Each year I do a collective “humping of the knees” to get folks to imporve their sleep quality. I usually kick that off by recommending the book Lights Out! Sleep, Sugar and Survival. I LOVE this book. Most folks either love it or hate it but the information is amazing and continues to be validated. Shift work has been on the CDC list of known carcinogens for quite some time. Right next to cigarettes and paint thinner.

Sleep deprivation mimics many elements of the aging process. One could make the argument that how you feel when you are sleep deprived is likely how you will feel if you are both diabetic and old (sleep deprivation dramatically impacts insulin sensitivity). Improved sleep time and quality will help you: Lean out, avoid depression, autoimmunity, heart disease…it might even help you be a better athlete. This is a very interesting article for me in that coaches simply tried a schedule more conducive to better sleep and they saw immediate performance improvements in their players. They also dumped the AM shootaround session and saw improvements. More down time, less junk “mileage”.

We have not worked with a ton of high level athletes but we have trained a few, and to good success. Something I have noticed with these folks is my job is less about motivating or pushing these people. They tend to arrive HIGHLY motivated. More than anything else I get the sense I save these folks from themselves. They will literally work themselves to death.

For the rest of us just trying to be healthy and live well the message is still there. Quality training, sleep and food really matters.

Categories: Sleep


Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation

Have you heard about the Paleo diet and were curious about how to get started? Or maybe you’ve been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? Then Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation is for you.


  1. Mark says

    Hey Robb, I just wanted to offer my continued support. I think it’s always helpful to hear it while the battle wages on. Keep it up, what you are doing is very important. Quick story:

    While I was at the Sears presentation in Beverly, MA. I remember talking to the woman next me during a break about how the material was interesting but that I was curious if Dr. Sears thought that by controlling inflammation, that the body would be able to handle foreign proteins that sneak through the gut and thus avoid developing anti-bodies to them and eventually autoimmune disease (take your pick of which one). She just gave me a blank stare back and I think this is why your approach is very important. People need to understand WHY we advocate Paleo, not just that it will keep your insulin levels/inflammation managed. I feel that there is a lot more buy-in from the average client when you start talking about MS Disease instead of just 6-pack abs. Keep it up Robb. Also, I wonder if Greg G. has ever had a client that was previously unable to be in direct contact with the sun, now able to go outside without a big-rimmed hat because they adjusted their diet. I doubt it (that was a very powerful story from the “Cert” in Boston for me). I didn’t want to start talking bad about the founder but he started it by questioning your clinical experience. Thanks as always.

  2. Doug says

    I love sleep, but do not get enough. I work in the produce industry, so we get to work early 6 amish every day. I also have 10 month old twins. I haven’t got any really good sleep in the last 10 months :) I can tell it is starting to wear on me!

  3. Dave says

    Yo Robb, Great job on the podcasts. I would pay for them. I have two questions:
    1. Do you have a recommended reading list of books that you think would provide fundamental knowledge on the subjects you are addressing?
    2. You throw different blood work tests around from time to time. I know recommending blood work for people that “aren’t sick” (I am convinced that I am insulin resistant) is a slippery slope, but would it be possible to list the blood work that would create a broad set of baseline data to track longterm?

    Also, I know a good intellectual property law firm in Bay Area if you want to take it to the next level.


  4. says


    Lights Out rocks. Written in a really, really odd way, but great info throughout.
    As a firefighter/paramedic, I battle with sleep deprivation all too often; “they” say it’ll take a good 10 years off your lifespan, but more worrisome, it greatly affects quality of life NOW.
    One thing I’ve come to learn—I have to reel myself in from hitting the gym when sleep deprived. While my workout may not seem to be perceptively slower or weaker, I’ll get crushed in the recovery department. At times, DOMS will last for 3-4 days vs 1-2, and chronic lethargy (instant overtraining?) kicks in. From my experience, it’s been better to hit WODs intensely and infrequently versus often but with mediocre effort. Sounds like quality over quantity, eh? :)

    There is no substitution for sleep. None.

  5. Ben Wheeler says


    Sleep is literally the Holy Grail. Light’s Out! changed my life in that I went to school to be a cop, but once I read that book I completely changed my entire way of thinking for the better. I had a taste of shift work, security, only 2 nights shifts, back to back per week. Let me tell you that it was all I needed, complete reversal of personality, I became a whole different person, for the worse. It was fucking weird! Skin got worse & I was not nearly as lean.

    No matter how tight your diet is, you can’t eat your way around shitty sleeping habits. This is a great post Robb, I hope you touch on the sleep topic a bit in the book & future seminars!

