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drdoombot's avatar

Do I have a sleeping disorder?

Asked by drdoombot (8125points) August 20th, 2009

I generally cannot fall asleep unless I am sleepy (I accomplish that with about an hour of comic book reading). I usually go to sleep between 4am and 5am. Almost every single day, I wake up at around 9am or 10am (I suspect it might be because of the screaming kids at my next-door neighbor’s daycare center). I’m too tired to stay up, so I go back to sleep.

From that point on, I sleep very fitfully until around noon. Tossing and turning, switching sides, putting pillows over my face, etc. I know I’m getting deep sleep in bursts (because I’m dreaming), but the bursts last only 20–30 minutes (the fact that I consciously wake up, switch sides and rearrange pillows and then continue my dreams still astonishes me).

The question is: am I struggling through fitful morning sleep because of my sleeping schedule? Is it just the noise and light bothering me?

4am to 12pm seems to be my natural circadian rhythm. Whether employed or not, whenever I don’t have to be somewhere the next day, I always seem to fall into this pattern. Mornings have always been rough for me, even when I’ve had enough or close to enough sleep. I’ve tried switching my sleeping schedule many times, but I always fall back to 4–12.

I exercise regularly and eat pretty healthy. I rarely drink coffee. What else could be disturbing the second half of my sleep?

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18 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

There could be dozens of different reasons for this, I urge you to consult your doctor as soon as possible, for a definitive answer. You will be glad you did.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i’d like to know the answer to this, because i sleep very similarly. however, i do fill up on coffee constantly throughout the day…

i hope you find a solution though. (:

MissAnthrope's avatar

One way to find out if it’s the light and/or noise.. get some earplugs and a sleep mask and see if that makes any difference in your quality of sleep. I have insomnia and sleep issues, myself, and I find both very helpful. If the sleep mask helps, you can invest in thicker curtains.. you might find you sleep deeper with the earplugs, too.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

4–12 is still 8ish hours of sleep. As long as that works for your schedule, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

live_rose's avatar

I have basically the same sleep schedule though for different reasons. I think it’s not a disorder so much as your internal clock has fallen out of whack. that’s my oh so technical/factual and or helpful analysis.

augustlan's avatar

I have the same circadian rhythm. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been this way… even when I worked full time I rarely got to sleep before 3am. It sucks.

InkyAnn's avatar

its the same for me, I have no clue why, but I take melitonen (sp) once in a while and it helps if I don’t take it everynight just on the nights I have to wake up early, you can get it at your local walgreens/cvs over the counter, good luck if you find the reason please let me know : -)

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

My schedule is go to bed about 2 am, get up about 9 or 10 am, and since i work from 2 pm through 10 pm, it works for me. I hate mornings, and I hate working first shift. I am just a late owl night time sort of person, and always have been.

I think there are different reasons for different people to sleep at different times. But check with a doctor if it concerns you too mcuh.

mea05key's avatar

If this sleeping pattern keeps kicking in I think you are going to face problems when you start working in the future.

You should try all you can to remedy the situation. you found your possible problem so get a quietter room.

whatthefluther's avatar

That happens to be my preferred sleep schedule. I used to love working swing shift. See ya….Gary aka wtf

Response moderated
mattbrowne's avatar

Talk to a doctor.

Buttonstc's avatar

The main question you asked about the second half of your sleep time is answered by the info provided.

I have had the same approx circadian rhythm as you do all of my life since childhood. About 30% of the population is in the same boat.

Since the majority of the population functions differently, we night owls run into problems whenever there is a clash.

Over the years I have found that I need to be able to block out light and noise as much as possible for that 8-noon period.

If you are hearing the screaming kids from the daycare next door, that would be my number one area of focus to mitigate. High pitched sounds are much more jarring than lower pitched ones. I have never been able to sleep with ear plugs but perhaps you could. Other than moving ( to another part of town or to a room on the other side of the house) I can’t think of any other way to cure your fitful second half of your sleep.

Ear plugs or moving where you sleep are certainly a lot easier than trying to change your entire body’s natural rhythm.

You can also get a sleep mask if the light bothers you that much but my hunch is that eliminating the high pitched kid noise is the crux of the matter.

What you want to avoid is taking any kind of sleeping meds like Ambien on a regular basis cuz folks like us can quickly get into using them every night and then you have a MUCH bigger problem called addiction. Unless the Dr. you see refers you to a sleep specialist, there isn’t much he can do other than meds. He can’t eliminate the screaming kids. You have to figure that one out.


