Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Thrilling Tale Of How I Managed To Give Myself Jet Lag During An International Lockdown

One of the best/worst parts of staying home these past months is that time has lost all meaning. I quickly discovered that the only thing keeping my night owl tendencies in check was life outside the house, so once that life evaporated, I took it as permission to shed my last clinging remnants of "normalcy" and embrace my Best Vampire Life.

And it was glorious.

At least for a while.

Nighttime is so peaceful, you guys. If you've never stayed up all night to write then I highly recommend it. There are no leaf blowers going, no phones ringing, no notifications clogging your screen. You can be alone with your thoughts and actually focus on a single thing at a time. So I leaned into the siren call of productivity and stayed up later and later, working all night and going to bed around dawn.

That schedule wasn't TOO bad, considering I usually stayed up 'til 3AM anyway, but there was a problem. I'd opened Pandora's box, y'all. I'd unleashed the beast. My internal clock was off the chain, drunk, and staggering around the living room in its underwear demanding we "KEEP THIS PARTY GOING WOOOOOO"

So I stayed up later. And later.

I told myself this was actually a good thing, because I was seeing the sunrise for the first time in decades. I'd open all the shades around 6:30 and watch the house slowly lighten with dancing rays of light, and listen to the nesting cardinals and mocking birds sing. It was so beautiful, so restful. The perfect way to end my day.

Once I was staying up 'til 7 or 8am, though, I realized I could get even MORE work done if I wrote the Facebook updates before going to bed. Except the CW post doesn't go up 'til 9AM.

So I stayed up past 9AM.

Once I was awake past 9AM I discovered more things I could do before going to bed: Now I could return phone calls and DMs, even chat with my early-bird friends who I usually never got to see.

I'll spare you the rest of this word journey, and skip to the part where I woke up to start my day at 11 o'clock... PM. By this point I never knew what day it was, because I'd wake up on a Tuesday and go to bed on a Wednesday. I lived in the in-betweens, a hazy purgatory of days... and it felt like it. To quote a famous scientist, I felt "so funky" 24/7: a little spacey, a lot disconnected, and I can only imagine what my poor cortisol levels were doing.

Sleeping through my online therapy session was a wake-up call... literally, since my therapist had to text John to ask where I was. (John was going to bed himself around dawn, so we'd both forgotten what day it was.)

I tried reining in my hours a bit, but by this point my internal clock was completely upside down. I was going to bed between 1-3PM, a full 12 hours off from my usual schedule - so I didn't know if I should move backwards or forwards!

Then came Mother's Day weekend, and the infamous Key Lime Donut Incident.

Many of you know I'm on a modified Low FODMAP diet to manage a lifetime of gut pain. Happily I can eat most donuts without issue, so long as they don't have milk in them, but I forgot how heinously bad High Fructose Corn Syrup is to me - and how most fruit-flavored donuts are packed with it.



So I ate a delicious Key Lime Krispy Kreme, and 8 hours later was in so much pain that it started to scare me, and triggered my first panic attack in 4 months. I spent the next day on the couch spooning a hot-pack, and since I couldn't sleep through the pain anyway, my addled brain decided I may as well add on to this misery pile and try to turn my sleep schedule around.



I did it cold turkey, no easing in, no sleep aids like melatonin, nada. I just refused to let myself sleep, staying up through whatever day that was, and finally collapsing around 8pm. Then I popped awake at 4 the next morning.

Not gonna lie, that first day was awful. But the next day? Oh man. The next day was so much worse.

 
(Suki knows. Suki understands.)

That next day also happened to be my birthday, so I was getting hundreds of sweet birthday messages, texts, and calls, all of which I answered in a mildly panicked haze, since I was so tired I wasn't exactly sure what I was typing, much less saying. So if any of you got an odd reply from me that day: an unexpected declaration of love, something you *think* was a joke but can't be sure, or random pictures of my cats, then now you know the rest of the story. 

That was also Epbot's 10th anniversary and the day I announced our new Epbot Movie Nights - something I'd been working up to for weeks and weeks, but in my haze I forgot to include the Discord link. That wasn't a huge deal, but it felt like it at the time, and I was convinced I was ruining everything and would never feel human again and WHY WAS THIS HAPPENING AAAAAA.  Poor John had an even worse day than I did, just being around me. 

Day 3 was a lot like Day 2, but with more yelling. I think I was going through the 7 stages of grief, right down to bargaining with John to just let me have a 6 hour nap at 3pm in return for my undying love - plus he could have Suki. When John gently suggested that sleeping wasn't a good idea, and that this would all be better soon, I vaguely remember yelling at a squirrel. I can't remember about what, exactly, but there was definitely a lot of yelling.

On Day 4 I felt pretty OK in the morning. I was waking up between 5-8AM, but I'd collapse around noon in something that was less a "nap" and more of a blackout. I gotta say, as someone who's struggled with insomnia for decades, it was almost alarming how much - and how easily - I was sleeping each day. Sleeping was no longer the hard part; staying awake was.

Here we are at Day 9 and I've gone 2 whole days without my afternoon black-out. I still feel pretty funky, but I'm proud to say I'm still waking up around 8 or 9am, because - and wow is THIS embarrassing - I haven't been able to get up that early in over 15 years.

