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Sleep Cycle Inversion (Awake At Night, Sleeping During Day): A Simple Technique Fixed This For Me

Discussion in 'General Treatment' started by Hip, Jan 4, 2015.

  1. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    After many years of suffering sleep cycle inversion (where you are wide awake all night, and then end up sleeping most of the day), I finally found a very simple technique to fix my circadian sleep cycle inversion problem.

    At night I would always find myself very "wired" and wide awake, and because of this, I would get involved in various activities (such as doing online reading/research, and writing on web forums), rather than naturally gravitating towards bed with a healthy tiredness.

    As the weeks progressed, I would invariably find myself going to bed later and later each day, until ultimately I would be hitting the sack after sunrise, at 7, 8 or 9 am or even later. Many ME/CFS patients will be familiar with this pattern.

    I felt that the main cause of my sleep cycle inversion seemed to be this abnormal condition of feeling totally "wired" and wide awake late at night, so that going to sleep is not really possible, or very difficult.

    Such circadian rhythm abnormalities are common in ME/CFS, and in fact the ME/CFS symptom of "sleeping most of the day and being awake most of the night" is specifically included in the International Consensus Criteria (ICC) definition of ME/CFS.

    Anyway, I have managed to completely fix my abnormal, inverted sleep cycle and circadian rhythm, by the method detailed as follows.



    The Technique I Used To Fix My Sleep Cycle Inversion:

    For a long time now I have always taken 5 mg of sublingual melatonin as I get into bed, otherwise even when I am tired after a whole night of being awake, it would still take me up to 2 hours of lying in bed to actually get to sleep. But if I take sublingual melatonin as I get into bed, I can be asleep within about 20 or 30 minutes.

    So then recently I had an idea: what if I take this melatonin not as I get into bed, but while I am still wide awake and at my desk, working on the computer? In order to do this, I set up a simple daily alarm clock reminder on my computer, to alert me to take the melatonin at the appropriate time. I set this alarm clock to throw up a reminder on my computer screen at 1:20 am every day (my poor memory and brain fog are such that I would forget to take the melatonin if I did not have this daily on-screen reminder).

    So then each day at 1:20 am, I began taking 5 mg of sublingual melatonin while still wide awake.

    What I found was that by around 2:00 am, I actually started to get tired while working at my desk, due to the melatonin kicking in, and would naturally feel that I wanted to go to bed. The melatonin seemed to calm down and "unwire" my brain, so that I then felt like I wanted to go to sleep, rather than continue working. And when I hit my bed at around 2:00 am, I found I would be asleep within 15 minutes, because the melatonin was already circulating through my body at that stage.

    I know melatonin does not work for many people, so this technique may only be applicable to those who find melatonin generally beneficial in terms of bringing on sleep. If you find melatonin does help you sleep, you may want to try setting up and alarm clock to remind you to take it while you are still active, "wired" and wide awake. This may help you to resynchronize your sleep-wake cycle back to normal.

    If melatonin does not help you sleep, but you regularly use some other medication for insomnia, you might want to set up an alarm clock reminder to take that medication while you are still wide awake.

    This simple technique works very well for me, and has been doing so since I started it 4 months ago. In fact, over these last 4 months, I have been able to keep my sleep-wake cycle synchronized to the normal day and night pattern that healthy people enjoy. This has been the only period in many, many years that I have been able to achieve this.



    By the way, the "sublingual melatonin" I take is just a standard 5 mg tablet of melatonin which I crush into powder by biting and nibbling the tablet with my front teeth, and then I massage this power into the mucous membranes under my tongue using my forefinger. This works very well, as sublingual melatonin starts acting faster compared to when you swallow the tablet orally. I find 5 mg of melatonin the best dose for me, though some people do better on a lower doses such as 1 mg to 3 mg.



    Setting Up A Simple Alarm Clock On Your Computer:

    In terms of setting up an alarm clock on your computer, I used the Mac's built-in iCal software to throw up a reminder on my screen at 1:20 am every day.

    But if you want to download some really basic and simple alarm clock software to use for this purpose, you can consider this free simple alarm clock for Mac, or this free simple alarm clock for Windows PC.



    I also use the free f.lux (available for Mac, iPad, Windows PC) to automatically dim the stimulating blue light on my computer screen an hour or two before my bedtime (although when used just on its own, I found f.lux was not effective).
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
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  2. Sherlock

    Sherlock tart cherry etc. for joints, insomnia

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    Melatonin at 30mg does nothing for me. Maybe it's because of absorption so I'll try sublingual from a capsule, thanks.

    I used to be a night owl. I now can get to sleep (usually) anytime 1-2 hrs PWO. I feel a real demand for sleep then, as if I need to clear out exercise metabolites. Bladder won't let me stay asleep, though - at which time histamine has me too alert. I'll try the sublingual melatonin to try to get back to sleep at that time.
     
