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Sleeping problems

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 2:29 pm
by thrifty++
I have been having sleeping problems for a few years. In the last year it has gotten much worse.

Getting to sleep is not the problem. Its that I wake up one, two or three times early in the morning and ultimately can't get back to sleep. I probably average about 5 hours a night. This average is being propped by occasional sleeping pill usage. If it were not for that it would probably be 4 hours a night.

I have reduced my coffee consumption from 4 or 5 throughout the day down to 2 early in the morning. I also avoid drinking any alcohol often. I exercise almost every day. And I get a fair amount of sunlight. I have tried melatonin pills and they do nothing. My bed is comfortable. My bedroom is dark and quiet. Yet I still have these sleeping problems.

Negative variables have a big impact on my sleep and make it worse. Such as having consumed a number of drinks eg 4 or more (will mean I get probably 2/3 hours and feel totally shit), sleeping in a different bed, and travelling to a different time zone (has a totally enormous impact on reducing my sleep for about 2 weeks or so). As such I really try to avoid these variables now.

I do notice that if I have half a sleeping pill it works amazingly. Like I will get a solid 8 hours uninterrupted sleep. And feel energised and rested. Like a normal person. God I am so jealous this is how normal people must feel. Its amazing that a half dose works so well.

I don't have sleep apnea. I had a test done with doctors. I also record my sleep using a snore lab app. I hardly ever snore at all. Probably far less than average. And certainly no noises that sound like sleep apnea. That's a blessing at least.

I do know there is one large problem. I have enlarged turbinates. When means my nose is never fully unblocked and is blocked during my sleep in at least one nostril. Its worse when I sleep. Therefore I mouth breathe which is unpleasant. And I can hear that with my app recordings. Breathing through my mouth loudly all night. I often get a sore and dry throat which might be one thing waking me up. Also attempting to breathe through my nose might be another thing waking me up.

But still a small dose of sleeping pill sorts that out anyway. By suppressing the nervous system. I wonder how I can replicate that effect naturally. I also wonder if there is some anxiety problem I am not conscious of that is keeping me up.

I am getting surgery to reduce my enlarged turbinates. And I really hope that sorts out my sleeping problem. But I am not sure it will if it is not something associated with the nose problem. And surgery is not scheduled for 3 months.

The only bad sleep hygiene practice I have is being an internet junkie before bed. Lying in bed with my laptop. This is the only thing I haven't changed yet. And not sure I can be fucked to be honest because all the changes I have made have not worked. I am sceptical it will make any difference. I guess I better try this too> Hard when you have internet addiction though. I will need to get some good books.

So... any ideas from anyone here as to how to sort this out. In particular I would be keen to find ways to alleviate the nose problem and or how to suppress my nervous system naturally. I wish I could sleep as though I had a pill each night. This sleeping problem is really affecting my life. It really fucking sucks. About one morning in three its so bad it feels as though I am hungover without even having left the house or drunk anything

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 3:18 pm
by theanimal
The decrease in screen time really does make a huge difference in sleep quality. By looking at a light before bed, you're messing with the chemicals in the brain and delaying the body's natural wind down cycle. In short, looking at a screen tricks your body into thinking it's still day time and then you're all thrown off by the time you go to sleep and throughout that whole time. Cutting screen time out and operating with dim lights at least an hour before bed will likely pay dividends. If you can cut it out 2 hours before, even better.

I'm affected by the same variables as you are. I only drink a handful of times each year, but one beer is enough to cut my sleep in half at night.

If you haven't already, I'd recommend checking out Matthew Walker's work. He came out with a book called "Why We Sleep" that is well presented and dense with current info on all aspects related to sleep. I wouldn't be surprised if he talks about things related to breathing in there. One interesting thing he talks about his how sleeping pills don't actually allow for actual sleep but just shut down certain chemicals and simulate a weaker version of sleep. He also was on Joe Rogan's podcast and shared a lot of the information from the book.

Best of luck. Not getting adequate sleep is the worst.

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 6:38 pm
by thrifty++
Thanks the Animal and Bigato.

I will try shutting off from screens. I might give that a go. Agh it will be painful disconnecting.

