We can't make up for a sleep deficit by sleeping longer another day
January 15, 2018 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Sleep Scientist Warns Against Walking Through Life 'In An Underslept State' Walker is the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He points out that lack of sleep — defined as six hours or fewer — can have serious consequences.
posted by kaltsuro (84 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
 
We know that if I were to deprive you of sleep for an entire night — take away eight hours — and then in the subsequent night I give you all of the sleep that you want, however much you wish to consume, you never get back all that you lost. You will sleep longer, but you will never achieve that full eight-hour repayment, as it were.

I've seen a few variations on this statement and I still don't get what it's actually supposed to mean. Surely the effects of one-time sleep deprivation do eventually wear off - measurable cognitive effects, at least. Is the implication supposed to be that you can't recover in a single day? That it's still not understood exactly how the process of recovery works?
posted by atoxyl at 9:23 PM on January 15, 2018 [17 favorites]


My understanding is that so much of a single night’s sleep is processing memory and learning as well as emotional processing, that when you don’t get enough sleep, you just don’t lay down that information correctly. Unless you can just redo that day, it’s just gone/poorly processed.

That’s my take away from the book.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:28 PM on January 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


His book. It’s book is phenomenal, and has a ton of science based information on why we sleep, and more importantly what we’re losing out on when we cut our sleep short. And how we’re fucking out long term health when we are under swept.

I have had sleep problems my whole life, and this past year has been a traumatic clusterfuck, so my sleep has been even worse (sleepless nights, 2 hour nights, 4 hour nights, and maybe 5-6 hours. I’m finally managing some 7 and 8 hour nights, infrequently.) Im genuinely worried for my long term health. It probably sounds dramatic, but he lays out some damning evidence to the harm sleep deprivation does to our body and brain.

It’s honestly been the best book I’ve read in a long time. I want to buy a box of them and give them to others who can’t/don’t sleep. I want it to be required reading. I don’t want to die young, but as someone that rarely gets more than 6 hours on my best days, it sounds like this is a strong possibility for me. Yay!
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:35 PM on January 15, 2018 [23 favorites]


As a chronic insomniac, these kinds of articles always stress me out (which of course makes it harder to sleep, which... etc.)
posted by Dip Flash at 9:39 PM on January 15, 2018 [43 favorites]


Dip Flash, myself normally as well. With that said: read the book. It impressed upon me the importance in such a way that I am treating straightening my sleep out as the number one priority I have to deal with for my long term health. It’s that convincing. I know I sound a bit like an evangelist, but the book really opened my eyes to the importance of sleep in a dramatic way. He also talks about some solutions for insomniacs, so it might be worth looking at for that alone.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:47 PM on January 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


We can't make up for a sleep deficit by sleeping longer another day

I guess for me it's like: What are you spending that deficit on? There seems to be a marked difference between sacrificing two hours of sleep to giggle with your best friend or do something you find super engaging, and staying up two hours later just paging through social media or Youtube or the news. I have the most 9-to-5 life of my social group. If I sometimes arrange things with naps and short sleep to get to hang out with friends who work late, or to do something else I find super engaging, I don't regret it even when the next day drags. On the other hand, staying up later just to watch one more Youtube video? I usually regret that. Now, because tonight is NOT one of those nights, I am going to bed!
posted by Sequence at 10:14 PM on January 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Maybe this explains why my body is coming apart at the seams. I can't remember a night with more than four hours' sleep since I was twelve. I've tried all the sleep hygiene things, and every kind of supplement and medication I could get my hands on, but still nothing.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:00 PM on January 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


Heh. I am so screwed.

I've done a lot of really dumb things with my sleep schedule like work full time swing shifts for months on end and living like a vampire. The amount of side eye you get trying to pick up a beer and some kind of hot dinner at 9 AM is hilarious. If you go to a regular corner store or grocery store and do that with any regularity just like any other poor sack getting off of work you eventually have to have a conversation with people and assure them you're not slamming a six pack with a strangely heavy breakfast before work, and that you wake up at like 8 at night.

Also, suburban neighborhoods are intensely noisy during the day. You don't really notice this until you try to actually pretend it's night and go to sleep every day, and it's an endless roar of delivery trucks, mail trucks, landscapers and people doing regular old daytime things like setting up a table saw in their yard or revving the engine on their water ski jet boat. If one neighbor has yard service on a Monday, another has it on Tuesday, and someone else has it on Wednesday.

Then there was the like 2-3 years where I had a radio show from midnight until dawn every Friday and Saturday night, so I'd get off of work on Friday afternoon or evening, head down to the station, set up early by like 6-8 PM before a couple of other DJ/electronic based shows to get some DJ practice in, hang out for those shows, do my show until dawn after all of that, break down all the DJ/PA gear... and then I'd almost religiously go to the flea markets and swap meets with a friend to look for old synths and weird crap in a total sleep deprived fog, and then essentially try to stay up until at least early evening to reset my clock.

Or that was the theory, anyway. I'd sleep in on Sunday, go to bed fairly early Sunday nightand try to be back on schedule for another Monday-Friday week. I did variations of this kind of thing with that radio station for something like 6-7 years, and there were parts of it where I was going out clubbing and to after-after-hour parties all day on top of it, where I might not actually see daylight for 2-3 days straight.

I had a really hard time sleeping on Fridays for many years after I stopped doing that. It was really kind of intense how much I was trained to that pull an all nighter and then some every Friday.

On that note, I think it's time for a nap. I would say I was just going to bed but I woke up late, and I haven't really had dinner yet and, well... *shrug*
posted by loquacious at 11:00 PM on January 15, 2018 [15 favorites]


I and my doctors thought i had insomnia for 26 years. Starting in 6th grade and until a few years ago.
No caffiene, rigorous sleep hygiene, sleep studies, paps, cpaps, quiet cpaps, sedatives etc. once I stopped working schooling and working a job that required me to wake a 5am, that all went away. I sleep from 12:30am to 9am everyday no alarm, no pills, no pain and naussa in the mornings. I now work 2pm to 11pm and am soo much happier. Natural sleep is another tragic victim of modern economies and rigid institutions. That we make teenagers wake up extra early should be considered child-abuse.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 11:16 PM on January 15, 2018 [83 favorites]


So sleeping pills don't help you sleep, alcohol doesn't help... what about the weed, which everyone seems to be vaping and edible-ing these days?