  6. Mike says

    Sleep is always one of my weakest links given the amount of things in my schedule on a daily basis. I’m looking forward to reading Lights Out too.

    Robb, I came across this the other day –
    Its supposed to keep track of your sleep cycles and set off you alarm within a 20 minute window that will least disrupt a sleep microcycle. Any truth or worthwhile stuff here or do you think its just a gimmick?
    I think it’d be interesting to see what it says.

    • says

      I kinow sleep studies are pretty complicated and involve significant monitoring and gear. This seems a little…skinny. I honestly do not know for sure but it looks gimmicky.

  7. Jason says


    I have been listening to your podcasts and they are fantastic! One of the things I have immediately tried working on is sleeping longer. My life is like most peoples: very busy. But, in the past I have found myself missing sleep because I would stay up for no reason and getting as little as six hours of sleep a night and being exhausted by the end of the week and then still be unable to make up for the lost time. This pattern affected everything in my life; from my job to family relationships to working out.

    Lately, I have made a concerted effort to go to bed at an hour that is going to get me in between 8 and 9 hours of sleep, and the difference is amazing. No more naps when I come home or making myself coffee to keep from falling asleep. I have also been MUCH more patience with my two girls and they has been my biggest concern. Thanks again for advice that is so fundamental and easy to remedy. It’s too bad none of this is based on scientific evidence.

    BTW, much success in your demonic bid to take over the Crossfit world and make millions doing it!!

  8. says

    As an elite triathlete myself…I need to take this more to heart. But, I also just emailed an athlete of mine a week ago and said that I have to tell 75% of our athletes to just ‘slow down’ a bit…and stop being a triathlete.

    Thanks for the great blog. I’ll have to check out the book.

  9. Taylor Payne says


    Thanks for the latest post. I feel like it was written for me! Getting off of the night shift was the single most important thing I did for my health. I hope that on one of your podcasts you might explore insulin’s role with serotonin, mental status, and such. I think that many people “self-medicate” with carbohydrates to increase levels of serotonin in the brain and that in fact, this “addiction” will be one of the great ah-ha moments of mainstream medicine when they finally began to try and treat these types of disorders with diet rather than anti-depressants.

    Additionally, many of us that suffer from type II diabetes have to learn to cut through all of the crap and realize that we can take control of our lives and live and eat as our genes are designed. Our cure is in our diets rather than from a pill. Keep up the great work.

    Taylor Payne

  10. Ryan says

    Hey Robb —

    Just wanted to finally throw a post up on your blog and say you’re doing a absolutely great job. I used to be on the other side of the fence… hardcore Zone, koolaid slurper kind of guy until recently. I think with you being up front and honest with people about what was going on in CF sparked me do a lot more personal investigation. Long story short, I ended up abandoning my precise Zone-habits to experiment with the paleo lifestyle, bought “Lights Out” (based on your recommendation over on the Sicfit blog) and both of Loren Cordain’s books to learn more.

    I just finished reading “Lights Out” (which is why I’m commenting under today’s post), and have to say it really taught me a lot – about sleep and life in general. Even though some of it seems far-fetching at times, I have to say that it’s simply right on… and say thank you for the reading suggestion. Since the time I’ve read it changed my sleeping/light habits, assisted in my eating habits, and helped me be aware to so much more. Just a bit of data for you too… in a week of doing paleo, sleeping 9.5+ hours a night in pitch-black, and following a hybrid type programming (similar to WF, Coach Rut, and Everett – except with the powerlifts instead of oly-lifts) I’ve dropped probably about 2-3% bodyfat and yet gained about 5-6 lbs (not even sure if that’s scientifically possible yet that’s what’s happening to me).. more importantly I feel better in the gym and am performing quite well consistently PLUS I feel like I have a lot more mental clarity and actually enjoy my waking hours more.

    I’m still learning and still experimenting… I do thank you again though for your help in the journey. Btw – keep on keeping on through the crap that CFHQ is putting you through… Anyone with a functioning brain knows who’s more credible and bringing the real facts to the table. You have me (and many more) standing behind you. And for everyone else — seriously pick up a copy of Lights Out. It’s under $10 on Amazon and probably will be some of the best money you’ve ever spent.

