Help me regulate my sleeping patterns.
January 1, 2009 8:54 AM   Subscribe

SleepFilter: How to I rid myself of the innate desire to always stay up two hours later I did than the previous night?

In a perfect world, I'd get tired at the same time every night, but still get a lot of sleep. However, as it stands, if I get enough sleep on a given night (eight or nine hours, I'd say), I am NEVER tired at the same time the next night. I only seem to achieve consistent sleeping/waking hours by sleeping for what I consider to be too short a period.

I'm sure others have had this problem. What've you done about it?
posted by joshjs to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
All of the sleep disturbances I had were cured by getting up early, at the same time every day. The first couple of weeks were hell, but after that, something clicked and my brain realised that to be good to go at 6 required being sleepy at 10 (or whatever).
posted by Solomon at 8:58 AM on January 1, 2009

I have this, too. Back in college, I even went so far as to do this every night until I was back where I started from. I still do it sometimes when I'm on vacation. Fortunately, once I resume getting up at the same time every day, I can usually get to sleep at a normal time again. Still, I must always resist the urge to stay up later...
posted by Afroblanco at 9:03 AM on January 1, 2009

I simply use melatonin and hour or so before I want to go to sleep.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:04 AM on January 1, 2009

Solomon is right. I am currently going through this, but I won the battle to wake myself up at 5:30 or 6 by a simple trick. Instead of telling myself, "I'm going to wake up and exercise / do laundry / be a morning person," I tell myself, "I'm going to wake up and enjoy my caffeine and do fuck all for a while." Give yourself something to look forward to by getting up early.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:05 AM on January 1, 2009 [5 favorites]

IMNAD!! But I took my teenage son to a sleep clinic because of his "delayed phase" problem with sleeping. Many, perhaps most, teenagers have a delayed sleep phase that causes them to stay up late and sleep in late but my son's sleep issues were even beyond what is normal for teens. The doctor we saw recommended taking 500 mg of calcium with 250 mg of magnesium (the 2:1 ratio is very important) and 3 mg of melatonin about 2 hours before you want to fall asleep. The combination "resets" your sleep clock. It's worked wonders for my son and the rest of the family uses te combination too when we've got away from good sleep habits.

Bodyrhythms by Lynne Lamberg was on the clinic's reading list and I found it very informative. The general area of research is chronobiology.
posted by angiep at 9:14 AM on January 1, 2009 [10 favorites]

Forcing yourself to wake up at the same time everyday is probably the best bet. I've gotten to the point that I wake up at 7AM even on the weekends. On busy days I'm done with my chores by lunch, on other days I get a couple of hours to goof off before the world catches up.

WoW, at 8AM is great, there is hardly anyone on-line and you get a ton of loot with little hassle.
posted by oddman at 9:16 AM on January 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

First, you get to bed on time. I have to turnoff the computer, tv, and games and read instead. Warm milk or tea helps. Lots of suggestions elsewhere. Or take a pill, but then I'm groggy.

Second, you get up on time. I have incentives like yummy breakfasts, urge to pee, annoying animals with urges to pee, laundry to do, multiple annoying alarms, etc.

I find that getting up on time isn't really enough to make me go to bed the next night properly. I really have to shutoff the world at a certain time. If my mind is busy, I'll pull out an index card and scribble/brainstorm until it's bored with itself. Also, once I'm far off track, I find it easier to stay up a whole night. As long as stick to a schedule after that, I can usually maintain the schedule. But, that's only ever lasted a month or so due to work commitments. The slightest deviation throws everything off. Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome describes me pretty well.
posted by ick at 9:28 AM on January 1, 2009

Get a schedule for yourself, include exercise + plenty of fresh air and make sure you're exhausted by your daily activities.
posted by the_ancient_mariner at 10:27 AM on January 1, 2009

None of the above has ever worked for me.

When I started taking topiramate every day, I stopped being awakened by headaches. Being able to sleep until my alarm goes off - which could be six to nine hours depending on when I fell asleep - means that I am not tired during the day.

I have an entirely unscientific belief that the need for sleep and food is not as scheduled as we are told. But I spent a large part of my early childhood with grandmothers who were on the old-person 4-hours a night schedule and that may have messed up my rhythms.

Why do you want your schedule set? Are you have problems getting things done?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:32 AM on January 1, 2009

Maybe this will help you?

posted by lohmannn at 11:47 AM on January 1, 2009

If you used melatonin, you should be aware of the side effects, which do include depression and decreased sexual desire.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:04 PM on January 1, 2009

hmm. link didn't work.

posted by lohmannn at 12:16 PM on January 1, 2009

I have heard that the human circadian rhythm works on a 25 hour cycle.

The simple truth is that if we let our bodies do what they want we will want to fall asleep an hour later then we want and wake up an hour later.

The only way to fix this is by conditioning the body to a 24 hour cycle.
posted by Takeyourtime at 1:11 PM on January 1, 2009

If you are able to fall asleep despite not being tired, consider yourself and lucky and go to bed. Consider it the same as controlling your appetite.

Some of DSPS types can go to bed early and have nothing at all happen. That's a recipe for misery, oh yes.
posted by bonaldi at 1:40 PM on January 1, 2009

My husband and I have this problem, and without any external constraints on our schedules we will cycle all the way around the clock every two weeks or so.

The only thing that has ever worked to get me on a normal 24-hour day is Ambien.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:42 PM on January 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Holy crap, Jacqueline! Thanks for the link. I am, apparently, not alone.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:54 PM on January 1, 2009

I have this issue too; it is very hard for me to get tired in the evening. Also try looking up "sleep hygiene." Getting up at the same time every day, as Solomon said, is the most important thing. It doesn't have to be early, if your life allows it; you just need to be consistent, and no weekends or holidays off. But there are also things you can do throughout the day, especially exercise. And your evening routine is very important. Just like with small children, you do the same thing at the same time in the same order. Other practices include not using your bedroom for anything except sleep or sex, etc.

If I get up at the same time every day and exercise, that takes care of at least 75% of the problem.

Another thing you could do is have a baby. Certainly worked for me.
posted by Herkimer at 3:45 PM on January 1, 2009

I have this problem too. And I am recently unemployed, so my schedule is really up to my body and brain. Turning off the computer, getting into bed and picking up a not-so-engaging magazine will do the trick every time. (I just need the will power to do that actually turn the damn computer off.)

The other thing I've found is that when I get proper amounts of sleep, my body has a lot more energy, which if I don't use, I don't get tired. So, get a good night's sleep one night, and exercise the next day. That does the trick for me. Now if I could just get the motivation to exercise everyday...
posted by anthropoid at 6:49 PM on January 1, 2009

This is me. Melatonin- I had my doubts but it works like a champ!
posted by razzamatazm at 10:28 AM on January 5, 2009

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