Goddamn sleep schedule!

So this is wholly my fault, because I have fairly chronic insomnia, and throwing off the schedule I’ve meticulously maintained since classes ended in May to go to a midnight showing of The Dark Knight was perhaps not the wisest decision I could have made. Bedtime is midnight for me, no matter what, and I’ve discovered that both the ritualization I’ve created around that and the actual regularity of being in bed by then really does help. But I got a ticket for half price! And it was a really good movie.

I get home from the movie at about 3:30 AM. I was eating popcorn and I’m all wound up, because I just saw an awesome movie, so I try to burn off the energy by going for a walk, and finally go to bed at about four thirty. Then - because I have an anxiety disorder and am full of stupid - I start worrying about the fact that it’s four thirty AM and I’m not asleep. “Goddamn it, why am I not asleep yet, oh god I’m going to be so dead tomorrow at work shitshitshit.” Logical, of course: Let’s freak the fuck out, because that’ll help you relax and fall asleep! I get about two and a half hours of sleep and drag my sorry carcass to work at nine.

I pour caffeine down my throat all morning, but force myself to stop at lunchtime. I vow that I will not nap when I get home around five, because napping, even a half-hour snooze, tends to reset my brain into thinking “Hey, it’s morning, let’s get ready to be awake for fifteen hours!”, which isn’t good at any time but, you know, morning.

But I get home and I’m exhausted, and my bed is right there, so I say fuck it, I’m going to lie down and close my eyes for fifteen minutes. Absolutely no more.

Three goddamn hours later, I wake up, and only then because my phone is ringing. And the problem is I feel great, refreshed and energetic and ready to seize the day.

All four hours damn hours left of it.

So now I know I’m not going to get any sleep tonight, and I’m going to again be exhausted at work tomorrow, and so I’ll either drink too much coffee or nap again, and then I’ll end up pretty much wasting my weekend trying to force myself back onto a reasonable schedule again, and all because my fucking brain is broken. Normal people - at least normal people my age, because I’m 21 - can stay up ridiculously late for a day and get the hell over it. I, on the other hand, stay up a few hours later than usual one night and my brain decides that hey, 5 AM is the new midnight! Or how’s this for mindgames: I’m thinking that hey, maybe I could if I could just relax over it and maybe I’m just stressing too damn much over it - oh god, am I stressing too much? Shit, stop it, relax, stop freaking out…ARGH. I’ve had actual panic attacks from that exact line of thought before, which is the most goddamn insane thing in the world. Worrying about the fact that how much your worrying is keeping you awake is a very special type of hell, and I hate it.

Goddamn it, why can’t we replace sleep with a pill or something yet?

All I can say is, I know exactly and completely what you mean, and it sucks a lot. My plan for sometime this summer is to get on the schedule of which you speak, but if feels so unnatural and painful. But the insomnia sucks too, and sleep is a source of great anxiety to me.

I hate to say it, but maybe you should try a sleep aid to knock yourself out at the time you want to go to sleep, and then wake up at your assigned time tomorrow. It’s like adjusting after jetlag.

Good luck, and you have my sympathies.

Consider getting into a career that basically requires 2nd or 3rd shift. It’s the only way I cope. People shouldn’t be forced to wake up before noon, dammit!

I did this for a while, 6 pm - 2:30 AM. Most everyone thought I was crazy, but I loved it. It was the first time that a work or school schedule felt remotely natural to me.

Modern society discriminates against the nocturnal. :frowning:

I’ve been struggling with this since forever and I can’t say I have found an effective way to cope.

It’s very easy for me to stay awake until daybreak and very difficult to break out of that cycle. I end up going without sleep too long too often trying to flip back into a reasonable schedule. It sucks. I can never force myself to sleep, it only makes it worse. When I go to sleep at 6am as I wake up at 2pm like clockwork, feeling refreshed and well rested. Otherwise I feel sluggish all day long until evening, then have trouble falling asleep.

All I can say is I sympathize.

Pedro - are you me? This is exactly me too.

NinjaChick, I also sympathize. This is my life, always has been. Even as a young child. I stayed up late and slept late. No matter how hard I try, I cannot do mornings.

I did the nap thing today too and it will end up screwing up my whole weekend. I had to get up a bit early for something, then at 2 pm, I was very very sleepy and could think of nothing else but a nap… next thing I know, I wake up at 7:30 pm and now it’s 3:30 am and god knows when I’ll be ready to fall asleep.


