My insomnia is coming back. I used to fall asleep around midnight and wake up naturally around 730, now i’m falling asleep at 3am and I don’t know why. What all methods are useful to help someone overcome late night insomnia? I am trying to wake up at the same time each day, around 8am. I may start taking melatonin too but I don’t think that stuff works too well on me. What about light therapy, has anyone had luck with that? At night I put the curtains up so the street lights can’t get into my bedroom and I don’t turn the TV on at night, but so far it hasn’t made any effect. Is midday halfsleep a bad thing if you have insomnia?
What are my other options? I am wondering if drugs like Ambien are designed for this type of insomnia (not being able to fall asleep until 3 am or so) and if I should ask the doctor about it.
It has also been called “night owl syndrome,” and I know a whole family afflicted with it, so badly that they generally go to bed between 5 and 8 in the morning. They all claim that purposefully trying to adjust their sleep schedules doesn’t help. If they go to bed at midnight, they simply don’t sleep.
I am not 100% sold on this, to tell the truth. I think it is self-indulgence on part of one or two members, and the rest get dragged along. I want to believe that if they made themselves go to bed at 11 and get up at 7, they would–after a few miserable nights–be cured. But then, I don’t have the problem, so I don’t really know.
I know that “early birds,” who wake up far too early in the morning, can have their sleep clocks re-set at a sleep clinic. I believe they are kept awake for about 36 hours, then, when the time is right, allowed to sleep and wake up. I am not sure the same thing works for night owls, though I don’t know why not.
My first advice to anyone who has this problem would be to eliminate any and all caffeine intake. One might have to do this gradually to avoid caffeine withdrawal problems (headaches, daytime drowsiness).
This includes obvious sources like coffee and tea, and less obvious sources like soft drinks and some over the counter medications.
When I was in college I could drink cups of coffee or tea at any time of the day or night and still sleep fine. Now that I am older I can’t have coffee later than 4 pm or so and expect to sleep soundly through the night. If I do have caffeine late in the day I wake up any time from midnight to 4 am and have trouble falling back asleep.
I had the same problem, and my doctor put me on a short course of Ambien. The intent was to reset my sleep cycle over a course of ten days. It didn’t work for me, because the Ambien only put me to sleep once, but I understand that it works for most people.
If you and your doctor decide to go this route, be cautious. Ambien can be habit forming, I believe. You also have to dedicate yourself over the time period to getting to bed and waking up at the same time everyday, leaving at least eight hours a night to sleep.
I think it has to be driven by the getting up early, since you can’t force yourself to go to sleep early. You can go to bed, but you really do just lie there since you’re not tired. OTOH, if you get up early enough, you’ll be exhausted before you normally go to sleep, and you can adjust the time that way.
You can’t force yourself to fall asleep at 11 when you have delayed sleep phase syndrome anymore than a normal person can force themselves to fall asleep at 6pm.
I am trying to wake up at 8am every day in the hopes that this resets my clock, but my hopes aren’t too high. What will probably happen is for 3 days I will get 5 hours of sleep then every 4th day or so I will fall asleep at 9pm, get 11 hours of sleep, and then fall asleep at 3am again the next night.
I think i’m going to ask a doctor about ambien to see if it resets my internal clock.
I’ve been on Ambien for 3 years now. It has a life of 4 -6 hours in your body. I don’t believe it does any resetting. I’ve never slept at normal times since I can remember (age 5 or so).
For me, the habit I’ve formed is the abiltiy to go to sleep at 11pm and wake up at 7am every morning. I am rested each morning and able to have a productive day. No sleep makes one a tad depressed and it’s helped with that also. I’ve heard from doctors their main concern is some patients needing a stronger dose over time to get the same effect. I havn’t had to increase my dose.
I’ve read much on this drug and it seems to have completely different effects on diffferent people. I’ve done everything possible to fix my delayed sleeping problem (no caffeine, no drinking, no drugs, drinking, drugs, melatonin, hot showers before bed time, etc, etc, etc.). Only thing I havn’t tried is warm milk, I’m allergic to milk and that just sounds nasty to me.
I am grateful for Ambien, it has made my quality of life much better for me.
Don’t Ambien and other short half life benzoates like versed block REM and cause long term daily drowsiness? That was always my understanding. I’m kind of worried a doctor will think i’m just a junkie looking for a fix and won’t help me if I go out looking for ambien.
Did it make your life alot better Ravenous Lady? Do you have an email or IM handle? I used to have severe insomnia from 1996-2001, I wouldn’t fall asleep until 6-11am. Then in spring of 2003 it cleared up and from then until about a month ago I would fall asleep at midnight or so.
Turn “Coast to Coast” off. No George Noory or Art Bell…back away from the radio.
A hot bath, a couple of Tylenol PM and a mug of Sleepytime Herbal Tea will put you right out. Also, put fresh sheets and pillow cases on your bed. After a hot bath, fresh, cool sheets feel so good…mmmm…feeling sleepy…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
I just sort of skimmed through what others have said, so I don’t know if I’m repeating. Anyway, I had this problem and what I find helped me is I’d go to sleep late but get up as early as possible. Then I’d force myself to stay awak til a reasonable hour like 11 or so. Once I feel asleep from lack of sleep, it was easy to go to bed at 11 and get up at 7.
Now I don’t have to worry about it though as I have a job that requires me to get up every morning at 5:30 am so by the time 10 rolls around, I’m exhausted.
Oh and turning the clock so I can’t see it helped too.
