Sunday, March 7, 2021

Anybody Else Having Trouble Sleeping?

It's now 2:50 a.m. Sunday morning, and I've been awake since 1:20.  This wakefulness in the middle of the night is not a new occurrence, but one that's been plaguing me for some time.  The cause?  Beats me.  Label it what you will.  I've tried to figure it out to no avail.
 
Tonight (this morning?) I'm trying a new tact.  Instead of lying in bed trying, trying, trying to fall back asleep, but not being able to do so, and growing more and more upset as the time ticks by, I've decided to get up and do . . . something.
 
Staying in bed has only caused my mind to run at warp speed, coupled with ever-growing frustration, during these middle of the night wakeful periods.
 
The added incentive to get up and away from the discontent of not being able to sleep is that I now have the ability to use my computer at this time.  (Hence, this post.)  That was an impossibility up until this past week when we moved my desk from our bedroom into the kitchen.
 

We coerced our daughter into helping.  And what a help she was.
 
Supposedly, it's not a good idea to have your desk and/or computer in the bedroom anyway, and I've always liked the idea of a homemaker's desk in a corner of the kitchen.  Now I have it.
 

So far, the new arrangement is working out very much to my liking.  And not solely because I can occupy myself in a way that feels better during these nocturnal wakeful hours, but because during the day being at my desk in the kitchen gives me the feeling of being more a part of the household goings-on than when I was at my desk secluded back in our bedroom.
 
But back to my inability to sleep soundly of a night and my new plan.  At this stage of my life, I don't have to rise at any particular hour (although I admit I am at my most productive mornings and love getting up early of a day) so I am trying to convince myself that I can be up and awake as long as I feel like it in the middle of the night, then croggle on back to bed when and if I feel the need and sleep as long as I want in the morning.  (Of course, this isn't possible each and every 24-hour period of the week, but most of the time it is.)
 
Or . . . I can stay up all night long and slide right into the next day if that is what my body is telling me I can do.
 
Then I should be tired enough the following night (still with me here?) to sleep like a log, all through the night.  And perhaps break the disturbing cycle I'm in.
 
Bottom line, I need to be more proactive in finding a way of breaking this cycle of waking in the middle of each night and totally frustrating myself by not being able to fall back asleep.  Well, my plan sounds good on paper.  Let's hope it might work.
 
It has occurred to me that it's a good thing I've never been one to raid the refrigerator in the middle of the night.  If I stick with this new plan, think of the calories I could pack in.  However, true confessions here, I am currently getting close to the bottom of a glass of wine which has gone down quite easily.
 
I'd be interested in knowing if any of you have sleeping difficulties and what you've done to deal with them.  Care to share? 

24 comments:

Rosalea said...

Mama Pea, I can relate! Sometimes that happens to me, and there just seems no alternative but to get up. It is quite hard to do, but I have tried focusing on my breathing with some success. It is very hard to stay focused, as your mind wanders off before you even realize it, so you have to grab it back and refocus. A foot massage is helpful as well. A dab of lavender oil on your forehead at bed time seems to help.
I have accomplished a good bit of knitting in the night, read books, and even on a moonlit night, gone walk-about!
It is frustrating. A good night's sleep is so wonderful, and seems much harder to come by as we get older. I hate how a bad night messes up the next day, leaving me tired and unproductive.
That is a beautiful work space you have created in your kitchen. It looks so cozy, tucked into the corner there!

Anonymous said...

Well dear sister, since I'm afflicted with the same problem maybe it's hereditary and we can blame it on our father who worked nights and swing shifts for most of his life. I cannot offer any solution as I just give up and either go on the computer or read.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

Ughhh, that must be so frustrating! I'm sure you've gone through the obvious... no caffeine after a certain time, no screen time an hour before bed... You could try melatonin perhaps. Weighted blanket??
On a different note, your desk is nicer than mine, but my computer desk is in exactly the same spot as yours now. It's nice to have it in the kitchen. I also have it set so pictures that are stored on my computer are on a slide show when it's not being used. When we are all at the table, it's fun to see what comes up on the screen. -Jenn

Katie C. said...

I have the same sleep (less) problem. Some times I tough it out. Some times I come downstairs to have some camomile tea and watch tv or read. I tried melatonin with no luck. My cats think it’s great fun to have midnight company. Sophie kitty in particular seems to get the “zoomies” before settling back down.

We have our computer desk in the family room against a slider overlooking the back yard. It’s great for bird watching at the feeders.

Cockeyed Jo said...

I have this problem often. I have no issue falling asleep though. It's staying asleep more than 2-4 hours. I get up and stay up.
* id you take naps during the day, do so before noon. Set the alarm for 2 hrs.
* a warm drink before bed or light snack sometimes helps.
* If your usual bed time is 10 o'clock try staying awake an extra hour or two.
* Do stretching exercises 30 minutes before bed. Your problem may be tense muscles.
Hope this helps.

