No luck on doctor's end for what might be causing the sleep issues. Why iron is low is a puzzle too.
Still taking some iron supplements and will have that retested in the new year. Sleep issue still largely the same, except I've made some progress of late.
Although I'm still pretty puzzled, here is my best guess as to what is going on (pretty off topic but it could only help to share).
I think my sleep cycle has become somehow so screwed up that I have what you could label "advanced sleep phase syndrome
". Basically my body is trying to sleep from early in the evening until about 3-4am. I've noticed before but never really connected it to my sleep cycle- that right after dinner (low carb) I feel really tired.
Weird that something like that would not reset itself given my schedule but anyhow many of the things I've been trying that have been recommended to me may have been counterproductive. For example, I keep being told to avoid light at night, get light first thing in the morning, try herbal aid x before bed, etc. but these are meant to help people who can't get to sleep or constantly wake up. I sleep like a rock when I do get to bed.. but just wake up ready to go super early. So some of the stuff I have tried to use to help may have just been further supporting an early sleep cycle..
So for the past little while I've been trying to stay stimulated a bit more at night, forcing myself to stay up later, as opposed to having an attitude anywhere near "ok i just need more sleep so lets go to bed as early as possible". So far so good as my wake up time seems to be pushing back slowly but still too early to tell.
As for the iron issue.. and digestion in general: well I don't know but I can guess that the constant sleep issue has just effed up my digestion to the point where iron has become low, and I'm not digesting meals well. So I started taking dig enzymes with most meals and making proper digestion a really high priority.
Since I've really scaled back my activity levels.. I have simplified my diet to be small breakfast (typically a few eggs or leftover meat with one piece of fruit), ~40-50 g PRO on a salad for lunch, and big serving of meat with cooked veggies for dinner. Some nuts for a snack sometimes. Kind of like de vany style eating that first got me on to paleo eating. <100 g CHO.
Other things I'm doing just to eliminate any other factors: staying away from intense workouts, cleanest diet as possible, no carb ups, aiming for a one month coffee hiatus (first week was tough!).. and supplementing with some theanine 3x / day on empty stomach. If it is just an adrenal/cortisol issue I'm hopefully addressing that as well.
My new job is going good and can't complain about life otherwise.
Doctor's appointment in new year.. I guess just get my iron retested and try not to think too much about it.