Zuma's avatar

I have the same thing, insofar as I don’t feel sleepy until around 4 AM, then I urgently need to sleep. No need to hurry to a doctor because most doctors still don’t know diddly about sleep. But you might ask, next time you go in, about getting a polysomnogram (sleep study) in order to rule out things like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome (yes, its real). There are a lot more sleep clinics now than there used to be, so insurance companies are now more willing to foot the bill.

I had a sleep study done years ago which confirmed two things: I had a severe atypical delayed onset insomnia that made it nearly impossible for me to get to sleep in less than 2 to 3 hours. And I also had restless leg syndrome. The importance of this diagnosis is that it ruled out depression, sleep apnea, and the default hypothesis that you are a lazy immoral person who would rather wile away the day in bed while other people work.

Armed with this diagnosis, I was able to get a written “reasonable accommodation” plan which you are entitled to under the Americans With Disabilities Act, but which most employers tend to ignore because they secretly know that you’re a lazy person who would rather wile away the day in bed while other people work. If you go to a doctor with your sleep complaint, the first thing they will do is try to put you on anti-depressants. Many of these are glorified chemical cousins of methamphetamine, and since you tend to feel down because you are tired all the time, you may feel inclined to give them a try. If you have been this way all your life, they won’t work, and they will try to put you on another one and another one, and so on. You can cut through all this by insisting on a sleep study.

Before I had my sleep study I would try to control my sleep cycle with tranquilizers. They worked. Let’s face it, the world is organized by morning people who are all ready to go at 7 in the morning but are pretty useless at 4 in the afternoon when you and I are just hitting our stride. There is a career cost to anyone who can not make morning meetings. You just don’t get to meet the morning people who are in charge of the world and you tend to get passed over for good assignments and promotions. And they resent having to schedule staff meetings in the afternoon when their energies are fading.

So, if you want to make the morning meetings and get ahead like everyone else, one option is benzodiazepines. The downside, of course, is that you get addicted to them, but so fucking what? People are addicted to all kinds of things like nicotine and caffeine and they aren’t lying in the gutter begging for spare change, or rolling tourists to get their next fix. If nothing else works, you might want to trade a few years on benzos for the chance to get yourself in a position where you are senior enough to control your own schedule. Just don’t spend 18 years on them like I did. Benzos are the most difficult drug to kick, and the longer you are on them, the more difficult they are to kick, but it can be done.

There are now alternatives to benzos, like Depakote, which is an anti-seizure medication, which is also used in bipolar disorder and a bunch of other things. It works on the same part of the brain as benzos but it is nonaddictive and has very few side effects. Its not a sleeping pill. It works by quieting the mind and tamping down your emotions. And it also repairs some of the effects of extended benzo use. Some day you will be able to retire and sleep when you want and get up when you want. In the meantime you just have to make do.

6rant6's avatar

You’ve really got two different things to mull over, don’t you… Why do you have an unusual sleep pattern, and why is the quality of your sleep so poor.

If you’re staying up late because you work late, that probably explains everything. People who work swing shifts often have long term problems getting their eight hours in.

Some people stay up late because they do things that keep them from sleeping – drinking caffeine in the afternoon is enough for many people, alcohol at night for others. Playing video games before you go to bed – a bad idea. Even watching TV just before bed is too much for many people.

And why the poor quality sleep? Obviously environmental factors are an option. Another possibility is sleep apnea. Do you snore? Are you large? Wake with a sore throat? Those are all indicators that you’re more likely to have sleep apnea.

Also, the pattern of going to sleep but waking up too early and being unable to get back to sleep often occurs as a symptom of depression.

Things to think about.

Zen's avatar

@drdoombot I suggest you switch comics. Instead of reading the exciting Batman or Spiderman adventure comics which will keep you up all night, read instead Archie’s Digest, or even better, Betty and Veronica. This subtle yet soporific effect will lull you to sleep quickly.

jmmf's avatar

we have the same problem. :(

funnynerd's avatar

You’re sleeping… you just have a different sleep pattern than most people.

I know that if left to my own devices, I would be nocturnal. Like @zumba said, the world is ruled by morning people. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with those of us who aren’t. The new question becomes: how do we cope?

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