I've taken Gravol (dimenhydrinate) to fall asleep early before an early flight, when camping at festivals, when taking long flights. It's a hell of a lot better than taking nothing.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:20 PM on January 15, 2018


I have been unable to sleep more than 4 hours a night for 45 years and counting. Guessing I am well and truly knackered after all.
posted by gideonswann at 11:31 PM on January 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm incredibly lucky in that I've been able to arrange my life such that it doesn't matter that my "sleep day" is approximately 26 hours. I can maintain a normalish schedule for about a week before it becomes untenable, so long as I have time to prepare so that my wake time is in phase with the rest of the world, but that's it. As the week progresses I sleep less and less, and feel groggier and groggier in the morning, and by early the next week I either have to pull an all nighter to force early onset of sleep or I'll be more and more out of it during the day until about a week later I'm back with everyone else.

Later in life, I discovered the magic of the siesta. Somehow the little afternoon nap gives my brain enough of a rest to be up at otherwise normal hours for at least a month or two. The problem comes when something interrupts the routine and I'm right back to square one. Still, it's nice to at least have the option sometimes. The only other way I can keep a 24 hourish schedule is to day sleep. Don't know why it works, but something about the sun being relatively low in the sky when I wake up and being just on its way up when I go to sleep tricks my brain into staying synced up with an Earth day, just at the wrong time.

Sadly, neither scenario is compatible with most traditional employment. Happily, there exist people who are willing pay for expertise even if it may come at odd hours. I suspect email has helped more people become comfortable with some of their help not always being immediately available during business hours. Also foreign outsourcing, in the same way.

I really should go experience a polar summer and winter sometime. I'd probably enjoy the months of darkness and light since the location of the sun in the sky makes zero difference to my quality of sleep as long as it isn't shining directly in my eyes.
posted by wierdo at 12:10 AM on January 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


I habitually deprive myself of sleep because the middle of the night is the only time I can manage to do anything for myself (non-work/parenting/etc related). If I slept 8 hours I wouldn't exist beyond my responsibilities. Go to hell sleep science, I need some simulacrum of a life.
posted by threecheesetrees at 12:14 AM on January 16, 2018 [30 favorites]


Well, at least now those depressive episodes where I sleep 10-11 hours a night and slowly whittle away at my standing in basically every social context that involves obligations to other people have an upshot
posted by invitapriore at 12:30 AM on January 16, 2018 [17 favorites]


My understanding is that so much of a single night’s sleep is processing memory and learning as well as emotional processing, that when you don’t get enough sleep, you just don’t lay down that information correctly. Unless you can just redo that day, it’s just gone/poorly processed.

Well that in itself makes sense, and one could say a similar thing for general health effects like obviously taking every opportunity to sleep is probably better for your body than every opportunity minus one. And I can also believe six hours one night plus ten the next does not exactly equal eight each. But if that is what they mean I feel like it gets phrased in a way that conflates it with the various deficits seen in very sleep-deprived people - reaction time etc. - in a way that's confusing and not particularly helpful.

Or is this gleaned specifically from learning studies? I mean as far as remembering things goes I have always done pretty well but I don't think that means there's no reason for me to try to get a bit more sleep.
posted by atoxyl at 1:00 AM on January 16, 2018


"Sleep should be prescribed" - Guardian article from last year which summarises much of which is in Walker's (fascinating) book.

Back in the 90's - when I was doing more intensive SW development work - I remember the phrase "sleep camel" being banded about - pull a few all-nighters and it will be tough - but you can sleep all you want after go live. The whole belief that this is an effective strategy to deal with life's demands is, of course very widespread. Scott explains that the reason that this does not work, is that our sleep is governed by both a build up of adenosine as well as by our circadian rhythms. When we get some time to catch up on lost sleep, we can't really sleep for more than about 14 hours before our circadian signals wake us up.

His analysis of just how much lack of sleep can impair our reactions, is also worth noting: Get up at 7am, work through the day and go to a party where you drink no alcohol. Drive home after 10pm and your driving performance will be starting to degrade badly. If you don't come home to 2am then the impairment will be the same as if you were over the alcohol limit. And actually the nature of the impairment from sleep deprivation is worse than with alcohol: with booze your reaction is slowed; when you have been awake for that long then you take "micro sleeps" of a few seconds where you have no awareness at all.

Finally: his analysis of how human sleep differs from other animals is great. If you are a tree dwelling primate then you can't do much REM phase sleep because your loss of muscle control will mean you fall to the ground. Because humans moved to sleep on the ground they could dream more (and he goes on to explain why that may have made a big evolutionary difference).
posted by rongorongo at 4:07 AM on January 16, 2018 [11 favorites]


We can't make up for a sleep deficit by sleeping longer another day

In Look Homeward, Angel, I think the main character's mother says something like this to him, in more colloquial language, because he's a young boy who wants to stay up late or something like that. I don't remember the details -- been near 30 yrs since I read it -- but I remember this idea, and it scared the hell out of me. Still does, sort of. I always liked to stay up late (still do) and would be chronically under-rested as a pre-teen & teen, and the idea of someone never making up on lost sleep just made me think of someone slowly transforming into a sleepwalking zombie, day after day of missing one more hour, one more hour, living a life constantly in a fog, and in that weak, unpleasant state you feel when you're overtired, just multiplied by 1000. Awful.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:23 AM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


We're finally discussing something that I'm actually good at. I'm not athletic or artistic or terribly eloquent but I am damn good at sleeping. I wear a fitbit to bed and it's rare that I get less than 7 hours of sleep a night and the device doesn't usually even register restlessness much.

On the other hand, I've never been able to push myself to work late when I needed to. I had to get through grad school while working full time knowing that I was never going to be able to stay up later than 11 no matter how important my project due the next day was. At eleven in the evening my brain sends me a notification telling me that I've got about fifteen minutes to brush my teeth and change before the forced shutdown.
posted by octothorpe at 4:41 AM on January 16, 2018 [17 favorites]


I'm 41 and I finally fixed my life-long insomnia. Two things: 1) I got my ADHD treated, which helped stop the problem of lying awake exhausted but with a racing brain that refuses to stop considering my own mortality, how I might crash in that next plane trip, that stressful thing I have coming up tomorrow, etc. and enabled me to keep a regular schedule for the first time in my life, and 2) Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia with sleep restriction.

