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How can I improve my sleep cycle if I can't fall asleep at earlier bed times?

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Fogbuster, Apr 18, 2014.

  1. Fogbuster

    Fogbuster Senior Member

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    I used to go to bed on average between 1-2am. I'm now going up to bed at 10.30pm but not able to get to bed till around my old bed time, being 1-2am.

    I understand the whole idea of preparing your brain for its new bed time by decreasing general sensory load eg bright lights, tv etc but generally how long does it take for your body to show signs of adjusting to this time. I guess perhaps I should follow a more gradual process whereby I go to bed half an hour earlier every week instead of attempting such a drastic change in sleep patterns.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
  2. peggy-sue

    peggy-sue

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    I cannot sleep early either.
    I go to bed about 3, 3.30 am, can choose to get up at 7.30 when the alarm goes off and Michael gets up and goes to work, or turn over and go back to sleep until 11, which is what I normally do.

    It gets rid of the morning, not a productive time for me anyway, and means that late at night, I can wind down in front of the tv. I can't bear watching tv during the day, or rest, I can in the later evenings.

    I find this a convenient way of having my sleep cycle. It suits me.

    Going to bed at 10 30, if I could sleep, would have me up really early in the mornings, and I couldn't use the time to rest.
  3. adreno

    adreno 3% neanderthal

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    Start by getting up earlier, then hopefully you will be able to sleep sooner in time. It won't work the other way around, because you will not be tired earlier when you wake up the same time.
    Fogbuster likes this.
  4. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    Adreno is right. For most people, if you get less sleep 1 or 2 nights, you will be fine the next night.

    It takes 3 weeks to start establishing the pattern. It takes months to be solid in a pattern.

    I have read that even 30 minutes is a lot to change at once. Try 10 minutes earlier every 3-5 days.

    1-2 am is not as bad as many of us.
  5. peggy-sue

    peggy-sue

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    Do you really need to adjust your sleep-wake cycle?
    Is the current one causing problems?

    (apart from going to bed at 10.30 and not sleeping until a lot later)

    If you do, what folk are saying here already is correct. :thumbsup:
    You need to get up earlier, and have a longer day.

    Perhaps adjusting your meal times would help too. Thet's another way of resetting a circadian rhythm.

    Folk travelling long distances are advised to start eating meals at the same times as their destinations, in order to help avoid jet-lag and get into sync for their trip.
  6. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

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    If I go to bed before midnight, I am awake at 2 as if I had slept a full night.

    Years ago with typical patterns of broken sleep, staying up till 2-3, sleeping till 2-3, I tried everything. Every sleep hygiene trick, all types of sleep aids whether prescription, herbal, or OTC. Moving my sleep forward, moving it back. It was an exercise in self-torture and extreme discipline. I did manage to gradually get back to a 1 am to 9 am pattern with a nap, and that was nice. It took a year of work.

    When I discovered that putting all my sleep after midnight worked for me, my life started feeling normal again, at least a little. I may "sleep" till 10 am, but can skip the nap. That allowed me to take a shortened part-time schedule working in the afternoons, and as wearing as that is with lots of recovery time evenings and weekends, I have some big chunks of my life back.

    Everyone is different. Good luck. Just do not forget that this is related to dysregulated body systems if you have ME/CFS and has nothing to do with lack of self-discipline or character flaws or anything. The truth is most exhibit incredible strength and discipline that deserve credit and admiration. Whatever your circumstances, hang in there!
  7. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

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    I do agree with the above. If using sleep hygiene techniques, getting up a little earlier each day is best. Do it gradually so you are not nodding off several hours too early on the other end.
    merylg and peggy-sue like this.
  8. peggy-sue

    peggy-sue

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    You're talking a lot of sense, @GracieJ .:)

    Stuff such as sleep hygeine simply doesn't work for a lot of us, and trying to shift yourself to be in sync with the rest of the world can just be making a huge burden for ourselves.

