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I started to have sleep problems

  1. Nov 14, 2008 #1
    Beginning last Sunday, I began to have sleeping problems. I just seem to stay awake the whole night. My body is extremely tired (and sore) but my mind just keeps going on and on... and keeps me awake. It's kinda strange that sometimes I feel extremely hot and don't feel comfortable at all (even though it's quite cold outside). I usually go to bed at around 11 or 12.

    Right now, it's 5:20 a.m. and I'm hopelessly awake. Ive almost wanted to hit my head against the wall or something so I can get some rest. I've tried various things the past couple days (in combinations):

    listen to music,
    different relaxation methods (deep breathing, counting sheeps...),
    go to bed early,
    take a warm shower before bed,
    read some extremely technical books (like things to do with knot theory that I know zero about),
    think about really hard problems to try to get tired...etc, I feel I might've slept for like 5 minutes just before after thinking something about gauge transformation but then it doesn't work again. People say this is a bad idea but it seems to have some benefits.

    Anyway, none of these really work. I exercised sometime before going to bed on Tuesday night and that was the only day this week that I got good sleep (good 10 hours). I exercised yesterday night but got nothing this time. Like yesterday, I pretty much stayed awake the whole night and had to sleep from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. after coming back from school.

    I don't know what's happening to me. It just begins this week and I am scared that this pattern is here to stay... right now I am just going to do my homework and all my plans tomorrow are pretty much canceled since I know I'll be extremely tired at around 9:00 this morning. My schedule is completely wacked due to this problem. Good thing that class works have been relatively lower this week--but not for long.

    What can I do? has this ever happened to you? I really don't want to take sleeping pills or go to the doctor but I guess I'll have to do so if it continues...

    Any comment is appreciated.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2008 #2


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    Some thing that was suggested in another thread is to have your room very dark, i work nights and sleep a max of six hours, with a dark room i think those six hours are (good) sleep.
  4. Nov 14, 2008 #3
    Did you change anything the standard pattern? Eating, smoking, drugs?

    But, obviously, if you feel having exhausted the posible remedies, it might be time to consult a specialist.
  5. Nov 14, 2008 #4

    Jonathan Scott

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    1. Avoid caffeine (in coffee, cola etc.) within 7 (yes, 7) hours before sleeping and try to avoid large quantities of other stimulants as well during that period (such as tea or chocolate). Also avoid high carbohydrates (especially sugar) late in the evening, and some people will also be kept awake by even small amounts of alcohol (although large quantities act as a depressant).

    2. Don't try to make up for it by any extra sleep in the mornings, as that allows your daily cycle to slip (like jet lag). Catch up only in the evenings and if necessary afternoons (but don't get too much sleep before your normal bed time as then you will still have difficulty getting to sleep at the normal time).

    3. Exercise is good for helping you sleep later, but you need to leave plenty of time for your body to wind down between finishing exercise and trying to sleep.

    4. Don't panic. If you have interesting things to think about, you are likely to need less sleep anyway.

    5. If you don't find a solution very soon, get professional medical advice. The above advice only relates to my personal experience.
  6. Nov 14, 2008 #5
    Set a sleep schedule you keep at. If you go to sleep at different times every night, it'll make things more difficult.

    Just stay up until 8am, wake up at 10am, make it through the day, then go to sleep at a somewhat normal hour. Make sure you don't sleep too long, then go to sleep that next day at the same time. It helps me to fall asleep if it's cold in my apartment.

    I'm no expert, but all these things have worked wonders for me.
  7. Nov 14, 2008 #6


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    I've been having a week like that too. I haven't decided if it's the change in seasons messing with me (my body seems to react strangely every spring and fall to the change from cold to warm and warm to cold), or if I'm coming down with some illness (the students have been spreading around germs quite generously). Sometimes when I'm getting sick, despite knowing I need sleep, and feeling worn out, I will have trouble sleeping.

    If it just started happening and hasn't been a chronic problem, it might just be something that will pass.

    First, if you're lying awake thinking too much, I'd avoid things like reading books before bed, especially technical ones that might get your thinking over-stimulated.

    Exercising during the day could help you sleep better at night, but exercising too close to bedtime can leave you restless too.

    Try to avoid that early nap...that'll reinforce the sleeplessness later. Instead, use that time for your exercise. That'll help keep you awake through the afternoon, then just turn in early at night.

    And, as others have suggested, try to consider if anything else has recently changed from your normal habits...eating or drinking at different hours or more or less than usual, or something that you're stressing about (are final exams approaching and you can't shut your mind down from thinking about them), or maybe it's a roommate who is suddenly keeping different hours and lights or sounds are disrupting your sleep? If you're getting hot at night, try putting a fan in the room, or cracking open a window for fresh air. (I have trouble with that...I can't sleep if I'm too hot, but I also can't sleep without being snuggled under a bunch of blankets, so I have to keep the bedroom fairly cool while sleeping to counteract all the blankets I like to sleep under).
  8. Nov 14, 2008 #7


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    A week isn't anything to panic about. You are probably keeping yourself awake by being panicked about it. It's sounds like you are thinking about it so much that it's keeping you awake. Try to not worry about it.

    I suffer from serious sleep deprivation and have to take medication in order to stay asleep even as long as 2-3 hours, so I understand your concern about getting enough sleep.