For CBT for insomnia there's an excellent 4-part article on Psychology Today that lays out all the components. I had already been doing a lot of the sleep hygiene stuff. The clincher for me was the sleep restriction part. It's described in the article, and the formula for how to implement it is in the CBT for insomnia wikipedia page.

The other thing that seems to be a huge factor for a lot of people (based on reading reddit's insomnia sub) is just having a naturally late shifted schedule. In the book (which is excellent, btw) Walker mentions that around 30% of people are night owls, that it's genetic, and there's not much you can really do about it except trying to build your day around it as Anchorite_of_Palgrave mentions doing. You can wake up early with an alarm, but you're still not going to function fully until later in the day, and you'll still struggle to sleep at night.

I just got back from a month abroad where I was able to have my own schedule. I was going to sleep at 1am every night and waking up by 9am with no alarm, where my normal state is to be an utter zombie in the morning. It felt great, and made me realize how important it is for everyone's health to let people set their own work schedules.
posted by antinomia at 4:58 AM on January 16, 2018 [22 favorites]


I can easily sleep for 10 hours at a time. If anyone would like to employ me as a surrogate sleeper, let me know and we'll work out a payment scheme.
posted by pipeski at 5:01 AM on January 16, 2018 [10 favorites]


Another thing that people can do if you don't want to get up and go to a different room is actually try meditating. ... Being quite a stoic, hard-nosed scientist, I actually didn't really believe the data [about meditation as a sleep aid], even though the data is very strong. And I started doing it myself, particularly when I was traveling with jet lag, and I found it to be very effective.

This is my method and it work quite well.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:04 AM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


I've always been a terrible sleeper and it's hugely concerning. 4-6 hours a night, usually wake up once or twice. I work a 9-7 and don't pay attention in meetings, procrastinate projects, make small errors. I'm not a horrible employee but I sometimes wonder what my life and career would be like if I could just sleep like a normal person and run at 100% capacity. I legitimately don't remember the last time I ever got more than 8 hours, unbroken.
posted by windbox at 5:11 AM on January 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


I went through a few years in my mid-20s where I was more depressed-and-anxious than usual, and didn't sleep. Couldn't fall asleep, couldn't stay asleep, had lousy sleep when I did finally fall asleep, which is a cycle that feeds itself.

Then some things changed and suddenly I slept. It was the most amazing thing. I was able to fall asleep, stay asleep, and actually wake up rested. Obviously other factors were at play, but I cannot overstate the value of sleep on my quality of life.

And then we had a baby, who was a pretty poor sleeper, and I would find myself just falling asleep randomly throughout the day. I fell asleep in the shower once. Maybe twice. Non-catastrophic, thankfully. I'd fall asleep at 6 or 7 in the evening, trying to put the baby to sleep, and sleep on the cold floor until she woke up in the middle of the night. Fear of repeating this is the top thing making me wonder if we really ought to have another.

I really need my sleep.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:13 AM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Later in life, I discovered the magic of the siesta.

Walker does talk about the evidence - intuitive to anybody who has had to sit through a boring meeting after lunch - that humans are naturally bi-phasic sleepers. One of the reasons why sleeping 8 hours straight can be hard is that - whether owls, larks or neutrals, we are built to sleep six and a half hours - then catch another 90 minutes later on.

But trying to organise a way of life that lets everybody nap like lions in the afternoon is an uphill battle for today's world. He talks about how the recent decline in siesta culture - in places like Greece - has correlated with significant rises in heart disease.

Given a choice of things to focus on to improve our health, it is probably better to try to fix sleep first, diet second and exercise third.
posted by rongorongo at 5:44 AM on January 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


we are built to sleep six and a half hours - then catch another 90 minutes later on.

I'm awesome at the 6.5 hours of sleep a night thing. That's been my normal for most of my adult life. Now to work on that additional 90 minutes...
posted by COD at 5:57 AM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


The worst thing about insomnia is that it's fucking boring.

I've come a long way (i.e., had a lot of good support) toward healthier sleeping, but I still face challenges. But the older I get the less patience I have for not being asleep when I ought to be. If sleep really isn't working for me -- like if I can feel it's a lost cause -- I don't read a book or meditate...I just get up and do real things.

Wash dishes. Lift weights. Pay bills. Prepare things to take for lunch, or to set up dinners for easy success. Clean the litter box. Yoga, middle of the night breakfast, nice cuppa tea. Go for a run.

The never list? Never look at a television or play a game, because I find these induce sleep-like trances with none of the benefits of sleep. No reading. I read all the time, but not in the middle of the night.

Most nights these days I'm fine (for broad enough definitions of "fine" my wife would argue). But on nights when I'm not fine -- fuck it. Fighting insomnia is the pits. Just give up and enjoy your night-day!
posted by Construction Concern at 6:03 AM on January 16, 2018 [11 favorites]


I am a fabulous sleeper, probably because I only get 4-6 hours a night. I am so tired that as soon as I put my head down i'm out like a light. My problem is that I stay up till 1-2 most nights. Somewhere my brain is telling me that this is 'me' time, but I know i'm just cheating myself out of sleep. It's a bit of a worry because the long term implications are scary.

I've been like this since my first child was born 6 years ago, and it's only gotten worse since my second child was born in the summer. I really need to get a handle on it because it's going to kill me eventually. On days where I'm operating on 4 hours sleep i'm a zombie.

The idea of losing my 'me' time is quite stressful. Is there a suggestion that alternating between 8 and say 6 hours sleep is better tan just getting 6 hours?
posted by trif at 6:15 AM on January 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


My wife is one of those people who falls asleep in less than ten seconds (I'd guess that her record is 2-3 seconds) and then stays asleep until she wakes up in the morning. I don't have anywhere near the problems I had with insomnia that I had when I was younger, but I still regard it in awe as some sort of superpower.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:21 AM on January 16, 2018 [17 favorites]


I was a lousy sleeper my whole life, then I fixed it with heavy weightlifting. Trying to get stronger really drives home the you will never achieve that full eight-hour repayment. Strength increases only while the body rebuilds, and it rebuilds while sleeping. If you lose a night of sleep, you lost one of the 365 opportunities to get stronger that year.

