Help me sleep.
June 25, 2008 11:20 PM   Subscribe

I haven't been able to sleep for around 60 hours. What to do?

I suppose it's possible I have slept, and it's simply been the less restful type of sleep, but it seems to me that I haven't slept at all. Any tips?
posted by matkline to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So many questions. How old are you? Have you been drinking a lot of caffeinated drinks? How about drugs? What have you been doing for the last 60 hours?

IINAD, but it seems to me the body will tell you in no uncertain terms when you need sleep. The body will eventually take over and tell you I NEED SLEEP NOW, and you should expect to not wake up for at least 12 hours, probably a lot more.
posted by zardoz at 11:27 PM on June 25, 2008

Are you overweight or known to snore? If so, sleep apnea could be causing this and keeping you out of the deeper levels of sleep. Otherwise I second the alcohol / caffeine mention. You may also want to check environmental problems like room temperature too warm or cool. Overall though you should really post more info.
posted by crapmatic at 11:33 PM on June 25, 2008

And until you get some sleep, please be careful about what you do. If you're that exhausted, I wouldn't try driving or anything requiring concentration.

Have you been trying to sleep? Are you just not able to fall asleep or do you keep waking up or what exactly? Are you under any particularly unusual stress at the moment that might be causing this? If by morning you still haven't slept a wink, I would go see a doctor. Sleeping pills can fix the immediate issue, but there's clearly something going on here.
posted by zachlipton at 11:37 PM on June 25, 2008

Response by poster: For the record, I have been trying to sleep, and I feel generally weary, but I just lay in bed and toss and turn.
posted by matkline at 11:43 PM on June 25, 2008

It's the longest day of the year, it screws me up too. I just try to find a dark place and stay there until my brain admits that it's nighttime and I can finally go to sleep.
posted by fshgrl at 11:54 PM on June 25, 2008

By stay in a dark place I don't mean lay down: read or work or do whatever it is you normally do in the evenings. Just with blackout curtains.
posted by fshgrl at 11:55 PM on June 25, 2008

A lot of insomniacs think they're not getting any sleep when they are. The thing is that you can drift in and out of sleep without perceiving a gap. I'm not even even an insomniac, but there are occasionally mornings where I feel like I don't sleep for about the last two hours, but various things make it clear that I must have. So, though indeed you should be very careful if you're even close to 60 hours without sleep, I bet you've gotten some.
posted by abcde at 11:56 PM on June 25, 2008

And to answer the question, melatonin would probably help if you can get access to it without driving. Available OTC. A bit obvious, but y'know.
posted by abcde at 12:04 AM on June 26, 2008

Not to freak you out, but people who have stayed up for very long times have experienced psychosis and a host of other unpleasant side effects. If this keeps up past the 72 hour mark, I'd seek medical care ASAP.
posted by phrontist at 12:20 AM on June 26, 2008

I take calcium-magnesium supplements at night when I'm having trouble sleeping. Calcium has a mild sedative effect and Magnesium has a mild muscle relaxing effect. The combo helps me chill out enough to fall asleep. Not a magic bullet, but it can't hurt.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:38 AM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Are there any opiates or sedatives kicking around in your medicine cabinet? If so, take a regular dose and then hide the rest of them just in case.
posted by tehloki at 1:22 AM on June 26, 2008

Try Melantonin, if it goes past 72 hours call your doctor. You don't want to be awake more than 80 hours, trust me on this.

For *my* current 28 hour stint of sleeplessness due to the summer solstice, tonight's menu calls for 20mg of Ambien. Right now.

Good luck!
posted by Ryvar at 1:42 AM on June 26, 2008

60 hours is a very long time to be awake. You should seek medical care immediately. You may find that if you wait till 72 hours is up, you are not then in a rational enough position to seek the care you need at that point. That could be extremely dangerous.
posted by Blacksun at 1:49 AM on June 26, 2008

Go for a run.
posted by Lleyam at 2:09 AM on June 26, 2008

Blacksun, 60 hours is nothing. I have had the unfortunate experience of knowing people who like to stay up closer to 120 hours at a time. They're not very functional, but they're not completely off the deep end, either.

From what I'm told it can be rather alarming if you've never experienced auditory or visual hallucinations before, but otherwise won't kill you or anything. Not that one should really trust the word of people who go on occasional meth benders, however. Given that they were just fine (as in thinking rationally and not hallucinating) after finally getting a day or so's worth of sleep, I'm inclined to believe them.

As far as the OP's problem, I'd suggest some warm milk. I never knew it before, but it turns out that it's quite effective for me when I'm not having one of those really bad days; that is, the 48 hour ones. I previously have used melatonin to good effect. (I have severe insomnia much of the time)
posted by wierdo at 2:14 AM on June 26, 2008

Oh, other things that work for me that many people have around: Dramamine & Dramamine II. Regular dramamine makes me pretty drowsy. The non-drowsy variety just makes it so I can nap at will, which if I haven't slept in a while, means I can really fall asleep.
posted by wierdo at 2:17 AM on June 26, 2008

Calls for medical attention and extreme caution are perfectly in order. It does get to a point where your grasp on reality weakens. At this point, I would be very hesitant to try any kind of a drug (without medical advice) other than melatonin.