    Finally here’s a question for you Robb along the lines of sleep:
    As a police officer, I work 3-4 12 hour shifts a week and I’m curious as to your suggestion for sleep in accordance with that. With OT and everything I can’t necessarily even possibly get 9.5+ hours of sleep on working days. I was thinking of trying to get at least 6-7 hours sleep on work days and then sleep at least 10-12 hours on my off days and vacation time (which is a full month out of the year). If I do that then mathematically that’s the equivalent of the 7+ months of long nights humans need according to Lights Out… or am I missing something? Does the “intermittent sleep patterns” (the sleeping for 4 days then awake for 3) affect me that much? Also how would you suggest I adjust when I have to work nights (6 AM-6 PM)?

    I’m done (sorry for any of this disjointed rambling – I’m not typically so long-winded)… thanks Robb again for all you’ve done and keep up the good work.


    • says


      Thanks much for the kind words and support. The segmented sleep is obviously not ideal but better than nothing. GEt as much alseep as you can, in dark rooms. I wish I had more but that’s what it boils down to. ZMA or similar products seem to really help some folks.

  11. Ian says

    I just ordered this book. Thanks Robb…. I am, unfortunately one of those people who seemingly never gets enough sleep. I get about 8 hours/night, but feel at my best closer to 9 or 9.5 hours/night. It’s just tough to get that with a 2-1/2 year old…..

  12. Nick Hahn says

    Agreed that this is one of my favorite books. I gave the book away to someone who needed it much more than me, so I can’t reference it right now.

    I believe that T.S. Wiley suggested to take melatonin supplements along with sleeping 9 hours in a totally dark room. Is this true?

    In my previous living situation, I had the benefit of sleeping in a totally light-proof, air conditioned box and I slept 9 hrs/night. Since I’ve changed places and lifestyles, I’ve found I can’t get to sleep as easily as before. Is there a down-side to melatonin supplementation? I’m specifically concerned about down-regulation in endogenous melatonin production similar to that which may occur in anabolic steroid users.

    I looked into PubMed, but I couldn’t find much regarding that topic.

  13. kmar says


    I heard Wiley in an inteview once recommend melatonin for a week or two to get you into the habit of getting to bed earlier. She specifically recommended some disolve on your tongue brand from TJ’s.

    I’ll tell you I keep trying to give that book a go based on your and DJ’s recommendations, but I just can’t get past the ‘alien DNA’ stuff. And the way she writes she makes it sound like the human race should have died off a generation ago. That said, you keep inspiring me to try again so now that we are in the dead of winter and I’m dropping my carbs significantly I’ll give it another read and try to get all the way through this time.

  14. says

    Robb, first I’ve heard of 5-htp and doing some reading it sounds like a good replacement for the melatonin I use from time to time. Do you have a suggested starting dosage?


  15. Michael says

    Just wanted to share what I have learned and applied:
    I functioned well on 6 hours, but did I perform well?

    My action steps since hitting onto this blog:
    1. Going over to paleo was massive, I don’t wake up tired, but I was never sprightly out of bed either. Taking out grains was great, dropping carbohydrates from pre-sleep meals even better.
    2. Made myself sleep 1-2 hours earlier – making sure I am definitely in deep sleep between 11pm and 2am.
    3. Experimented with sleeping temperature…started with 25c, found that my best sleeps were at 21c.
    4. Made the room completely dark, even put stickers on the a/c unit lights. Again, big difference in sleep quality.

    What has changed?
    I don’t wake up from the alarm anymore.
    I am pumped and ready for morning CFFB workouts, strength and overall conditioning has improved, whilst leaning out further with reasonable recovery time (but I suspect the tweaking of my diet and changes in supplementation is helping heaps too)
    Skin has improved, bags under my eyes going too. Overall stress level less, and like Jason above, strangely more patience overall.

    Sleep is totally under-rated. Am totally excited about Lights Out coming via mail. Thanks Robb for all these online gems.

  16. dex says

    Robb, I read Lights Out yearly as per your recommendation in the PM years ago. Since then, I have slept in a totally darkened room for the past 3 years, and believe me, it has made a difference, even when I have not been able to get a full 8. For me, the other piece of the puzzle was cutting out dairy–with no dairy intake, I sleep much better, and require less sleep to boot.

    I did shift work for a year–I felt like I was turning into Tyler Durden.

  17. Nick says


    Just wanted to tell you that the majority of people support your teaching methods. I tried the Zone, and it sucked. Now, Paleo habits have resulted in a loss of fat, increased lean mass, and better performance.