  3. Mij

    Mij Senior Member

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    rosie26, Hip and heapsreal like this.
  4. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    @Hip - I'm really glad the sublingual melatonin is helping you. I started sleeping better when I started taking Natrol's sublingual 3 mg. melatonin. It was noticeably more effective than swallowing the pills.

    One other thing which has helped me a lot with sleep is niacin - plain niacin which causes flushing. It stimulates the GABA receptors and is calming. After years of trouble with sleep, I happened upon niacin for sleep about 8 months ago and was very surprised at how much it helped. I take 500 mg. with dinner, and then when I wake up in the middle of the night I take an additional 300 mg., plus another 1/2 melatonin tablet. I don't take niacin in the morning as it made me tired - too much GABA I guess in the morning! I also take a bunch of l-theanine but the niacin really makes it work better.
     
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  5. Bob

    Bob

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    @Hip, thanks for that. I sometimes experience exactly the same sleep inversion as you, and (as you will know) it's really frustrating and inconvenient! I've been meaning to try melatonin for ages, and your post has finally prompted me to buy some - i've just bought some online. I bought 1mg sublingual on iherb.com - thought i'd start with a low dose.
     
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  6. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I hope it works for you too.

    The trick seems to be to take melatonin at the same regular time each night, and taking it while you are still up and about (say an 1 hour before you want to be asleep), rather than taking the melatonin when you have finally decided you are tired enough to go to bed.

    If you do the latter, you may be up all night before you begin to get tired, as you know. But if you do the former, melatonin helps you to feel tired early, so you get to bed on time each night. That way the melatonin helps to coerce your body into getting a regular sleep cycle.



    The melatonin I like the best is the Natrol Fast Dissolving Melatonin, Strawberry Flavor.

    These strawberry flavor Natrol tablets are soft and crumbly, so they break up quickly in your mouth when you bite them, making it easy to crumble the tablets and take the melatonin sublingually in the way I described above. They also taste nice: most unflavored melatonin tablets I have tried taste chalky when you bite into them; these are fine for swallowing whole, but not a particularly nice flavor when you want to crunch them up in your mouth in order to take them sublingually.

    The strawberry flavor Natrol tablets also break up easily into halves or quarters, just by snapping them almost effortlessly between your fingers. So even if you buy the 10 mg strawberry flavor Natrol tablets (which is what I do), you can easily break them in half to make a 5 mg dose, or in quarters to make a 2.5 mg dose.

    The unflavored Natrol melatonin tablets are not soft and crumbly, so you cannot break these between your fingers, plus their taste is chalky.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
    merylg and Bob like this.
  7. Bob

    Bob

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    Thank you for the tips, Hip. :thumbsup:
     
  8. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    I am a melatonin non-responder, and at least one of the reasons for that is known, aside from absorption issues. I have not tried it sublingually, it might be worth a try.

    The issue is that melatonin has two response windows for the hypothalamus. Our response windows often do not match what is normal, so taking melatonin might have no impact at all. If you find your response window though then it should have an impact for most. To be clear though you are looking for a one hour window that could be in any part of your day.

    Its also important to realize that melatonin is a powerful antioxidant.
     
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  9. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    I have never heard of this. I think I will try the niacin for sleep some time. Nothing else (in my endless list of hundreds of things) has worked.... so why not!
     
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  10. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    @Dreambirdie - I too tried countless things for sleep for over 20 years, and did tons of reading too, and was therefore very surprised when I learned about niacin so recently - it should be listed in Sleep 101 along with melatonin, l-theanine, etc.! Also, I just read about lithium today helping with sleep and my levels were very low on hair analysis so am going to add that into my bedtime cocktail - I hope the niacin helps you! Niacinamide never did anything for me for sleep, no-flush niacin never helped either - for me at least it has to the kind that causes flushing, but I have gotten used to it and it doesn't bother me any more and actually I don't flush much any more anyways.

    Also, do not get the extended or time release form of niacin - this form has been linked to liver damage.
     
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  11. Dreambirdie

    Dreambirdie work in progress

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    @Mary So, just to be clear...

    You take 500 mg regular NIACIN w dinner.
    Then before bed you take 3 mg of MELATONIN.
    If you wake up in the middle of the night (my *biggest* problem) you take 300 mg more NIACIN with 1/2 tab MELATONIN.

    WHere does the THEANINE fit in?
     
  12. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I wonder if other GABA agonists might are also be worth trying in terms of improving sleep.

