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Insomnia
Old 08-20-2007, 09:56 AM   #1
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Insomnia

I'm following up Ha's thread on napping to ask about insomnia. I know it's counterintuitive, but I'm actually sleeping worse during ER than when I was working! I've never been a good sleeper, but at least when I worked, I was so exhausted that I could feel asleep readily, even if there was waking during the night. Now, after a year of stressfree FIRE, it's like I'm hardly ever sleepy even at 12 or 1 a.m. The obvious solution is to go to bed late and sleep late, but I've never in my life slept past 7 a.m. And even after getting minimal sleep---only a few hours---I'm not even sleepy for a nap in the afternoon. It's not that my mind is racing or that I'm upset. I'm just not sleepy, the way most people aren't at 10 a.m. or 5 p.m.

I exercise early in the day, don't have caffeine at night except for a piece or two of chocolate. No medical problems. An overactive bladder at night, even when I try to limit liquids---necessitating several trips during the night---but that's not what is keeping me awake.

I hate to go to a sleep lab because of the expense (I have a 10K deductible insurance policy). I know I wouldn't be able to sleep with people watching and with monitors on me, so I would need to take a sleeping pill. And I don't want to be told that I have sleep apnea, as so many are from sleep studies. There's no way I could sleep with a CPAP machine. Prefer not to take meds. Tried melatonin. Antihistamines sometimes help a little. Last night I finally took a Lunesta that I had as a trial sample (took one a year ago, didn't think it helped much). I took at 1 a.m. and still could not fall asleep till after 2 and woke up at 6.

Do I have to go back to work to get any sleep? How do the rest of you get tired/sleepy with no stress in your lives? :confused:
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Old 08-20-2007, 10:01 AM   #2
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Maybe you just don't need that much sleep?
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Old 08-20-2007, 10:12 AM   #3
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Martha, to some extent it is true that I don't need that much. After just about four hours of sleep, I'm functioning today (such as what is needed for my day, which admittedly isn't much---just staying home, no commitments). But I'm not a ball of energy either and feel slightly fuzzy-headed.

I've always laughed at people who get so distressed with Daylight Savings time when they lose an hour and act like they can't function the next day. Geez---what's an hour's less sleep.

I've read of celebrity types (anyone from Thomas Edison to Bill Clinton) who functioned on little sleep. And some studies claim that there are no health problems with sleeping about four hours a night (actually a higher risk of dying for those who sleep more than eight hours). But others talk about how a lack of sleep results in early aging.

I just don't know...
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Old 08-20-2007, 11:19 AM   #4
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Tango, I'd like to read these responses, too, because I have the same problem. I always thought that so many years of stress was why I could not sleep. But I have been away from work for months and still only sleep 3-4 hours a night. Of course, I am dealing with eldercare, but most nights are fairly calm so I can't figure out why I can't go to sleep until 2-3 AM and always wake up at 7 AM or earlier.

Drugs don't do me any good at all, and that is all a doctor wants to do . . . write a prescription.

Like you I don't take in lots of caffeine (one cup of java in the AM). I know exactly how you feel and I am wondering about the same thing. WHY can't I sleep like "normal" people?!

Is there a doctor in the house? What's up with our inability to sleep after years of exhaustion (at least for me)?
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Old 08-20-2007, 12:55 PM   #5
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Before my Dad retired, he went to bed about 10:30pm every night, and got up at about 3 or 3:30am every morning.....his entire w*rking life. After retirement he went to bed at about midnight, and got up at 4am...for over 10 years! He NEVER slept more than 4-5 hours....EVER! (at least not until the last year or so before he passed away, do to illness). And he always had to have a cup of coffee just before bed.....it was part of his routine. (And NO de-caf!) He said he had a hard time falling asleep if he didn't have his nightly brew. (I can relate!! I've always been the same way. I have to have my 'fiene before sleepy time!)