I'm trying to practice better "sleep hygiene" by not looking at my phone or playing games while lying down in bed, which, I don't know if you've noticed, is SO HARD. If nothing else, I'll sit outside in the Wonderland room while I check Instagram, and then when I'm done I'll go to bed. Once in bed I put on my sleep phones and play a boring audio book to lull me to sleep, which only takes a few minutes right now. That's another first for me, or at least a first for the last two decades. Usually it takes between 1 and 4 hours for me to fall asleep, and for much of my adult life I've hated the sight of my own bed. My bed has been more a battlefield than a place of rest, a place where I lie awake in frustration, forever angry that I can't just WILL myself to sleep, no matter how hard I try.

So while this past week and a half has felt absolutely awful, and I wouldn't recommend turning your sleep schedule upside down overnight the way I did, at least this hard reset has given me a taste of what it's like to have a "normal" sleep schedule. I almost even see the appeal.

Now let's see how long this lasts.



 Suki remains... skeptical.

:D

Do you guys have any tips for maintaining a healthy sleep schedule? Or do any of you struggle like I do? C'mon, don't leave me hanging here: I can't be the only night owl who's lost control during quarantine, right?

Er... right?


******

I'm hesitant to mention this given the state of the world, but IF you have an uninterrupted income stream right now, and if you also love Epbot and want to help support me and John, then you can do so anytime, for any amount, through Paypal. We also have a subscription page where you can donate to us monthly, which you can cancel any time. Everyone who gives is automatically entered in our monthly Squeegineer Prize Give-Away, but let's be honest: we both know that's not why you give. You give because you can and because you're awesome, and I promise you we never take that for granted.

Your support - your dollars and your clicks and your social media shares - is what keeps Epbot running, my dear Squeegineers, so thank you, thank you, I love you. 
::mwah::

74 comments:

  1. My son has narcolepsy and I think I do, too. When I was in college a few years ago I wrote a research paper on sleep deprivation to reset the circadian rhythm. Basically what you just described doing but sciencey-er, with citations. If I can find it, I'll try to figure out a way to send it to you. It's highly readable, I'm not that intelligent. :)

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    1. It takes a lot of intelligence to make an academic paper readable!

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  2. I tell myself a story every night because it's the only way to quiet my brain enough to sleep. And on the really bad nights I break out rain sounds. And yeah, my best friend is Australian, and there was this one year where I just slept when I was tired and had no rhythm at all. It's not just you at all!
    In all honesty, I am terrible at resetting sleep. Usually I wait for one of my fav games to have a new expac or season, and about a month beforehand I ditch the caffeine and I stay up for many hours playing, and I don't let myself go to bed until a normal "bedtime." The excitement of "new game stuff" helps keep me up the next day, and I make sure to go to bed at that same time every night. (OK, yes, normal people do not go to bed at 2am, but it's my preference.)
    The other thing that helps on really restless nights is a heavy blanket, although then I get hot. sigh. no winning!

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    1. I do this to! And have since I was a preteen (I'm 41 now...). I have to tell myself a story to fall asleep every single night. I have a few scenarios on rotation. They are all extremely boring but it is the only thing that distracts my brain enough to sleep.

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    2. Same here - although I don't think of them as boring - more like a tv show or book I enjoy! I've done this for years probably since I was a young kid. Just recently I found out that my 13 year old son does the same thing! If I was a better writer I could probably turn these "bedtime stories" into something more substantial.

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    3. I'm so glad to hear that other people do this. I've done it since I was a kid. I thought it was just a weird quirk of mine. It does exactly that, distracts my brain and stops it from pinging around so that I can finally rest.

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    4. I do this as well. Although sometimes my brain will somehow start to plan tomorrows things, at this time how to expand my veg garden and then I'm awake again.
      I also have had some success with just breathing, paying no attention to the brain (which sometimes gets annoyed but I tell it to shut up). I think I read an article about how military people do that to sleep anywhere, anytime. I could be wrong on where I heard about the breathing. I think it's related to meditation.

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    5. Sorry for the repetition, but I do this too, and am excited to hear that I'm not alone! I started in my early teens, and nearly 40 years later one of my stories in rotation is the same book - with me as a character.

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    6. I've always done this! It's usually some kind of fanfic spun off whatever show or book I'm thinking about currently. All the silly random stuff that I'd never write because it's too cliche or implausible or ridiculously self-insertion.

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    7. I love how it appears that so many of us do this! I've been telling myself stories since high school and it works like a charm. Which is ironic because, back then, what it used to do was actually set up my dreams to become ongoing serials so you wouldn't think that much excitement would result in sleep. Over a series of weeks/months in high school, I had such a run of interconnected dreams (the life story of a character from high school graduation until her late 30's) that I caved and wrote them out as short stories.

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    8. Me too! And like Susan, I (or some weird version of me) is always a character, and like Andrea I'm often placed in a fanfiction of sorts. Thank goodness I don't write them down; they would be unbearably Mary Sue-ish.

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  3. I've read that one treatment for insomnia/messed up sleep schedule, is to go to bed 3 hours later every day until you're back to a 'normal' schedule.

    Getting into a sleep routine is also the best way to maintain a schedule - go to bed at the same time each night (I know, I know, you're an adult, you DON'T NEED A CURFEW - but trust me on this), keep a routine. I read for half an hour or so, listen to an old radio show (Gunsmoke or The Saint, usually), and I'm generally out in 10 minutes after turning out the light.

    Sleep is more important than food to your health, so keep that in mind.

