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Kay's avatar

Problems staying asleep?

Asked by Kay (1598 points ) June 25th, 2008

Ok, so I know a lot of people have posted on here about how to get to sleep, but how can I stay asleep or fall back asleep after waking up? I find my problem is that I can fall asleep easily but that I wake up after 4 hours and then can’t get back to sleep for a few hours or just end up staying awake. Any advice on how to stay asleep? I already have a prescription for Ambien and some Ativan for panic attacks that I take occasionally. I don’t really want to rely on chemical means, so any advice would be appreciated.

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13 Answers

Magnus's avatar

I heard something a while back about your body changing temperature four times a day and that you should consider this cycle while going to bed so that you get to bed before it starts to sink/rise again.

Therefore; experiment with your bedtime, maybe you’re going to bed too late or early.
You should also try to turn off all lightning in your room and get it as dark as possible.

Oh, and go see your doctor.

Kay's avatar

@Mangus: Thanks, I hadn’t heard about the temperature thing before. And I just saw my doctor and my psych person so I’m working on these issues with them, but just thought I would tap the collective to see if anyone could offer some insight as well. :)

sndfreQ's avatar

I have recently started a regimen of Melatonin (3 mg) about 20 minutes before bed. It seems to be helping me with what you describe (middle insomnia), and is a natural supplement.

I would also consider changing routines prior to bedtime. For example, my wife loves to stay up late and watch TV, but for me, it’s bad news-keeps my brain going and the sound of the TV scan (high pitch whine) is unsettling.

You may want to take some time to try to find your rhythm when it comes to winding down, as sleep patterns can also be affected by other factors, such as metabolism. Eating a late dinner or evening snack, drinking alcohol, exercise (or not exercising) past a certain time can have effects on sleep (not to mention, what you eat/drink). Also, the change in time/daylight can have effects, as Magnus suggested above.

My advice is to take all of these factors into consideration along with stress management.

wildflower's avatar

I have similar problems:
1: I can’t stay asleep for very long when it’s light outside, it’s like my body telling me it’s time to be awake (which is a bugger in the summer!) – but that can be fixed with heavy curtains.
2: When I know I have to be up at a certain time (like having a critical shift at work, catching a flight, etc.) I sleep very uneasy and will wake up several times to check the time and that the alarm is set. I even at times have nightmares about having overslept for key events, like exams, graduations, wedding, etc. – this I haven’t found a fix for, but at least I very rarely oversleep, so it’s OK.

Kay's avatar

@sndfreQ: Yeah, I think I expose myself to too much electronic/bright stuff before bed which doesn’t really help my body say “It’s time to go to sleep for a while.” I should try to cut that out.

Kay's avatar

@wildflower: Yeah, I think that’s why I woke up early today because I had an appt that I was afraid I was going to miss (even though I never miss stuff).

Knotmyday's avatar

I have the same problem. Up at 3:00, lay till the sun comes up.

I found that taking a generic benadryl helps. They also combat motion-sickness, if you have a waterbed. :^)

marinelife's avatar

Have you done everything to darken your room? Scientists say that has significant impact on quality of sleep. You may need an eye mask, more window cover, and you should cover clocks or other glow-in-the-dark readouts. The type of ambient light pollution in our modern world is not natural to us.

From the study

“At the end of the study, only subjects exposed to room light on the advancing schedule expressed oscillations of the endogenous circadian pacemaker in phase with the new sleep-wake cycle. In this group, a mean advance shift of the nadir of core body temperature of +5:22±0:15 h was observed, with parallel shifts in plasma melatonin concentration and subjective alertness. These results demonstrate that the schedule of exposure to room light can substantially affect circadian adaptation.”

Knotmyday's avatar

But…that’s why I close my eyes…
sorry, Marina

Kay's avatar

@Marina, yeah I need to remember to close both pairs of blinds; when I woke up at 5:30am today it was surprisingly bright and it definitely made it a lot harder for me to try to go back to sleep. I also got rid of my electronic alarm clock too because it had been bothering me, and that definitely helped. I don’t know how people can sleep with bright neon displays next to their bed.

skfinkel's avatar

I am fortunate about sleep—but notice that if I have a cup of coffee after, maybe one or two in the afternoon, I’ll wake up at 4:00 am. Each time, I think—why did I wake up—and it’s always, oh yes, that coffee. Sometimes at a restaurant I have delicious “decaf” after dinner. I aways know when it was real coffee.

sunshinedust's avatar

melatonin and valarien root is a herbal remedy suggested to me by doctors. if your wanna go the prescription drug route Seroquil! i’ve tried Ambien, Trazadone, and a couple others, but i found Seroquil was the only one that both help me fall asleep AND stay asleep.

zookeeny's avatar

I have this experience to – I awake with nightmares then cant go back to sleep then when I eventually do I oversleep! I have found that when I awake having a cup of tea/warm milk and then going back to bed and listening to the radio or music takes my mind off the fact that I am trying to get back to sleep so I fall asleep sort of without meaning to. I also have the light on after I wake. Maybe these things may help you to? I think it is because I am changing the environment so I am focussing on that rather then the sleep and then sleep sometime happens from not concentrating on trying. That is not always the case though!!! Hopefully some of these ideas may help. I found that sleeping pills made my sleep worse because the sleep wasnt deep I use quitiapine instead and that seems ok enough.

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