • @twocables I think you're non-24. Have you had any sleep studies or blood tests to check for what may be the cause?



  • @tungsten_smooth said in Your diet may be the reason you have trouble sleeping.:

    @twocables I think you're non-24. Have you had any sleep studies or blood tests to check for what may be the cause?

    The problem is that I don't do anything while I'm awake to become tired enough so that I only last for ~18 hours like most people who lead busy lives. So, the solution is for me to just wear myself out while I'm awake by just doing more stuff - but I don't want to.



  • @twocables I don't think that's always how it will work. I think we should start getting sleepy after the sun goes down. I'm sure there's more to it though.

    So you're saying you believe you have the ability to live on a 24h schedule but you don't almost by choice? I recommend a sleep study if you have the insurance to cover it, or as you say try exercising outside every day for the next two weeks. There's your next experiment!

    Every day, go outside and maybe go for a walk / run etc. Then you'll know for certain if low activity is the culprit.



  • @tungsten_smooth said in Your diet may be the reason you have trouble sleeping.:

    @twocables I don't think that's always how it will work. I think we should start getting sleepy after the sun goes down. I'm sure there's more to it though.

    So you're saying you believe you have the ability to live on a 24h schedule but you don't almost by choice? I recommend a sleep study if you have the insurance to cover it, or as you say try exercising outside every day for the next two weeks. There's your next experiment!

    Every day, go outside and maybe go for a walk / run etc. Then you'll know for certain if low activity is the culprit.

    I sincerely thank you for all of your concern and sincerely thank you for caring about me, but I'm fine. If I'm not fine, then I'm sure I will be sooner or later one way or another. We all gotta do what we all gotta do.



  • @twocables

    food is zeitgeber, like light, and when we eat is more important then what.

    TED: Health lies in healthy circadian habits - Satchin Panda

    https://youtu.be/erBJuxVR7IE



  • I know all about the importance of timing for meals, but thank you. It wasn't the issue, I assure you (I always time my meals quite well due to what I know about the importance of the timing). It's well-documented that TBHQ is a sleep inhibitor.


  • f.lux team

    Curious if you compared with a similar snack with the same amount of sodium/carbs/etc.



  • @herf said in Your diet may be the reason you have trouble sleeping.:

    Curious if you compared with a similar snack with the same amount of sodium/carbs/etc.

    As I said, all of the other ingredients in Cheez-Its are found in other things in my daily diet. The only ingredient not in anything else was the TBHQ. Also, again, there's plenty of research showing that TBHQ causes problems with sleeping.

    It has been 20 days since I made this thread, and I'm still not experiencing the same problem sleeping that I experienced during the ~1 month of time where I was eating roughly 60 Cheez-Its every day.

    If you guys really doubt me, then add about 60 Cheez-Its to your diet every day. If after a few days or a couple of weeks you begin noticing that it's more difficult to sleep, then stop eating the Cheez-Its and wait a few days. You will regain your ability to sleep soundly. You will also feel better while you're awake, and it's not entirely due to sleeping better. TBHQ is also known to cause behavioral problems as well.

    Believe me, I have added way more sodium and carbohydrates to my diet before than what I was getting from the Cheez-Its (like huge daily servings of Tostitos with roughly 7 ounces of Tostitos salsa), but during those times I still slept fine for the most part.

    Here's another thing: I don't remember TBHQ being on the list of ingredients for Cheez-Its several years ago, and there was a time where I could eat WAY more than just 60 Cheez-Its per day and still have no problems sleeping.

    Just review the research on TBHQ and how it affects the ability to sleep. It's worse than that though. Just Google the ingredient.