In terms of caffeine reduction I need to slowly withdraw. Two cups in the morning is a big change for me. I have done one cup a day sometimes, but I have gotten physical withdrawal symptoms. Headaches and constipation. So I went back to two. I am going to try it again after a while of having gotten used to only two a day. Maybe in a weeks time. Cold turkey will probably cause more problems than solve. So need to gradually deal with it.

It still amazes me that I can down coffee all day and then drink four beers pop half a sleeping pill and sleep like a baby! Argh!

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 8:28 pm
by Campitor
@Thrifty

Take the laptop advice to heart. Light has an enormous effect on sleep. The optic nerve passes by the suprachiasmatic nucleus which detects the amount of light entering the optic nerves. The suprachiasmatic nucleus adjusts your circadian rhythm per the light levels detected. Adenosine which causes sleep pressure (how sleepy you feel) and Melatonin, which affects the depth of sleep, are moderated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus - get too much light at night and your adenosine and melatonin peak levels get pushed to a later time . You're essentially pushing your body clock forward - it thinks is still earlier in the day.

I used to think of myself as a night owl since I would get sleepy around 2:30 AM regularly. Trying to sleep any earlier was an act of frustration. Then I went camping in the deep woods for 10 days. No smartphone, no artificial lights, no technology. The only light was via campfire. To my surprise I started to feel overwhelmingly sleepy around 8:30 PM. I thought this was a fluke. But every night, without fail, I would get overwhelming sleepy around 8:30 PM consistently - my eyes refused to stay open. I'd wake up every day without fail when the sky started to lighten (approximately 5:30 AM). Never in my adult life had I ever fallen asleep so early naturally or waken up so early - ever.

My city habits of keeping the lights on, watching TV, and staring at a computer screen had altered my circadian rhythm. Every single book on sleep and sleep research confirms that light is the most significant culprit in robbing healthy people of sleep. Of course there are other causes of sleep deprivation or circadian disruption but light is by far the most common culprit.

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 8:52 pm
by Seppia
I would second bigato's suggestion about radical and complete change
I suffered from the exact same issue about three years ago, and personally solved it by
1- eliminating alcohol completely for a couple months
2- eliminating phone/tablet use in the bedroom
3- forcing myself to care a little bit less about work

I had been able to drink relatively large amounts without suffering sleep problems till that time (say 3/4 of a bottle), but all of a sudden, two glasses would destroy my sleep quality.
Similarly, now I can use my smartphone right before going to sleep and zero issues, but at the time it was a cause for long hours of twisting and turning before I could fall asleep
That was probably due to the combination with #3

So my question would be: are there any causes of stress in your life at this moment? If yes I would try work on these simultaneously.

One last thing on the coffee:
Coffees are not all created equal, and looking into it could potentially bring some benefits too.
There are two main varieties of coffee: robusta and arabica. Cheap coffees always have a high percentage of robusta because it costs less.
The problem: robusta contains two to three times the caffeine Vs arabica.
So, if you can, maybe look for a 100% arabica coffee, it will be more expensive but it will taste better and possibly help with the caffeine.
Lastly, the amount of caffeine extracted depends on the amount of water going through the coffee, and the time it takes to go through.
Contrary to what people think, an Italian style espresso contains a ridiculously low amount of caffeine versus the gigantic Starbucks style americanos.
So switching styles from abomination to the correct way of drinking coffee ( :lol: joking) could help

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 11:41 pm
by C40
How much are you exercising?

I think a lot of sleep problems are related to people not wearing themselves out enough physically.


Light color timing

Definitely close up your laptop and it's best to have no screens for at least an hour before bed. At the very least, use a strong color modifier on your laptop and phone (along the lines of F.lux). If you want to read something, read a book. The light color where you are is important. Find a way to use only a red light the last hour or so before bed. (At home I have a little LED lamp that I wrap a red T-shirt over to make the light in the room dim and very red. I'd guess there is some small solution you can bring and use in hotels. Since your issue is waking up, this light stuff may not have a big effect, but it will probably improve the quality of whatever duration you get.


