Staying up late and sleep hygeine
July 24, 2021 5:22 AM   Subscribe

For people with sleep trouble (as I've been having recently) it seems like a top recommendation is to keep very regular sleep hours, and have wind-down time before bed. I'm curious how people who do this manage the tension between the need to keep early hours (to go to work, to look after kids) and the need/desire to occasionally stay up late (to enjoy regular adult socializing)

Over the past three months or so, I’ve had some sleep trouble, brought on by a period of a lot of stress in my life (divorce, and work challenges) accompanied by anxiety and depression.

I fall asleep very easily, but have trouble staying asleep, or get up too early in the morning.

Most days I need to get up at 6:45 or so. I go to bed at 10:45, and try to start winding down around 9:30.

I find this interferes with normal life. Like- I’m sort of left feeling like I can’t stay out past 9:00 or so, which is when a lot of normal adult socializing happens. (Which is especially important, given the divorce). I find I'm leaving social gatherings super-early. I'm hoping to start dating again, it seems a real impediment to have to leave by 9:00.

I'm curious what people do. My old strategy would be to sleep in a bit when I've had a late night, but all the sleep advice seems to be "don't do that".
posted by LambSock to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you've established a pattern of good sleep for yourself, staying up later than usual one night just gets absorbed. Maybe you'll fall asleep closer to the beginning of your wind down period the next night, maybe you won't even notice it.

Don't make breaking your sleep pattern a multi day a week habit (because then where is your pattern?) but you're ok.
posted by phunniemee at 5:29 AM on July 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: I guess part of what I wonder is: I'd like, ideally, to be able to stay out past 9 a couple nights a week... Not, like, out till 1:00 am, but not having to rush home.
posted by LambSock at 5:44 AM on July 24, 2021


The important bit here is the getting up early. If you stay up late one night but awaken at your usual time the next morning, you'll sleep fine the following night when you go to bed at the usual time (or even a bit earlier if you're tired).
posted by shadygrove at 5:44 AM on July 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


So I have pretty strict sleep hygine, which involves going to bed at 9:30 because I need a lot of runway to not feel pressured to fall asleep. You can fuck that out the window on Friday and Saturday nights though. The key for me is to do something really tiring on Sunday so I can get into bed at 9:30 and resume my weekday schedule with the minimum amount of Monday morning dragass.

Having said that, I'm not sure if addressing mid-cycle waking is best addressed through sleep scheduling. I'd be taking an over-the counter sleep aid personally.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:55 AM on July 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


I think waking up at the same time makes a huge difference. Instead of sleeping in the morning after a late night, try powering through in the morning then going to bed early that night ( or taking a late morning/mid-afternoon nap, if that works).

I also find that the type of "adult socializing" I've been up to makes a big difference in my sleep hygiene - staying out late plus a hangover can mess me up for a week (I mean it did in the Before Times - it's been a very long time since I stayed out late drinking!) while just staying out late I can bounce back from quickly. Alas, some types of fun are not compatible with good sleep hygiene.
posted by mskyle at 5:59 AM on July 24, 2021


I reserve coffee for the those mornings after a late night, ingest a lot in the morning up until about 10am. Then no more caffeine for the rest of the day.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:19 AM on July 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


I've had sleep issues for years, and sleep hygiene has so far not worked for me. I do tend to go to bed early-ish (like between 10 and 11) and get up early as well (even if I was up during the night for a couple of hours, 7 a.m. is "sleeping in" for me.) So late night socializing is challenging, mainly because I just get too sleepy to enjoy it. My husband and I usually go out early and get home early. If we go to a show, we go to the early one so I don't end up snoring and drooling in my seat halfway through.