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  4. I think we've talked in the past about magnesium for anxiety and/or inflammation pain? The magnesium I'm on has made my sleep "normal" for the first time in my life. It's kind of awesome.

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    1. Which kind of magnesium do you take, Sarah? I’m on glycinate & malate right now - and I do take them at night since mag can make you sleepy, but I’m not sure if they do.

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  5. Blue light in the morning, orange light at night (I have an alarm set for 8pm which is literally 'turn on orange light'), and the acceptance that I read fiction books in a single sitting so it is foolish to start reading a book if it's later than about 3pm.

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    1. This, this, this. It's pricey, but I swear by my Philips Somneo lamp. When you want to go to bed, tell it to play its sunset mode (bright daylight transitions to orange sleepy light to darkness, no need to turn it off), and it makes a sunrise for my morning alarm (pink-orange light that brightens to white). Plus I keep time-sensitive light-color filters on all my screens, so that once it's time to wind down to sleep, there's no blue light *anywhere.* It's a godsend and I sleep so much better now.

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  6. Forgetting the link initially didn't matter, except insofar as then I commented asking about that because it was at the top of my easily-distracted squirrel brain... instead of wishing you a happy 42nd (!!!) birthday! and congratulations on Epbot!

    Those things are actually more important and interesting (I love epbot and have loved it since it started), but... squirrel brain. (and I was so excited about Discord because I am a Facebook conscientious objector, but have wished to "hang out" with all these awesome people for aaaages.)(but birthday and epbot anniversary: still cooler!)

    Anyway. I have no dramatic sleep stories like that, but many, many "bedtime gradually migrates later oh shoot that is too far how do I yank it back..." times. And also jet lag, which can be a bear (but is *slightly* less of a bear if you remain well hydrated, although I don't know if that helps with artificial jet lag or not).

    Anyway! Happy birthday! And happy Epbot! And congratulations on sleep! And I hope sleep sticks around beautifully for you! :-)

    (also: that is so sad re: jelly donuts. :-( )

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  7. I'm a natural night-owl but in 'normal times' I leave the house at 5:30 am to get to work on time. In quarantine times I've gone feral. Staying up all night falling asleep around 7-8 am waking up between 1-3pm. What's crazy is on feral schedule I never yawn, I never want a nap; I'm gloriously awake. Friday I stayed up from 5pm to 9pm Saturday. Saturday I managed to sleep 9.5 hours. I thought I'd reset myself. Woke up on Sunday thought I might go back to sleep during night hours. But starting at 11am I was tired, needed a nap. Then I dozed off for 3 hours at 3pm and it was over. Back to feral. I've now been up all day today; no naps, or sleeping. I'm going to try to go to sleep around 9pm and see if I can start over.

    This is why I need a schedule; without one I meet myself coming & going.

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  8. My husband switched from working the night shift to starting work at 6:00 AM, about 10 years ago. We found that we CANNOT have any phones or screens in the bedroom at all. He needs a complete disconnect to transition to sleep. We may be the only people in the world who still use basic alarm clocks, because phone alarm clocks are a no-go. We both have jobs that get us up around 5:00 AM.

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    1. I still use the same alarm clock I got new when I went to college, in fall 1986!

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    2. I had a friend (not meanly) laugh at me because I have a clock radio. I tried an old-fashioned alarm clock and turns out after not having one for years, I could not deal with the ticking sound. Got it when my anxiety/depression/sleep pattern were all really bad and I would wake up in the middle of the night and if I didn't check the time my anxiety would not let me fall back asleep but I needed to stop blasting my corneas with the light from my phone(&stop the "ooh, notifications..."). Clock radio with glowing numbers to the rescue.

      Jen - I commiserate. I still have to be fairly lax with my schedule during times where there is no outside influence on it, otherwise my brain loves to do the thing where it tells me that clearly if I have already missed my "bedtime" by an hour I might as well stay up for 6 more hours since I have already messed up, it's all the same. I have to go with something akin to "get the required sleeping hours between midnight and noon" to prevent me from spiraling into not sleeping for days.

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  9. I thankfully do not have insomnia, but working from home in the time of coronavirus has definitely screwed with my schedule a bit. So I'm doing my best to keep a schedule - in bed by 10:30, alarm goes off at 6:45. In the half-hour or so before bed, I read or watch TV but try to stay off the internet, and I always drink a little water and do a few yoga stretches before I go upstairs. No reading or phone in bed - my husband is already in there, trying to sleep himself. The yoga stretches help relax me and get my body into sleep mode. Then I brush my teeth, wash my face and get into bed.

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  10. I've never been a night person. People call me a morning person because I get up early and I'd rather get stuff done and out of the way earlier in the day rather than later. But I never really feel awake when I wake up, just not asleep anymore. My brain wakes me up too early. I don't have the hours of falling asleep that you do, but I wake up multiple times throughout the night (not usually for long, but still) and can't sleep past 7:30am, usually earlier. I used to be able to sleep later, but then I saw a cognitive behavior therapist and did sleep restriction and not being able to sleep in was about the only significant result :-( I had to work nights for a bit a couple of years ago, and I was really worried I wouldn't be able to shift my schedule. I did it slowly, over about a week, getting up earlier and earlier every day. Somehow, my body knew it was really important and also temporary and went with it! Went right back to normal, though, as soon as the shift work was done.