    I am in a situation where it really doesn't matter too much if I sleep all morning and stay up late, it's what suits me and it's much easier to fall in line with what my body wants to do than to force myself into "normal hours".
    GracieJ, ggingues and merylg like this.
  9. GracieJ

    GracieJ Senior Member

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    @peggy-sue I so agree! It was giving up on a schedule at all that helped me stumble on what worked so that I could work and support myself. I remember a 30-hour cycle at one point in Alaska in the winter... drove my second husband half out of his mind, but I felt better! What we do, what we do. Whatever works.
    peggy-sue likes this.
  10. heapsreal

    heapsreal iherb 10% discount code OPA989,

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    I am the same. If I go to sleep early before midnight then I'm awake like 2am. That's also with sleep meds. I'm finding closer to midnight is best for me to go to sleep and more likely to sleep through longer than if I tried earlier.

    i think it's probably closer to my natural body clock.
    WillowJ and peggy-sue like this.
  11. Fogbuster

    Fogbuster Senior Member

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    Thanks so much for all the helpful responses guys!!!
  12. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    Fogbuster,

    My advice would be to be careful of the advice just to get up earlier. I've tried this and it results in more severe ME symptoms and in particular an increase in infections and flu type episodes for me. This got worse over time and didn't settle. I find changing time zones and daylight savings changes hard to adjust to all well.

    I've yet to find a solution. Melatonin does help me somewhat but other people react badly to this.

    If people have a "tired but wired" sensation at night that stops them sleeping sometimes the supplement Seriphos can help. I find that this can put me to sleep but I feel even more groggy, weak and tired every day afterwards. This hyped feeling at night may be high cortisol. Mine is more of "feeling almost normal at nights" and not hyped.

    I know that I have the willpower and the strength to get myself to bed and then get up earlier but in practical terms it just doesn't work as I end up bedridden and sicker having lost the best part of the day (the evenings) than I usually get.

    The low cortisol in the mornings is maybe to blame? Normally in the mornings I feel faint, with nausea to the point of vomiting, black spots in front of my eyes, low BP and can't think straight. This happens at the same time each day and I find that it is best for me to sleep through the worst of day and "enjoy" the better functioning later on. Not everyone can do this of course.

    I'm maybe different as there is a tendency to night owls in my family.

    Hope of of this ramble helps. Good luck.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
    WillowJ and peggy-sue like this.
  13. caledonia

    caledonia

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    That type of schedule is normal for ME/CFS patients. Sleep hygiene probably won't work and will probably make you feel sleep deprived and thus worse, at least in my experience.

    The problem is due to low neurotransmitters due to poor methylation. The neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin are the ones involved in sleep. Another neurotransmitter, glutamate, can be too high, while GABA can be too low, causing that wired but tired feeling. And as someone mentioned, adrenals can be weak and reversed, with higher cortisol at night than in the morning.

    I had one of the worst sleep cycles you ever heard of for many years. As I'm working on methylation, my sleep is naturally getting closer to normal with no effort on my part. This is working better for me than just supplementing with neurotransmitters. The good thing is methylation will also create healing in many other areas, not just sleep.

    The one exception for sleep hygiene is staying off the computer in the evening as the blue light emitted will wake you up. This goes for normals as well as ME/CFS patients. There are even computer programs designed to make your screen orange for night use, but I've found just staying off the computer works best.
    heapsreal likes this.
  14. peggy-sue

    peggy-sue

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    My brain certainly works better at night - I've always been an owl.

    I write myself lists of things to do the next day, the evening beforehand.

    Otherwise, I won't remember to do anything.:rolleyes:

    In the mornings I'm on autopilot only. I can follow my list though.:)
    (as long as I haven't managed to loose it... ;))

    It is much easier to try to follow what your body is doing, rather than to try to force it to do what you think you want it to.
  15. SDSue

    SDSue Florida

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    We're all different but the same, aren't we? I am trying a program called f.lux ( https://justgetflux.com ) It cycles the orange percentage of computer display to match one's sleep/wake cycle, with a gradual dimming as one approaches bed time. I'm trying to alleviate my horrid sleep cycle, where I go to sleep around 2 am, only to awaken an hour later and be wide awake til 6 or 7 am.

    It would be better if I stayed off the computer at night, but it's the one thing keeping me sane!
  16. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    I did sleep hygiene for years. It never worked. I did the early morning light exposure. It worked at first then stopped working.

    Our sleep issues are biochemical. Light, melatonin, etc are two factors in over a dozen that are known to regulate sleep, and that's just chemistry external to the hypothalamus - the full story on internal regulation of the SCN (suprachiastmatic nucleus) has yet to be figured out.

    Currently I sleep when I need to. As long as I don't have to fit with the rest of the world this is OK. It does create major issues when there are appointments and other real world demands.
  17. peggy-sue

    peggy-sue

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    I've had insommnia all my life - (with ME, the total lack of sleep DID get a lot worse), but "sleep hygeine" never worked for me before and it doesn't now.
    Left to my own devices I turn day into night and vice versa,

    so the disruption from ME to my circadian rhythms hasn't really been something I've noticed too much.
    It's really just a continuation of what I've always had.

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