He mentioned it to his physician once....just in passing, not out of concern....and the doc asked if he was often tired or suffered any ill effects from the brevity of his sleep. He said "no", and the doc told him not to worry about, because it was most likely that he didn't require a lot of sleep. Dad shrugged his shoulders and said "OK".....and that was that.

I guess I inherited those same genes, because I routinely go to bed around 1:30 or 2:00am, and wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed around 5:30am....every morning....with NO alarm clock! I DO usually take an afternoon siesta, but that's more just to take a break from the busyness of retirement, than because I'm tired or sleepy.

BTW, when I was still w*rking, I hit the pillows between 12:30 to 1:00am, and got up at 5am.....for about the last 20 to 25 years. And at that time I didn't get a siesta!
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Old 08-20-2007, 12:59 PM   #6
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Some symptoms of a sleep disorder (as opposed to "functional" insomnia): morning headaches, really excessive or inappropriate daytime somnolence, witnessed apneic (nonbreathing) periods, explosive snoring and in extreme cases heart failure and shortness of breath.
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:02 PM   #7
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Like others said, you probably don't need as much sleep as other people.

However, you do sound as though you'd like more sleep so you could have more energy throughout the day. You might try picking up the "Deep Sleep 101" book/CD combo for about $10-$20. That was helpful for me with my sleeping problems last year.
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:21 PM   #8
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I have had chronic imsomnia most of my life. In addition, I also started to have sleep apnea and wear a CPAP. Even when I was younger I rarely slept more than 5 hours a night and could not nap. If I did nap it made me feel worse so I still don't.

Some people need 12 hours of sleep to feel good and function while others can go with only 4. We are all different so there is no real set amount of time you need to sleep. As long as you get into REM sleep for a couple of hours you should be fine. Those that don't have all kinds of physical and emotional problems.
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:28 PM   #9
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Could menopausal or peri-menopausal issues be making it harder for you to get your sleep? It seems that many women start having some problems sleeping when they reach middle age.

Aside from that, all I can think of is kind of generic advice. Many people like a cool room with good airflow- I know i do! I sleep quite a bit better in my new apartment because my bedroom window faces west and every evening I get strong cool air currents coming off the Bay.

The other thing is to be sure you get plenty of exercise. You want to be physically tired by evening. Then the problem becomes staying awake long enough to get through dinner, not going to sleep. I think it doesn't really matter what you do- you just want to do a lot of it, earlier in the day, most every day. Long walks up and down hills work well. Long swims are exhausting, especially if you deal with currents or waves.

When I was young and did heavy work I couldn't stay awake until a normal bedtime. Even now I really notice that I am more tired if I have really burned up the calories in a given day. Exercise done at night will tend to keep you awake at least for a while, so if you can go for afternoon.

Good luck!

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Old 08-20-2007, 01:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haha View Post
Could menopausal or peri-menopausal issues be making it harder for you to get your sleep? It seems that many women start having some problems sleeping when they reach middle age.


Ha
This is my problem. I haven't slept a full night in almost 2 weeks. I maybe get 3 hours of straight sleep, on a GOOD night. The other nights are spent tossing and turning, reading or doing puzzles. Today, after getting about 78 minutes of sleep last night, I'm thinking I may start hallucinating like the guy in the Rozarem commercial. You know Abe Lincoln with the beaver typing on a Blackberry? Don't people go psychotic from lack of sleep? :confused:

I can't take HRT because of DVT and family history of cancer. I don't drink alcohol nor will I rely on sleep aids. I need to adjust or figure out how to get into sleep mode.

Thank you sweetie HaHa for bringing the issue up regarding women and sleep.
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Old 08-20-2007, 02:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tangomonster View Post
I'm following up Ha's thread on napping to ask about insomnia. I know it's counterintuitive, but I'm actually sleeping worse during ER than when I was working! I've never been a good sleeper, but at least when I worked, I was so exhausted that I could feel asleep readily, even if there was waking during the night. Now, after a year of stressfree FIRE, it's like I'm hardly ever sleepy even at 12 or 1 a.m.
It's hard to see the problem. If you're not dozing off behind the wheel or face-diving in your mashed potatoes then you're probably getting enough sleep. But while researching the problem may not necessarily solve it, the process of researching it will at least make you more comfortable with your sleep habits.

