My bed is a racecar
June 28, 2006 6:26 AM   Subscribe

My g/f is getting more and more pissed with my nightly antics. [more under the sheets]

Apparently, nowadays my movements while asleep involve some combination of :
- lifting one leg real high, then slamming it back on the bed. I do this wether I'm on my back (full leg) or on my belly (start at the knee). Regularly - as in, every 5 seconds.
- going "Man From Atlantis" : while on me belly, hands close to the body, I do buttocks movements left to right, head in the pillow. I'm relieved no moaning is involved, phew.
- (this one is new) light teeth grinding (only some nights, here and there).

Most of those seem to happen while I'm dreaming - or at least, when she hits me because I woke her up or she can't fall back to sleep, I'm in the middle of a dream.

For the sake of her sleep schedule, and of my tender arms, do any of you have an explanation, or at least something that could prevent me from doing this ? If light medication is involved, please note that I'm in France. Molto danke shöne para ustedes.
posted by XiBe to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you having nightmares when some of this might be happening? If it really is as bad as it sounds, you might look in to going to a sleep therapist.
posted by JPigford at 6:33 AM on June 28, 2006

This sounds like a possible sleep disorder. I would talk to a doctor. Yes, it's the least wanted answer on MeFi, but seriously, you should see a doctor.
posted by twiggy at 6:50 AM on June 28, 2006

I'm not sure how all the movement would affect the answer, but I asked a question a while ago about teeth grinding. I found that people's suggestions of lowering the stress in my life (or at least finding an outlet for it while I was awake) plus taking a multivitamin every day (preferably right before I go to sleep) definitely helped.
posted by occhiblu at 6:53 AM on June 28, 2006

I'm convinced that this sort of thing is hereditary. Since I was a kindy, I'd been accused of making a weird sort of groaning noise in my sleep, usually when I was close to waking up. In later years, it used to drive my wife mad, but I thought she was exaggerating. Then along came my first-born, and by the time he was a few months old, he was making a weird groaning noise in his sleep. Now, a decade later, it's reached epic proportions. It's like guttural full-lunged wail of grief.

That doesn't anwer your question, but I guess that anybody that you spend the night with is going to have to get used to it. It's just the way you are.
posted by veedubya at 7:01 AM on June 28, 2006

God, that sounds horrible-- though a lot of couples are actually starting to admit they sleep apart during the work week just because of snoring and things u describe.
posted by GoodJob! at 7:02 AM on June 28, 2006

Thanks for the answers so far.

No nightmares involved, afaik. Just dreams. If that helps, before I had a g/f, I was already told I moved my leg up and done during the night, but since I was not the remember-my-dreams kind.

My life is averagey stress : 29, unmarried, no child, close family and friends, job writing articles for online programming publication... But I might look into it.
posted by XiBe at 7:36 AM on June 28, 2006

Go to a sleep disorder center. Seriously.

It'll be covered by your insurance, and it will make your life unimaginably better. Seriously. You have no clue how much better you'll feel once you are getting proper sleep.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:38 AM on June 28, 2006

I've done the wacky nocturnal movements, thrashing, whimpering, swearing, and yelling thing ever since I was little, and have never been able to determine a cause or an effective solution.

Seconding veedubya's "It's just the way you are."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:38 AM on June 28, 2006

Oh, just saw in your profile that you're French.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:39 AM on June 28, 2006

don't have an answer but my ex-boyfriend used to do the leg up in the air thing. Not all night, but as he was going to sleep and at different points in his sleep cycle. Another thing he did while sleeping was to put his forearm over his eyes, which also caused him to elbow me in the face a few times a night. I have to say I kicked him out of bed regularly since obvioiiusly he was sleeping with no problem and I was lying awake getting elbowed in the face and having the bed rocked by his leg constantly hitting the mattress. He definitely had stress and anger problems, and needed way more sleep (at least 9 hours) every night in order to be a normal person in the daytime.
posted by chelseagirl at 7:55 AM on June 28, 2006

I work in a clinic that has some overlap with the sleep-disorder clinic, and what you seem to have there is some sort of 'sleep movement disorder', possibly just a wacky form of 'restless leg syndrome'. (Those are official names, as these things go, so google away if you like.) Go to a sleep clinic and have them verify it, and then they can work with you to fix it.