    Taurine (say 2 to 3 grams) activates GABA receptors, as does the Russian supplement/drug picamilon (at a dose of say 50 mg to 100 mg). Picamilon is the chemical GABA bonded to niacin. Normally GABA does not pass through the blood-brain barrier, so it cannot activate the GABA receptors. But bonding GABA to niacin allows it to cross the blood-brain barrier and get into the brain, where it has a calming, anti-anxiety effect.

    I don't think taurine or picamilon will help bring on sleep though. I have taken both of these in high doses during the day for anti-anxiety purposes, and although they help reduce anxiety levels, they do not seem to have any soporific effects.

    In order to try to coerce your body into a normal circadian sleep cycle, I think you may need something like melatonin which has a potent soporific action.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
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  13. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    @Dreambirdie - as I'm sure you know, l-theanine is an amino acid which helps the brain produce GABA. It's supposed to cross the blood-brain barrier, unlike GABA which doesn't. (although I'm curious about the product hip mentions above - picamilon, which sounds interesting)

    This gets a little complicated, but I do take the 500 mg. niacin with dinner as mentioned above. and then

    Here is my sleep cocktail I take about 2 hours before bed:
    2 mag glycinate caps (133 mg. each - in addition to 3 other caps taken during the day)
    1 Rainbow Light calcium tablet (500 mg. calcium + 250 more magnesium + a few other things)
    100 mg. 5-htp
    100 mg. l-theanine

    Then about 1/2 hour before I want to sleep, I dissolve one 3 mg. sublingual melatonin (same brand hip uses, just lower dose - and it does taste good!)

    When I wake up usually 3-1/2 hours later, I take 200 to 300 more l-theanine, 300 mg. niacin and 0.5 mg. lorazepam. I was taking 1 mg. lorazepam and was able to cut it in half. I want to get off it altogether but am going slowly. I did just read today about lithium helping with sleep and my lithium levels are very low, and my doctor had me take it before (a low dose) so am going to add that in. Swanson's sells a low-dose lithium orotate which I will take when it arrives.

    I used to have severe middle of the night insomnia which almost nothing would touch and then discovered my cortisol was high at night through the Adrenal Stress Index test. Seriphos (phosphorylated serine) was fabulous for normalizing my cortisol levels and helping that horrible insomnia. I still do have a little middle of the night insomnia but nothing like before. So if you haven't already done so, get your cortisol levels checked. It was trial and error to get the right dose of Seriphos and I ended up initially needing eight 100 mg. capsules a day, but it worked so well and eventually I was able to cut the dose. I currently take 2 caps a day as a maintenance dose. It's important to take Seriphos in the morning - this is crucial. Taken at night it can cause insomnia. It does not make you sleepy during the day - but I felt calmer, better able to handle things. Hope this explains everything!
     
  14. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    Interesting about the taurine - I didn't know it was a GABA agonist. I take 500 mg. in the morning but think I will switch it to night time.

    I would guess I am getting the equivalent of picamilon with the niacin and l-theanine that I take. I've read that, unlike GABA, l-theanine does cross the blood-brain barrier. All I know is that once I started taking niacin, it helped my sleep a lot. But it makes me tired when taken in the morning (niacin), so I don't take it then. However, I can take niacinamide during the day and think it is helping my bad knee (an unexpected benefit!)
     
  15. Woolie

    Woolie Senior Member

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    Plus, I've read that melatonin is a nuclear factor kappa-B inhibitor, a pro-inflammatory protein that may be elevated in many of us.
     
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  16. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Which ties in to the debate we are having on other threads with respect to cyclooxygenase and inflammatory prostaglandins.
     
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  17. WillowJ

    WillowJ คภภเє ɠรค๓թєl

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    I tried some timed-release melatonin in a capsule with biotin, and it made me feel sleepy but also feel drugged. Is that unexpected?
     
  18. Sherlock

    Sherlock tart cherry etc. for joints, insomnia

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    now that you mention it, I get the same metallic taste from niacin and GABA at 10 minutes or so after taking them on an empty stomach

    however, I used to take .5-1g niacin often, but never noticed tiredness from it

    if I take 3g of GABA, my pupils will dilate

    which is why it's been used peri-workout (it's soluble in fat and water and so gets everywhere) since a few years ago, as also mentioned in @Mij's list above.
     
  19. Sherlock

    Sherlock tart cherry etc. for joints, insomnia

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    What strategy are you going to use to maximize chances, alex? I've only got one 10mg capsule left to try with.

    (My guess is that I have no problem with absorption anyway - that it's something else.)
     
  20. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    One capsule is possibly not enough unless you are lucky. I tried to find the window once, took it at different times of the day, but did not succeed. I may simply be a non responder.

    Melatonin is one of a great many factors affecting sleep. Further, we now know there is another sleep center ... its not all in the hyperthalamic SCN.
     

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