I've been a short sleeper all my life. I routinely wake up after 3-4 hours and can only get back to sleep about half the time, and then only for a couple hours. Sometimes I'm awake for 45 minutes between sleep cycles, which is perfectly normal documented human behavior. Of course this causes some friction with a spouse who sleeps for 8-10 hours/night and a teenager who can sleep for 11-12 hours.

It also took me more than three years of FIRE for me to stop having work nightmares and waking up screaming or shouting. So you may need to give your whole adjustment process some more time.

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I exercise early in the day, don't have caffeine at night except for a piece or two of chocolate.
I sleep longer and more deeply on nights after evening tae kwon do (probably because I'm physically drained and somewhat deyhdrated). Those workouts start at 7 PM for an extremely intense aerobic & anaerobic hour, and I'm usually sound asleep by 9 PM. One drawback to this routine is that I'll wake up starving before 2 AM, so I've learned to snack on fruit or cereal on the way home before bedtime. Working out & eating in the evenings isn't necessarily bad for everyone, and it may be good for you.

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An overactive bladder at night
For guys in their 50s-60s this could be a "ruh-roh" sign of prostate issues. The good news is that guys confronting benign prostate hyperplasia have a variety of options to deal with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tangomonster View Post
I hate to go to a sleep lab because of the expense (I have a 10K deductible insurance policy). I know I wouldn't be able to sleep with people watching and with monitors on me, so I would need to take a sleeping pill. And I don't want to be told that I have sleep apnea, as so many are from sleep studies. There's no way I could sleep with a CPAP machine.
You're not doing yourself many favors here! The whole idea of a "sleep" lab is for them to watch you NOT sleeping. They want to see performance pressure, not sleeping pills. They want to see how you're not sleeping and how you're waking up, not how you're staying asleep. Right now you're learning nothing. At least there they can start learning something, even if it takes a few tries. They get paid whether you're sleeping or not...

CPAPs may seem like a loser lifestyle but there are other treatments like weight loss or turbinate surgery. The alternatives-- oxygen deprivation, cardiac problems, & driving drowsiness, appear to threaten much more catastrophic & permanent consequences. Yeah, it's expensive, but blissful ignorance through avoidance may be even more costly.

A cheaper diagnostic tool may be a long-duration audio recorder (or even videocamera) by your bed. If it picks up a lot of interrupted snoring and other apnea symptoms or restless-leg syndrome then you could review it with a doctor for further discussions. You could pay the treatment bills by selling your videos to Paris Hilton!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tangomonster View Post
Do I have to go back to work to get any sleep? How do the rest of you get tired/sleepy with no stress in your lives? :confused:
When I was working and raising a non-sleeping kid, living with chronic fatigue ensured sleeping anytime (whether I wanted to or not). Now after five years of FIRE trial & error, I've finally found a couple systems that work for me. Maybe they'll work for you.

I lay on my side (whichever, no difference) in a comfortable sleeping position. I close my eyes and visualize a dark, blacked-out room with a single large-screen digital display showing foot-high numbers in dark blue. All I can see in front of me are the numbers, which start at 99 and decrement by one each time I inhale. When I get to zero then I roll over to my other side and start the process all over again. This used to take three or four cycles but now I rarely get below the 60s. When I wake up, whether it's four hours or six hours later, I'm usually done sleeping and I get up.

Another method is looking at the digital clock on the nightstand and counting my pulse until the minute increments. I'll start counting when the display changes, close my eyes, and try to re-open them & refocus on the digital display just before the minute is up. After four or five minutes I forget to open my eyes, lose count, or otherwise drift off to sleep. Again when I wake up I'm usually done sleeping and I get up.