It could be worse. You could be trying to save your girlfriend from 'fires' in your dreams. I've seen that more than once - that's an extreme form of sleep movement disorder - but anything that is keeping you and your loved ones from sleep is a quality-of-life issue that can be, usually, fixed.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:05 AM on June 28, 2006

Is this a new phenomenon or is this just the first time you've been made aware of it? (I mean, have you been co-sleeping for a long time and this is the first time you're doing this or is she a new bed partner and so you've never been told about it before?) If it's NEW, consider mentioning it next time you see your doctor - it might be a sign of stress or it might just be a random oddity, but your doctor might have an idea of what's causing it or what you can do to stop it. If you've always been doing it, chances are it's not a sign of anything other than you do weird things in your sleep.

I grind my teeth (to the point where my husband has to wake me up because I'm shaking the bed - there's nope for me, I've been doing this since I had teeth) and occasionally do such acrobatics as taking up the entire bed while sticking my butt up into the air. Really annoying. To counterbalance, my husband talks in his sleep in made up languages (somewhat resembling his native Icelandic, but not actually) and has a distinct tendency to try and colonize my face with his elbow. In the three years that we've been together, there have been a few nights where one of us has just gotten sick of it and slept on the couch. Every longterm couple I know has reported similar nights where one partner's sleep weirdness was just too much to handle and they slept elsewhere.

Almost everyone does bizarre stuff in their sleep. My advice would be to find someway of dealing with it with your girlfriend. I've "trained" my husband to respond to the request "Can I spoon you?" even in his deepest sleep (this involved forcibly moving him, but now I can just ask and he rolls over) which solves the elbow-in-the-face problem. He has license to wake me if I'm grinding my teeth and to move me if I'm making myself into a human starfish over the whole bed. There's no good way to respond to someone talking in a made up language, but it doesn't last for long and I can usually drift off again immediately.

If there really is no way to work around this and your girlfriend's sleep is seriously being compromised, talk to your doctor. I would really suggest trying to work this out with your girlfriend first though, just because I try to save visits for the doctor for problems that I can't resolve on my own.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:21 AM on June 28, 2006

PS: As far as light medication goes, it could make it WORSE, not better. I have a slew of overlapping medical issues that make it absolutely necessary for me to get 9+ hours of sleep every single night, so some nights I end up taking something to go to sleep. (Something being something between over the counter sleeping pills and Valium - I'm currently on Ambien, but I've been on quite a lot of things over the years.) It is my husband's experience that my teeth-grinding and amazing-starfish-expanding behavior is a thousand times WORSE when I have taken medication because I am sleeping very very deeply. Also, it is much much harder to wake someone who has been drugged to sleep as opposed to someone who is sleeping naturally.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:24 AM on June 28, 2006

My husband can be a nightmare to share a bed with. Twisting, turning, teeth grinding, snoring, sleep groping (!), pushing me out of the bed, pushing himself out of the bed....

He's much better if he has done a fair bit of physical exercise during the day. Also I've found that hitting doesn't work, nor does shoving or kicking. As tempting as it may be to smother the bad sleeper with a pillow, I've found that by gently stroking his forehead he will settle down, stop moving and move into quiet sleep.
posted by gomichild at 10:07 AM on June 28, 2006

My wife has always done this thing where she bends her arm and puts her hand on the side of her head, almost like she's holding a phone, with her elbow pointing straight up in the air. This isn't so bad, but then the elbow pointing up to the ceiling S L O W L Y tips over and ever so gently eases down until it rests on me. Then she jerks it back up straight and the whole process starts all over again. It's like water torture...the anticipation of the elbow dropping. She's done it forever and most nights it doesn't bother me, but sometimes I reach a breaking point and shove her or yell "stop it!" or something.
It doesn't seem to affect her sleep though, so I wouldn't say it's a problem for her.
But apparently I snore after I drink so I guess it's a fair trade.

