Wakeup Diet & Exercise Program Restores natural circadian rhythms
WakeupDiet: Details, Part 1

Conscious Regulation™

Unstuck. Narcolepsy isn't just a "sleep disorder." It affects so many other aspects of life: Diet and appetite, body temperature regulation, energy, mood, posture, resilience, endurance, and more. Narcoleptics are time-shifted individuals, almost constantly "jet-lagged." They've become unstuck from time. Worse still, they have no automatic regulation mechanism to snap them back on course. They simply don't possess the dayparts of other people. But these dayparts are within reach.

The coping strategy begins here: Strive to stretch what little energy you have onto the framework of a day. I call this Conscious Regulation™. Here's how it works...

Staying on track. When you're all right, avoid anything that causes you to lead or lag the daypart that you're crossing. Conservation is key! You must never run out of energy before nighttime. And when you arrive at nighttime, you must become sleepy. Then you're tracking everybody else. Some people you will even outpace. Yet nobody guarantees success. Conscious Regulation isn't automatic, as with the narcolepsy-free. You must make the effort. Yet success is possible. Not only that, but with Conscious Regulation, practice makes perfect.

Art: This page's mascot: A happy, sleeping cat
  • When you're ahead, apply the brakes.

  • When you're behind, minimize the energy debt.

  • Stability. Avoid peaks and valleys. Keep as stable as possible.

About the table. I'll try to cover the ground efficiently by presenting examples in a table. In the table, “setting the clock ahead” means that you’ve moved yourself closer to bedtime. Setting the clock back means that you’ve moved yourself away from bedtime. With narcolepsy, most activities or substances drain energy and move you toward bedtime. Of itself, neither “ahead” nor “back” is a bad or good direction. The puzzle is keeping stable until nighttime. Do whatever you can to achieve that stability, and thus live a normal lifestyle. A narcoleptic who stays in reasonably good sync with everyone else is OK!

Regular habits. Every day is different, but a regular routine tends to regulate. Also, exercise performs a powerful regulatory service. Food generally creates drag. Of course, foods affect everybody, not just narcoleptics. Here’s my theory on food: Sleepiness isn’t a monolith. It has strata. You might not be able to control the narcoleptic layer. But you can manipulate the layer that eating causes. If you’re already drowsy, you should be extra careful about what you eat. Some foods are dramatically worse than others. There is some flexibility. Yet you must avoid devastating foods. Make no exceptions. These foods can throw off your circadian clock for days, not just hours. During working hours, avoid foods with a moderate to heavy impact. For example, starches, one type of "sleepy food." At dinner, you can add back the starches. Nighttime sleep is coming, anyway. Such flexible rules allow you to maintain a balanced diet.

Avoid stimulants (the prescription kind and the sugary or caffeinated kind): They cause instability. Wean yourself off that mocha latte. At night, of course, some narcoleptics require GHB to sleep. “Sleepy foods” turn the same trick at a lower expense, both monetary and physical. Also remember that nobody knows how Provigil and Xyrem work. The same is true for many other pharmaceuticals, health foods, and so-called natural treatments. True, some of these products have undergone rigorous tests. But not on you! You might be an exception. Remember the Cylert (Pemoline) story. Cylert was once a promising treatment for narcolepsy. Today, it's unavailable in the U.S., and for a very good reason: In 21 patients, this stimulant caused liver failure. Take an active part in your treatment. Check the literature. Consult with your caregiver. No one cares more about your health than you do. No one has more to gain or lose. Be an informed healthcare consumer!

In contrast to other diets. The Wakeup Diet™ resembles many other programs. You can find similarities to diabetic diets. Both types of diets restrict starches and sweets. There are some parallels to the ketogenic diet that some epileptics follow. During the day, both types of diets restrict starches and favor proteins. At night, Conscious Regulation slackens the carbohydrate restriction. You'll notice that Wakeup Diet foods are low in fat, as in "healthy heart" diet programs. Yet the Wakeup Diet is unique: It's the only time diet: Through Conscious Regulation, the Wakeup Diet manages your daypart phase shifts.

Phase-neutral dieting. The Wakeup Diet program is a diet, and it's an exercise program. Yet our primary objective isn't a trim waist or muscle tone. If you lose weight or build your abs, fine. Yet we have something else in mind. Our goal is phase neutrality: Yes, you must eat healthy foods. But you must also eat them at the right time. Yes, you must build your strength and endurance. But you must also waken your body or help it to relax. Otherwise, your sleep and other time-related body functions will become inefficient or even ineffective.

