Dec 06 2007

Sleeping trouble–help!

This has nothing to do with saving money or being frugal, but I really would like your help if you have suggestions.

I have been dealing with sleep problems for at least the last five years of my life.

In college, I tended to have long nights, either working or doing homework into the early hours of the morning (3 or 4 a.m.). I’d get up around 10 or noon the next day, depending on when I had class and I just felt exhausted the entire time.

I graduated in May, and I still haven’t been able to get on a normal sleep schedule.

Yesterday, I was up for 35 hours straight for absolutely no reason. Typically, if I stay up for more than 24 hours, it’s because I’m too excited to sleep (couldn’t sleep before my wedding day, couldn’t sleep before going on our cruise).

But I don’t know why I couldn’t sleep the other day. I fell asleep about 11:30 or midnight last night, and woke up around 10, but ignored my alarm until noon.

It’s bizarre, but I find that if I need to be up and going at 8 a.m., I am more awake if I stay up all night, than if I get 10 hours of sleep and try to wake up at 8.

This summer, I had to be at work at 9:30. It was difficult (I was never completely awake) but I thought it would help to reset my circadian rhythm and help me get on a normal sleep pattern. Nope.

Now that I have nowhere to be on typical mornings except home, it’s difficult to wake up early and get the day going.

I want to be up with the sun, especially since it rises a little before 8 a.m. and sets so early these days.

I’ve been to the doctor before about this. They’ve checked my thyroid–no problems. They can’t find any reason why I have trouble sleeping, and suggested I do a sleep study. I haven’t done one yet, partly because it’s expensive, and also, because I don’t see how I could sleep during the study–doesn’t seem comfortable at all.

My bed is amazingly comfortable, I don’t have depression, and I don’t consume caffeine. I don’t nap during the day. Before bed, I try to wind down, sometimes taking a warm shower or bath.

I’m trying to do light exercise earlier in the day (Pilates and stretching).

I don’t remember what it’s like to wake up feeling refreshed. I’m always tired.

I’m beginning to wonder if this is just how I am–terrible at sleep.

Any ideas? Help!

14 Responses to “Sleeping trouble–help!”

  1. LOL
    I have the same problems….

    They say having kids cures that! LOL

  2. I’m not sure what to speculate about the actual causes of why you have trouble sleeping, but perhaps there are ways to cope in the meantime.

    Do you have trouble falling asleep because you’re still mentally very active, or because you’re physically restless?

    I usually need a combination of things to sleep: be physically exhausted, mentally tapped out/quiet, and my eyes have to be tired.

    Light exercise that doesn’t make my limbs feel like lead doesn’t help me sleep, perhaps you should try a higher intensity workout during the day? I realize that my way is bizarre to most people, but I used to get a two hour high intensity workout in the evenings, once or twice a week, go home, eat well, and then go to bed. I would literally have to be dragging myself to bed at that point, that’s how tired I liked to be from the workout.

    On days that I couldn’t workout like that because I’ve had a long workday, I’d take a hot shower, and take an old book I’ve read a million times to bed, and read until my eyes are tired.

    Perhaps you can play with the timing and intensity of workouts depending on what part of achieving sleep is most frustrating you.

    I hope any of this helps!

  3. Maybe yoga or something to quiet the mind might help in the evening.

    I have this too and I find that it comes in spurts. I will go for weeks without sleeping and then I will play catch up for a few weeks on my sleep. I don’t know why this is except that I think I have too much going on in my head and I can’t seem to turn things off.

    I started putting a notebook by my bed to jot stuff down and to help me have some quiet when I am trying to sleep. That might help too!

  4. Pilates and stretching are great, but I’ve found that there is nothing like some good aerobic exercise to make me get a good night’s sleep. Almost every time I consistently have trouble sleeping for a while, I realize that it’s because I’ve stopped walking (or jogging, or whatever).