    If all of the physical issues mentioned above aren't a factor and you still find your self unable to sleep, please see a doctor so they can rule out anything physically wrong.

    I hope that you start sleeping better soon.
  9. Nov 14, 2008 #8
    Thanks for all the suggestions. I finally got some sleep after 7 a.m. after drinking some milk. I don't know if it's really the milk or that I was finally exhausted from the frustration; but I'm extremely happy that I actually slept--finally a different end result after all the struggling. I'll admit though the technical book idea might actually be very bad. I seem to remember reading something about Jones polynomial despite knowing nothing about it. I think subconsciously my mind just thinks way too much. Well, I guess at least I learnt something useful during those sleepless hours. I realize a strange pattern though, when I actually falls asleep, I feel cool instead of hot--it's the same set of sheets. I guess the reason may be that when my blood stops pumping so quick, I begin to fall asleep.

    Now that I'm awake at 11:40 a.m.. I was planning to go to bed for some more sleep. But I think I'll try to go to school now and stay up until 10 tonight to see what happens. It's Friday today so hopefully the next two nights will set me straight for the next week.

    ps. I don't smoke, take any medicines, or drink coffee regularly (for those who are curious). Whenever I drink coffee, I just begin feeling like a lunatic.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  10. Nov 14, 2008 #9


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    Doctors won't do anything. They just offer drugs all the time.
  11. Nov 14, 2008 #10
    Do exercise, but not in the evening. Buy a calcium+magnesium supplement and take them before bedtime with some warm milk.

    Don't read anything before bedtime that you really have to concentrate on.

    If you are feeling warm when it is cold there could be a thyroid involvement. A simple blood test can rule out the thyroid.

    Oddly enough, sometimes this just happens.:smile:
  12. Nov 14, 2008 #11


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    A chronic lack of sleep that had a sudden onset could be a sign of illness. You should definitely see a doctor to rule out illness.

    Also, don't knock sleeping medication, for people with conditions that keep them awake, they are a life saver.
  13. Nov 14, 2008 #12
    Try melatonin supplements.
  14. Nov 14, 2008 #13
    Okay, the medical people here can tell whether there's any reason this is a bad idea: I used to frequently take Sudafed / pseudophedrine when I needed to be knocked out like a light. I found it much more effective than the actual over-the-counter sleep aids and melatonin makes me feel like crap the next day. I don't use it any more because I've got a prescription sleep aid.
  15. Nov 14, 2008 #14
    Pseudoephedrine is a stimulant. It is what the meth freaks use to make methamphetamine. I definitely wouldn't advise it. As a matter of fact I think it is now kept behind the counter.

    For something over the counter try Benadryl. It is an antihistamine, but it is also the main ingredient in over the counter sleeping pills. Buying it as generic diphenhydramine HCL is much less expensive than buying a name brand sleeping pill.
  16. Nov 14, 2008 #15
    Yes, it is. I don't think the reason it's being kept behind the counter is that it's dangerous, though, it's to avoid theft. Do you think there's any reason it would be worse than a cup of coffee?
  17. Nov 14, 2008 #16


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    Unfortunately for people with serious sleep problems, thinks like melatonin, tryptophan, and diphenhydramine don't help.
  18. Nov 14, 2008 #17
    Goooo scientology!!
  19. Nov 14, 2008 #18
    i've heard people saying that pE will cause enlarged prostate. maybe an individual thing, i dunno. for me, it's one of the few things that really works for my sinuses, and at times when i really need mental focus, it works well for that, too (E doesn't work for me, tho).

    and i mean this in the best possible way, but if pE helps you sleep, you're weird. i've taken it and tried to sleep with it before, and it makes me psychotic (from accumulated sleep debt).

    to the OP: try 300mcg of melatonin, 150mg of 5-HTP, and 50% RDA of magnesium in an ionic form (sulphate, citrate, malate, etc.) before bed. if you're dieting/not eating or otherwise low on carbohydrates, then eat some carbs. ditto to the others' on the stims, and don't take any vitamins in the evening, either. your comment on milk maybe also hints at calcium/vitamin D. you could take the vitamin D late, tho, just not Bs.
  20. Nov 14, 2008 #19
    It's an ingredient in Nyquil. And it was recommended to me by a friend who also said it helped him sleep. But quite possibly both he and I are weird.
  21. Nov 14, 2008 #20

    Sudaphed it is the decongestant in nyquil. It was probably overwhelmed by the sedative ingredients in the Nyquil. That is why it is called Nyquil not its couterpart Dayquil.
  22. Nov 14, 2008 #21
    yeah, i'd guess it was the anti-histamine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NyQuil#NyQuil_D

    the diphenhydramine that people also take for allergic reactions is a popular sleeping pill. it messes up the quality of sleep, tho, so it's not something to do long-term if you can help it.
  23. Nov 14, 2008 #22
    It is indeed kept behind the counter to prevent theft and also to prevent people from buying multiple bottles on the same day. Most pharmacies now require a signature.

    It is worse than coffee because it is a vasoconstrictor. It causes all of your circulatory system to constrict, not just the veins in the nasal passages. It will cause a rise in blood pressure.
  24. Nov 14, 2008 #23
    Ah, now that's exactly what I was wondering. I'd heard something like that but I wasn't sure if it was true.
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