Sleeping Problems

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thrifty++
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Sleeping Problems

Post by thrifty++ » Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:48 am

Seeking advice from people on how to improve sleep.

I have never been a great sleeper but for the past few weeks my sleep has been terrible.

I often tend to wake up during the middle of the night and am unable to get back to sleep for lengthy periods and sometimes just wake up at 5am and cant get back to sleep at all. It got so bad at one point a few weeks ago I felt too sick to go to work - headaches, serious fatigue. It was after getting about 2 or 3 hours of broken sleep two nights in a row followed by having zero hours on the third night - not even falling asleep.

I went to the doctor and they didnt seem to think it was much of an issue. They gave me some sleeping pills and some melatonin pills. The sleeping pills definitely work but I try to avoid taking them because they are addictive and I dont want to become dependent upon them. The doctor referred me to a specialist for a sleep test with an ENT doctor but I am away travelling so wont be able to get the test for a number of months.

NOw I am still getting sleep problems wile away overseas. And I am supposed to be really relaxed. My energy is really low. I took a sleeping pill once and it was great but I dont want to make a habit of it. Part of it will be jet lag and a very radical almost opposite shift from day to night being very far away in a very different time zone. But I want to move past it as I am actually feeling sick from it. Headaches, serious fatigue, blocked sinus.

Any ideas would be great

prognastat
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by prognastat » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:17 am

Some useful things are to make sure you:
- avoid any stimulants later in the day such as caffeine.
- maintain a regular schedule getting to bed with less than an hour of variance every day.
- get a decent amount of sunlight during the day and avoid it 1-2 hours before your bed time.(this includes light from displays such as TVs, tablets, phones etc)
- are eating a healthy diet.
- Get some daily exercise.(30+ minutes)
- If you are overweight lose some weight(this should result from eating healthy and working out)

Jetlag is terrible for your sleep so this to be expected to an extent when travelling across time zones.

If it remains I definitely would recommend the sleep study though as it could be something like sleep apnea.

jacob
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by jacob » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:24 am

No caffeine. (Makes it harder to fall asleep)
No alcohol. (Makes it harder to stay asleep)
No eating 4 hours before you go to bed. (Makes it harder to stay asleep)
No oversleeping in the morning. (Makes it harder to fall asleep in the evening)

I've played around with it (anecdotally) and these are the four variables that affect me. Some have significant lag effects. For example, it takes me 3 days before the effect of having a cup of coffee is 90% gone. A week before it's 99% gone.

Other potential variables.
Sleeping alone.
Earplugs.
Temperature.

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:49 am

More ideas: melatonin, white noise.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by classical_Liberal » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:50 am

Sleep is tough. I work alternating day-night schedules and have struggled with it for years. With lack of sleep I have all the symptoms you are reporting.

The ENT consult is to see if you have some form of OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). It's certainly possible and relatively common. Any sleep aid is habit forming and can cause dependency, some are flat-out addictive. Melatonin is, by far, the least bad option IMO.

The above advice is good back to basics sleep hygiene (caffeine is a particularly bad offender with up to a 7 hour biological half life). Often sleep issues are related to anxiety as well. Maybe there is some psychological hygiene you need to address?

A few, previously unmentioned, helpful things for me personally:
  • Black out curtains, make sure sleeping room is dark.
  • White noise (many on youtube), makes sure outside noises aren't waking you and helps to relax.
  • Don't mix sleeping space with anxiety creating activity. Don't work (or whatever) in the room you sleep.
  • Remember sleep cycles, they run 3-4 hours. It's not uncommon to wake at the end of one in the middle of the night. Don't let it stress you. Keep the room dark and don't start activities that will wake you fully. Personally, I feel better if I get one full cycle vs 1.5 and wake tired. If you can't fall back asleep after one, just accept it. Tomorrow is a new day (or night of sleep :D )
Edit: I forget. Soft light only 1-2 hours before falling asleep. Light from florescent lighting or screens are a killer. Personally I love candle light, very relaxing.

daylen
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by daylen » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:55 am

Regular physical activity helps to stabilize bodily systems.

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jennypenny
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by jennypenny » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:02 am

Getting out in the waning afternoon sun helps to regulate your body clock.

Maybe you don't need as much sleep as other people and are making yourself sick/stressed out by trying to get as much as you think you need? Try a modified polyphasic pattern with a nap or two every day to see if you feel better.