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  11. That totally happened to me. I'm usually a really terrible night owl. This quarantine has had me staying up later and later until I've been going to bed around 7h30 and waking up around 14h30 for...actually, I have no idea how long now. Everyday is Blursday. Last night, I climbed into bed with my laptop around 1h30 and played a calm and quiet bubble shooter game while listening to K-pop(not very calm and quiet but I don't speak Korean so my brain was quiet-ish) in the dark until I almost nodded off around 3 or 4h30. Woke up at 7h30 for my meds and fell asleep again until 10h45. For me, that's a pretty big win. Gonna try for an earlier bedtime again tonight! Whether I can keep it up...

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  12. My best hours are 12 to 8 am. I find the dark and quiet restful, very creative. Vampire hours? Hah I still tan brown in what sun I get so I can't use that excuse. Sleep hits me about 3 pm ... perfect world. I try to adapt to up at 9an bed at midnight, so you can see life is a little lumpy. Usually, though, my routine wants to shift forward around an hour or so, day after day, I end up not knowing what day or time of day it is. Sadly this happens pandemic or no! Cold reset is the only thing which gets me back on track. Jen, I so relate to your post!

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  13. Oh man. I so struggle with sleeping. My husband has been on night shifts for two weeks and I stay up later and later. Which is fine, except for the kids.

    I get the joy of being with my husband while he switches nights/days frequently. (He's an ER doc and works nights frequently.) There's no easy way to do it. It's much easier to be switching to being awake all night than it is the other way around. You're doing it the best way. Just force it. I should have better advice, but I don't. Good luck.

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  14. My work from home schedule was GLORIOUS: Going to bed about midnight and I woke up about 9AM. I do my best work in the afternoons/evenings anyway. But then I went back to work--the 8AM morning shift. **GASP!** Eventually they're going to change my schedule around AGAIN, but I think what helps me get to bed (and skip the tempting afternoon nap) is planning something for me to look forward to at that time. So far, it's been outdoor time -- it's chilly in the morning, so if I want to go out and garden, it's got to be in the afternoons, which means no time for naps. It helps.

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  15. I have narcolepsy, which I'm usually medicated for, but gave up on during quarantine because it was making anxiety worse than it already is, but I'm also a night owl. I'm still working, or I think my sleep schedule would permanently look like yours did (I actually lived like that for a semester in college). But trying to negotiate all that as well as continuing to work has been EAY harder than expected. I'm just constantly on the brink of falling asleep it feels like. Glad you are getting yours straightened out though!!

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  16. Best thing I've found is never lay in bed trying to fall asleep. Give it maybe 15 minutes of dark and quiet, then get up and do something boring until you feel sleepy, and try again.

    This was an accidental multi-purpose thing. My sleep pattern is "wrong" so it's a great anxiety trigger. Only way to break the intrusive thought hamster wheel is to get up and do something. I found if I intentionally did boring things and made sure to keep the lights dim, it would still calm me down, but I'd also get sleepy faster. I have a Kindle in my bedroom, always on lowest brightness, with a sudoku app that's all I'm allowed to play, and only play at night.

    About every 2-3 months I have a completely sleepless night and by now I just go with it. If needed I call in the next morning.

    Also I found some research that indicated a connection between temperature regulation, sleep, and a bunch of other issues, which showed you almost never fall asleep until your entire body is the same temperature, and if that's hard for your body to do, it'll take you longer. Just having that in my head, that there's a practical, objective, physical reason it takes me 15 minutes instead of 5, helps a lot.

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  17. I totally hear you on having sleep issues. I've had them for most of my adult life, but they got much worse when my husband passed away a little over 2 years ago. I stay up late (1-2 am) in hopes that I will be tired enough to go right to sleep, but usually without taking something, that doesn't work. I've read that the only way to reset your sleep to earlier is by going all the way around the clock- going to bed an hour or 2 later each night until you've made it back to the time you want to go to sleep. Normally, that would be impossible for most people, but in this upside down world, that might work. For me, I have to try to stick to a schedule for the sake of my dog. Now that I'm the only one to let her out, feed her, walk her, etc., I want her to have a relatively reliable schedule, so I try to get up by 9 am every day, even if I didn't go to sleep until 3 or 4 am. My brain doesn't like melatonin, it gives me crazy un-fun dreams. Ambien & Xanax & Benadryl (on separate days, never together) help at varying levels for me to get a reasonable amount of sleep. I've also recently gotten several sleep CDS from the library, music and/or guided imagery to help with sleep. I haven't tried them yet but I'm hopeful. Gotta find a way to turn the brain off (or at least down). Good luck & hope you are feeling better soon. I've often said my weird superpower would be to be sleep control: able to sleep whenever I want, wake up without an alarm feeling awake & refreshed, and only take naps when I want to, not because I can't keep my eyes open.

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  18. I work in a hotel ('Essential', because we're providing shelter to the local homeless. Don't even ask how that's going.) as a Night Auditor. Been part of Team Vampire for years.

    My trick? Biphasic sleep. Four hours in the morning, four hours in the evening. From 7-11 I'm napping. It's not easy yo get used to, and takes an occasional catch up day, but it works great. Quiet productive nights, social errand-running days.