However, over the years I've come to realize that naps are my friend. I nap in my car during my lunch hour at work most days (one of the nicest things about working from home for me has been napping in my own bed with my cats!) Even if you don't want to nap at lunch every day, an occasional lunchtime nap might get you through a late evening, maybe with another lunch nap the next day. Or if lunchtime doesn't work for you (I know not everyone has a car at work, although when I took the train I used to sleep every day on the tiny sofa in the women's lounge!) maybe a 20 minute nap before you go out (or the next evening when you get home from work.) Basically, use naps to increase your sleep hours wherever it would help you.

Of course, YMMV. I think I'm just naturally a segmented sleeper. I'd be perfectly happy sleeping in three hour stretches throughout the day and night, if making a living and having a life didn't require me to remain upright and alert for significantly longer periods of time.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:26 AM on July 24, 2021


I get up around the same time even if I've stayed up late. I would try to do that regardless for sleep hygiene reasons, but mostly it's just what my body does on its own after years of keeping a pretty regular sleep schedule. I might sleep an extra hour if particularly tired, but that's as much as my internal clock will stand for. Sometimes that means I crash an hour early on another night or catch up with a midday nap on a weekend, and in the long run it all seems to balance out well enough.

That said, I don't have kids, I'm in a long-term relationship so I'm not trying to schedule dating in, and my friend group tends to socialize in the general vicinity of 6-9 p.m., so social events cut into my winding-down time but very rarely my actual falling-asleep time. My early-to-bed-early-to-rise schedule doesn't cause me any real scheduling difficult at all except once in a blue moon if I want to see a play or something, I have to megadose on caffeine to get through the next day until I can go to bed early and catch up.

I see in your history that about a month ago you were thinking about starting on a new psych med. If you did that, you're very likely still in that initial period where energy side effects haven't quite balanced out yet. So it might be that all you need to do is hang on a couple more weeks, take an extra nap or two here and there, and wait for your body to settle in to its new medical regime. This may not be a long-term problem at all. Everyone's different, but I've personally found that new-psych-med energy/sleep effects give me an annoying month after any dosage change and then settle down You might also need to tweak time of day - if you're taking an SSRI before bed, for example, you might find that if you switch it to a morning dose it stops messing with your sleep.
posted by Stacey at 6:31 AM on July 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


Stay out later on weekends—but no too late—and take an extra melatonin Sunday night to fall asleep early again
posted by Amy93 at 8:35 AM on July 24, 2021


For me, the answer has been medication. I have had insomnia since I was a child, basically the opposite issue from yours: cant fall asleep but once I do I stay down. I would imagine that there are medications that would help you. I see a psychiatrist and take prazosin and an over the counter benedryl each night. I have a recurring alarm set for 9pm each night, take the meds then, and fall asleep by 10:30 usually.

On nights I want to stay up later for whatever reason, I just snooze my alarm for an hour or whatever. I keep a small stash of my sleep meds in my car and take my meds when I am leaving whatever event I am at, since it takes half an hour for them to make me tired. Because I almost always go to sleep at 10:30 with the help of meds, a couple nights/week of staying up doesn’t effect me too much.

Your situation sounds somewhat different from mine, recent stress vs. lifelong issues, but I *really* recommend giving a few OTC meds a try and taking them regularly at the same time for a week or two before you try to break the pattern a few nights/week. My life is honestly changed and I am a much more functional person just from taking my meds as close to 9pm as my schedule allows.
posted by Summers at 7:54 AM on July 25, 2021 [1 favorite]


You may find that you are not the only adult prioritizing your sleep health and early rise time.

What is 'normal life' for some single adults is not for others. For some, regular adult socializing is a gym class, or a cocktail or a dinner after work - around 6pm. A weekend brunch or even a weekend retreat.

You may find that as you prioritize your sleep (and whatever goals have you getting up at 6:45am), you'll begin to be surrounded by people with similar aspirations and similar lifestyles.

Going to bed earlier is a little like quitting drinking. At first it seems lonely because it's what everyone you know does. But overtime, you start to know new people, doing new things.
posted by jander03 at 7:32 AM on July 26, 2021


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