On the body side, I'm getting an unignorable signal that I'm tired as the day ends and I knock right out when I get in bed.

On the behavior side, I'm not going to stay up looking at crap on the internet, I'm not going to drink coffee late. After you put in the work in the gym, every night is an opportunity to grow stronger that I'm not going to waste.

8 months ago I was not someone who saw myself as weightlifting and going to the gym, now I sleep like a rock. I started with something like this.
posted by bdc34 at 6:31 AM on January 16, 2018 [13 favorites]


My sleep has been dramatically affected by pregnancy. When I was pregnant with my daughter I started waking up around 2 am and being awake for one to two hours until I could conk out again. This has stayed with me after having kids (amazing sleepers, both of them), I can't remember the last time I slept the night through.

However, even that was nothing compared to what started happening this summer when I suddenly lost the ability to sleep deeply. It was only a couple nights at first, tossing and turning and just dozing for six or seven hours, then it started happening more often, and now it's every other night or thereabouts. I am EXHAUSTED and I can't even handle it anymore. The main impediment to sleep seems to be physical: I feel my upper arms tingle and twitch, very mildly, and it seems that it doesn't allow my brain to shut off. It's horrid.

I have an appointment with my PCP for the end of the month but I've started dreading going to sleep at night because I never know if it's going to be exhausting rather than restorative.
posted by lydhre at 6:49 AM on January 16, 2018


This was a timely post.

It's been really cold, and so in the evenings I've been tempted to sit in bed under my blankets with my laptop. I know it's not good for me. My circadian rhythm is definitely not aligned with when the world expects me to be awake. It takes work to "feel tired" at the right time, and the laptop... ruins that.

My mental health is so much better when I sleep well. My physical health is so much better. I need to put the laptop away.

Trying to get stronger really drives home the you will never achieve that full eight-hour repayment.

I noticed the same thing with running. If I get one bad night of sleep, I might feel fine throughout the day--as long as I'm busy, I don't really get too sleepy. But it's so obvious if I try to run. Suddenly, I'm running half the distance I expect to be able to without stopping.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:03 AM on January 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


My grandfather was perpetually sick all his life, and despite nausea and lack of appetite, forced himself to eat. He lived to run a family farm and survived four heart attacks and three strokes.

I've long maintained that just as Papa made sure he ate to stay healthy, we need to sleep to stay healthy.
posted by LN at 7:19 AM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


My daughter (2.5 years) sleeps 12 hours at night and another 2-4 hours every afternoon.

Trump anxiety has stolen my ability to sleep.
posted by rockindata at 7:34 AM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


eh, sleep is great, but I’m not buying that you can create a sleep debt that can never be repaid. Humans are more flexible than that. It’s not pleasant to be tired but it’s not a catastrophe.
posted by yarly at 7:39 AM on January 16, 2018


Yeah, well, you know, capitalism.
posted by Naberius at 7:41 AM on January 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


This is just shilling for Big Sleep.
posted by RobotHero at 7:44 AM on January 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


Needs a "that's where I'm a Viking!" tag.

the book really opened my eyes to the importance of sleep

Surely it's easier with your eyes closed.
posted by Foosnark at 7:45 AM on January 16, 2018 [9 favorites]


The problem is, when am I going to get it? Like many others, I work, can’t afford to live where I work, and have a two hour commute each way. I wish she could explain how that is of us who don’t have enough time to get eight hours can still manage not to kill ourselves.
posted by corb at 7:51 AM on January 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


I wish she could explain how that is of us who don’t have enough time to get eight hours can still manage not to kill ourselves.

I'm pretty sure the answer you're meant to take away is "you can't." (One could draw a corollary along the lines that to the extent the system requires that you be chronically sleep deprived it requires you to kill yourself.) If there was an exception to bodily needs for "yeah but I have to or else I'll not be able to support myself," they wouldn't really be needs.

I mean if this was an article about the health effects of, say, second-hand smoke, would you expect a bit about "but if you're someone who is forced to be around second-smoke all day here is how all of the things that I just said can be made not to apply to you"?
posted by PMdixon at 8:06 AM on January 16, 2018 [11 favorites]


I came in to say what I see corb just posted.

I'm all for more and better sleep, but first we need to redesign the workplace ethic and probably our grid that produces long commutes. Also our expectations for parenting, how Pinterest-friendly our homes, cards, events, etc. are, the amount of homework our kids need to do to acquire basics like a degree, and community involvement. And yes that includes keeping up with people whether on Facebook or text, and maybe being part of the cultural discourse by reading a book now and then. Also we still need to move our bodies around and make and eat healthy food.

I'm not a fan of sex-based lines of division of labour but the two-income trap to me is a lot of the root of this. Two 30-hr/wk jobs might help, but getting from here to there? Ahahahaha.

So this science is a good start but I don't expect there to be a solution in my lifetime and meanwhile it does make me feel bad.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:16 AM on January 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


I hate the implication that I could just fall asleep if I WANTED to. Never in my life. And yes I know about "sleep hygiene." That's a bandaid.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:26 AM on January 16, 2018 [10 favorites]


eh, sleep is great, but I’m not buying that you can create a sleep debt that can never be repaid.

I don't think it can never be repaid. I'm guessing it just takes longer than one night.

I saw a model for sleep deprivation somewhere that has a couple variables (we'll just call them X and Y, but the point is that there's more than one) that represent how alert/well-rested a person is. And those variables increase during sleep in the manner of a charging capacitor:
|
|                      ___________,-------
|          __,----'''''
|      _,-'
|   _,'
| .'
|/
+----------------------------------------
But they charge at different rates. So after one night of trying to catch up on sleep, variable X is back to normal, but maybe variable Y hasn't recovered until a second or third consecutive night of good sleep.
posted by Jpfed at 8:32 AM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


warriorqueen, it's a depressing suggestion that a degree is a basic thing that our children's generation needs to acquire. Yet another thing to add to the yoke of societal expectations.

But yes, the list of things that get in the way of sleep is horrendous
posted by trif at 8:34 AM on January 16, 2018


Given a choice of things to focus on to improve our health, it is probably better to try to fix sleep first, diet second and exercise third.

Fixing my diet and exercise fixed a whole host of mental health issues, including sleep problems for me. The resultant repaired sleep fixed a lot of the rest. Won't say I'm perfect, but man, if I don't eat right and exercise regularly, I don't sleep well, and if I don't sleep well and eat well and exercise, then I'm a terrible person to be around to the point that I don't even like myself.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:45 AM on January 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


I don't think it can never be repaid. I'm guessing it just takes longer than one night.

As someone mentioned upthread, the story I understand to be getting put forward is that sleep is not fungible. To the extent that some large portion of memory processing and formation happens when we're sleeping, it's not like the human brain has swap space. While there's a limit to the usefulness of computational metaphors for cognition, just think about the toy model of sender->event buffer->processor; if the processor backs up, at some point the buffer just starts losing events and they're gone, however much extra resources you devote to the processor after the fact.
posted by PMdixon at 8:51 AM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


warriorqueen, it's a depressing suggestion that a degree is a basic thing that our children's generation needs to acquire.

It is, and the costs of acquiring it right now seem huge to me...and my eldest is in only in grade 7! But he has some rotation of classes and teachers this year, and isn't the kind of kid who is easily on top of everything, and we have already had two weeks where multiple tests and assignments were due and he lost sleep, and then I lost sleep because I was helping him lose sleep first.

Now, part of why he lost sleep is that my husband and I both get home around 6-6:30 normally (although I have been career shifting which is helping some, but not entirely, yet), and some days he's at extracurriculars and some days he's at our home with my MIL. She doesn't force homework and getting him to do it is difficult so his start time is after dinner, so about 7 pm.

So he should really go to bed around 8:30 but now it's 9, 9:15. And he's not making it up. For math he has regular homework, challenge homework, and also online live tutoring/best-answer-videos, and it seems like if he doesn't do all that, he ends up with C+/B- which isn't a crisis except he wants to go to a particular high school, and he needs at least a B+ average.

And I realize that I am training him to forgo sleep for homework. Because I know he will be through high school and university. So that he can get a good job where, like his parents, he'll probably have to check email after dinner and do an hour around 9pm... it's freaking nuts. And GOOD LUCK to him affording a house near his work in Toronto. I mean we are hoping to help but the market's insane.

So I kind of hope this is the next non-smoking health crisis and we find an answer.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:57 AM on January 16, 2018 [9 favorites]


Jpfed about different charge rates -- yeah he mentions in the book that your first good night after sleep deprivation you'll do mostly deep sleep, and you'll only catch up with REM sleep during the next good sleep. I've been using a tracker that reports stages of sleep and I was surprised to see that, yep, this really happens.

Today, even. I just flew back from Europe yesterday which resulted in a day that was 6 hours longer than usual because of the time change, and only got 4 hours of sleep the night before. And it turns out that last night I did mostly deep sleep with very little REM.

And to echo everyone about exercise -- I've gotten more regular with my running and bodyweight training and it definitely helps with sleep. But I'd like to see policy changes that allow people to work a schedule that suits their natural sleep schedule and high schools to start later because it does take some privilege to be able to zonk yourself out with lots of exercise.
posted by antinomia at 9:04 AM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've always been a terrible sleeper, even when I was a teenager. It's not really an issue of going to bed late for me, I just wake up at 4.5 to 5 hours after whenever I go to sleep and either get out of bed or lay there until I'm supposed to get up. It's bad enough that I still remember the last really good night of sleep I got, almost 15 years ago now. I remember waking up clear headed and refreshed to a cool spring breeze coming through my window. I truly envy people who sleep like that all the time.

I'm making an active effort to improve it since I'm getting close to 40 and I think I'm feeling the effects of prolonged depravation. Earlier bedtimes, reading actual books before bed instead of looking at screens, focusing on finding the right mattress and pillow. I think my sleep quality is actually increasing, but length? Not so much.
posted by mikesch at 9:04 AM on January 16, 2018


Given a choice of things to focus on to improve our health, it is probably better to try to fix sleep first, diet second and exercise third.

But in my experience, you can't really separate the three. I mean, focus on getting better sleep by all means, but I doubt you'll get anywhere significant without somehow taking on the other two as well.
posted by philip-random at 9:30 AM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


YES to the natural sleep cycles. I also thought I had problems because I was lethargic every morning and couldn't sleep until midnight. It wasn't until I had several uninterrupted weeks free of work when I found out my natural cycle is something like 2am-12pm give or take. I've also discovered I need more sleep than average, and that's ok and not shameful. I guess we Americans have this sort of stigma against sleep.

It would be so great in several ways to have a sort of asynchronous society where there were more jobs working different hours. My mood and morning grogginess would be thankful for it.
posted by hexaflexagon at 9:32 AM on January 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


"Sleep should be prescribed"

Oh, believe me, all my doctors tell me I need to sleep more. But they can't seem to answer the question of how to make that happen.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:43 AM on January 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


To the extent that some large portion of memory processing and formation happens when we're sleeping, it's not like the human brain has swap space. While there's a limit to the usefulness of computational metaphors for cognition, just think about the toy model of sender->event buffer->processor; if the processor backs up, at some point the buffer just starts losing events and they're gone, however much extra resources you devote to the processor after the fact.

It makes a lot of sense for me. I've always been a night owl and an insomniac, and I've always had terrible long-term memory. If I'm being honest, I'm probably not going to change my habit all that much at this point (41 years old), especially considering I have a job that requires me to open the building at 7:00 (or occasionally 6:00) in the morning.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:50 AM on January 16, 2018


> I guess we Americans have this sort of stigma against sleep.

Absolutely. I had a brain injury two years ago and the best thing I could do for it was sleep. My doctor told me to sleep, my body told me to sleep, but I felt so ashamed about taking two naps a day.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:10 AM on January 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


Six years ago I pushed for a referral to a sleep clinic to find out why I was exhausted all the time, and it turns out that I have sleep apnea. I used to wake up, roll over, go back to sleep, repeat repeat repeat all night long and I thought that was normal. The first night I used a CPAP machine, I woke up in the exact same position 8 hours later with no interruptions. I can't even put into words how my quality of life improved with getting good sleep every night. I tell everyone - if you sleep but you are always tired, go get tested for sleep apnea. Btw, any body type can have it. The study that correlated fat and sleep apnea was falsified (first link on google but there's more).
posted by twilightlost at 10:22 AM on January 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


As someone mentioned upthread, the story I understand to be getting put forward is that sleep is not fungible. To the extent that some large portion of memory processing and formation happens when we're sleeping, it's not like the human brain has swap space. While there's a limit to the usefulness of computational metaphors for cognition, just think about the toy model of sender->event buffer->processor; if the processor backs up, at some point the buffer just starts losing events and they're gone, however much extra resources you devote to the processor after the fact.

Yes, I was aware of that interpretation before commenting, but it was amply covered and I wanted to supply another interpretation. (I am also a little skeptical; if sleep scientists were referring to the situation-specific memories that you fail to encode by virtue of missing sleep, it seems like they would express that idea more unambiguously/precisely instead of apparently making such an oblique reference.)
posted by Jpfed at 10:36 AM on January 16, 2018


very recently for the first time in approximately 10,000 years i got a solid 8h of uninterrupted sleep (that was not due to pain meds or illness), at a reasonable time (from like 1am to 9am), and when i woke up, and for the rest of that day, i was unsure if i'd perhaps died or been possessed in my sleep or something because everything felt impossibly, confusingly different. my brain was just casually thinking linear thoughts! i set myself tasks and immediately accomplished them in a order that made the overall accomplishing streamlined and easy! who knew this was even possible

long term sleep debt for me has been more detrimental than actual years of vigorous and enthusiastic drug abuse
posted by poffin boffin at 10:42 AM on January 16, 2018 [19 favorites]


For the past four years, a digestive disease has awoken me within three to five hours of going to sleep, every night. The awakening is followed by events which leave me in pain for a couple of hours afterwards, so it's safe to say my sleep schedule is disrupted as hell. Add in the fact that, as a life-long insomniac it takes me forever to fall asleep, even for naps, and I spend a considerable amount of every day trying to make up for my sleep deficit.

I can confirm that my memory is shot, my moods are awful, and my cognition has suffered.

I've been having less trouble falling asleep for the past few days, though, thanks to the cognitive shuffle.

I read about the app, but I've figured a way to do it in my head that sends me off to sleep pretty promptly. Which is astonishing given the number of nights I've spent in futile, restless rumination.
posted by MrVisible at 10:50 AM on January 16, 2018 [12 favorites]


Yes, there's a War on Sleep that's been going on for a long time.

I've been trying to both get more sleep and to get to bed earlier for the last two years. I used Sleep Cycle and it's have had some marginal improvements for both, but it is hard to keep those improvements. It gets harder for me during Fall/Winter usually because of the seasonal change, the end of daylight savings, and the holidays.

I worked the night shift a decade ago and still feel that the bad habits and effects on wakefulness still linger to this day.
posted by FJT at 10:51 AM on January 16, 2018


But I'd like to see policy changes that allow people to work a schedule that suits their natural sleep schedule

It's a small thing, but I think Congress should pass a bill that kills daylight savings.
posted by FJT at 10:55 AM on January 16, 2018 [10 favorites]


The cognitive shuffle effect explains why listening to just interesting enough podcasts (or very interesting ones I've heard before, Slow Burn is awesome at this!) puts me to sleep. While being pregnant I can't treat much of my depression/anxiety/ADHD so have had lots of fun battling insomnia, which I'm prone to anyway. Thanks for the reminder to prioritize sleep hygiene.
posted by emkelley at 10:57 AM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


By filling the mind with nonsense, you trigger the sleep switch. Yet the technique also works for a simpler reason: it’s hard to focus on multiple things at once

yikes so how does this technique work for people with adhd whose minds are a box full of screaming possums strapped to the front of a moped speeding through time square
posted by poffin boffin at 11:08 AM on January 16, 2018 [13 favorites]


Dear Professor Doctor Scientist: Fuck You. If I could sleep longer I would. Don't tell me what I'm doing wrong, tell me more - beyond the obvious, which isn't working - about how to fix it.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:22 AM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


poffin boffin, exactly. One of my techniques is reading escapist sci-fi before bed so I can put myself in the setting and talk to the characters while I try to fall asleep to give my brain something innocuous to chew on. Similar to cognitive shuffle but my brain would never cooperate with the actual cognitive shuffle thing.

It tends to work as long as my adhd meds are in alignment or I'm sufficiently tired and nothing big is happening the next day -- but otherwise my brain has it's own agenda and will only place nice for about 2 minutes before surfacing thoughts about my own mortality or whatever stressful thing is coming up. The closer I get to actually falling asleep, the less control I have to steer my brain back to happier thoughts, so basically g'bye any chance of sleep within the next two hours.
posted by antinomia at 11:25 AM on January 16, 2018


Dear Professor Doctor Scientist: Fuck You. If I could sleep longer I would. Don't tell me what I'm doing wrong, tell me more - beyond the obvious, which isn't working - about how to fix it.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:22 PM on January 16 [+] [!]


I mean, you could start by removing the iron rod from your head.
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:26 AM on January 16, 2018 [30 favorites]


"Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain," Walker says. "Many people walk through their lives in an underslept state, not realizing it."

1) I'm entirely aware that I don't get enough sleep, and that it causes me real problems.

2) This is not for no apparent gain; it's nicely working to keep me distracted from my depression, my household problems, and my politics-inspired rage. It may be slowly killing me, but it's doing the job I assigned to it.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:51 AM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


I was a morning person most of my life. Worked a 6am-230pm job and loved it. No problem waking up in the morning or going to bed at a reasonable time to get enough sleep.

And then three years ago, I started having trouble where there were days that I literally could not get out of bed before 10am. Checked all the physical stuff, checked my depression, fixed what I could, and it still persisted. I luckily had a lenient boss who didn't care when I got there as long as my work was done. I was still incredibly tired in the mornings and sluggish throughout the day.

Then I quit that job for a better job--a part-time better job. That meant I had to be at work at 10am one day per week and 9am two days per week. Rest of the days I could sleep as late as I wanted. Got a second part-time job that had me working 3p-1130p F-Sa-Su. It's absolutely perfect. I still have trouble getting up on my "early" days, but I can sleep my normal sleep schedule on my late days. For me, that's 11pm-1230a to 11a-1p.

I do get people telling me that there must be something wrong with me that I need so much sleep. I just need a lot of sleep at this point in my life. I have done sleep studies and other medical tests and it comes out that I just function best with 12+ hours of sleep per night. I get the sleep shaming that someone mentioned upthread.

I also noticed something else when I became a not-morning person, which is how much I had correlated morning-ness with discipline, motivation, and being an all-around better person. I didn't realize it, but I had also put in my head that people who wake up late are lazy, unmotivated, don't get things done, etc. When I became a sleep-late person, I had to work on not thinking of myself as a horrible lazy person because I need to sleep late.
posted by catwoman429 at 12:07 PM on January 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


The episode of Fresh Air on which this post is based aired last fall. As someone who seems to need closer to nine hours of sleep (and would take them between 1:30 A.M. and 10:00 A.M. if I could find a way to do so while remaining employed), I felt pretty vindicated by it at the time. The excerpts posted here don't really do the full interview justice. My impression was that Walker really does have a sense (well, as much of a sense as a tenured professor can have) of how difficult it is for people to get the sleep that they need given all of the societal and economic pressures that people have mentioned here. He seemed quite outraged by the idea that we (especially in the U.S.) shame people for being night owls, or for simply admitting to needing a full eight hours (or more) to feel fully human, and I think he sees himself as helping in the best way that he can by repeating how vital it is to our health - and backing it up with research - whenever and wherever he has an opportunity to do so. At the very least, it's a counterpoint to the GO GO GO CAFFEINATE narrative that's pushed everywhere else.
posted by Anita Bath at 12:11 PM on January 16, 2018 [10 favorites]


Here's an excerpt from the Guardian article linked above that gets into the stigmatization aspect a bit more:
But Walker believes, too, that in the developed world sleep is strongly associated with weakness, even shame. “We have stigmatised sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting. It’s a badge of honour. When I give lectures, people will wait behind until there is no one around and then tell me quietly: ‘I seem to be one of those people who need eight or nine hours’ sleep.’ It’s embarrassing to say it in public. They would rather wait 45 minutes for the confessional. They’re convinced that they’re abnormal, and why wouldn’t they be? We chastise people for sleeping what are, after all, only sufficient amounts. We think of them as slothful. No one would look at an infant baby asleep, and say ‘What a lazy baby!’ We know sleeping is non-negotiable for a baby. But that notion is quickly abandoned [as we grow up]."
posted by Anita Bath at 12:31 PM on January 16, 2018 [6 favorites]


I’ve made this argument for many years. I don’t believe sleeping longer one day can make up for the lack of sleep one suffers from the night before. I have suffered from sleep deprivation for various different reasons over the course of my life. In some of the cases, I’ve tried to “catch up” on sleep but sleeping more only made me woozy.

As I’ve gotten older, I have found my sleep was about quality not quantity. I am able to fall asleep but not able to stay asleep in my more recent years. In my younger years, it took longer to fall asleep but I was able to sleep the entire night through. There is also the question of what I dream about when I finally fall asleep. Sometimes I’ll sleep straight through and for hours that satisfies the healthy recommended amount, but the dreams may be violent or stressful or hectic so then I’m exhausted when I wake.

My question is, what is the right amount of restorative sleep for a person to be considered healthy? The amount of sleep can’t be the only way to measure what is healthy. Then how does one control the brain activity to correct the sleep disorder? I
Also, in Chinese medicine, there are restorations of different parts of a body at different hours of the night when a person sleeps. What happens when I go to the other side of the world and 9am is now 9pm? Is my body unable to restore if I’m now at a different time zone? How many days does it take for the body take to figure out when it does what?
posted by Yellow at 12:52 PM on January 16, 2018


Like most things, one of the problems is that it's different for everyone and we're always talking about the one magic cure or rule for all.

I've always been an insomniac. Part of it is just being a night owl, my sleep-wake schedule would run much longer than 24 or 26 hours if I ever went with it. But I feel part of it is chemical.

I can stay awake as long as I want (within reason) without any chemical stimulants. I will lay in bed in a dimly lit quiet room and read a book and get engrossed until the sun comes up, and have to make myself quit. There have been many times in my life when I'm perfectly happy, my mind isn't racing, I'm not thinking about anything, just laying in bed perfectly relaxed and still for hours at a time. Not sleeping. But once I'm asleep I'm out for a good long time, and very rarely wake in the middle.

Melatonin is a wonder for me. When I first started taking it I was stunned. I didn't feel drugged, just sleepy. What is this "sleepy"? It was a bit unsettling. I can still stay awake if I want after taking melatonin (and Benadryl somtimes). I've talked to other people and they say it has no effect on them. Or really unpleasant effects.

Exercise exacerbates my insomnia. I find it very hard to sleep on days I've worked out hard, and don't sleep as easily in general when I'm exercising regularly. There's some weird metabolism thing going on.
posted by bongo_x at 1:05 PM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh, and my new insurance will only pay for 15 doses of Lunesta a month. I guess they expect one night's sleep to make up for the previous night's lack thereof.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:11 PM on January 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


"Second sleep" (the way people used to sleep a century ago, described here e.g.) has been a helpful concept for me. If I wake up earlier than I want, I do something non-intensive for a time (15 minutes to a couple of hours).

Then, if I get that 'fading-away' feeling, it's back to the rack. Elsewise, a 'siesta' when possible is way better-than-nothing.

I need more sleep than most people, and defend that necessity vigorously. Anyone who doesn't like it is allowed out-of-my-life.
posted by Twang at 4:40 PM on January 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


That we make teenagers wake up extra early should be considered child-abuse

This was a while upthread, but I've always wondered if part of the reason I bombed high school and dropped out was because it started so insanely early. 7:25 in the morning! I think I got between 2 and 4 hours of sleep a night. I was so exhausted I literally could not stay awake. I would sleep through the first four periods of the day, and then I'd struggle to stay awake the rest of the day. Some teachers would be hurt, acting like I didn't care about their class or the effort they put into teaching. Some teachers would actively make fun of me in front of the other students, standing over me, making jokes about me while everyone laughed (and I only know because friends would tell me after the fact).