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  19. I was born a night owl AND without one of those handy internal chronometers other folks have. Living in a world that not only operates on a diurnal schedule, but that also treats diurnal schedules as a virtue and noctournal schedules as a moral failing is really hard. I have had many discussions with HR professionals on the subject, and almost every one honestly believes that it is just laziness, bad habits, or a lack of discipline that makes someone a night owl. We internalize that too. Becoming disabled has had the advantage of being able to sleep and wake as my body desires for the most part. Of course as you know there is still a world out there that runs on a day schedule, that WE are required to accommodate. Which honestly is making less and less sense as technology comes into our lives. Just like logging off our computers at home, travelling to our jobs where we log into a computer in a different building. Not trying to coerce people into changing their biology or penalizing them for the biology they were born with would be so wonderful for all the people out there who live on the razor's edge of job loss all the time for attendance because they are fighting their body every single day of their lives.

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    1. Amen! I'm in the same situation for a different reason. I have MS, which for me means fatigue is ever-present. I work in the court system, so I'm 'essential' and have been fighting extra depression and fatigue, and I have a boss who believes that public shaming is a valid management technique. If I were younger and/or thinner-skinned, I could see that causing some real problems. As it is, I roll my eyes behind his back and do my job.

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  20. I have a very severe sleep disorder, so what you've gone through here is something I go through every couple of weeks. My sleep just drifts no matter how hard I try not to let it, no matter what obligations I have, and nothing anyone suggests helps. It's been that way for as long as I've been alive.

    Eventually you just get used to being tired and miserable.

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  21. I Know exactly how this feels. I started working the night shift right after college and the transition to a night schedule was really difficult. Staying up 24 hours plus every time I needed to switch between days and nights left me hallucinating and feeling miserable for days. WHen I finally switched back to the day shift I would randomly wake up at 1am starving because my body thought it was lunch time. Thankfully your body will figure out a new normal after a week or two.

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  22. I highly recommend using whatever "Stop Looking at your Darn Phone" app your flavor of phone has. I am often shocked when my phone hits wind down mode because I have no idea it got that late. It forces me to turn the things off, and then I have a routine for going to bed that does not involve electronics (although you do you with audio books and the like!).

    Android: Android includes a special mode for getting you ready for bed called Wind Down, available on the latest smartphone models running Android 9.0 Pie and above. You can turn it on by opening Settings, tapping Digital Wellbeing, then Wind Down. The feature changes your phone in two ways
    Apple: A feature called Downtime lets you mute most of your phone's notifications during specific times. By default, Apple turns on Downtime from 10 pm to 7 am. Only phone calls and apps you've designated as "Always Allowed" will show up on your screen. iOS 12 and above.

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    1. Yes, this! My phone eases me into winding down every night by going orange tint, and then at the time I need to put it down and just go to bed already, it shifts to black and white and stays that way until about an hour before my alarm goes off in the morning. It is amazing how quickly staring at the phone becomes unappealing when everything is black and white and shades of gray.

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  23. My dad has struggled with sleep for years. He was on graves, swings, days, you make it. and eventually ended his work career going in at 2:30am and working until 11am. Recently Dad found THIS Ted talk/technique to fall asleep, and has been having great success. It's called frequency following response.

    Personally, I get too into my audiobooks, so I listen to a meditation from Calm, and it puts me out. Also super helpful for anxiety, which for me has only started since quarantine.

    Good luck!

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  24. In the last chapter of my psych textbook, they talked about sleep and our internal clocks. It said that most humans, without the outside stimulus of light cycles, will synch to a 25 hour cycle. So you can see how quickly you would get entirely off-kilter with the rest of the world!

    I will say from sleep hygiene perspective, it has helped me a lot to cut electronics out for at least 2 hours before bed. No computer, phone, Kindle or TV. I do puzzles or read before bed. I do break the rule of using my bed for something other than sleep (or sex), but it helps the dogs to wind down if we are quiet and still in the bedroom.

    They do, of course, recommend that if you haven't fallen asleep in 30 minutes, get out of bed and go do something else. That might help with the whole hating the sight of your bed. If you don't want to fully get out of bed, you could just sit up and read--something that signals your brain "I am not trying to sleep now," which may help reset that feeling of frustration from not falling asleep right away. Give it 30 minutes, then try again.

    I am a night-owl by nature, but I have shifted myself to 'early bird' status over the years due to my work requirements. Now that I've been furloughed, though, my night-owl nature has roared back to life. It's going to be a bear to readjust if/when I go back to work.

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  25. My “normal” schedule sees me in bed by 9pm (10 if I’m really pushing it) up at 4:15am, at work by 5:30. I’m naturally a night owl, but have been starting work between 5:30-6:30 for the last 15 years. Telecommuting has me pushing to starting and stopping later and later to the point where a few days I go to bed shortly after husbot heads to work at 5. What’s saved me from doing it all the time is that I have to actually go into the office every other Friday, so the week I go in I slowly adjust led me schedule back to more normal times.

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  26. Elizabeth SaltmarshMay 19, 2020 at 8:07 PM

    I love watching Gourmet Makes while I'm falling asleep. Something about Claire troubleshooting cooking problems is so relaxing and sleep-inducing, and best of all I can't scroll my phone.

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  27. I recently started a job that starts at 11:30pm and goes until about 3am. It's tough. I can get about 6 hours in the morning, but I am seriously an 8 hour person, so I try to catch a nap.

    Things that help: a sleep mask (turns out I'm really susceptible to light) and podcasts (my go to's are Sleep With Me, Stories from the Borders of Sleep, Lore - basically story telling. I spent a good three weeks with Good Omens, because I kept falling asleep. I also make sure to have extra pillows so I always have a cool pillow to rest on. Keep water nearby so if you wake up thirsty you don't have to get up.