I am in the habit of darkening my house at least an hour in advance of bedtime. My current place has outside blinds which go down. I use only dim lights, and loose clothing. Then I fall asleep very easily.
posted by Goofyy at 2:35 AM on June 26, 2008

@Wierdo. Sixty hours, by most medical/psychological definitions, is a lot. I work/research in the area, so am pretty well-placed to offer advice.

The OP should do what they feel is best for them.
posted by Blacksun at 3:26 AM on June 26, 2008

if you've been lying down and tossing and turning, you probably have been sleeping in short bursts and don't realize it.

that said, i would call your doctor. sounds like it is time for a sleep aid for the short term and maybe further diagnostics if this a) happens often enough to interfere with your life; or b) has never happened before and is unexplainable by external stressors.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:30 AM on June 26, 2008

Doctor. 60 hours is a lot and the mental consequences can be severe.
posted by unSane at 4:34 AM on June 26, 2008

I'd be very surprised if you've made it to 60 hours without any sleep at all - mainly because when I've made it to the 50 hour mark I've started to hallucinate... One very stupid time I gave up just after I swerved to avoid my own headline beams... [long story, I know it was stupid]

Apparently major-league insomniacs tend to sleep - but they are so used to being awake that they have the habit of dreaming they are awake. Helpful, eh?

You're probably also micro sleeping (I think that's the right word) where you get very short doses of sleep. It's basically the same thing people do when they fall asleep at the wheel.

But yeah, to second everything above, go to a doctor.
posted by twine42 at 5:20 AM on June 26, 2008

I've had seizures from lack of sleep. Yeah, fire yourself off to a doctor.

I would avoid the Dramamine, any antihistamine, etc. If you're mentally on edge they can push you over a bit, leave you paranoid and weird-feeling.
posted by kmennie at 5:26 AM on June 26, 2008

Not a doctor, but aren't sleeping pills just the sort of thing intended for insomnia.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 5:39 AM on June 26, 2008

What everyone else has said. I suffer from bouts of very serious insomnia (thankfully not for some time now) and have at times essentially not slept for about 100 hours. I really, really dont recommend that. Hallucinations, delusions, self-injury.. dont let it get that far.

Go exercise. Wear yourself out. Dont drink alcohol. Dark room, etc etc. You could try an OTC sleep aid (do NOT exceed the dosage no matter how much you want to sleep!) if you havent already, but obviously seeing a Doctor is your best bet. Do it now.
posted by elendil71 at 8:37 AM on June 26, 2008

Do you look at the clock when you're trying to get to sleep? Don't. Just cover it up. You won't be able to tell the precise times you've fallen asleep and woken up, but it'll take away the anxiety of looking at it and going "it's 4AM and I still haven't slept", "it's 5AM and I still haven't slept", etc. You can make yourself believe you've slept longer if you don't measure your sleeping time. That said, I think you might be too far gone at this point for that advice to help right now -- go to the doctor and have him help.
posted by pised at 8:58 AM on June 26, 2008

"headline beams" should be "headlight beams". Not that it matters. Stupid brain sucking job...
posted by twine42 at 9:09 AM on June 26, 2008


I would try Tylenol PM. Take two as suggested.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:36 AM on June 26, 2008

I would suggest you visit your doctor and get a couple of xanax or other tranquilizer. They shouldn't mind giving you 1 or 2. It can really help to stop the tossing and turning and general anxiety that comes with insomnia. If this is a regular occurrence, you should definitely get yourself checked out - as you know, it's no way to live.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:57 AM on June 26, 2008

this may or may not help, but when I am tired and sleepy but can only toss or turn I grab a t-shirt and drape it over my eyes. this helps to block out light and even if I try to open my eyes I see nothing and don't get distracted by things in the bedroom (the clock, shadows, etc). Like an eye mask, only cheaper. I have also had good results with Yogi Tea: Bedtime. The main ingredient is Valerian Root extract but it also has a number of other herbs including St. John's Wort (which can interact with other medications and drugs).
posted by silkygreenbelly at 10:33 AM on June 26, 2008

60 hrs holy frak. I have no clue how someone can survive past 50 hrs of no sleep and Iam in college. get to a doctor as soon as you can. no drinking coffee or energy drinks anytime.
posted by radsqd at 11:23 AM on June 26, 2008

Benadryl makes me sleepy and my doc said it's okay once in a while. Do chime in and let us know how you are after a refreshing rest, okay?
posted by IndigoRain at 11:58 PM on June 27, 2008

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