    I think people forget that Crossfit is not only for competitors, but for all people. Grandmas, Grandpas, mothers, fathers, people with busy careers-the needs are individual, not general. This is similar with training methods. I have been in boxes that don’t have ramp-ups, nor do they teach proper technique to first timers. These boxes are usually run by blind followers, whose only contribution to fitness is what is read on the HQ page or what they learned at their Level I (which is a joke). Training, like nutrition, is an individual endeavor, and an informed trainer realizes this, rather than just falling into the dangerous routine of “Well, the HQ site says “275 pound deadlifts, so start lifting Grandpa!” Zone may work for some, Paleo may work for some, and a combination of both is definitely beneficial. But do the majority of Crossfitters have the discipline it takes, or the resources?

    Also, I find it highly interesting that in all the things I have read after the BBS, and the subsequent aftermath, nobody has pointed out a few interesting points.

    First, Dave Castro calling anybody a “fat fuck” is comical. He is no better than one of those overweight trainers at 24 hour fitness who abide by “do as I say, not as I do.” The only video I have ever seen of him working out is of him getting his a** handed to him by a girl. I would love to see the HQ brass workout-oh wait, they don’t workout, they just preach from a mountain top, and if anybody has the guts to question their uninformed methods, well then it is game over.

    Second, Crossfit by HQ standards is dying. Most informed persons know that, and the people ahead of the curve are changing. Who wants to support an organization that harps on training methods that a) allow for bad form, b) has no real goal in mind (“Build better humans”-great, what the f does that mean?) and c) thinks it is cool to be elitist? Mark my words, in two years, most affiliates will abandon most of HQ’s methods.

    Third, how can an organization be viewed as anything else but a pyramid scheme when it charges a grand to do a level 1 cert, everybody passes, and then they can pay 2 grand and open a gym? That is the definition of a scheme. I heard HQ made 6 million alone last year in level 1 certs, and to what end? This does not produce better trainers, it is just a revenue raiser. There are not more able trainers out there. A person with actual college degrees in Nutrition, Health and Human Performance, Biology, or Exercise Physiology has the knowledge base to utilize Crossfit in a way that benefits the client. But that is not everybody. IF HQ wants to avoid its inevitable slide into obscurity, it needs to be more restrictive of who it allows to train.

  18. Trace says

    Do you have anything to offer for women in their late 30’s who may be perimenopausal and have sleep quality issues? I used to sleep like the dead, or snooze through earthquakes or a rattling freight or BART train, and this was when I was very unhealthy, but these last few years approaching 40, I wake up frequently and although I’m set for 8 hours, sometimes it’s 4 hours of restful sleep and 4 hours of tossing and turning or outright reading your blog at 2am! I’m trying to figure out if my nutrition choices, training regimen are part of the equation since those affect hormones. Stress could be a factor, but I tend to want to sleep away my stress! Any direction would be appreciated! Guys are so lucky! But alas you deal with our crap! LOL

  19. miss spinach says


    I am going to go get Lights Out and read it. The Google previews looked very entertaining!

    I’ve found that melatonin supplementation is a very, very temporary solution. I quickly build up a tolerance to it and higher and higher doses are required. Same for herbs like Valerian and Kava Kava. I also built up a tolerance to the Seriphos and so I am not buying that one again.

    I broke down and bought the fizzing magnesium supplement…not Natural Calm; I got Source Naturals Magnesium Serene because you can buy it in smaller amounts. I want to see if it works for me before investing in the large size. It appears to be an identical supplement with fizzing mag citrate.

    On a slightly different topic, it seems that I did not have an uncomfortable adjustment period to a grain-free, nut-free, paleo + raw cheese unweighed/unmeasured plan until the end of my menstrual cycle. Then it was like the way many people describe the first two weeks of going paleo. I went from like 9-10 pullups to just totally sucking trying to get 3-4 of them, worse than my usual premenstrual performance dip. My sleep got completely off whack and I could not stay asleep through the night if my life depended on it. I took a few extra rest days. I’m just now starting to feel normal again. I do feel like my adrenals took a bit of a hit from whatever it was that was going on with me for about 10 days there.

    I’m adding in about 500mg of GLA from evening primrose oil every day this month to see if things improve. This has been a helpful supplement for me in the past; I must be one of those people who needs the additional help along that omega-6 pathway. Evening primrose oil is not terribly horribly expensive either, relatively speaking…

    Not ready to remove dairy just yet as a portable snack food–I’m lean enough and I find it easier to digest and that it sticks with me longer than a piece of jerky (relatively lower in fat than the cheese).