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  28. *HUG* I'm sorry if my requests for the Discord link added to your stress! I don't have much insomnia advice, I sleep extra when I can, and force myself through exhaustion when I have to. I also have the reputation of falling asleep without warning if online after midnight. Some nights, I'll be fine, others, I'll poof. I'm told it's frustrating when friends wanna RP, but most know and work around it. >.>

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  29. I ended one of my jobs on 3 July one year, that I had been working 10 pm to 6am, had the Fourth off, then started the new one that was 10 am to 6 pm on the Fifth. O.o I would NOT recommend doing that.

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  30. Honestly it's taken me years to have a set sleep schedule and now that I've been consistent my body is up by 7am regardless of when I go to sleep... as long as i have 4hrs my body is happy but I usual sleep 8-9hrs.. I've worked 630am-3pm shifts for the past 10yrs with ptsd and anxiety wrapped in.. my trick is movie soundtracks.. just the instrumentals on really low in the background, a fan and a mostly dark room and I'm out in less than 10 mins. Turning your phone to do not disturb also helps you stay asleep.

    I will definitely try the magnesium since i have been having gut issues as well thank you for the suggestion!

    Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEN!

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  31. Between theatre and restaurant work in non-pandemic times, I'm as much of a night owl as you. Doesn't help that my husband works the morning shift at Major Coffee Chain usually, so if I get home at 11:30PM, and he gets up at 3:30AM... I just don't go to bed until his alarm is starting to go off.
    Now? I went to bed "early" last night, and that meant before 6AM. My sleep schedule is just absolutely jacked. Husband wakes me up sometime between 12:30-2:30, depending on how I appear to be sleeping.

    Time has *no* meaning.

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  32. I'm usually a morning person but what with the whole summer thing looming in the horizon... well. Living in the North that means the sun keeps rising earlier and earlier, and my brain often decides that it's daytime now whenever it's light enough in the room. Yesterday that meant 3AM. Today it's thankfully 6AM. Can't wait until next month is done, the sun starts to actually set and it'll slowly start getting dark at night again. Nature is fun. Not sleeping in the summer and sleeping all the time in the winter is not that fun.

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  33. I work 6 night shifts in a row every 5 weeks so I’ve done this a lot. I’ve tried a lot of things but found one thing that seems too simple but it works. Count DOWN from 10,000 to 1. When the brain wanders off, just pick back up at the last number you can remember. Don’t beat yourself up about losing track, just keep going. Works every time.

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  34. My Hubby wrote this a while back, I hope it is helpful!

    https://joeborders.com/how-to-sleep-better/

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  35. Also, I dunno if this could be related/ also helpful, but maybe?:
    https://sacwellness.com/10-things-to-cope-with-stress-and-anxiety/

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  36. I swear by daylight and breakfast, but then again, I've never really struggled with insomnia, and I'm typically incapable of napping.

    My mom on the other hand had terrible insomnia for years, but was actually cured by hormone therapy! Her doctor specialized in "bio-identical hormone replacement therapy" (whatever that is) and had my mom drool into little tubes several times a day for a few days so they could chart her hormones. The doc said that basically her sleep and wake hormones were going off at the wrong times, but they were able to correct it! Once she was able to sleep again, she was able to start exercising and her fibro improved and she felt so much better!

    Ok, last thing, have you heard of the book The Power of When? It deals a lot with sleep and is really interesting. There's even an online quiz to tell you your sleep personality. I'm guessing you're either a wolf or a dolphin.

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  37. I set my phone screen to night shift at 5pm and do not disturb at 9pm. I also try to use less screen time in the evening because news and social media can send me into an anxious wide awake tizzy over things that seem trivial in the morning. (It has been a little more difficult to cut myself off with the current circumstances.)
    The change with the biggest impact was moving my phone off my nightstand and across the room. It was so difficult at first, but now feels freeing. Instead of looking at my phone I read before bed.
    The other helpful tip is kids - you just have to get up - every day. But, as you may be able to tell from the time stamp on this comment, my sleep is pretty out of control right now. Evenings are the only alone time I have all day and it is really hard to go to bed, knowing that another day of distance learning struggles with my kids await.

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  38. CBT for insomnia is the gold standard treatment for exactly the kind of thing you're describing (full disclosure: I'm a psychologist and I specialize in sleep treatment). You might ask your therapist if they're familiar with CBTi, and also there's a really good workbook for patients called Quiet Your Mind and Get To Sleep.

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  39. The entirety of my maternal family are night owls; no one in my family goes to sleep before 2 am. School was hell for me because of having to get up at six o'something every morning. I got a job that let me work evenings because before noon I'm asleep on my feet and get precisely nothing done. My regular sleep cycle runs about 4am-noon, so that's what I do. I have an alarm that quietly goes off around 3:30 for 'get off the computer and go lay down,' take some melatonin and I'm good.

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  40. Man, I have the opposite problem. I get up at 3-4 AM which means I get really sleepy and fall asleep around 8 PM. 2 years ago I was really busy at work and needed to get up super early for a month, now it's a habit. Haven't been able to fix it- I've tried staying up later, but no matter how long I stay up I still wake up at 4 AM. Never been able to fix it.