The fact that I am posting this at 4:07 should validate I understand completely. I usually put on David Whytes ‘Poems Of Self Compassion’ CD. The combination of the message and his voice will calm me and usually put me to sleep. I can’t tonight as the girlfriend is sleeping over…

I just looked outside… the sun is rising. I stayed up all night, it’s 5:30. :smack:

Add another log to the flame.

I can sure as hell get behind this one. I’d probably die if I was forced into a day-time job.

  • Guku,
    Working the 2nd shift, haven’t slept in 30 hours and still have six hours left of his shift.

I can get on board with this one- I’m working as a theatrical carpenter this summer, and as theatres are wont to do, we got a little behind schedule, and couldn’t work much during the day because the cast was onstage rehearsing. So we began working 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., with the occasional all-nighter added in. Rough hours, but really, if I’m making overtime I’ll put up with a lot of rough hours, especially when I’m working with as good a crew and for as good a Tech Director as I am now. But now that the show’s open (and complete by opening, thankyouverymuch), my body has decided that 8 a.m. is the latest that I will be allowed to sleep in. Stay out 'til 3 drinking with friends? You’re waking up at 8. Damn it.

I’ve had some problems with insomnia, myself, and find that on my own I’d probably do better with a second shift schedule - alas, I can’t do that right now. So, you’ve got my sympathy.

I don’t know what relaxation techniques you’ve tried, NinjaChick, but if you haven’t tried the form of self-hypnosis I outline in this post, you might find it a useful thing to attempt. Even if it can’t help you get to sleep, at least it will help you relax.

My wife recently started a new job. It’s a rough shift; it starts at 4 in the morning and goes to 12:30 pm.

Except when it starts at 6 am. Or the times it starts at 9:30 am. Or 3:30 pm.

Can you say ‘fucked-up sleep schedule?’ I knew you could.

:o <-- yawning

That might not be too far off, maybe.

I’ve been taking modafinil (called Provigil here in the US) because I have sleep apnea that hasn’t been helped a goddamn bit that I can detect with CPAP. I only take one in the morning, and I think it helps. But I have to admit it’s not quite so effective that I can be sure it’s not a placebo effect.

I recall reading about that a year ago or so. It sounds ridiculously promising, though I’m dubious since I haven’t heard anything since.

But what I really want is a pill I can take, like, once or twice a day, and it completely and totally eliminates any need to sleep. No ‘get four or five hours’, but just screw the whole stupid waste of time. I think that’s a desire that only us sleep-deprived-for-whatever-reason can really understand. A conversation I had on Friday with a friend: “Trying to sleep makes me so angry sometimes.”
“What? Sleep? Angry? What?”
“Yeah, when I’m trying desperately to fall asleep, and I’m not…it pisses me off.”
“But don’t you just fall asleep after a while?”


And now I’m going to go lie in bed and probably get more angry than sleep.

I haven’t slept since my last reply…

I’m like this. Weekends always mess me up because I think I can stay up later, but then have to skip a night so I can get back to sleep for the week. Mondays always suck the worst.

I’ve been up all night and have a lot to do today. But, I could not get to sleep and I needed to be awake before 9, so that means no sleep.

I had this all perfected in high school- I would stay up till two or three and then fall asleep. I’d take a nap after school and stay up late again. Now with school and work it gets messier.

Ah, well, I have to “wake up” now. The sun is mocking me.

Well, I’m not sure if it’s totally germane to the OP’s situation, but I found this article about pre-industrial sleep cycles very interesting. The pattern described in the article is one that I tend to follow in the winter months (I’m far enough north that we get a very short day during the winter) and I always thought there was something “wrong” about it even though it feels just fine. Maybe society just has us all brainwashed to be unhappy with our own natural sleep cycles.

Another interesting tidbit was Farley Mowat’s description of the wolf sleep cycle in “Never Cry Wolf.” He noted that wolves tend to sleep primarily in short naps around the clock. In order to keep tabs on his study subjects he had to adopt the same method and he said that it was actually the most refreshing and salubrious method of sleeping he’d ever found, but that due to having a wife and family who thought differently he wasn’t able to keep that pattern up once he returned from his wolf study.

It does seem to be terribly counterproductive to lie awake worrying that you aren’t sleeping correctly… :smack:

I’ve read about this, but unfortunately, it doesn’t really work too well with a 9-5 job. I’m considering seriously trying it once classes start in August, though.

And yeah, losing sleep because you’re worried about losing sleep is definitely not productive. The worst thing is it’s kind of self-reinforcing: I’m the type of person who will then start worrying about the fact that I’m worrying, and that really doesn’t help.

Modern society sure beats any other society we’ve had, when the sun was your main light source and most people were farmers.