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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Sleep

   
Author Topic: Sleep
Itsame
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As I write this sentence, my computer's clock says that it is 6:02 AM. I can't sleep.

This tends to happen to me during vacations. During the school year, I go to sleep and wake up at a regular time; during vacations, however, my sleep schedule drifts. Oh sure, it starts off harmless: an hour here, and hour there. But it doesn't take long for those hours to add up. Somehow (somehow!) I shift over from going to losing consciousness at midnight and regaining it at 8:30 to 4 and 1. It's not like I don't try to fall asleep earlier, but there are so many wonderful things to do while I'm awake that I seem unable to do while I'm asleep.

So my question is this... do I go to sleep as soon as I am able, or do I stay up until, say, 10 PM and go to sleep then, setting an alarm for 8:30?

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T:man
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I always try the latter. That's what I'm going to attempt tonight.

I have fallen into a very similar pattern.

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dabbler
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The average human sleep/ wake cycle is longer than 24 hours, which is why that happens so easily. Your best strategy is to keep pushing the sleep time further away until it settles at your desired time. It's much easier than sleeping earlier each night.

The recommended strategy to avoid that happening is to continue waking at the same time ( within an hour) on weekends and vacations as you do on work/school days.

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Ael
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It's amusing to see this post, just when I've decided that waking up at 4:00 PM isn't necessarily best. [Wink]

Going asleep as soon as I am able turns into.. waking up at 4:00 PM, so you might try staying up 'til 10:00 PM. I might give that a go soon myself.

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Godric 2.0
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My sleep patterns tend to get "screwed up" over winter. When I was younger I used to drift like you describe, but having a deadline driven job and kids tend to keep me at least waking up at the same time every day.

Still, during shorter daylight hours, the time I go to sleep tends to drift. Two or three nights a week I get only 3-4 hours of sleep.

I often wonder about "the average human sleep/ wake cycle" being longer than 24 hours and if that has more to do with the society we live in than actual human cycles. If we were in a more agrarian society with less access to leisure time, would we be more prone to "normal" sleep cycles?

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Ael
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If we just turn those extra leisure hours into a good ol' science project, it should cure the problem. I'm thinking that if we slow the earth's rotation just a wee bit that it might help. A 26-hour daycycle should about do it. Even 25 would be better!
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dabbler
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The studies on sleep/wake were done in isolation: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/3462338/?i=8&from=/6718923/related
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Stone_Wolf_
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I am nocturnal by nature. But I haven't been able to keep my preferred sleep schedule since I got married. While single I use to work the graveyard shift and I loved it something about the sun being down just makes me awake and full of energy. And the morning time I want to be sleep no matter what , but with 2 small children that never happens any more .
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Samprimary
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haha you noobs have sleep 'patterns'

it's adorable, it reminds me of when i was 14

my circadian rhythm is so completely screwed

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Itsame
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So here's the funny thing: I fell asleep for an hour and a half earlier. It's currently 3 AM and I can't sleep. What the hell.
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Ael
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*grins at Sam* I have them by choice--unlike my husband, who was whacking his circadian rhythm over the head with a hammer around when you were, by the the sound of it. If you did anything like as thorough a job as he did, I'm afraid you're screwed.

Me, I usually get up around 12:00 or 1:00 (or occasionally 2:00 *cough*, work allowing). That way I get a nice slice of night before I go to bed.

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Stephan
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Do you drink caffeine in the evenings? I can't touch anything with caffeine after about 3pm or I am up for at least half the night.

Exercising helped me sleep when I had a similar problem to. I found first thing in the morning to be best.

Now my children and job as a teacher don't give me a choice. A few mornings in a row of getting up at 5:15am, and I am out every night no later than 10:30pm.

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Jeff C.
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Get on pills to readjust your sleeping pattern. A nice dose of tylonol PM will do the trick. Or you could ask your doctor for some Ambien for those nights that you really can't sleep.
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dabbler
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Melatonin is a safe OTC, as is Benadryl. I'd be cautious about ambien because there are some extreme side effects (sleep walking, vivid dreams) that aren't that uncommon.

I strongly suggest eliminating caffeine completely for anyone interested in reworking their sleep habits. It can also help with reducing headaches.

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Shigosei
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Jon, have you tried light therapy? That might help you keep your circadian rhythm on track.
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Itsame
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Thanks for all the suggestions.

I don't consume caffeine (at all) and I haven't found melatonin effective in the past. Maybe I'll try Tylenol PM. How does light therapy work?

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Teshi
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The biggest problem I have with holidays is that I (tend) to do less during the day. Less exercise, thinking, work whatever means that I am just less tired. I personally solve this by keeping to a sleep schedule, exercising and having a full day instead of a crap internet TV game day.

Sleeping the whole night through has not always necessarily been a human thing to do, so if you naturally wake in the middle of the night, perhaps tuck that into your sleep schedule-- get up, read a book, tidy the house a bit, then go back to sleep. I find screens and the internet are the worst for staying awake. Obviously, I have no actual evidence, but if you're trying to sleep I would have thought that keeping the computer OFF (not sleeping, turn it off!) and being analogue for a bit might help you start to associate only certain times of day with certain activities.

On the ISS, they are moving to having lights that change colour to help people sleep. Blue light is best for waking up, so if I need to stay up I'll put on the full lights which are slightly bluer. If, like now, I feel I need to wind down, I'll turn down my bright whites and go with my dimmer, yellow lights.

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Teshi
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quote:
10 PM and go to sleep then, setting an alarm for 8:30?
That's 10.5 hours! I recommend you set your alarm and sleep for less time!
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Shigosei
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If you want to try light therapy, get plenty of exposure to sunlight (if that's available) or the type of light box used for seasonal affective disorder for about half an hour right after waking up. I've heard there are also dawn simulation lamps that you put by your bed and that brighten gradually while you're still sleeping. I don't know how well those work, though.
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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by dabbler:
Melatonin is a safe OTC, as is Benadryl. I'd be cautious about ambien because there are some extreme side effects (sleep walking, vivid dreams) that aren't that uncommon.

I strongly suggest eliminating caffeine completely for anyone interested in reworking their sleep habits. It can also help with reducing headaches.

QFT (who would have guessed, a nurse backing up a DR's recommendation. [Big Grin] )
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Graeme
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I'm not sure, but I know this:

Chuck Norris doesn't go to sleep. He commands, and sleep comes to him.

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