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  41. Reading your post put me right into solid memories of "India mode". Whenever we visit my in laws (every few years), we have to adjust to the upside down. One time it was during the world cup (soccer) and I fell asleep on a tiny couch during a game...while people were actively yelling. The very first time I nearly fell into a fire during pooja (a welcoming ceremony the morning after we arrived). It's rough!

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  42. NightOwl Club member here! The first month of the stay-at-home order my office would not let the admins work. So I would stay up to all hours and sleep whenever. I had to fix my schedule when it started to remind me of when I was unemployed a few years ago. That was not good for my mental health. They are back to letting us work remotely and I get to go into the office about once I week for various things which helps.
    My sleep ritual is to have my phone go into warm mode in the evening and I work on Nonograms (which is an app but it uses really soothing music, I keep it in dark mode and it helps me calm my brain when it goes into spiral mode)

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  43. Night Owl when I can! My husband teases that I don't sleep when he goes away on business trips... that's sometimes true. When I have to get the kids to school it's harder, silly schedules getting in the way of my wanting to stay up all night! That's not as much a problem now, except we're trying to stay on a schedule so the days have structure in this weird time. I'm still having a hard time keeping track of days. Sorry you had such a hard time on your birthday!

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  44. I have had the opposite experience during quarantine: My job for the last two years has forced me into a sleep pattern that doesn't come naturally to me, and it's finally after two months gone back to what I had before starting work there. Normal for me is falling asleep around 10 or 11 pm, then waking up around 7 or 8, and I don't take naps unless I'm sick. The job had me waking up at 5 am, taking a 1-2 hour nap (passing out might be more accurate) around 2 pm and still going to sleep around 10 or 11. I've been perpetually tired for two years and I didn't even know it until I had this chance to go back to normal. I had tried skipping the nap and physically could not do it. I had tried going to bed earlier and would just lay awake until 10 or 11 anyway. I know I'll have to readjust once things reopen, but for now it's one of the few good things to come out of the whole quarantine situation.

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  45. I never had much trouble sleeping, but I will still share what I do - first of all, the phone charging place is in the front hall, not my nightstand (so the phone is not there to pick up). I do read before bed on a Kindle, but it has no backlight so i think it's ok. The other thing is I have an old-fashioned lamp timer on my bedside table lamp - it turns on around 5:30 when I get home from work, and it turns off at 11, when I'm supposed to actually be going to sleep. It doesn't always work (the Kindle does have a sidelight, so I can keep reading if I'm determined), but it's a good clue how late it is. There's another lamp timer in the living room to tell me to go upstairs and get in bed in the first place (at 10:30).

    The other sleep hygeine thing is to train your brain that the bed is for sleeping. Only. Don't hang out in bed after waking up, don't spend a ton of time reading there. You only sleep there. Brain training.

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  46. Oh, man I did something similar the day after my school semester ended. My brain went full "schools out for summer" and stayed up till the birds were singing and the sun came up. Woke up around 9/10am because the cat needed to be fed (sorry cat) and then went back to bed till 1/2am. I was still sort of tired since that was overall only 6 hours of sleep and sort of disorienting. And I was planning to spend some socially distanced time with my family but when they called to make plans I didn't tell them even though it was afternoon for them it was morning for me, hahaha. But at least it made me really tired the next day to go to bed at a decent time (though I can't remember if I did or not). I've been struggling with this most nights. For example yesterday I got tired around 8/9pm but felt that this was "too early" to go to bed so I stayed up. Plus I thought I would watch some stuff on Netflix then read before bed (aka no screens before sleep). And then of course I got sucked into my show then sucked into my book and ended up not getting enough sleep (AGAIN!) for the next work day. Ugh.

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    1. Oh I just wanted to add that one thing that helps me. I have heard that our sleep cycles are about 1 1/2 hours long (not including the time it takes to fall asleep) so I try to get sleep in increments of that time. So sometimes it's better to get 3 hours of sleep than 4 because you'll get 2 full sleep cycles in instead of waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle and feeling groggy/awful. I've found this has worked for me. The only downside is I sometimes stay up later if I miss my original bedtime because I rather get less hours of sleep but full sleep cycles. So I may end up going to sleep around 11pm if I miss a bedtime at 9:30pm but still waking up at 6:30am regardless.

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  47. I was kind of prepared, because my mom always said the older you get the worse you sleep, and the closer to 40 you get... So, sleep hygiene for us has included grayed out phones by 8pm, (because you really are discouraged from spending much time on it if it's all black and white)
    shifting to twin comforters so we each have our own space in which to be cold or warm (and let's face it, there are much cuter duvet covers and twin size for kids), having a speaker on the headboard playing ocean waves, and reading aloud chapter of a book. Yes, I'm putting myself to bed like I'm four, but it helps me stay on schedule to "parent" myself. I do find that getting exercise early in the day (whatever I can manage that day even if it's just 20 minutes of bad dancing) helps, but especially if you have an autoimmune disorder, sometimes sleep is just sucky. Over the last couple of years I've struggled with this, the schedule has helped the most, that and being calm when I do wake and having a routine of things that I do in the middle of the night that allows me to go back to sleep without getting emotionally wrought up because I'm not sleeping when everyone else is. For me calm is really key. I hope this gets better for you. Thanks for all the projects and sharing of your challenges that you do.

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  48. My husband and I try to go to bed together. Usually this means bed by midnight. Even if I have insomnia, I try to at least lay in bed and relax unless it's really been racing really bad for more than a few hours.

