Sleep Question

Folks, does anybody here have his issue where you wake up at night or early in the morning and can’t go back to sleep? What do you do about it? Has anybody found anything that helps?

This is for N who recently developed this issue. He’s the opposite of me because he always falls asleep easily but recently has had trouble staying asleep. I, on the other hand, always take forever to fall asleep but even though I wake up about 6 times a night (BP meds), I always go back to sleep easily and can sleep until 11 am, if I let myself. Which I obviously don’t because I have stuff to do.

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14 thoughts on “Sleep Question”

  1. I occasionally have this problem, and Sleepytime tea + reading a book for a bit helps me. They even make “extra sleepy time” for people who really struggle with it. To be honest, when I start getting into a pattern of being wide awake in the middle of the night, I’ll have a cup of it before bed, and it usually prevents me from waking up, or feeling that alert if I do wake up.

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  2. When this starts happening to me, I stay up if I can’t fall asleep after more than an hour or so. Then I take a short nap in the afternoon if I can, and then go to bed at a normal time. I sleep through the night and wake up at a reasonable time, feeling well-rested.

    Without this, I’ll easily pull an all-nighter on one or two hours of sleep and then sleep all day. The last time it happened, I woke up at 2 am, got up at 3 am, and went to bed around 10-ish. It helped a lot, but I only started doing it recently, so I can’t speak to long-term results.

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    1. He’s a person who can’t function without sleep so this is very unfortunate for him. He used to be such a sound sleeper, he thought Klara was a magical baby who never woke up at night. Which is really not true. 🙂

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      1. You’ve written that N is leading a more healthy lifestyle now, maybe needing a little less sleep is part of that… People’s sleep patterns do change over the course of their life (mine used to be pretty different).

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      2. I can’t function like that, either. I used to be able to, but now at some point I drop during day. I had to completely reset my sleep schedule to be able to stay asleep. I’ve tried almost everything else, but my problem during the summer is that I’m not intellectually engaged enough, so reading and doing other things doesn’t work for me — I’ll end up staying up doing whatever it is I got up to do, and still fall asleep during the day.

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  3. This happens to me from time to time (in spurts, three or four times a week for a while then nothing for several months).
    The main thing is to not fight it. Staying in bed and trying to will yourself to sleep is futile. The best thing for me, once I realize I’m not going to fall asleep again soon, is to go to another room sit and engage in some activity that isn’t too… stimulating, reading or drawing or doing crossword puzzles or something like that, it might take 15 or 30 or 45 minutes but at some point I’ll start to feel sleepy then I go back to bed.

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    1. Staying in bed and trying to will yourself to sleep is futile.

      Definitely true. Reading a book is what I’ve learned to do if I have trouble getting back to sleep. The trick is to have the right sort of book. Interesting enough to read, but not so interesting that you want to keep reading once you start to get tired.

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  4. This happens to me sometimes, usually when I have something on my mind (not just bad, also good or exciting). It’s usually temporary. I either get up early or go to the bathroom and try to fall asleep afterward. Just tell N not to be too worried about it; worrying will only exacerbate it.

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  5. I have this problem and a solution that works for me. I go to sleep every night reading a kindle. It’s less disruptive than a book because it has its own light source, and I don’t have to move to turn the lamp off but can get in bed with the lights off and pass out reading the kindle. It’s also lighter than a tablet so no harm if it hits me in the face when I fall asleep and it is not in danger of breaking if it falls to the floor, like a tablet. THEN, when I invariably wake up in the middle of the night, since I’m trained to fall asleep reading the kindle, I reach for it on the nightstand or in the covers and can read myself back to sleep without getting up, turning on lights, with minimal movement and distraction. Helps me go right back to sleep, and I get a fair bit of pleasure reading done.


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  6. Oh, yes. I had this a lot when my children were smaller. They were sleeping through the night but I was waking up from 2 am – 4 or 5 am every night 😦 And it was frustrating that most of the advice on insomnia was about getting to sleep (eg go to bed at the same time, don’t use screens too close to bedtime, etc) rather than staying asleep. I spent a lot of time feeling worried and annoyed about it (I am a person that really needs my sleep!), which, as others said, only made things worse.
    Things that helped me:
    – Realizing that sleep and sleepiness go in cycles. If I wake up and don’t get to sleep again within 5 or 10 minutes, my next “sleepiness” opportunity will come in about 90 minutes. Although this sounds depressing because you know you’ll be awake for a while, the knowledge helps me accept it and relax during that time rather than just tossing and turning and getting annoyed.
    – Sometimes I concentrate on just lying still and resting. I actually tell myself: “It’s okay that I’m not sleeping, at least I am resting quietly” and “Not to worry, I’ll just have an extra cup of coffee in the morning and it will all be fine”. (Yes, I really do think that to myself, as it helps me keep it in perspective!)
    – If my mind is whirring, I put on a podcast to listen to. Usually something interesting but sedate, like NPR Marketplace or something from the BBC. At times I also stopped mind whirring by doing things like counting down in sevens from a random number like 543 until I fell asleep.
    – I don’t bother with this any more, but when my insomnia was at it’s peak, I found taking a hot shower very helpful. Body temperature lowers a little just before sleep so the cooling that happens after a hot shower mimics this and sometimes tricks the brain into feeling sleepy. It seemed to work for me but it also could have been just that it passed the time and the end of the shower coincided with the next 90 min sleep opportunity.
    I realized in the end that my own insomnia was linked to hormonal fluctuations due to childbirth, breastfeeding etc. It eventually went away about 12 – 18 months after each of my children were born. Obviously, this isn’t the case for N but he has my extreme sympathy and I hope that the above tips help a little.

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    1. This is a great point. One of my friends had sleep apnea for years before being diagnosed. He had no idea why he always felt so terrible in the mornings (his wakings were too brief to remember but extremely frequent). After he was treated for sleep apnea he was like a new person.

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  7. I have this issue periodically; I fall asleep right away, sleep soundly until 2:00 or 3:00, and then I wake up. I usually take the approach of staying bed and trying to relax and let my mind wander. If it happens several nights in a row, I take 5 mg of Melatonin (you can get it at Walgreens, CVS, etc.) every night before bed for a week or so. I sleep much better with the melatonin and it seems to “reset” my sleep schedule for a while.

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