Sleeping the night and day and night away?
July 19, 2010 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I just slept 23 hours, I am not narcoleptic. Any tips, tricks, or ideas on damage control when I wake up in the middle of the *next* night?

So, I recently sleepily woke up, observed that it was still nighttime, and rolled over to go back to sleep, before being woken by a disturbing feeling that I'd seen morning/daylight at some point.
Ah. Great. I just slept 23 hours.
Ok, I'm acknowledging I must be a slight medical freak (not the least being my heroic bladder), as I can sleep 16 hours on a pretty regular basis. I don't have daytime sleepiness so it's not narcolepsy, but I can nap pretty much anywhere, anytime, and I *always* need an alarm clock to wake up (in less than 16 hours, anyway). I can turn alarms off 'in my sleep' - I caused this bout by only having my too-quiet cellphone alarm on, and apparently within reach.
I have problems with depression, and sleeping more than 16 hours is usually a conclusive sign of it, but oversleeping (9+) is also a trigger for it, so I try an avoid doing so.

I obviously need to set up my multi-stage, better living through technology alarm system again (various timers for light, heat, music, alarm, food & water, backup alarm etc - had power outage and hadn't set everything up), but would really appreciate any feedback or advice from the good folks on the internet on other ways to approach this.

Anything? Is there some kind of, oh, vitamin deficiency I might have?

Secondly, any suggestions for damage control when I wake up in the middle of the night?
I was highly tempted to grab a bite to eat and go back to sleep til as close to morning as I could manage, but figured sleeping even more wouldn't be a good idea. On the other hand, I don't want to get too tired. Sounds stupid, but the only trigger for the sleepin I can think of, was that I'd only slept 6ish hours the night before as I was trying to reset my body clock to more morning hours (had had enough sleep the nights before that).

Also, what can I productively do in the middle of the night, that's not lying in bed waiting for morning? Probably not surfing the internet looking up oversleeping, even if that is what I have been doing (I have f.lux installed at least).
Should I hold off eating for another few hours in the hope it resets my body clock?
Have a small nap before a decent morning 'wake up time' or at midday?

My brain is pretty fragged obviously, so any suggestions, advice, theories would be appreciated.
posted by Elysum to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Get a sleep study-- it's not just narcolepsy that can cause symptoms like that. You could have apnea, delayed sleep phase problems, or other conditions a good sleep doc could fix.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:06 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Apologies if it's obvious, but I have to put my alarm clock across the room to keep from barely waking up, turning it off, and going back to sleep for hours longer.

Not really your question, but hopefully it'll help prevent this, rather than treating it after it happens. I second the recommendation for a sleep study/EEG. You might be "sleeping" for a day, but your cycles could be such that you're only getting a few hours of "good" sleep.
posted by supercres at 10:19 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You, my friend, need a Clocky.

Other ideas: east-facing bedroom with open blinds to get lots of morning sun, a light alarm clock (a light turns gently on to, eventually, a very bright full power, which is supposed to provide a more natural wakeup), a deaf person's alarm clock (shakes the pillow), etc. These may be harder to sleep through/more waking. Also irate, hungry pets are difficult to sleep through but probably not the best alarm clock solution. :)

(And I definitely favor all the checking with the doctor advice.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:31 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, what to do in the middle of the night: Usually I just lie there and try to rest peacefully -- I've given up trying to SLEEP because that just makes you antsy about not sleeping. I tell myself I'm going to just relax peacefully and think about nice stuff until morning. (And, indeed, even if I can't get back to sleep, I feel more rested if I've been relaxing at least.)

If I can't bring myself to relax (and it took a while to train myself), I get up and read a book with the dimmest possible light (usually a book light so only the book itself is illuminated, but sometimes my living room lamp on the lowest setting), either sitting up in bed or on the couch. Something light and easy, ideally something I've read before, something that when I start to feel relaxed (or even tired!) I won't mind giving up mid-paragraph and won't lose the thread of the story. The idea being that I avoid light (even the screen light) and excessive stimulation and give my restless mind something to focus on to quiet it down.

If I know I'm WIIIIIDE awake and won't be resting no matter what, I pay bills and do laundry so at least I've accomplished something that day, since the rest of the day is going to suck.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:40 AM on July 19, 2010

Thirding a sleep study. We mercilessly mocked a high-school friend of ours who basically slept all weekend every weekend. He was eventually diagnosed with apnea, and it turns out the reason he slept 16 hours at a time was because he was basically semi-waking up every couple of minutes and never falling into a deep sleep. His condition wasn't apparent to him until he started sleeping regularly in a room with someone else and she freaked out about him stopping breathing every once in a while.
posted by flipper at 10:45 AM on July 19, 2010

Are you oversleeping every night, or are there some nights where you go on 2-5 hours of sleep?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:51 AM on July 19, 2010

What is your sleep schedule like normally?
posted by wayland at 11:20 AM on July 19, 2010

Best answer: I also struggle with depression and sleepiness. When I am totally stressed out and depressed I will fall asleep anywhere, anytime. I manage my depression with large doses of calcium and vitamin D combined with omega-3 oils and a multi-vitamin with extra D. All the Vit D excess results from being tested and found to be vitamin D deficient, which contributes greatly to my sleepiness and depression. I lapsed in my multi-vitamin recently and found myself passing out again. Maybe try adding some extra D to your diet or vitamin regimen until you can see your doctor?