Sleeping advice is kinda like dieting advice ... there's plenty out there, but we're all n=1 to a large extent.

thrifty++
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by thrifty++ » Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:05 pm

There are heaps of great suggestions here. In terms of some of them:

- caffeine - I do avoid it during the latter part of the day, But I do tend to have 3 or 4 cups of strong coffee in the morning/lunch until about 2pm. Its quite a catch 22 as lack of sleep makes me crave it. Maybe I could try suffering cutting it down to two strong cups a day
- maintain regular sleep schedule - generally do this - except while travelling this has been all over the show
- I get a decent amount of sunlight especially at the moment
- Screen time is a problem - I think I have internet addiction. Always staring at screens just before I go to bed. Maybe I should switch to books
- healthy diet - nailed it
- regular daily exercise - nailed it
- Im not overweight - am very slim
- sleep apnea- I was worried it could be this but I am a hypochondriac. I raised this with my doctor as well as a friend who is a doctor. They both said no way you are very slim with a sim neck. I now dont think it is this anymore as sleeping pills work for me. Apparently they do not work if you have sleep apnea as they make it worse.
- alcohol. Definitely. Even one glass makes it so much worse.I try avoid it as much as possible but its so socially frequent. ahh
- no oversleeping in the morning - my god I wish. I am lucky if I manage to sleep past 7am. Even if I went to bed at 2am.
- No eating four hours before bed. This is not something I have tried. I will give this a go
- white noise - I dont understand this one. Do you mean just playing the white noise on your laptop all night or something?
-work space and anxiety creating activity - right this is definitely one for me to look at. I often work at night just before bed and in my bedroom. Even while away I am doing consulting work. I will try not doing any work after 8pm and maybe I can start aking my laptop to a cafe or other public space

prognastat
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by prognastat » Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:24 pm

I definitely think reducing both the amount and window of caffeine drinking and also reducing work/screen time right before your bed are probably going to be some of the big ones to start with. Reading a book or doing some light house work in the 1-2 hours leading up to your bed time would be good. Also set up some kind of nightshift setting/app on your devices that shifts the hue of your screens from blue light to red light later in the day, avoiding the screens is best, but this can still help a little.

Campitor
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by Campitor » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:12 pm

Humans have a diverse sleep schedule determined by genetics: 40% morning larks versus 30% night owls with the remainder falling somewhere in between. Perhaps you're trying to sleep at a time when you're body is keeping you awake and visa-versa. Keep a diary of when you feel sleepiest and when you feel awake. And also record your resting body temperature throughout the day. Your body's core temp dips when you want to sleep and peaks when you want to be awake. Perhaps you're one of the rare people who are 100% night owls and need to sleep during the day.

Here are some sleep tips from a sleep researcher Matthew Walker PhD: https://youtu.be/TY8_NeXNnwc. I recommend his book "Why we sleep".

Jason
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by Jason » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:54 pm

Don't know your internet habits, but turn off all electronic devices three hours before target sleep time. Unless emergency, do not look at electronic devices if you can't sleep or you wake up before you want to. Blue light shit.

jacob
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by jacob » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:01 pm

thrifty++ wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:05 pm
- caffeine - I do avoid it during the latter part of the day, But I do tend to have 3 or 4 cups of strong coffee in the morning/lunch until about 2pm. Its quite a catch 22 as lack of sleep makes me crave it. Maybe I could try suffering cutting it down to two strong cups a day
My bet is that this is 90% of the problem right there.

I'm familiar with that downward spiral. Try breaking it completely. It will work much better for sleep than scaling back to two strong cups which still might be too much. If you can't go cold turkey, start systematically mixing decaf in with the regular until you've reached 100% decaf in composition after about a week or two. Then scale down the number of cups.

LarryW
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by LarryW » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:06 pm

Others have some good ideas. There's just a few things I'd add. Others have mentioned physical exercise--exercise a few hours before bed is particularly helpful. The drop in energy post exercise helps put you to sleep. Secondly, taking a warm shower an hour or two before bed can help you relax. Finally, setting the room temperature a few degrees cooler at night can help you get to sleep.

Augustus
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by Augustus » Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:11 pm

Lots of research showing that screens cause your body not to release melatonin. I put screens away at 8pm, it's very relaxing.

Cut your coffee intake in half and stop at noon.

Exercise for 30 minutes vigorously.

Get sunlight for 30 minutes to trigger melatonin production as well.

Stop eating at 5pm.

I used to have trouble sleeping, I did everything above and now I sleep easy. Strenuous exercise and no eating after 5 had the largest impact for me, but they are all important.

cmonkey
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by cmonkey » Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:58 pm

Definitely agree on the coffee/caffeine. It lasts a lot longer than you think and 3-4 cups is a LOT in my book. I would go cold turkey if you are having that many issues.

White noise just means having some ambient noise in your bedroom that helps to drown out other noises. Most people use a fan, which also can help sleep as cooler temps make it easier to sleep.

Regular cardio exercise is very beneficial to sleep. When I get into a regular routine, I sleep much deeper and have very vivid dreams. At least 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week. More is better.