After three or four short nights I may build up a sleep deficit and sleep for a solid six hours. I usually try to take a daily 35-minute nap after lunch, though frequently that's about 20 minutes of settling down and 15 minutes of drifting. But it avoids pre-dinner drowsiness and tae kwon do sluggishness.
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Old 08-20-2007, 02:53 PM   #12
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Ha,

Yes it probably has something to do with menopause, and I don't get enough physical exercise during the day. I've got to change that! That may be the key. I hate exercise but I know it is what I need.

TG
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:01 PM   #13
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Exercise is definitely key for me. I work out maybe 5-6 times per week and don't usually have a problem sleeping (though I do just fine on 5-6 hours of it). Might also want to look into your caffeine intake - lots of people are in denial about how it affects them.

My father drinks about 4-5 *pots* of coffee a day, right up until he goes to bed; he also complains that he can never get to sleep at night..(duh!)

I've suggested he cuts out the caffeine but claims it doesn't affect him at all.. what are you going to do...some people are their own worst enemies...
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:04 PM   #14
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Ha,

Yes it probably has something to do with menopause, and I don't get enough physical exercise during the day. I've got to change that! That may be the key. I hate exercise but I know it is what I need.

TG
Exercise may be the key for you, I agree. An hour of energetic exercise at the gym each afternoon, no caffeine or sugar after lunch, and a glass of milk at bedtime do the trick for me. Lately I have been printing out the daily USAtoday sudoku, and I take it to bed with me. Usually I am ready to sleep by the time it's done (or before).
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:15 PM   #15
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Be sure to read all of the Internet material on tis you can find. Experiment with different foods in the evening different napping schedules, exercise schedules, temperatures, etc.

I have periods in which I sleep great for a month, then have a series of bad nights. If it's cold in the room (60 degrees) with a cross-draft coming through the room, that's when I sleep best (same for DW, fortunately).

Best feeling of all is waking up with that drowsy, well-rested feeling.
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:32 PM   #16
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Speaking nonmedically here, it just seems to me that many people are just trying too hard to sleep.

Lay down. Close your eyes or read a book. Sleep. Or not. Get up, live your life, repeat.

Stop worrying about it. No one is keeping score. Your body will follow in due time. Have the occasional restless night? So what.

Don't mean to sound unsympathetic, and there are individual circumstances (outside of a physical problem) that can mess things up but I really think half the battle is that kind of vicious circle.

Then you see a direct-to-consumer sleeping pill ad to drive home the point.
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Old 08-20-2007, 06:25 PM   #17
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I exercise 6 days a week and have doing so for a long, long time. My particular problem is not related to too much of this or too little or trying to hard to sleep. There's definitely a direct correlation between the hormone stuff and not sleeping. No wonder menopausal women have a reputation for being b@tchy.

I'm sure this phase will pass, but it's alarming that one can go for extended periods of time without continual REM sleep.
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Old 08-20-2007, 07:02 PM   #18
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Cube Rat ,
I feel your pain & your hot flashes & your menopause induced headaches .I was on HRT for years and when I stopped boom it all started again .You think we'd outgrow it like acne but no it just hangs on . I ve gotten some relief with topical estrogen .It's just enough to help but hopefully not enough to hurt .
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Old 08-21-2007, 08:51 AM   #19
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Add me to the list of those who have major sleep problems. I have had nights when I get no sleep at all. Even after one of those nights, I am unable to fall asleep for a daytime nap and the next night I may struggle to get to sleep. My record is 46 hours with no sleep. This was not a big deal when I didn't work as I always knew that eventually it would happen. However, now that I work, Lunesta is my best friend.

I do believe that my problems were emphasised with the onset of menopause 5 years ago. It's probably the only symptom I have issues with, I seem to have bypassed all the hot flashes etc., just wish it would get the hell on with what it is supposed to do and move on.

I'm thinking about going to one of those sleep labs later this year. After 30 years of poor sleep I would love to learn how to nap before the next 30 are over.
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Old 08-21-2007, 10:25 AM   #20
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I have only had insomnia when I have been stressed out...otherwise....I love sleeping, taking naps, waking up late on Sundays.....I can sleep at the drop of a hat.
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