PDA

View Full Version : Paging Doc Richards (sleep)



Alan Shore
29-08-2004, 08:54 AM
I've got a question/concern that needs addressing. What do you do if you can't sleep properly? My body is kind of operating on Circadian rythm.. I go to sleep (and consequently wake up) later and later every day. Last few days I've slept:

Wednesday: 6am-2pm
Thursday: 8am-6:30pm
Friday 3am-9am
Saturday 4am-4pm

and yeah, it's about 9am now and I'm still not that tired.. but I guess it's not critical when I sleep since I'll be writing assignments all (night I guess) when I wake up but have to be up at 12pm Monday to go teach.

But anyway, it seems I can't really get a routine that works.. if I go to bed early I won't be tired and I won't sleep, then I wake up late. Even if I get up early (like on Friday, for a lecture), I tried to go to sleep at around 11 Friday night.. I was tired but just didn't sleep till like 4am.

I'd like to get up in the morning but it's just proven impossible. Even trying to condition yourself to sleep at those times doesn't work, cos if you stay up late even one night, it's completely stuffed again. So is there any other methods you recommend?

Ah well, off to bed for me now I guess, night.

Cat
29-08-2004, 03:22 PM
I've got a question/concern that needs addressing. What do you do if you can't sleep properly? My body is kind of operating on Circadian rythm.. I go to sleep (and consequently wake up) later and later every day. Last few days I've slept:

Wednesday: 6am-2pm
Thursday: 8am-6:30pm
Friday 3am-9am
Saturday 4am-4pm

and yeah, it's about 9am now and I'm still not that tired.. but I guess it's not critical when I sleep since I'll be writing assignments all (night I guess) when I wake up but have to be up at 12pm Monday to go teach.

But anyway, it seems I can't really get a routine that works.. if I go to bed early I won't be tired and I won't sleep, then I wake up late. Even if I get up early (like on Friday, for a lecture), I tried to go to sleep at around 11 Friday night.. I was tired but just didn't sleep till like 4am.

I'd like to get up in the morning but it's just proven impossible. Even trying to condition yourself to sleep at those times doesn't work, cos if you stay up late even one night, it's completely stuffed again. So is there any other methods you recommend?

Ah well, off to bed for me now I guess, night.

Bruce, this is a problem that will get worse with time if you don't tackle it effectively. Poor sleep patterns leads to shortened life expectancy - about 5yrs for shift-workers.

If you don't attempt to restore a normal sleep pattern , you can effectively loose it permenantly. This often happens with mothers with young children, who never recapture the ability to sleep 'normally' after years of child-rearing.

Not all sleep is the same - the term used is 'sleep archetecture'. Normal sleep archetecture is characterised by several periods (of around 30-60mins) of deep or phase IV sleep (restorative sleep) followed by lighter sleep interspersed with REM (dream sleep). Nobody really understands REM sleep, but it's thought to be a period during which the thoughts of the previous day are re-organised, a sort of house-keeping process.

As you know we possess a body clock or circadian rhythm. This is produced by normal daily fluctuations in hormone production. So for example, cortisol production is lowest at night, while asleep, while melatonin and growth hormone levels are at their peak. During the early morning hours, adrenaline levels rise, associated with arousal - most heart attacks occur at this time.

Bruce, it sounds very much like you've lost your normal circadian rhythm, the hormone changes have flattened and your goal should be to attempt to re-establish this. This can be achieved through life-style modifications, medications or both. Obviously life-style is more important. I'd suggest the following approach;

1. Exercise - a regular exercise regimen is very important. Exercise helps to induce sleep and helps restore a normal circadian rhythm.

2. Find ways of 'winding down' at the end of the day, what ever helps. I find chess keeps me awake, whereas chess videos are guaranteed to send me to sleep. Listening to radio/ watching tv, even an alcoholic drink can sometimes be helpful, although alcohol can stimulate some. Try to get to bed early and wake early, exercise first thing in the morning helps to establish a helathy routine.

3. Avoid stimulants such as caffiene & nicotine, especially late in the day.

4. Vallerian has been used to help relaxation and appears not be addictive. Its properties are mild. Alternatively, melatonin is safe and available in Australia and has been used to help restore a normal circadian rhythm. It works slowly, whether it works at all or is simply placebo is hard to say.

