I'm tired as hell, but can't take a nap?
March 17, 2009 4:57 PM   Subscribe

I try all the crap like don't focus so much on the falling asleep, just focus on relaxation, breathing, fairly calm/neutral thoughts. What gives? I was fucking tired today (around...2) when I went to take a nap, but after i'm in my bed for a few mins I'm suddenly awake. This is completely puzzling. How can I be tired when I go to bed (in a sorta dark room) and then it's like this sudden switch that says, no no ... don't do that because you'll actually feel better afterwards.

This isn't the after lunch sleepiness or the tiredness that a lot of people experience around the early to mid afternoon hours, this is being tired as balls from a lack of sleep from my main sleep, lol. For what it's worth, I was doing some research via my sources in the pentagon today and discovered that caffeine's total lifespan is around 12 hours and it's half life of course is around 6 hours.

Most mornings, I just have a 60 mg caffeine packet to mix in a water bottle and that's it. This can vary around 8-10 am , but then that's it. If I'm tired the rest of the day, I'm tired the rest of the day. I don't get it. 60 mg isn't a high amount of caffeine by any stretch and considering that's all I have for the entire day, it shouldn't be that much of a nap deterrent. Then again, it might not even be the caffeine that's the nap deterrent.

I'm also aware of the properties of caffeine molecules that block adenosine receptors and thus prevent your brain from telling you you're tired. Yet, I'm clearly tired as hell according to my body and yet no sleep.

What do you think fellow metafilterians? Do I have the bubonic plague?
posted by isoman2kx to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think that if you aren't excersizing regularly then you should add that to your routine. This will help you have more energy during the day and you'll be tired at night. Don't forget that you are a 21st century being trapped in a body that hasn't evolved in thousands of years.. you may not want to exercise, but our bodies require us to do so.
posted by pwally at 5:16 PM on March 17, 2009

Same thing happens to me, and I rarely ingest caffeine. I've come to believe that some people simply aren't meant to nap successfully. But I also have pretty bad insomnia.

I've also been in a situation where I'm too tired to sleep, if that makes sense. When I get really tired, I start to get nervous and hot, and my pulse races. That makes it harder to fall asleep. When I need to sleep at that level of exhaustion, I normally have to spend 10-15 mins calming down before I can even think about falling asleep.

Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? If not, think about the differences between your nighttime routine and your nap conditions. Can you make the room darker? Can you change into pajamas? "Midnight" snack? Bedtime story?
posted by decathecting at 5:18 PM on March 17, 2009

After only one cup of coffee (er... what, do you mix your own caffeine solution or something? Whatever), that shouldn't be the issue 12-14 hours later when you're going to bed. If you're serious about getting more sleep, there are a few things you can try:

- Get to bed around the same time every night.
- Go to bed in a dark, quiet room.
- Avoid computers, TV, and (to the extent possible) all artificial light in the hour or 2 before bed.
- Don't do stuff in your bedroom that's not sleep related (reading, writing, watching TV).
- Don't drink before bed / go to bed sober.

At your age, these probably seem like ridiculously old fogey suggestions, but if you're really concerned, try some or all of them for a couple weeks and if it's still not better, go see a doctor.
posted by rkent at 5:26 PM on March 17, 2009

Er... I guess my suggestions are more along the lines of eliminating the need for naps rather than napping per se.
posted by rkent at 5:28 PM on March 17, 2009

This same thing happens to me. I describe it as being opposite of the dolls whose eyes go closed when they are laid down. I lay down and my eyes pop wide open and I'm more awake than I've been all day.

Some things that have helped me are eating dinner earlier so I don't have any food for at least three hours prior to sleep, eliminating blue lights from alarm clocks or any other gadget with blue LED light, and running a fan or humidifier for white noise. I hate to admit that I do sleep better if I exercise at some point during the day. Writing down things that are on my mind also helps sometimes if I've got a lot to stress about. Somehow putting it on paper or in notepad makes my brain thinks it's okay to let go of it and sleep without fear of forgetting it.

Seconding what rkent said about alcohol as well. That will wake me right up for hours.
posted by justlisa at 6:07 PM on March 17, 2009

I used to not sleep well at night at all. Ever. I've turned it around.

1) Exercising. I like to run a couple of miles a day but this can mean just doing some sit-ups, or even going for a long walk. Walking into town, walking to work, whatever. Just get some exercise.

2) Cutting caffeine out of my diet completely. Maybe this is counter-intuitive. After a couple of weeks of no caffeine, I find that I wake up fresher, I have sustained energy throughout the day, and I sleep through the night. Before I discovered this, I would have paid someone a damn fine lot of money to help me sleep through the night.

3) Change in diet. I've pretty much cut out sugar (can't avoid it completely, and I'll have a cookie or a bite of ice cream here and there) and I've pretty much stopped drinking (will occasionally have a beer or a glass of wine, but that's it). Alcohol really affects sleep. Not drinking has helped considerably. And consuming sugar does weird things to your body, ups and downs, peaks and valleys. Now I eat a lot of nuts, beans, lean meat, fruits and veggies. Never felt better. Whenever I want something really sweet or some fast food or something, I just think about how great I feel and why would I want to mess with that? I know that eating a Big Mac would destroy me for the rest of the day, so I don't do it.