Sleep better. Live better. For example, sleep from sleep attacks is often unrefreshing. Certainly sleep and cataplexy attacks waste time and impair your performance, both at work and at home. Our response is this: When you become drowsy, you must be exhausted. Conscious Regulation shifts the phase of your sleep attacks to the late evening. At last, you become sleepy when you're tired. Then sleep will be more natural, normal, refreshing and lasting. My table summarizes many of the main features…

Activity or Substance Sets Body Clock… Recommended Behavior
Beverage, alcoholic Way ahead Avoid. Body clock may still be off during next few days.
Beverage, caffeinated Back, and then way ahead Avoid. Rebound causes attack. Draws down energy reserves. Effect is cumulative. Addictive. Tolerance effect persuades you to drink too much. Bitterness of coffee & tea attracts you to sweets. Sweet drinks such as Coca-Cola can cause insulin rebound effect. Acid in such drinks may cause bloating, gas and upset stomach.
Beverage, water Neutral Soothing. Cools body when cataplexy causes overheating due to lack of temperature regulation.
Exercise, evening Ahead: Toward exhaustion Exercise daily, without fail. Evening exercise should produce sweat. Sustain workout for more than half hour. Goal: To synchronize drowsiness and exhaustion. Exercise before meals. You may drink small amount of water, or eat small, protein snack just before exercising. Makes sleep more satisfying. Reduces phase peoblems, such as hypnagogics.
Exercise, morning Ahead: Away from drowsiness Exercise daily, without fail.
Foods, dairy products Ahead Avoid, at least during workday. Milk sugars may cause attack. May contain hormones, steroids or antibiotics.
Foods, dense (Example: steak) Way ahead Avoid. Body clock may still be off during next few days.
Foods, fatty Way ahead Avoid. Body clock may still be off during next few days.
Foods, fatty and starchy (pizza, pasta, stuffed potatoes) Way ahead Avoid. Body clock may still be off during next few days.
Foods, most fruit Ahead Avoid during workday.
Foods, non-starchy carbohydrates (spinach) Ahead, but only slightly Spinach is great energy food. Many foods in this category contain lot of water. Water is neutral. During day, keep away from sugary carbs. Non-starchy carbs can be refreshing foods with little expense in sleepiness.
Foods, soy products Ahead, but less than most other foods During day, some types of soy burgers make good lunchtime meal. Reasons: Rapid digestion, small size, portability, low maintenance, low spoilage, flavor. I recommend eating soy burger plain and without bun. Bun (or any bread) can cause attack. Avoid “veggie burger” type. “vegan” and “portabella mushroom” varieties seem to perform well and taste good. Small amount of wheat or rice in burger might cause light attack. Normally, this attack will be of short duration. During workday, avoid soymilk, soy yogurt and “soy dairy” products. These may contain sugar and seem to cause attacks. Consume such products before bedtime, or at breakfast.
Foods, starchy carbohydrates (potatoes, bread, fried foods, triglycerides) Way ahead Avoid during workday.
Foods, sweets (candy, cake, donuts, chocolate) Ahead Avoid. Will cause bloating, body aches. May precipitate cataplexy or narcolepsy attack. Body clock may still be off during next few days.
Naps Back Avoid during workday. Rest of time: Avoid if possible. Only resort to nap if you can’t think or function. Naps can reset body clock for several days. May cause you to stay up later and rise later.
Television Ahead Avoid during day. Can induce cataplectic or narcoleptic attack. May prolong attack for several hours. Tired, and can’t think of anything to do? Shut off TV. Go for walk or take nap.
Travel Ahead. Or: Body systems may be out of sync with one another (chaos). Body systems lose coordination with each other. Body clock tends to set ahead. Recovery may take days. If possible, try to stay on home time. Try to avoid changing diet or habits, or only introduce change gradually. Avoid alcohol, coffee and naps. If you must adjust sleep hours, do that as rapidly as possible. Then pain will only spoil day or two.
Working at night Way ahead Meals and daytime naps can shift our circadian clock really far ahead. Narcoleptics often find ourselves turning into creatures of night. Night work has advantages: If you don’t eat, then you avoid depressing effects of food. While others sleep, you avoid engagement. Without someone to chat with, you save time. Without interruptions, you can concentrate. You can also avoid emotional stimuli that coworkers present. Unfortunately, night work means that you’re 180 degrees out of sync with rest of world. If night work involves regular daytime schedule, then eating eventually shifts you back. Keeping regular habits is only way to maintain control and stay in sync.
Working in cool environment Back Excellent. Your cataplectic headache will vanish. Shiver slightly and stay alert. You’ll be amazed at your productivity. Don’t put on sweater until your hands turn blue.
Working in environment heated to above normal room temperature Way ahead If possible, avoid. Will precipitate swelling, headache, cataplexy and narcolepsy attacks.
Working on overcast days Ahead During overcast days, most people droop. Narcoleptics are no different.
Working on sunny days Back (as long as you stay cool) Sunshine tends to wake people up. We respond well to light. Narcoleptics may be even more sensitive to sunlight than other people are.

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