5. All sleeping tablets are potentially addictive and should be only used for short periods of time. Their use should be limited to 2-3 nights only, and their use is only really useful as part of a strategy to restore a circadian pattern.

Finally there are specific disorders of sleep that need specific treatment, such as 'restless legs syndrome'. These can be identified in a 'sleep lab', so if you're not achieving success, talk to your doctor.

Good luck Bruce and sort it out.

Kevin Bonham
29-08-2004, 03:58 PM
My sleep pattern seems odd to other people but actually just adjusts to whatever I'm doing at the time. It can adjust quite rapidly when it has to - usually it is only a one-day transition.

I also sometimes (when not working) get that sort of drift where each day goes for 25 hours so that I go to bed slightly later each night. However this seems to have a natural limit - I can stay up all night quite easily, but quickly get tired once the sun comes up. So it doesn't get to the stage where I go to bed at 10am or midday.

In the winters here we only have about eight hours of daylight. So I make sure that whatever hours I sleep I always get half an hour outside in the daylight and fresh air.

In my early 20s I could go up to 27 hours without sleep, eg to do an all-night job on an assignment, although it was unpleasant (surprisingly, I actually played quite a good chess game on the tail-end of one of these efforts.) From about age 24 on I discovered I just couldn't do it anymore.

I also find that caffeine often doesn't stop me sleeping, unless I drink loads and loads of it (I drink a lot of tea and it seems to take about 5 cups in a day before any disruption appears.) The most amusing case of this was when I decided to see if Jolt Cola would keep me awake while working on assignments. The drink gave me a stomachache so bad that I had to lie down ... at which point I fell asleep. :rolleyes:

Rincewind
29-08-2004, 04:40 PM
I went through a phase a few months back where I was regularly staying up to 3am sleeping 4-5 hours each night. This was helped by starting work from 9-9:30. However, I've gone back to uni and now have to start work at 7am to make up the hours necessary to attend lectures and that seems to have put an end to that nonsense. I find to get up at 6 or so I need to go to bed by 11 and so now need around 7 hours sleep where previously I was getting by on around 4.5. Not sure of the reason for this perhaps the earlier morning take it out of me more, or (I think) just the greater mental load of doing uni is taking more out of me and making me more tired more quickly.

I too find I can stay up without coffee. I usuallyhave a cup on instant around 10pm and I can go to bed anywhere between 11pm and 4am without additional assistance. The key for me to staying awake is for my mind to be active. If I'm working on a problem, playing a game, etc, it's not a problem. Reading a book or watching TV is bad as I tend to fall asleep quickly.

PHAT
29-08-2004, 04:44 PM
When I left school I did some shiftwork for a while. During that time, I learned how to force myself to sleep. This ability meant that I could catch sleep at any time and thus get enough due to my new found flexability.

Now it is a matter of great astonishment that friends and relatives can see me crash to sleep in a few minutes anywher any time, and into a deep sleep in 5 to 10 minutes.

My method: I say "sslleeeeep" over and oovverr. I let go of my body. I some how let go of my consciousness. I listen to the dreams coming - voices with words I cannot quite understand. I watch the blackness and fall into it, and start to see fleeting images that I cannot quite identify. Each time I notice these microdreams, I become momentarily concsious, but deliberately let go of it again. They wash in and out like waves. After a few minutes of these ever deepening cycles, the dreams stay and I stay with them and stop remembering them, as they start remembering me.

Sleeping for me, used to be a case of having escaped from the world and myself without having to die. There was a very long time that waking up was more than devistating. But that is a now a page in history, :D Sleeping is nice now because of how refeshed I feel afterward.

Alan Shore
29-08-2004, 07:23 PM
Thanks for the reply Dave.


If you don't attempt to restore a normal sleep pattern , you can effectively loose it permenantly. This often happens with mothers with young children, who never recapture the ability to sleep 'normally' after years of child-rearing.

Well that's not good.. cos this has been happening for at least a couple of years now..


1. Exercise - a regular exercise regimen is very important. Exercise helps to induce sleep and helps restore a normal circadian rhythm.