Basically, being healthy and eating healthy is absolutely vital for good sleep, at least in my case. Of course, reducing stress helps as well, trying to relax in the hour or two before bed, all that jazz. But I guarantee if you can figure out how to sleep well at night, you will have no need for naps.
posted by billysumday at 6:37 PM on March 17, 2009

Google "sleep restriction therapy." It's tough love for insomniacs. Sleep hygiene is at the root of many sleep problems that present like yours. Circadian rhythm problems are especially suspect when someone claims to be exhausted, and yet can't fall asleep. Getting up at the same time every morning regardless will eventually fix a lot of sleep problems, provided you are healthy and have the will power to follow through until it starts to work.
posted by Crotalus at 7:17 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think the above suggestions are really pertinent (especially rkent's concise suggestions). Personally, I can't nap during the day except if I'm deathly ill so I don't find it odd that you have trouble taking a nap. Caffeine is a funny thing, it seems to have dramatically varied effects on people so cutting it out completely could only help your situation. Lastly, perhaps if none of these suggestions are working for you you could always try melatonin--the hormone that we naturally produce to induce sleep. You don't need a prescription; you can buy it over the counter. I hope you get some sleep--and speaking of sleep I'm late in getting my own shut eye. Sweet dreams...
posted by arizona80 at 7:57 PM on March 17, 2009

You seem to be having some of the symptoms of sleep apnea. Do you snore? If so, get thee to a physician.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA):
• Obesity (however, not all OSA patients are heavy).
• Over age 40 (but can happen at any age).
• Fragmented and poor quality sleep, caused by decreased oxygen level and increased carbon dioxide level in the blood, you will be unable to sleep soundly.
• Drowsiness and falling asleep during the daytime (sometimes when driving).
• Irritability and difficulty concentrating during the day.
• Frequently falling asleep when you sit just to relax in a chair or couch.

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, and you have been told that you snore, be sure to see your doctor. If you don't have a family physician, be sure to get one and have this problem eliminated, as it can be very dangerous. OSA can cause brain and/or heart damage. Treatment is pretty simple, and can make you feel like a brand new person the first night! Good luck!
posted by konig at 8:00 PM on March 17, 2009

I get the same thing, to the point where sometimes I try going to sleep sitting up in bed against the wall or something, to recreate that 'omg i'm tired ... falling asleep' feeling without setting off the 'WAKE UP YOU'RE IN BED' alarm.

My pet theory is that you tend to notice what's getting in the way of what you want: when you want to see the end of the movie/look awake at your desk, then eyes drooping shut is annoying so you keep thinking about how sleepy you are and how tired and zzzz..
But when you're lying awake in bed, no matter how much you are trying to relax, you're thinking about how wide awake you are and how crazy it is that you're so wide awake and maybe if you just count to 100 sheep you'll be sleepy again and 1..2..54.. but you're still awake oh god YOU'LL NEVER SLEEP. I try and recreate the feeling of 'wanting to stay awake', and I have found that it helps. I'm probably just naturally contrary or something.
posted by jacalata at 8:02 PM on March 17, 2009

Sometimes it's best not to go through the whole "bed" ritual when trying to nap. Try lying down on the couch and watching some lame tv. You'll feel your eyes start to close a little, then you try to sorta fight it, then you eventually give in. I am sometimes able to "trick" myself into falling asleep like this when otherwise a nap would be futile.
posted by radioamy at 8:21 PM on March 17, 2009

Same thing here - sometimes I'll literally be passing out in front of the computer, go to bed, and then be wide awake for a few hours. For me, it's always because some stressful thought pops up and I'm wide awake thinking like mad. It has nothing to do with caffeine or exercise.

My foolproof plan is to read something so mind numbingly boring my brain eventually turns off. No computer, and no TV.
posted by piper4 at 8:28 PM on March 17, 2009

I am also unable to catnap... once i'm out it's for 2-3 hours. I'm also on an internal clock that does not work mest well with conventional working hours. The sleep schedule my body needs runs from about 3 am to 11 am. Period. Nevermind all those admonitions about managing through getting up at a certain hour, blah, blah, blah, blah. It's not retraining, it's my innate circadian rhythms.

Take for example last night. So pleased that i was actually SLEEPY at 10 pm! went to bed only to be wide awake at 2:30, had to stay up and read for 3 hours before there was any sign it was worth turning out the lights again.

For me this is nothing new. I have always been a night person, and while for adequate compensation I'll slug it out with my mind and body and get up to be at work at a reasonable hour, by the weekend I'm ready to get right back to what's natural--i NEED that to recuperate.