Doesn't everybody have some kind of wierd sleep thing?
I would say aside from exercise, diet, etc. you can't really do much.
posted by chococat at 10:41 AM on June 28, 2006

Teeth-grinders: consult your dentist. Wearing a nightguard can make a big difference (to you and anyone you sleep with!
posted by Carol Anne at 11:56 AM on June 28, 2006

Re: movements -- get a bed/mattress that isolates your movements? Memory foam does that, sleep number beds do that, separate mattresses on top of a box spring may help.

Re: Teeth grinding. Yeah, previous suggestions sound good. Also, possibly add something that makes sound in the room to mask your grinding? A fan, one of those sound machines (waves/jungle/classical/etc).

I move around in my sleep, thankfully less so when my wife is in bed... just the other day, though, she told me I'll sometimes push my lower leg against hers, and softly press/unpress 5-6 times. Occassionally this will repeat several times. I have no recollection of doing this.

I do however have a habit of bouncing my (usually left) leg, even when completely relaxed. Call it nervous energy.
posted by empyrean at 12:34 PM on June 28, 2006

On behalf of people like your girlfriend, however, thank you VERY much for trying to get help.

If it makes you feel any better, though, it could be a lot worse. My boyfriend has severe hypnagogic myoclonus; I've actually been bruised multiple times. And not only will he not to do anything about it ("there's nothing they can do!"...based on reading a single webpage), he steadfastly refuses to let me sleep on the couch (I have to sneak out when he's snoring). I average about 2.5 - 3 hours of sleep a night.

The punchline is that I live literally across the street from a sleep clinic.
posted by geckoinpdx at 12:45 PM on June 28, 2006

Grinding your teeth can be destructive. My father broke several teeth by doing this in his sleep. Finally a sleep clinic gave him a plastic mouthguard-type thing to wear while he's sleeping. It's a little inconvenient but better than breaking teeth!
posted by beandip at 3:00 PM on June 28, 2006

Maybe you need a better mattress. I tend to thrash around a lot, and I think my thrashing has decreased significantly since I invested about $1200 in a new bed.

unfortunately, I have yet to share it with anyone, so I can't be sure
posted by bingo at 3:19 PM on June 28, 2006

My boyfriend does everything listed here and more. Talks, wriggles, kicks, pushes and elbows me, grinds his teeth til they squeak, sings, hums, tells me to fuck off, tells me he loves me, denies being asleep, snores loud enough to wake the dead, kicks me, twitches, moans, sits bolt upright, ... probably more I can't think of right now.

He's been to specialist and has a paritally obstructed nostril, so can't breath properly on one side. This makes him snore and the difficulty breathing makes him restless. But thanks to our wonderful medical system he can't get treatment (unless he goes private which we can't afford) because he sleeps wondrfully and it doesn't affect his life. At the time I had all the symptoms of a full on sleep disorder (falling asleep in public etc), but because I'm not the patient it doesn't count.

We have found that he's more restless whenn he's not comfortable. He wears nasal strips to help his breathing and it makes a world of difference. Not just to the snoring but to everything. Keeping the temperature of the bed even also helps (if he gets too hot or cold he moans and wriggles until I wake up and rescue him, but he never wakes up or remembers it). Excersize seems to make it worse, his legs twitch madly all night, but I think that's different as I know other runners with the same problem.

I definitely recommend trying breathing strips on your nose. They aren't too expensive, easy to use and may be enough to let you sleep more restfully. Can't really hurt and you'll know fast enough if they help. They really helped us.

For what it's worth, my boyfriend and I now have completely seperate rooms and sleep in the same bed once or twice a month (breathing strips compulsory). I no longer have sleep disorder symptoms and I like my own space. We've been together 12 years and expect this way of life to continue, well, forever. For some reason this horrifies a lot of people *shrug*.
posted by shelleycat at 4:28 PM on June 28, 2006

My husband does all this. The leg thing is the worst, since he's really tall and has really long legs and they crash down like the guillotine at night. He also does this champing with his teeth thing, like he's eating in his sleep. I basically get no rest on these nights.

Exercise doesn't seem to help him. I can't tell if it's a dream issue or a sleep/weariness issue or maybe an anxiety issue. Please advise.
posted by mdiskin at 6:20 PM on June 28, 2006

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