    Also it usually means one of us nagging the other in what has become a running joke: "Honey it's bedtime, come to bed, it's bedtime, come to bed, it's bedtime..."

    When my husband travels and I'm home alone, I usually go to bed at 3 in the morning o-O so the same-time bedtime ritual is clearly a good thing.

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  49. Oh DANG, the jetlag blackouts. I used to work for a company with an office in Shanghai, and my boss normally went 2x/year but I went instead one visit. Caught a cold on the plane, spent 2 weeks in China sick as a dog and having to work and not really sleeping, ruptured my eardrum on the flight home, still went into the office my first full day back. My boss stuck his head in my office about 2pm and said, "You need to get on the road for home, NOW, before it gets you." I dawdled, didn't leave until about 4, got stuck in traffic, and started getting the nods so badly I had to crank the radio until I got to the next exit and then had a coffee nap in my back seat in a McD's parking lot.

    Spent the next two weeks just passing out wherever I was, somewhere between 6-8pm. My husband would just have to leave me on the couch/floor because there was no waking me up. Up until that time I'd had getting-to-sleep insomnia since childhood. After that trip it shifted to mid-sleep insomnia and has been that way for 14 years since.

    We have a bedtime and a bedtime routine, and it's only rarely disrupted for very special occasions. That's just how it has to be or we will drift all over the place on sleep schedules. Evening entertainment gets wrapped up at 10pm (+/- 15m) and we're in bed at 10:30.

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  50. Just thought I'd throw this in, in case anyone else has dealt with this: if you regularly wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back to sleep for an hour or two, there might not necessarily be something wrong with you - you might just be a throwback to pre-industrial times when sleeping in two phases was considered normal. The idea is that people would sleep for about four hours, wake up for an hour or so, using the time to write poetry or talk to neighbors or whatnot, and then sleep for another four hours. It's kind of hard to pull off these days with work schedules, but if you've dealt with sleep interruptions and you're stuck in quarantine anyway, you might give it a shot and see if it helps.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biphasic_and_polyphasic_sleep#Interrupted_sleep

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  51. My bed is also a battlefield. I've always struggled with falling asleep, and this shelter-in-place working from home scenario for the last almost two months has really plagued me. I'm staying up later than normal - and my normal was almost always after 1am. I also rarely easily wake up before 9 or 9:30am - if I do I'm usually miserable the rest of the day. But then it's no easier for me to fall asleep that night. Sleep is tough.

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  52. Sitting at my bedside under a dim lamp and working a word search puzzle that I have absolutely no interest in, or working a hard sudoku puzzle, will help me stop thinking and help me get tired. When I can no longer see or think straight, I turn off the light and drift to sleep in as little as two minutes.

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  53. I've struggled with poor sleep for years. I've gotten to a point where I do pretty well, and here's what works for me: get up at the same time (ish) every day. I usually wake up a little later on weekends, but I don't ever stay in bed all morning. Which brings me to - get out of bed. Don't hang out in bed when you're not trying to sleep. Stick to a routine as much as possible, get some fresh air and exercise, and go to bed when you're tired, even if it seems too early. I read every night before bed, and that calms my brain enough that I can sleep.

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  54. I am, by nature, a night owl who naps in the afternoon. Then children happened, and two out of my three hooligans are horrifically cheerful morning people. My youngest is an absolute bear in the morning who would sleep in until noon if allowed, and stays up wwaayyy past bedtime. Since I run on an "if I'm suffering, your suffering" mentality, he gets up with the cheerful two, and we both endure.

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  55. Strange times, indeed!
    I'm a life-long night owl who is "time-challenged" - I'm terrible at guessing time of day and have no perception of time passing. I have to think about how old I am when someone asks my age, and that started back in my 20s. I keep thinking and feeling like I'm decades younger than my real chronological age. That can be both helpful and not!
    The past few months is all a blur... I'm not sure what day/month it is... Why yes, today is Blursday!
    Without structured routine of a workday I'm rather adrift! But, being adrift with no sense of time, I'm surprised that it's already the end of May.
    When I've had to travel internationally, especially over the international date line, jet lag simply destroyed me. Oh, and daylight savings time? Just that hour change messes me up for at least a week.
    Amazingly I'm a very good and sound sleeper - so good that if I haven't slept at least 8 hours there's a chance I'll turn off my alarm in my sleep and keep on sleeping! I'm my best with 9 hours of sleep - and as I get older, less than 7 hours of sleep wrecks me the next day.

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  56. This was a compelling read; thanks for sharing it with the rest of us, disconcerting as it may have been to go through and then acknowledge. You did an impressive thing, bringing yourself back around from night shift to day. I feel ashamed to give anyone sleep hygiene advice, and thankfully it seems many wiser people have gone before me. I prefer offering advice that doesn't involve gadgets, but one gadget that has helped me with sleep issues is a 'wake up light' alarm clock. I've learned how to sleep through it to some degree, and the light is now brighter than light from my window, but something about having its regularity has corralled sleep patterns a bit, because I am waking up at a much more consistent time each day.

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  57. It's had the potential to be pretty brutal; I have only a few scheduled things in the week (despite working extra-full-time as a middle school teacher). I have this problem in general, and sometimes I'm fine, sometimes I take melatonin before bed, and a few times a year when I really need to reset things I'll take an ambien.

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  58. One of the best things in life is to find out "I'm not the only one!" So thank you for this post! I think I know what to do to change staying awake very late - now to find the motivation!

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