Tim B. Inman said...

My sleep pattern is my grandmothers' (both of 'em). I sleep deeply for four or five hours, then wake up. Alive for an hour or so, then back into bliss. I stopped fighting it, and went to 'plan b.'

I sleep with an iPad (tablet) under my pillow. I use an 'ear plug' to hear with; just one. When I can't sleep in the middle of the night, I listen to old time radio or audio books. P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories are the best, especially the ones read by Jonathan Cecil. Hoopla - free through the library. I set the 'sleep timer' to an hour so it will shut off after I'm gone. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Tim B Inman's suggestion of listening to something like the radio or audio books works for me too. It gets my mind off of the merry-go-round of thoughts that keep me awake. Blue light from the computer or phone screen will keep me up if I do not stay away from these devices at least 2 hours before bedtime. Alcohol in the evening might put me to sleep but will cause restlessness in the middle of the night. If all else fails and like you say, get up and do something. A silent quiet night has it's own advantages for reading, planning, projects...

Mama Pea said...

Rosalea - Yepper, I've tried nearly all you've suggested. I know some say we don't need as much sleep as we age, but I've always required a lot of sleep to feel good. And like you, after a night of little sleep it's hard to function the following day. Let alone be our bright, cheerful, fun to be around selves! ;o)

Hello, Bro - It's been proven that working a job that requires swing shifts is actually physically unhealthy. I know Dad wasn't able to regularly get as much sleep as he perhaps should have and believe that's what caused his stomach problems and his sometimes grouchy moods! I've wondered if my increasing lack of female hormones (with age -- arrgh!) could be contributing to my problem. We can't use that as an excuse for you, though. ;o)

Jenn - No, no caffeine, late screen time for me. I've tried melatonin and other homeopathic sleep aids and they don't do a thing for me. I have no trouble falling asleep. Some nights I can't even hardly remember getting into bed. But a couple/few hours later, I wake up like someone turned a switch in my brain and I'm instantly wide awake.

The slideshow of pictures on my monitor is something both husband and daughter have noticed and commented on. They're fun!

Katie C. - Well, you have your cats for company in the middle of the night anyway. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one in the whole world awake!

Cockeyed Jo - I've never been one to nap in the day. Who has time for that? But since our sleep time is the time our cells do their detoxing and rebuilding, I may have to resort to that before I fall completely apart. I don't think I'm tense at night because I'm usually so tired I have trouble sitting upright on the couch! I know I'm getting enough exercise because I have the same sleep problem even in the summer when I'm working physically outside all day. And I avoid any liquid intake after six p.m. or my bladder wakes me during the night and I definitely don't need that prompt to wake. But I much appreciate all your suggestions, I do, I do.

Tim - Papa Pea shared with an article he came across a short time ago. It stated that long ago, man's natural sleep pattern was to sleep for a few hours, experience a period of wakefulness, and then go back to sleep to finish the night's rest. Sounds to me as though you're doing exactly that. And if you feel good the next day (I frequently do not), there's nothing wrong with your routine!

Anonymous - A very positive way of looking at it. A silent, quiet night DOES have its own advantages. I did several things last night (and very, very early this morning!) that felt good. I'm taking all of these comments in and shall strive to overcome!!

Michelle said...

I haven't had your problem for quite awhile, I just generally don't sleep very soundly and usually function "tired." The mornings that I wake up and can't remember tossing and turning are rare and rather shocking! Both my parents can/could fall asleep anywhere and sleep/slept soundly, one thing I WISH I had inherited!

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - I wonder if the situation of so many of us functioning "tired" has to do with the general state of affairs of our country and world today? Although I've had the problem of waking in the middle of the night for many years now so I can't blame it totally on that. I used to be able to sleep soundly most any night, but I can't remember when I last had a night like that. :o( I just grateful I'm still functioning and doin' what needs to be done during the daytime!

Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

Have you tried staying up later? Is you husband waking you up thrashing around (mine has sleep apnea)? I take Valerian every night, gentle muscle relaxer, works great, no groggy mornings. I'd go to bed later gradually and see if that helps. Getting up really disrupts your sleep and may cause more problems from what I've read...

Mama Pea said...

Nancy - Nope, husband isn't waking me. I'm usually so tired at night (been going pretty steadily all day) that I'm not worth diddly-sqwat after 9 or 9:30 p.m. so that's when I usually head for bed. I'd like to get 8 hours solid sleep (boy, would I!) and be able to wake naturally at around 6 a.m. As I've said before, I'm at my best early in the day so when going to bed later at night and sleeping in in the morning, I feel I've lost some of the good part of the day. BUT if going to bed later would keep me from waking in the middle of the night, that would be worth it. Would you share the dosage of Valerian you take, please?

SmartAlex said...