  5. Honestly, I don’t know either. I periodically go through major sleeping difficulties. I’ve heard from a lot of people that aerobic exercise helps. I think mine is depression-related. I also get sad and worried about life and then I get the drive to just stay up…

  6. There can be a number of things that impact sleep. You may wind up needing to have a sleep study so they can check to see if you are hitting the deep wave sleep. In the meantime, you can also try the following sleep hygiene tricks to see if they help:
    1) Get up at the same time every day regardless of when you went to bed. After a while, your body *should* start to regulate a bedtime (tell you when to go to bed).
    2) No computers or television within one hour of bedtime.
    3) Use the bed for sleep and s*x only. No watching T.V. in bed, reading in bed, etc.
    4) No exercise within 3 hours of bedtime.
    5) Don’t lie in bed any longer than 20 minutes if you haven’t fallen asleep. Get up and do something really boring (I always recommend reading the dictionary to my clients). NO T.V.!!!
    6) No naps, regardless of how tired you are during the day.

    If you google “sleep hygiene” you will find a bunch more tips. Good luck to you!!!

  7. Thanks for your ideas, everyone!

    More details about my sleep situation:

    I know I’m dreaming every night, since I can remember them when I wake up. They’re often vivid, and sometimes I realize I’m dreaming while it’s happening. It’s cool–cuz then I can just decide to fly around if I want. :)

    Going to bed at a reasonable time is still a problem, but even harder is WAKING up at a reasonable time.

    I just can’t seem to wake up or get out of bed, even if I put my alarm in the other room, I am not awake enough to realize I should stay up. I just get back under the warm covers and go back to sleep.

  8. Love your blog. You have great ideas on saving money.

    One thing that has helped my sleep is this stuff called, Natural Calm. It is found at my local Health Food Store. It is just Magnesium. I just heat up 1 oz of water in the microwave and add 1 tsp of the stuff…..add more water voila! It’s nasty…I won’t lie but it does help me get into the deep sleep. Magnesium deficiency causes all sorts of “issues” like muscle cramps, sleep problems, etc.

    I am not into all the herbal stuff but this seems like a natural way to help me sleep. But don’t use too much till you get used to it. It also helps “clean your colon” if you know what I mean. ;-)

  9. Sometimes I have a lot of trouble sleeping — usually it’s because I’m worried and have too much going through my mind (this is most likely), or because I’m excited about something (as you mentioned).
    If you dream and remember your dreams that much, I think that means you’re not sleeping as deeply (or you at least just wake up during or at the end of this particular cycle). The dreaming cycles (is it REM?) are the less deep ones. It’s a lack of dreams you want to shoot for during sleep. I find I dream less when I get a really good night’s sleep. Or, I remember the dreams less.

  10. Recently I’ve learned the importance of sleep. My chiro says that the body heals itself more between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. than at any other time.

    I don’t know if there’s some kind of natural doctor around, but I recently took some natural, homeopathic serotonin stuff. I know if you stay up late on a regular basis it will affect your serotonin and then you’ll have problems sleeping. Just a guess and only from what I’ve experienced lately.

    Hope you have some success.

  11. I suggest taking a melatonin tablet 30 minutes to an hour before you want to go to bed. It’s the natural sleep hormone your body creates, but at a higher amount.

  12. You’re young and happy. I wouldn’t worry too much. Try a benadryl at bedtime for a few days. Otherwise, maybe a warm bath and some caffine-free tea? Reading the Wall Street Journal till you nod off? lol….. Enjoy the energy!

  13. How dark is your bedroom?? I have a skylight which is really annoying….but wearing one of those satiny eye masks really, really helps! I went without one for awhile, and recently picked one up and FELT SO MUCH BETTER in the morning when I woke up.

    Of course, that said, just Wednesday night I slept from 11pm-2am and then was up for the day. It sucked. But last night I slept really, really well.

    If you do find something that works–please share! :)

  14. I agree with Kimberly – take Melatonin. When my daughter was born, I was totally out of whack with sleep and Melatonin worked GREAT. I would feel hung-over from sedatives (plus they’re expensive and potentially addictive), but never from Melatonin.

    I also agree with Tessa about sleep hygiene.

    Best wishes, Kacie! I hope your sleep improves.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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