Another thing to try is meditation. The best periods of sleep in my life were:

1 - In college when I started doing what I think was transcendental meditation while going to sleep. I'd read how to do it in some article that had been published in a strength training magazine from maybe the 1970's.

2 - While working and bicycle racing, when I had no social life whatsoever, rode every day, ate well, and went to sleep and woke up at the exact same time every day (I actually had my alarm set for 7am and would wake up on my own most mornings between 6:55 and 6:57. For real) and I had regular and simple routines before bed AND after waking up.



Are you eating a lot of vegetables?

You should.


What are your dreams like?

If you are having dreams that cause anxiety, you can change that.

Learn about and do what it takes to start lucid dreaming. If you're having bad dreams, you may be able to make them stop happening without a lot of work. If you would really like to make sure you have fun and/or peaceful dreams, that is possible but will take more work. The work here is very easy to do. The one thing that I didn't like about doing it is that one of the main parts of 'the work' is to establish a habit of regularly questioning whether you are actually awake this moment or whether you could possibly be dreaming. (You do this regularly throughout the day). It can feel sort of weird to keep questioning your reality. It's worth it though. You spend a lot of your life dreaming, and also the experience of time is different in dreams (it can feel like a dream lasts way longer in perception than it does in actual real world clock time that you're dreaming). So improving that can have a big payoff in quality of life, and double so if it also helps you to feel better the rest of the day.


Also, have you tried going to bed earlier?

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 2:01 am
by Dream of Freedom
Make sure to get enough tryptophan and magnesium in your diet. So maybe a 3 egg omelet with some spinach in the morning and some San Pellegrino mineral water in the evening (I like mine with a bit of lime juice). It is important to spread the magnesium out as it is a bit of a laxative. Hence the morning/evening thing.

Try lowering the room temperature a few degrees. Night time is naturally cooler and some people think it's a sleep signal to your body.

You could try some of this:
https://smile.amazon.com/Yogi-Kava-Stre ... way&sr=8-6

What is your stress situation like?

Find which days are better and which are worse and try to find some correlation to what you did on those days.

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 2:20 am
by llorona
Ideas:
Kava kava
Yoga nidra
Heavy/weighted blanket
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Sunlight/sun lamp

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 4:11 am
by chenda
Keep the room cold, open windows and no heater.

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:43 am
by Cats_and_tats
Something no one had mentioned is - what are you waking up to?

If you are not looking forward to what you are waking up to, your body won't want to go to sleep. I know I've struggled with this when I didn't like my job. My body didn't want to go to sleep because I would have to wake up to go somewhere I didn't want to go, so my body was resisting good sleep. So it might help to take a look at your day, not just your night.

From a mental perspective, if you are feeling stressed about bad sleep, when you wake up at night just tell yourself quiet resting is good too, rather than getting upset you are awake. Calmness here is important to fall back asleep, and even if you don't, quiet resting is still good for you.

You might also try CBD products. I don't know where you are if it's easy to get or not, but it can really help you fall asleep and stay asleep until you get a pattern established. Good luck!

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 3:19 pm
by OTCW
What time do you wake up everyday? Keep this as consistent as possible. Don't 'catch up on sleep' on the weekends. Get up at the same time every day no matter what. Your body will adjust to that and know when to go to sleep based on knowing how long it needs to sleep and when it is going to get up.

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 5:00 pm
by rfgh
Sounds like sleep apnea. Wear a pulse oximeter wrist band to sleep and see.

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:24 pm
by C40
Supposedly during the golden age of state sponsored Soviet Union athletics (when they had teams of government employed scientists figuring out better methods of training, recovery, etc.) they figured out the the ideal room temperature for sleeping is 63 degrees F.

No idea how many blankets you're supposed to use though.

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 10:43 am
by prognastat
Keeping a regular sleep schedule and not deviating by more than an hour in ether direction with bed time and waking time has been a massive improvement in me feeling sleepy when I'm supposed to be going to bed and waking up rested at the right time without struggling.

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 11:25 am
by Ego
If the nose issue is the cause, consider trying a neti pot before bed and/or when you wake in the middle of the night.