I exercise but not with any consistency or routine (due to sleeping, time constraints etc.) I have heard before it's good to get out in the sunlight and exercise, I just need to find the motivation to do so on a consistent basis.


2. Find ways of 'winding down' at the end of the day, what ever helps. I find chess keeps me awake, whereas chess videos are guaranteed to send me to sleep. Listening to radio/ watching tv, even an alcoholic drink can sometimes be helpful, although alcohol can stimulate some. Try to get to bed early and wake early, exercise first thing in the morning helps to establish a helathy routine.

Yeah.. this is the hard one. I've never really found something that 'relaxes' me completely, my mind is very active.. in fact, when I'm lying in bed at night trying to go to sleep I often get a fantastic assortment of great ideas (for my writing usually) that pop into my head when the opposite should be taking place! The only way to do it has been to only go to bed when I'm tired, which is later than when I want to. I've heard many suggestions on how to but I just can't seem to relax..


3. Avoid stimulants such as caffiene & nicotine, especially late in the day.

No problems there.


4. Vallerian has been used to help relaxation and appears not be addictive. Its properties are mild. Alternatively, melatonin is safe and available in Australia and has been used to help restore a normal circadian rhythm. It works slowly, whether it works at all or is simply placebo is hard to say.

I have taken Valarian before.. I find it's good for keeping a sense of calm under stress but doesn't assist me in sleeping in any way.


5. All sleeping tablets are potentially addictive and should be only used for short periods of time. Their use should be limited to 2-3 nights only, and their use is only really useful as part of a strategy to restore a circadian pattern.

Well what happened once, my doctor gave me sleeping pills to try to restore my patterns, I took them for almost 2 weeks and was great. Yet as soon as I went off them it was horrible, couldn't sleep at all, so I don't particularly want to go back to that.. although perhaps they're good just for when you need them?

Well anyway, I'll try the getting up early/sunlight/exercise thing for a bit when I can.. maybe I'll just stay up all night/day and go to sleep early tomorrow night. The difficulty too is, I have erratic uni hours, Thursday night I don't finish till 9pm and then Friday morning starts at 10am. I'm also a person who needs quite a bit of sleep.. 7 hours isn't enough for me to function optimally really, 8.5 is pretty perfect.

Alan Shore
29-08-2004, 07:28 PM
In my early 20s I could go up to 27 hours without sleep, eg to do an all-night job on an assignment, although it was unpleasant (surprisingly, I actually played quite a good chess game on the tail-end of one of these efforts.) From about age 24 on I discovered I just couldn't do it anymore.

Well I've stayed up over 40 hours before... I remember it was about 3 years ago, I had an 8am lecture and used to just stay up all night then go to it. Lost count how many 24+ hours I've stayed awake but it'd be nearing 100 I'm sure.

As for chess, little or no sleep can have great effects.. when I had that tournament with the 2200 performance, that was done on 2 hours sleep, hehe.

Garvinator
29-08-2004, 07:33 PM
my personal opinion is that the key to regular sleeping patterns is routine. I am not such a believer in what time a person sleeps, but i guess for most ppl sleeping during the night works for them.

I just think it is more of a matter of trying to sleep a regular amount of hours each night, usually for most ppl 8 hours.

This is easiest for people who work a regular shifts each week. They then can get into a routine for their life of sleeping, exercise etc.

For the many people who arent that 'lucky', regular sleeping patterns is difficult.

For myself, i dont have a regular sleeping pattern. Some days I have to wake up at 5am, then other days I am up until 2am with things still to do.

Also combined with that is getting flattened with a migraine(s).

As for your comment bruce about thinking heaps when you are trying to get to sleep, i think part of doing that is that when trying to go to sleep is one of the rare times during the day when your brain is not going at 100 miles an hour and it presents a chance to actually think about what happened during the day and what is coming up the next day. I have similiar problems to yours and this adds to my problems of regular sleeping patterns.

Alan Shore
29-08-2004, 07:38 PM
I went through a phase a few months back where I was regularly staying up to 3am sleeping 4-5 hours each night.

I can do that for about 3 days in a row before I go 'Homer sleep now' and then sleep like 15 hours to make it up. Lack of sleep has varying effects on my productivity but unfortunately it will always make me crotchety and unpleasant though..