My sleep length cycles from 5 hours up to 9 hours. I probably sleep an average of 7 hours. But I have a rule: if I wake up in the middle of the night, and I have slept at least 5 hours, then I don't even try to go back to sleep. Experience tells me it won't happen. I use the time to catch up on TV shows that my husband doesn't like, watch a favorite old movie or read a book. Sometimes I will get sleepy again and if I have enough time to sleep one or two more hours then I'll go back to bed.

Mama Pea said...

SmartAlex - Sounds to me as though you're handling the situation in a very sensible manner. Sometimes the simplest solution is the wisest. I guess that's why I didn't think of it. :o\

Leigh said...

On occasion I have insomnia as well. If I can't get tired, I just get up and do something else. I sometimes take a melatonin tablet, and after awhile it will help me get drowsy. It's funny, but on those occasions I rarely find myself tired the next day. I just figure sometimes I don't need as much sleep as others.

Karen said...

Ugh, I'm with you. I read during the mid-night wakes.

NanaDiana said...

I have slept sporadically for years and finally have the perfect solution. I have a little DVD player (no TV) that I use when I wake up. I play the same old Columbo movies over and over and know them by heart so it is almost like white noise. (I have earbuds) and I can kind of half-listen--which quiets my thoughts--and it lulls me back to sleep. If I wake up I just re-start the movie (assuming it has runs its course by the time I wake up).
Good luck and I hope you find something that helps you sleep. xo Diana

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - If your sleepless periods are infrequent (as you say yours are), it makes sense to believe you just don't need the sleep. Proves again we just need to listen to our bodies!

Karen - I do have a bedside book with an itty bitty book light (which doesn't bother my husband -- most of the time) so I often read when I wake in the middle of the night. Most of the time, it takes me reading at least an hour before I feel sleepy again, so that's a bit of a help. Sometimes.

NanaDiana - You and Tim B. above have found much the same solution! I think that's it -- we all have to find what works for us individually provided we have a bed partner and it doesn't interrupt their sleep! :o)

Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

Hi Mama, on the Valerian I use Nature's Way, on the bottle 3 capsules is the regular dose, you could try that and see how it works. Some take a bit more over time. I take right when I got to bed, sleep like baby most of the time, helps with my back issues too. Hubby takes it as needed for muscle issues at bed time. Do NOT mix with alcohol or any sedatives!!! I am not a Dr. so doing a disclaimer, use at your own risk.

Mama Pea said...

Nancy - Thanks so much for your info. I'm going to check it out because neither melatonin nor other homeopathic remedies suggested for trouble sleeping have had any effect. Rest assured I'm not about to take any health risks with my body! I do occasionally imbibe in a glass of wine (or half a bottle of beer) but have never taken any sedatives. And wouldn't wash Valerian capsules down with a glass of wine! Never hurts to be careful in sharing what works for us as individuals so I understand what you're saying. Thanks again.

Jean Ellen said...

when that happens to me, I take a couple of Tylenol. Seems to relax me enough to sleep the remainder of the night. Hope you find a solution.

Mama Pea said...

Jean Ellen - Thank you. I truly appreciate all the comments and suggestions from you caring readers!

Granny Sue said...

I used to have this problem when I was working. I'd be awake from 2 to 4 almost every night. Now it's a rare occurrence. It came back in December so I took Melatonin-the chewable kind, like eating candy, so it seemed like a treat. It worked to break the cycle.

I have also noticed more trouble sleeping when I've had a more sedentary day, working at my computer, things like that. Because of arrhythmia I now drink decaf coffee but can't say I noticed any impact of that change. I do drink lemon ginger tea in the evenings and that might be what's helping too.

Miriam said...

My biggest piece of advice: relax, get up (like you've been doing) and don't TRY to get back to sleep. Like you, I'm often done in by 9:30-10:00 and will often crash. But then I will often wake up around 1:30-2:00 in the morning. I'll get up, head to the bathroom (of course) and then putter about getting a couple chores done that I didn't finish before sleep hit me earlier in the evening. After an hour or two, I'm ready to crawl back into bed and sleep until it's time to get up in the morning.

A couple of tidbits of information that have reduced my stress about waking up in the night:
1. Studies have shown that our sleep cycles are roughly 90 minutes long - going from deep to shallow sleep. Sometimes you wake up during that shallow period, other times you don't. As long as you wake up during the shallow portion of your sleep cycle, you can usually come alert almost immediately and you're not groggy. This is true even if you only go through 2 or 3 sleep cycles for a total of 3 to 4.5 hours of sleep. Of course, most of us would prefer to get through 4-5 of these cycles.
2. The idea of sleeping soundly for eight hours a night is a relatively new phenomenon in the course of human history. I learned while reading "Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting" by Jennifer Traig, that historians have found journal entries and other writings throughout history indicating it was common for people to be awake during the middle of the night. Theories postulate this night wakefulness is in our DNA thanks to child-rearing, protecting the family from predators, keeping the fire going during winter, etc. All our modern conveniences have taken away the necessity of waking in the night, but our systems are still geared for waking up.