    Time to quit reading all this interesting stuff and turn off the computer and the lights. :)

    For a future podcast, I would love to hear something on the differences in male & female athletes. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  20. Brad Hirakawa says

    My face/nose was beat up many times in my teens (I can’t box or kick box for shit apparently). Eventually had my nose routed out (septoplasty) so I could breathe better.. started sleeping much better after that. That was 10 years ago, now I’m awesome.. all because of more sleep.

  21. ChrisJ says

    I’m about to start week 3 of the 4 week the adapation period for a STRICT ketogenic diet. I’ve been doing really well with low carb veggies & good protein, cutting out the eggs, nuts & dairy (heavy whipping cream in coffee) altogether.
    All that to say, I’ve seen great effects on my type 1 diabetes, but what benefit I’ve seen the most from this cycle of strict eating is how an improved sleep pattern has helped my insulin sensitivity. I’ve had bg readings around 82 after sufficient periods of sleep & rest. Good stuff.

  22. Rob Bennett says

    Hey Robb,

    Excellent post. Lights Out has been one of those real eye opener books! One of my favourite books and has definately changed my life for the better. Sorry to sidetrack but I was you recommend a book called “Cracking the Metabolic Code” by James LaValle? I am very interested in it but not sure how good it is. Any other books you really like? (Books you have recommended have been some of the most enjoyable for me).
    Many thanks,

  23. Michael says

    Hey does anyone know about Mila, it’s an omega 3 product that is sponsoring the games. What do you think about it? how does it compare to fish oil? The website doesn’t have much on price as far as price/serving so I didn’t want to order and it be way over priced.

    • says

      It’s chia seed. Pretty similar to flax. It’s that same problem IMO of trying to use a short chain n-3 in place of EPA/DHA. just not the same stuff at all. The folks who own the company sent me a sample. When they contacted me they appeared to be unaware between the differences between alpha-linolenic acid (in flax and chia) and EPA/DHA….

  24. Ian says

    Hey Robb,
    Do you know of any good supplements that may help suppress cortisol release for those times when stress is high in our lives? I mean, even if we are getting enough sleep and eating correctly, it may not be enough…..

  25. Ian McLeish says

    Cool, thanks Robb.

    Quick question: would taking buffered vitamin c pw blunt cortisol levels then if I wanted to wait an hour or two before eating?

  26. miss spinach says


    I’ve added the Source Naturals version of Natural Calm. It is helpful but I still need more help getting to sleep (already have the dark room, aiming for 8 hours, etc.)

    What’s your opinion on taking 1500mg of L-tryptophan at night for a sleep supplement in addition to the natural calm? This has been the most effective thing for me to get to sleep–and stay asleep until it is time to wake up in the morning. How many weeks of doing this is safe?

    The podcasts continue to be incredibly informative…sorry you’re dealing with CF drama. Can’t wait for your seminars.

    • says

      I’ve always used 5-HTP, which is a step down the pathway towards serotonin…I think anything along this line that you find helpful is good. Some folks respond well to GABA. Just have to tinker.

  27. Diego says

    Is Natural Calm the sleeping aid Robb recommended in one of the earlier podcasts? Can’t remember which one it was in and don’t have the time right now to go through them all. Thanks

  28. Greg says


    Do you have clinical (or otherwise) experience with what is known as “advanced sleep phase syndrome” or “advanced sleep-phase type”?

    I think I might fit this label which basically means that your sleep cycle starts several hours ahead of when it should (ie. feel tired at 6-7pm, wake up at 3-4am). I’ve been trying to set my cycle straight with all the good stuff (dark room, nothing crazy at night, relaxing before going to bed at 9-10pm, have even given coffee for weeks now) but can’t seem to shake the waking up in the middle night feeling wired and ready to go.

    I assumed it might be a cortisol issue but after reading a bit about that advanced sleep cycle stuff there are studies suggesting some people might have a gene mutation predisposing them to always having an early cycle. Wacky I know. My doctor has tested my AM cortisol and he said it looks fine. I’m lean with no signs of relatively high abdominal fat. Clean paleo diet. Frustrating me and has been going on for a LONG time.

    Just thought you might have come across this before, or at least clients that are waking up unusually early.

    • says

      I was not familair with it, but some simple investigating shows some similarities to narcolepsy…which is itself, an autoimmune problem:

      Have you ever gone fully gluten free, diary free paleo? We have had success with folks suffering form Narcolepsy, might be helpful here as well.

  29. says

    Hi Robb,

    Thanks for the great article, and for the book suggestion – from your comments and those of the other folk here it sounds like a great read. Looking forward to getting stuck into it.

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