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 11:50 am
by chenda
C40 wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 10:24 pm
they figured out the the ideal room temperature for sleeping is 63 degrees F.
That would be much too hot for me. I like to have an icey chill in the air, preferable with a breeze from an open window. Then you can get warm and snug under the duvet.

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 2:34 pm
by BadHorse
In addition to the excellent advice above:

Is breathing through the nose a problem during the day too, or only at night?
If the latter, might allergies be a problem? Iirc some sleep meds can have a antihistamine-like effect, which might be an alternative explanation for why they work well for you. Maybe try out ordinary antihistamines and see if those work.
Also, keep the sleeping area clean, wash pillows/blankets etc.
Personally, my sleep quality always deteriorates if I fall behind on vacuuming (and I don't even test allergic to dust).

Another thing to consider is that a comfortable bed doesn't necessarily mean good sleep. Soft mattresses and big bed pillows can fold the body up in breath-obstructing ways once the body relaxes into sleep. If this could be an issue, try going without a pillow (or use very low one).
In my own experience, a hard mattress and no pillow makes for a clear head in the morning (and an aching body for the first hour or so!).

A final experiment might be to sleep in an half-sitting position (making sure the bend is in the hip area, not the neck).

Good luck!

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 7:46 pm
by cmonkey
I noticed one or two mention stress being bad for sleep and will attest to that myself. What is your ambient stress situation? The lack of sleep is certainly adding it, but what about other than that?

A few years ago before I switched job I was very stressed commuting and sitting in an office and would not sleep well as a result, often waking up in a cold sweat. Unfortunately I'm not sleeping well these days either, but it's half stress, half hungry bmonkey. Things will improve once she's older. :lol:

The year between quitting my old job and her being born was some of the best sleep I had and it's because I was very stress free and doing heavy cardio every day.

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:18 pm
by Freedom_2018
Ego wrote:
Mon Mar 25, 2019 11:25 am
If the nose issue is the cause, consider trying a neti pot before bed and/or when you wake in the middle of the night.
While this is a good suggestion for keeping your sinuses clear. Pls do follow instructions correctly and make sure all the water is out of the nose.

Stupid people (ahem) have let water remain in nose and ear.

Lots of good suggestions on this thread.

Also philosophically, don't try too hard or worry about lack of success regarding sleep. It will come when you are the least 'trying to sleep'.

I've had lots of experience with extensive sleeplessness and I'm sure it will happen again at some point(don't want to recount my travails as I don't think they will help but perhaps increase anxiety, you are probably reading too much of sleep deprivation blogs already :-)

Just remember : This too shall pass.

Re: Sleeping problems

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:23 pm
by thrifty++
Thanks very much for the tips and ideas guys.

@c40 - I exercise quite a lot. When I actually go beyond my normal exercise regimen I find that it doesn't improve my sleep but I actually feel worse due to having used up more energy without getting it back. I eat loads of vegetables. A plant based diet with lean meats. Meditation is a great idea. I have tried going to bed earlier. It doesn't help. Just means I wake up earlier too. I can't remember any of my dreams.

@ OTCW My waking time is dictated by when I randomly wake up. Unfortunately I don't wake to alarm clocks as I am always awake before then. I wake up and cant get back to sleep sometime between 4am and 6am (often preceded by one or two earlier wake up session which were hard to get back to sleep again).

@Badhorse. My nose is stuffed in the day too. Not as blocked but its never completely unblocked. During the day I can often breathe through both nostrils but cramped and compressed feeling. It is uncomfortable for me to have my mouth closed for a long time. During night it is worse and one nostril is often completely blocked while the other is open but still cramped feeling. I am allergic to a few different types of grass and dust mites. Just got my allergies tested again. Damn I hoped it was something easy to avoid like peanuts. My allergies are near impossible to avoid. I have tried non drowsy antihistamines before. They didn't seem to make a difference. But just today I got some special drowsy ones. So hopefully those make a difference. I don't have any other allergy symptoms though. No sneezing or sore or itchy eyes. So I think my turbinates have gotten enlarged over time so that's why I am getting surgery to reduce them. I really hope it works and makes this better