My solution is to live with my natural schedule when i can. When that's not possible, I let myself "catch up" at the times I need sleep (2 hr nap after work, then up until two because either way i'm going to be up at 2).
posted by modal_citizen at 8:43 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Might it be positional? Even if I'm napping in bed, I tend to lay down in a totally different position than I do when I'm going to bed.

I can't sleep on my back, whether napping or down for the night, so that's one factor that used to keep me awake when I tried to nap. I'd lay down on my back, and just lie there waiting for sleep that would never come.

When I nap now, I lay on my side with my arms crossed. It somehow signals my body to fall asleep now, and then 20 minutes later when my arm gets tired, I wake up. And yet, I can't fall asleep in that position when I go to bed, or 20 minutes later, my arm gets sore, I wake up and I can't fall back to sleep.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:47 PM on March 17, 2009

Ahh, it appears that I didn't quite word the original question clearer. I'm strictly trying to take a nap and like 8 times out of 10, I don't fall asleep.


You sound exactly like me, which is good for understanding lol. My napping conditions and sleep conditions are completely different. I'm fairly knocked out with a combination of 6 mg of lunesta , .5 mg xanax and 50 mg of lyrica (anti-anxiety) before bed, so the issue isn't so much falling asleep of course. Nap conditions are definitely different since I only have one of those in my system at the time of my naps. I'm on .5 mg of xanax 3 times a day (usually I forget one) and I try to center the 2nd (or 1st) .5 mg around nap time.

It's one of those deals where I don't know what to do though. I certainly don't want to take sleeping pills or lyrica during the day because if I'm only napping for 30 mins to an hour, I'm going to be worse off in terms of being groggy than I was before.

Is there anything short-term acting that you or anyone here recommend? I do have some of those night time sampler packs of tea, I can't imagine a cup or so of that would just leave me completely lifeless after a nap ... right? I could make my room darker, but with my current blinds, it doesn't allow for much darkness. I'd say a mix between day and night (since that makes sense, lol). I've intermittently thought about just buying a damn black blanket or a giant black poster board and just nailing the thing over my window and blinds. I might seriously consider that soon.

I do have bad insomnia though and am currently experimenting with the CPAP machine as a treatment option. So far no luck, but I got a new mask and a chin strap today to see if I'm possibly opening up my mouth during the night (because I still wake up about the same amount of times after I fall asleep, which is about 3-4).

Have you gotten any sleep lab stuff done or general sleeping pill treatments for your insomnia? Any luck if so?
posted by isoman2kx at 10:01 PM on March 17, 2009

Hmmmm... now I am really curious...

I do have bad insomnia though and am currently experimenting with the CPAP machine as a treatment option. So far no luck, but I got a new mask and a chin strap today to see if I'm possibly opening up my mouth during the night (because I still wake up about the same amount of times after I fall asleep, which is about 3-4).

Curiously, you did not mention the CPAP in your first post and that takes the conversation in an entirely different direction. Have you been to a sleep lab and been diagnosed with sleep apnea? Is the CPAP device yours? Settings for CPAP are prescribed and should not be changed by a patient. With your combination of medications and issues, I most certainly would not seek advice here on this venue. You need to seek medical care for your problem. I am a retired respiratory therapist and also have sleep apnea, and I can tell you that you likely need some adjustment to your CPAP pressures and to use the smallest mask that will properly fit you. Have you been using nasal pillows?

Settings and mask adjustments are properly done in a sleep lab by professionals. Please make sure that the lab is aware that you are taking sleeping medications. The meds you are taking may affect the rate and depth of your breathing as you sleep and may therefore cause detrimental changes to the oxygen and carbon dioxide gases in your blood. That makes your settings even more critical. My guess is that someone other than the sleep lab prescribed your meds. If so, please make sure that ALL of your physicians and prescribers know about the CPAP and that they all the meds that you are taking so that you can be properly treated. Your issue is not routine.

Please memail me if you want to discuss this problem further. Best of luck!
posted by konig at 12:32 AM on March 18, 2009

Have you gotten any sleep lab stuff done or general sleeping pill treatments for your insomnia? Any luck if so?

I had a recent bout of bad insomnia, Doctor gave me sleeping pills, which I took for a week, and I reacted violently when I came off them, plus I was completely unable to sleep again.

Visited a sleep specialist who advised me to boost my melatonin levels. Melatonin is manufactured by the body from Serotonin, which is boosted by exposure to sunlight, so I now try to get at least an hours outdoor time every day. Note you need to get the light in your eyes, not your skin, so no sunglasses. I need to advance my sleep cycle, so that I can get to sleep earlier, which I was advised to do by getting outdoor time as early in the day as possible. Afternoon outdoor time will tend to retard the sleep cycle.

So far it is working for me, I am now sleeping soundly, back in Feb I had a period of being unable to sleep at all, which was utterly horrible. As you've found, tiredness and sleepiness don't always go together.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 9:43 PM on March 19, 2009


will do.
posted by isoman2kx at 1:25 PM on March 20, 2009

« Older dog accomodations   |   I am not a crazy cat lady. Yet. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.