Also, after a brief adjustment period, I will sleep through the regular bzzt bzzt alarms. I eventually got a clock radio and set it on the most heinous station in the area, and put the clock across the room. I admit this lost its effectiveness when the station played 'Feel Like Makin' Love' at the same time two weeks in a row, but it certainly worked up until that point!
posted by kittyloop at 11:22 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

How old are you and how long has this been going on? Are you a heavy drinker? If you're living it up in college I wouldn't worry TOO much though I'd chill out on the drinking, especially if you're on medication for the depression. Chill out on caffeine, too. If you're past 23 or so, I'd get this checked out. My psychiatrist wrote me a scrip for a sleep study.

If you wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back asleep, I'd get out of bed and go read a book until you feel tired. Keep to a regular schedule as much as possible; force yourself to get out of bed at a certain time no matter what time you've gone to bed or what time you need to get up for work/school.
posted by desjardins at 11:48 AM on July 19, 2010

Best answer: Art, prayer, yoga and meditation/breathing exercises are my tricks for avoiding the "now my body thinks 2am is when we get up" problem. I nth getting up and out at a civilized time of day, no matter how tired you are (zoning out at a park is OK.). And get a sleep study or an antidepressant, already.

(My record was 36 hours, in college, and I never drank.)
posted by SMPA at 12:24 PM on July 19, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks guys! I appreciate the feedback! Also, what I love about Mefi, is what doesn't help me may help someone else.

I am in my late 20s, only drink socially and haven't for the last few days, and don't really take caffeine.

I will definitely bring up the sleeping/getting a sleep study with my Dr, in case I do have some kind of sleep apnea (I shouldn't have googled right away, but maybe some of it could be covered? It's a little scary that the cost of a 2nd-hand CPAP machine is less than [and additional to] the probable costs of getting diagnosed!).
I don't snore much, and no one has said I stop breathing, but I've found a hot shower and anti-histamine before bed helps my 'depression' a lot - possibly due to being able to breath better at night. I am on an anti-d and it seems otherwise effective.

I have been a deep & long sleeper *all* my life, which is why I only tend to consider freely sleeping over 16 hours abnormal, and that really only in my 20s. My longest sleepins are getting longer though.
A friend just gave me feedback that they think it is strange that I can just lie down and go to sleep, anytime (I thought it was very Indiana Jones), but that I also spring back to fully alert when they call my name (likewise). I do tend to wake up right away to another person though. Not so much to an alarm clock.

My sleep schedule? Hasn't been fantastic recently. But other than the night before the sleepin (6 hours), I'd been getting between 8 & 10 hours. Variation has mostly been between 6 & 12 hours for last few weeks, apart from another long bout 2 weeks ago.

Also, it's not that I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep, it's that if I've had a bathroom break & food, I can often just... keep sleeping. o_0
But after 20-odd hours sleep, I'm just not sure that is the best or healthiest thing for me to be doing?

I appreciated the Art/Prayer/Yoga/Meditation suggestion from SMPA. It helps just to have a mini-list in my head.

Also, I can provide corroboration for the fasting->'break-fast' resetting your body clock. I figured after over a day with no food, an extra 4 hours wouldn't make a difference, so waited til 'breakfast' to eat, and then, miraculously, felt really sleepy that evening (unusual), so much so that I fell asleep with the light on (whoops, well - light doesn't seem to affect me much), and then woke up in the morning at 7am (with the motivator that I needed to get the rubbish out, or it wouldn't get picked up - again!).
And figured out that my new-phone alarm only beeps twice, then stops by itself, so have set up my alarm across room, and phone alarm, etc etc.
Am going to take a daily multivite & fish oil.
Will let you know what the Dr thinks - I didn't really think the sleeping really justified a sleep study, but when that many people repeat a point on MeFi, including people I know following up with me in person, I figure it's time to recalibrate my thinking. Thanks for the feedback!
posted by Elysum at 7:11 PM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: Doctors opinion:
Dr said that it didn't sound like sleep apnea because I don't snore or obviously stop breathing in my sleep, and since I've basically had problems with it all my life, he doesn't think there'd be any medicines or sedatives* that would help, so I should just stick with my multiple alarms.

After a little more questioning on my part, he said he'd mention it to the consultant psychiatrist at least.

I've been trying to have a really rigid sleep hygiene for the last few days, see if that... helps? For lack of better ideas. Read a bunch of stuff about how having a poor bodyclock is a bad sign for longterm health. :P
Breakfast same time everymorning, morning daylight (weather is such that I can't describe it as 'sunshine'). Wearing sunglasses at night for my last hour or so, and listening to audiobooks in bed with all the lights off.

* ?!? - Yeah, I pointed out I sleep too *much*, and they disrupt sleep cycles, so didn't see why that'd be an option anyway.
posted by Elysum at 2:16 AM on July 23, 2010

"* ?!? - Yeah, I pointed out I sleep too *much*, and they disrupt sleep cycles, so didn't see why that'd be an option anyway."

Sometimes too much sleep is a result of bad sleep or ill-timed sleep, and taking a sleep aid for a few nights can kick the body clock back onto its proper schedule. I had this problem at one point in law school, due to stress, and three nights of ambien or whatever would kick me back onto schedule so I was sleeping 8 hours at night instead of 16 hours on and off all day.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:28 AM on July 23, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice, I'm trying/have tried all the suggestions.
Until/unless the Dr changes his mind about the sleep study, or find some new tactic, I've been as problem-solvey as I can think of, so there's no point my worrying about it.
The vitamin D has probably been a good thing to add to my diet regardless. Cheers!
posted by Elysum at 11:23 PM on August 30, 2010

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