BRUTE
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by BRUTE » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:40 am

brute isn't sure about the coffee. the time when brute had the most perfect sleep in his life, for months in a row, he still drank 6-8 cups of VERY strong coffee every day, up until the early afternoon. but experimenting with it probably doesn't hurt.

but it does seem like this has been happening recently, in the last few weeks. if nothing suspicious changed, it is probably stress. in brute's experience there is no need for any particular stressful things to happen, just the accumulation of regular work/life stress is enough. at one point, it's just enough.

sounds like thrifty++ is currently on a vacation overseas? how long is this vacation? is thrifty++ alone?

brute recommends a month or more of doing absolutely nothing, until boredom rears its ugly head. no waking up with an alarm clock. all the stuff mentioned here is great, too - exercise, morning sunlight, no bright screens before bed. maybe even the coffee.

unfortunately, in brute's experience, there's no way to un-fuck stress except brutal relaxation.

before this recent episode happened, has thrifty++ generally been a morning lark or a night owl? if thrifty++ recalls vacations or maybe college, what would be a natural waking/going to bed time in complete absence of alarm clocks, social obligations, and work or school schedules?

brute strongly believes that adhering to that "natural" sleep rhythm as closely as possible is very important. it's not just the amount of sleep, it's also the right time. sleeping when the body is not ready to sleep yet is not restful.

regarding melatonin: what's the dosage? most OTC melatonin pills are roughly 5-10x the dose of the regular, natural sleep signal. so they knock humans out completely, making them sleep for 10 hours straight, but messing up the sleep the following 2 nights. this is brute's experience. if brute remembers correctly, the natural dose of melatonin in the body is about .5mg. brute just checked wikipedia, and they even recommend only using .3mg. brute seems to recall that most OTC supplements contain 5-10mg per pill.

thrifty++
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by thrifty++ » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:52 am

jacob wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:01 pm
I am going to try dropping it to two coffees. Caffeine is my only addiction. Dont think I can cope with the symptoms of complete withdrawal ATM BUt I think this should make quite a difference. As the first two i have early in the morning. Its the 3rd of 4th that happens around lunchtime. I like the idea of gradually replacing it with decaffe though as part of it is the warm bitter taste I crave.

I had a good sleep last night. I did cheat though by taking half a sleeping pill. Also some melatonin. But I just needed to break the cycle. Will go with just melatonin alone tonight.

I am sick> I think I have a cold or flu. That is part of what is making it worse ATM. Although being sleep deprived is likely what exposed my immune system to it in the first place. Its very rare I catch a cold or flu especially in warm climes.

ThisDinosaur
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by ThisDinosaur » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:09 am

The half life of caffeine is 5-6 hours. If you have four cups of coffee in you at noon, that's like drinking one cup of coffee at midnight. If you haven't tried weaning off caffeine completely, you aren't doing the most obvious thing you can do to fix this problem.

thrifty++
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by thrifty++ » Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:09 am

Arrrrgh!! I did it all and had no sleep last night and am sick. Sucks
Had loads of exercise and sunlight yesterday, probably more than is wise given I am sick, melatonin, only two coffees in the early morning which is a substantial caffeine reduction for me, and still no sleep last night.

I feel tempted to take half a sleeping pill again tonight.

Riggerjack
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Re: Sleeping Problems

Post by Riggerjack » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:59 am

http://slatestarcodex.com/2018/07/10/me ... d-to-know/

Wow, there is way more known about sleep cycles, and adjusting with melatonin than I thought. His next post is a follow up with best of comments, including the MIT researcher who was part of the study leading to the patent of melatonin for sleeping.

It seems we have been using too much, and using it wrong, in many cases.

TO TREAT DELAYED PHASE SLEEP DISORDER (ie you go to bed too late and wake up too late, and you want it to be earlier)
– Take melatonin 9 hours after wake and 7 before sleep, eg 5 PM
– Block blue light (eg with blue-blocker sunglasses or f.lux) after sunset
– Expose yourself to bright blue light (sunlight if possible, dawn simulator or light boxes if not) early in the morning
– Get early morning exercise
– Beta-blockers early in the morning (not generally recommended, but if you’re taking beta-blockers, take them in the morning)

TO TREAT ADVANCED PHASE SLEEP DISORDER (ie you go to bed too early and wake up too early, and you want it to be later)
– Take melatonin immediately after waking
– Block blue light (eg with blue-blocker sunglasses or f.lux) early in the morning
– Expose yourself to bright blue light (sunlight if possible, light boxes if not) in the evening.
– Get late evening exercise
– Beta-blockers in the evening (not generally recommended, but if you’re taking beta-blockers, take them in the evening)

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