I have had good luck with Melatonin. I just recently heard that those who spend a lot of time in front of a monitor (or TV) are often deficient of melatonin, which makes some sense to me, as I develop software and am front of a monitor many hours a day.
I don’t know much about pharmacology, but the doctor told me that as long as I got the requisite eight hours of sleep a night after taking the Ambien, I would be fine the next day. I took it maybe five times, and only had a hangover once, when I slept only about four hours.
If you try the sleep cycle reset first, and only ask for a ten day script, your doctor shouldn’t think you are a junkie. Red flags would probably be raised if you went to the doctor and said you had problems sleeping and refused to try anything but a daily prescription for sleeping pills.
Ravenous Lady, the idea of resetting your sleep clock isn’t that the pills do it for you. More that you spend ten days getting in the habit of going to bed at 11:00 and waking at 7:00, for example, with the drugs helping you get to sleep in the first place. Hopefully at the end of the ten days, your body will feel like it’s the natural thing to do. Works for some, not for others.
I, on the other hand, know a person who takes Ambien when he travels. He just got back from a three-day trip yesterday, and for most of the evening, couldn’t remember anything about the hotel he stayed in or the drive there and back. YMMV, I guess.
Melatonin does weird stuff to me. Either it doesn’t do anything or I end up awake for 40 hours straight then I fall asleep at my screwed up time again. Like when I was falling asleep at 6am if I took melatonin I wouldn’t get any sleep the night that I took it and the next night I would fall asleep at 6am again.
Your idea is good WomanofScorn, I think i’m half assing it. What I do is try to get up at 8am everyday, in the hopes that my body will get tired of 5 hours of sleep a night (I need to get up at 8 or 9 anyway) and start falling asleep normally. So far it hasn’t worked and I may start getting up at 6 or 7 just to force myself to be so exhausted that I fall asleep at 10 again. But sadly I don’t think that actually resets your sleep cycle, it just makes your body so exhausted that it temporarily bypasses the cycle. Has anyone had success with actually changing their sleep cycle by doing this? LIke I said, in my experience all that happens is I spend 2 or 3 days getting 5 hours a night, then I get 11 hours or so (or I end up falling asleep in the day) and my normal time to fall asleep is still 3am.
I am wondering if my cluster headaches are tied into it. Most people get cluster headaches in REM sleep, but I get them when i’m awake and never had them in my sleep. However I think the time when I started getting insomnia was around the same time I started getting cluster headaches. If so maybe the insomnia will clear up in a month. I have heard one of the causes of insomnia is fear of what happens in sleep. ‘maybe’ its tied into my cluster headaches and my body not wanting to subject myself to cluster headaches. THis is all giesstimation bullshit though.
Hi, check the post time. Fellow late night/early morning insomniac here.
I am pretty much at the end of my rope when it comes to sleep stuff. I can’t ever get to sleep before seven in the morning, and it’s usually closer to nine or ten. I’ve become tolerant of both Tylenol PMs and melatonin; neither one has any effect on me except that they kind of take away my anxiety. The times I’ve taken Unisom, I’ve slept for twelve hours and woken up the next day with numb hands and feet, and my thought patterns were all messed up. I can’t even read or write the day after I take Unisom, so I don’t take it anymore. The one and only time I tried Ambien (nabbed it from my dad’s medicine cabinet during an Xmas break when I was crying because I’d been awake for almost two days straight, because I had to get up super-early for Xmas morning and I’d only gotten an hour’s sleep), it caused me to hallucinate for like an hour before I went to sleep and the after-effects were like Unisom times ten. I still “felt” the Ambien the day after that. So, I can’t take Ambien.
Trying to adjust my schedule does no good, I just wind up feeling really tired all day but when night comes I get an uncontrollable burst of energy/anxiety. This also happens if I forego sleep altogether, which sometimes happens if I don’t get to sleep until after the time I’ve told myself to get up. People have told me that I should just stay in bed until I do fall asleep, but I don’t get why I should lie in bed for five hours punishing myself because I can’t sleep. Also, my most productive writing hours (I write fiction) are at night. I would love if I could readjust it so those productive hours were during the day, but so far that hasn’t happened. I had a normal schedule for one time in my post-college life, and that was for a month right before I got a night job. Working at night screwed up my clock even worse than it was before; I used to not be able to sleep before four but now I can’t get to sleep until seven.
I doubt anyone’s read all this but I just wanted to let the OP know that I definitely feel your pain. As far as midday naps go I don’t notice much difference if I forego it; if I don’t nap around four I get really tired and loopy but it doesn’t affect my night awakeness at all, there’s still that burst of energy right around one a.m.
Ambien makes me feel a little wacky too before I fall asleep. I’ve also noticed that if I don’t get a full nights rest after I take it (app. 8 hours), then I’ll still feel the effects in the morning. And that ain’t pretty. I take it very infrequently, btw. Only about once every month or two - when I know I’m gonna suffer without that sleep, and when I know I can get a full 8 hours in. Of course if I had my own prescription, I’d probably take it more often.
My mother takes it every night, without fail. I’ve tried to get her to stop taking it (something about dependence, etc… I must’ve learned somewhere down the line that an “addiction” to sleeping pills can be bad), but she won’t. She didn’t have real problems sleeping before she started taking them, AFAIK. I don’t even know why she went on them. Hope she’s not harming her body.
Wesley Clark, as for midday half-sleep, probably wouldn’t be a good idea if you’re having trouble getting to sleep at night. It’s definitely more difficult for me to sleep at night if I’ve taken a little nap during the day. (but it’s so hard not to take a nap during the day if I haven’t been able to sleep the night before!)