Can't stop lucid dreaming
December 31, 2012 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone found any strategies for combating sleep state misperception/paradoxical insomnia?

I was recently diagnosed with sleep state misperception, also known as paradoxical insomnia. Here's how I understand it: I used to think that I hardly ever slept, and felt tired a lot. I thought I would go to sleep, and felt like I was sleeping for like 3-4 hours, but then I'd wake up and stay awake the rest of the night. This has been going on the last 8 years. Recently I did a sleep study and they said my body was asleep, and even my brain was asleep for most of the night (86% of their sleep time allowed, which was about 8 hours). But my mind remained active, giving me a heightened sense of awareness during sleep and making me feel like I've been awake a long time when I wake up. It is one of the strangest things I've ever heard of. I has something to do with my brain's awareness of consciousness. And it has given me the extraordinary ability to lucid dream.

However, it is frustrating to feel like I've been awake a long time, or to not feel like I'm getting restful sleep. The study says I am, so I guess I'll just roll with it, but does anyone have any suggestions as to how to stop lucid dreaming or how to convince my mind that I'm really sleeping? I don't know anyone else personally who has this issue, so I'm reaching out to this network. The only thing I could find online was to use sleep restriction techniques. But I've tried this and just end up feeling tired in the long run.

Other possibly useful information: I am a young (22) male, eat quite healthy (paleo diet - no gluten, soy, or dairy, and <150 carbs/day), allow myself adequate time to sleep (11:00 - 6:30), and get 3-4 days of exercise per week (walk or play basketball, lift weights). I do have thyroid issues, but these have been ruled out (by an endocrinologist and sleep science doctor at Mayo Clinic) as being the source of this issue. She said it is mainly a mental thing and the only thing she could recommend was CBT. Haven't tried that yet.

posted by mellosphere to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you are lucid enough have you tried meditating while you are laying there, if nothing else it might make your brain feel like it's had some rest.
posted by wwax at 9:24 AM on December 31, 2012

How about listening to an audiobook (one that will play continuously for more than 8 hours) as you're falling asleep and the whole time you're sleeping? Then you can convince yourself that you were not conscious during such and such chapters. Might work best with a book you're familiar with but haven't reread in a while.

(Source: I can't fall sleep without listening to something and wake up many times per night. No experience with your specific disorder, though.)
posted by ecsh at 9:28 AM on December 31, 2012

Best answer: I experienced this myself. What helped me is taking a 1mg klonopin at night. My mind finally turns off and I feel rested when I wake up. This has been my regime since having a sleep study done in 1999. I also was diagnosed with sleep apnea and use a cpap machine at night.
posted by JujuB at 10:01 AM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am like this. The solution to my "problem" was, once I realized I was getting sufficient sleep, to stop considering it as a problem.

However, it is frustrating to feel like I've been awake a long time, or to not feel like I'm getting restful sleep. The study says I am, so I guess I'll just roll with it

Are you not really convinced? People usually forget their night-time consciousness/dreams and so differ from us not in the experience so much as the memory. When I find the experience too "busy" and thus it feels unrestful, I do meditation exercises to thin out my thoughts.

I notice from your question that you are the kind of person who follows regular disciplines as to diet and exercise so perhaps it is the undisciplined nature of your night-time consciousness is the problem. Meditation could help with your acceptance of this. The CBT angle is to realize that making it into a problem is a large part of the problem.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:19 AM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, it's not a problem, it's a benefit. You have another potential 8 hours of memories. Cherish that ability!
posted by 3FLryan at 11:53 AM on December 31, 2012

Response by poster: I don't think an audiobook will help, I used to use this thing called pzizz but for some reason over time it had the opposite reaction and now I can't even seem to fall asleep to music. The noise keeps me alert.

Obscure Reference, I guess I understand what you're saying about making it into a problem is the problem. That actually makes a lot of sense because I find myself getting uncharacteristically anxious as I lie there awake, wondering when I'll go to sleep. I'll definitely look into meditation techniques. When the doc told me this, no, I really was not convinced because of the years of feeling like I'm awake. But she said she couldn't detect many other signs of typical insomnia, so I must be sleeping adequately. Wow, now that I'm trying to explain it more thoroughly, I can see how this becomes a mental thing :p

In light of that, and the fact that klonopin is an anti-anxiety supplement, I'll try meditation first and if I can't get anywhere with that, I'll try the klonopin.

Thanks for your help!
posted by mellosphere at 12:09 PM on December 31, 2012

Response by poster: I see that klonopin is a drug, not a supplement like melatonin, which is what I assumed when I saw the name. I've taken melatonin before, and it helps, but it makes me groggy the next day. I also have taken tamezapam before which is in the same family as klonopin with poor results. It seems to work for about 10-14 days and then all of a sudden by body seems to resist it and it's back to normal for me. So I'll work on the mental part of things and hope to see the anxiety go away on its own. Thanks again!
posted by mellosphere at 12:18 PM on December 31, 2012

You said you feel anxious as you lie awake. Have you asked any of your doctors if a low-dose antidepressant would help? If the problem is turning your brain off or getting rid of "racing" thoughts, it might be a possible solution. I've heard some people have more vivid dreams on certain antidepressants, but if part of the problem is just calming yourself altogether, it could be worth looking into along with the CBT.

Only other thing I can think of is regarding light and making sure to get your body to strictly associate its presence correctly. Try using a sleep mask at night and spend your first 30 minutes awake with a "true light" sun lamp.
posted by iamfantastikate at 12:56 PM on December 31, 2012

I do this too. What really helped was to track my sleep with a Zeo. It was waking up and seeing the evidence on its screen of actually having slept, every morning, consistently, that gradually convinced me that there was nothing worth worrying about. Having that reassurance first thing in the morning was also useful because my dreams were still fresh and I could more easily reality-check them. 'Oh, I'm so tired from roller-skating all night... wait...'
posted by oceanmorning at 5:39 PM on January 1, 2013

With regards to the klonipin working only for a little while (or at least the other benzodiazepine that you've tried), I believe this is pretty common when taking this class; tolerance to them is normal. If you are interested in exploring more drug options, of course I feel like your doctor might be a good source of things to try (or another doctor if the one you have isn't concerned with your discomfort), but just in case anecdata could be helpful: my husband combines klonipin with gabapentin for restless legs; he takes the gabapentin regularly and the klonipin only 1/3 to 1/2 the time, when he 'knows' he will need it, and he has largely avoided tolerance issues this way. It took him a while to figure out how to predict he will need the klonipin (based on how he's feeling earlier in the evening) but I think it's been working ok lately. Anyway, just describing another mode of taking the benzos in case it might be helpful for you...
posted by Tandem Affinity at 8:43 PM on January 1, 2013

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