My method: I say "sslleeeeep" over and oovverr. I let go of my body. I some how let go of my consciousness. I listen to the dreams coming - voices with words I cannot quite understand. I watch the blackness and fall into it, and start to see fleeting images that I cannot quite identify. Each time I notice these microdreams, I become momentarily concsious, but deliberately let go of it again. They wash in and out like waves. After a few minutes of these ever deepening cycles, the dreams stay and I stay with them and stop remembering them, as they start remembering me.

It seems when I try methods like these, that all it does is reinforce consciousness, as I am 'conscious of telling myself to sleep'. Then my mind drifts, thinking up things, conjuring images etc. for a few mins then I go.. hmm.. was supposed to tell myself to sleep! As I drift I snap back to consciousness in that respect and the process has to begin again. I've never been one of those people who can just fall asleep watching television or in a chair.. sound is too distracting.

Rincewind
29-08-2004, 08:45 PM
I can do that for about 3 days in a row before I go 'Homer sleep now' and then sleep like 15 hours to make it up. Lack of sleep has varying effects on my productivity but unfortunately it will always make me crotchety and unpleasant though..

I have a theory that it becomes easier with age. I had a lot of problems going more than one or two nights on, say, 4 hours sleep when I was in my twenties. Now it doesn't even seem difficult. Provided I can get up late. As I said earlier, 2am-6am seems a lot harder than 4am-8am.

Kevin Bonham
29-08-2004, 09:07 PM
Well I've stayed up over 40 hours before... I remember it was about 3 years ago, I had an 8am lecture and used to just stay up all night then go to it. .

I have stayed up at least 36 hrs a few times a very long time ago but I didn't enjoy it. Around about the 27 mark I start to hallucinate - and not always just little peripheral jitters either. Spiders unknown to science, bright blue persian cats, that sort of thing.

eclectic
29-08-2004, 09:40 PM
i often find myself getting my circadian rhythms out of kilter due to my depression and mood swings ... over sleeping or under sleeping

bulletin boards and online chess don't help much either

i hate it when you can't get to sleep because you're trying too hard to get to sleep

once i get beyond a certain point of insomnia i get up and try to last through until the next evening

of course i would never drive a car or handle machinery if sleep deprived

i've seen info on the use of a lightbox or large doses of melanin to readjust altered circadian rhythms

if you can't get to sleep by the small hours then try watching the men's marathon for two or so hours ....

:tired: :tired: :sleeping:

eclectic

Trent Parker
31-08-2004, 08:06 PM
The most of gone with minimal sleep was at a time during last semester.........
I had a 35-50 page assignment due the Tuesday after mother's day....
On the saturday my computer decided to die and with it all my hard work.......
Now i had to complete Mission Impossible.

So saturday I caught the train to Parramatta campus (because it is the only campus with weekend and after hours computer lab access) and worked through to about 10.30 Sunday morning when i caught the train back to picton and had lunch with the family at a local pub. went home had 4 hours sleep, caught the train back to parramatta campus and worked through to 10.30 Tuesday morning. I then caught the train to Macarthur to go to Campbelltown Campus continued to work through to about 8 pm. Took the 38 page document to the library to use the large stapler... to find out that it had been vandalised...... ended up stapling it a couple of times with a small stapler wasn't a pretty sight though.

I found the Tutor leaving her last tutorial before she went home. Mission impossible completed!

Astonishingly i passed that assignment.

That night i went to bed at about 11.30. I think i got to the stage where i was passed tired.

Trent Parker
31-08-2004, 08:08 PM
During the Final exams one of my friends only slept 3 hours a night and studied the rest of the time. He used "nodoz" to keep him awake. I told him he was crazy..... But then he got 2 distinctions, a credit and a pass so......

Alan Shore
10-09-2004, 01:32 AM
Dammit, it's been less than two weeks and I'm still getting later and later.. went to sleep at 3am last night and got up about 10:30am. Smeg. I have to be up at 9 tomorrow morning for a lecture too. People just seem to come over and stay late and I forget to go to bed. Oh well stuff it. I get heaps done at night time, the uni computer labs are deserted. Who needs an extra five years of life anyway. :confused: