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I am up WAY too late!

  1. Sep 4, 2004 #1
    Please, someone help me with my insomnia, it's 4:10 and I'm still awake. How can I change my eating habbits, change my lifestyle habbits, change anything so that I'll start getting to bed earlier? School starts on Tuesday and classes begin at 7:45, there's no way I'll be able to function if I keep falling asleep past 4. I know exercise is reccomended, but yesterday I was at the beach with another family who has 2 little kids + my little brother and I was swimming/running around for maybe 3 hours and while my muscles were tired, I didn't get to sleep until after 3:30. Please, someone help me out...
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 4, 2004 #2
    Its a matter of controlling your thoughts..

    try this - its very hard if not impossible - attempt to think of NOTHING. Everytime something pops in your mind, stop following it through mentally. Be it philosophy of life and death, be it that odd smell in your room, even be it the thoughts about trying to think of nothing - shut it all down.

    And thus, you will understand the essence of sleep.. as long as you don't think about it.
  4. Sep 4, 2004 #3
    I find it impossible to think of nothing, because my mind eventually drifts and I start thinking of something. Thinking of nothing also requires a lot of attention, as funny as that sounds. I have to keep pushing myself to think of nothing and reject every thought that comes into my head...This makes me even more awake I find. Although it has been known to cause some intense visuals.

    When I go to bed I just envision scenerioes and play them out in my head until I fall asleep. That usually works. It has to be a scenerio that you can really dig into, not something that you just skim by. It's the details that make it so encapturing, and this is what helps me fall asleep. Sometimes I'll sing songs as well.

    THe problem is always combatting the "drift". Let me explain the drift first, as I'm sure all of you know about it anyway. When you're about to fall asleep, but you realize you're falling asleep, you "drift" back. When you get the drifts, it's sometimes hard to not observe them for what they are. I find I'll sometimes be lying there for so long, in such a deep thought, that I wonder what's going on in reality, so I'll drift back and think, ****, I was almost there. Then I lie again for awhile and can feel the drift coming and recognize it as the drift, and I come back to reality....Anyways, it sometimes really aggrivates me. But if you're tired enough, and not high on methamphetamines, you'll probably allow them to go unnoticed.

    I wouldn't worry about it. Once you start school you'll be waking up goddamn early, and come night you'll be so bloody tired you won't even think about staying awake.

    I normally stay up LATE...Like, go to bed at 6 am. Sometimes I do some narcotics which keep me up ALL night into the next day. It sucks. But once that day is over and the night comes, I sleep like a baby. Then I wake up early the next day, and go to bed early that night. It's not hard once you get into the cycle of it. The first day will be rough but you'll survive.

    Just don't skip classes to sleep - this is what I have trouble with.

    Then I stay up all night and I'm screwed for the following day.

    ANYWAYS, I think you got the point.

    That was a good before-I-go-to-sleep ramble. It's 6:15. Goodnight.
  5. Sep 4, 2004 #4


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    Classes start at 7.45? :eek: You say your muscles were tired, but you couldn't sleep.. at what time did you go to bed that evening? Don't stay up too late, because you will get over your sleepiness and find yourself twisting and turning all evening. The beach really should have made you sleep sound.

    Otherwise I think that your new school schedule should make you want to sleep the minute you hit your pillow :wink:
  6. Sep 4, 2004 #5
    i used to try tinking nothing...
    unless u r a real focus person it wont do much help yr mind will still wander...
    instead try to focus yr mind on a single word or picture....
    soon u will feel tired...
    well at least it works for me...
  7. Sep 4, 2004 #6
    I went to bed 2 nights ago at 3:30AM!

    The thing with school is, in the past I've always had the same problem of staying up really late, then when school starts, I get home and fall asleep at like 4:00 pm, then wake up at like 7, then stay up late some more and eventually end up getting hungry, go out to the kitchen to eat, wake up my family, and then we're all tired the next morning.
  8. Sep 4, 2004 #7


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    It's going to take a lot more than empty thoughts to shift so dramatically. I'm a night owl like that too, but I don't have to be anywhere so early in the morning.

    What you need to do is change your whole routine. Being forced to get up early for school will help because you'll naturally be tired early from lack of sleep the night before. But, getting your body to shift will probably take about 2 weeks before you start to feel adjusted.

    Here are a few things to try to help:
    In the evenings, decide what time you need to be in bed in order to get enough sleep to wake up when you need to in the morning (you know how much sleep you need). Then, an hour or two before you are ready to go to sleep, switch to quiet activities in dim light. Turn off the computer, turn off the bright lights. Don't do anything too active. Let your body slow down. Take a shower, or put out clothes for the next morning, or sit on the couch folding laundry. Anything that doesn't require a lot of light or activity.

    In the morning when you wake up, do the opposite, turn on all the lights, make yourself be active (even if it feels like you're going to die doing it...I know how early morning feels to a night owl).

    Avoid caffeine pretty much past noon. If you're a coffee drinker, have your morning cup if you need it, but don't overdo it. This is the hardest part for me because that first day the thing you really want is caffeine to get you through your afternoon!

    Resist taking a nap early.

    Eat meals at scheduled times for the schedule you're trying to adapt to and don't skip breakfast, you'll need that energy and the food helps your body know it's supposed to be awake.

    Stick to this schedule even on the weekends. The biggest difficulty people have with Mondays is they sleep in on weekends and then their body is off-schedule again for Monday.

    There are people who have bona fide sleep disorders too. Delayed sleep phase disorder is due to a circadian rhythm that does not properly synchronize to daylight so it shifts later and later (the classic night owl). Advanced sleep phase disorder is the opposite, you shift earlier and earlier (morning people who wake up at 3 a.m.). These have been linked to mutations of genes encoding parts of the circadian clock. However, diagnosis of these would require evaluation at a sleep lab, and you need to rule out other reasons first, such as caffeine, alcohol, activity, lights on at night, noises disturbing your sleep, other physical ailments such as sleep apnea, etc.

    Or, you can keep moving west. Haven't you always wanted to study in California? If you turn into a night owl there too, Hawaii is great, or New Zealand. Just work your way around the globe in a westward direction :wink: :biggrin:
  9. Sep 4, 2004 #8


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    Leave your computer or an air filter on all night. The steady sound will eventually put you to sleep.
  10. Sep 4, 2004 #9
  11. Sep 4, 2004 #10


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    That will only help if part of the problem are sounds that are waking him up. He doesn't seem to be indicating he has a problem staying asleep once he goes to bed, it's that his bedtime and wake time are shifted from that of the rest of the people around him. Think of it like jet lag. It really is the same problem. And, now that I've mentioned jet lag, don't bother suggesting melatonin. It won't help with this big of an adjustment. Melatonin will help with small adjustments, if you need to be asleep by 10 to get up at 6 and you normally fall asleep around 11 and wake up at 7. But, it won't help with trying to shift by 4 to 6 hours. Six hour shifts in rhythms are really hard to do. That's pretty much at the extreme end of what we will try to do experimentally to document phase shifts in the lab.

    The most important things we know of that entrain (synchronize) circadian rhythms right now are light and food. There are other things as well, but light is the strongest zeitgeber ("time giver") and food seems to be the next most important. That's why I emphasized dark near bedtime and light in the morning (you can even put a light on a timer to turn on a little before you need to wake up, it also helps psychologically to not have to notice right away that you are waking up before the sun is up...I don't think people should be forced to wake up before dawn, but if you have to do it, you have to find a way to make it tolerable), and why I also emphasized meal schedules. The other thing that has helped me when traveling to Europe, which is a similar time shift, is just don't sleep the first full night/day there. The first night, I can't possibly fall asleep at a normal time because what's 10 pm there feels like late afternoon to me, so I just stay up overnight. When 5 AM rolls around and I'm ready for bed, I force myself to stay awake and get the day going, so by the second night, when 10 pm rolls around, it's all I can do to get to the bed before I fall asleep. I might have one more day when I feel tired from the sleep-deprivation, but as long as I plan a nice active day, I usually can adjust quickly. It's a lot easier for me to force myself to miss a night's sleep than to slowly shift to an earlier schedule.
  12. Sep 4, 2004 #11
    don't take naps during the day
    go to bed early
    just sit there
    remain calm
    don't move
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