It became a running joke; friends would tell teachers "oh, it's nothing personal, shapes just sleeps through all his classes before lunch." It was like I was a background character. I was like the guy in Half Baked who is always sleeping on the couch. You know, it's his thing.

No one ever asked me if I was OK, or if there was a problem. If you're so tired that you can't stay awake in an American classroom, it's not cause for concern, it's evidence that you're just a troublemaker who can't make the same effort as everyone else. I'm amazed I lasted as long as I did.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:07 PM on January 16, 2018 [14 favorites]


Trump anxiety has stolen my ability to sleep.

That recent Bay Area earthquake, which I guess lasted about thirty seconds but which only woke me during the last quick but explosive shock, sent me right into "OH GOD IT'S HAPPENING WHERE ARE MY ECLIPSE GLASSES"-type thoughts, but it's probably telling that the only reason I actually got out of bed soon after was because I had to pee.
posted by invitapriore at 6:21 PM on January 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


My entire sleep life got so much better after CPAP. It even solved my insomnia problems. Apparently I was subconsciously dreading hours of not breathing during the night.

A true miracle.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:06 AM on January 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


> But Walker believes, too, that in the developed world sleep is strongly associated with weakness, even shame. “We have stigmatised sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting. It’s a badge of honour.

Two can play at that game, capitalism; "You stayed up until 3 AM working on some bullshit project for a company which doesn't give a damn about you? What a loser."
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:48 AM on January 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


This was a while upthread, but I've always wondered if part of the reason I bombed high school and dropped out was because it started so insanely early. 7:25 in the morning! I think I got between 2 and 4 hours of sleep a night. I was so exhausted I literally could not stay awake

Walker does talk about the fact that teenagers are super night owls and hence definitely not morning people. This is in marked contrast to most adults and younger children. There is a theory that this could be nature's way of allowing them a degree of independence from their parents - distance achieved with body clocks rather than physical separation.
posted by rongorongo at 7:14 AM on January 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


A few years ago I quit my job and started freelancing/consulting. I didn't make much money, but I got A LOT of sleep. I can't tell you the number of times I would see old friends/past co-workers who would joyfully tell me how good I looked! No makeup, no fancy hairdo, no spiffy suit. The magic formula is 8 hours of sleep + 0 asshole bosses. sigh. I miss those days . . .
posted by pjsky at 7:27 AM on January 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


Some teachers would actively make fun of me in front of the other students, standing over me, making jokes about me while everyone laughed (and I only know because friends would tell me after the fact).

Are you me? Heh. I was always a night owl and even today I hate being awake before noon if I have a choice. In addition to 7-8 AM HS start times, I was also being sent to early morning LDS seminary every day at 6 AM. Which mean I had to be up at like 4:30 at the latest. Even back then it was rare I fell asleep before midnight or even 1 AM, so 4:30 AM wakeups are just totally not ok.

Oh hell no, almost every time I walked into that church I turned the wrong way and would take a nap in an empty room. Screw everything about that noise and learning LDS dogma at 6 in the frickin' morning in particular.

But this isn't the real story I want to tell, which is one about getting back at a teacher for making fun of me for sleeping.

It was an English Lit class. I was passed out cold on top of my textbook, snoring and drooling. She'd apparently been calling on me for a few seconds before my friend turned around and shook me awake, at which point I was starting to be aware that I was being asked a quiz question.

What my teacher didn't yet know was that I was one of those underachieving stealth nerds that does things like read all of their textbooks by the end of the first week in class out of sheer boredom. She also didn't know I was a voracious reader in general, and that analyzing literature wasn't some strange new land due to growing up in a family full of bookworms and authors. All she knew was that I probably looked like a punk rocker stoner dropout.

"I'm sorry,, can you repeat the question?" I replied, opening my textbook, which by dumb luck or maybe because I had the text book open to this page earlier, but I managed to open it to the exact page with the end of section quiz on it, where I found the question she was asking, and then I already knew the answer before she finished repeating the question.

I answered the question succinctly, gave my brief analysis, closed my textbook and immediately put my head down to go back to sleep.

My teacher stammered for a second and said "Well, I guess you can learn by osmosis..." and never called on me to make an example out of me like that ever again.
posted by loquacious at 12:12 PM on January 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


I think you just told my story except my teachers didn't really hassle me much. I guess they'd figured as long as I learned the material there wasn't much to get upset about. They'd regularly call on me like I was awake, someone would nudge me and I'd answer the question, take the test, go back to sleep.
I slept through my entire senior high school year since I only had a half day of classes, and then went to my full time job and then band rehearsal, or playing clubs.

I swear one of my teachers used the osmosis line.
posted by bongo_x at 1:16 PM on January 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I wish the CPAP worked for me. I've tried multiple masks and level adjustments and humidified hoses and mask liners and there is no way I can sleep with it on. Just as I get used to the air pressure and get sleepy (about 30 minutes - 1 hour), the mask leaks and blows air on my cheeks, in my eyes, etc. So I adjust and tighten the straps, try again, repeat about a half hour later. No, I cannot use the kind that only goes in your nose. No, really, I cannot, please do not suggest it.

So, I gave up on that a couple years ago and most of the time I sleep like a baby. I never get the daytime sleepiness or other symptoms that people with sleep apnea are supposed to get, so there's no ROI for the misery described above. Yeah maybe I'll die in my sleep one night but there are worse ways to go.
posted by AFABulous at 7:09 PM on January 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've just used an Audible credit on Walker's book, it's exactly what I've been looking for.

Last year, I finally got a sleep study done after years of waking up feeling groggy and dizzy and having memory issues, and...I don't have sleep apnoea. I mean, it's not a condition you'd want for fun, but my respiratory consultant was sure I had it until he saw the results, so it's all the downsides and none of the remedies. I really thought I was headed towards a CPAP and a future of sleeping well, losing weight, feeling clearer.

It feels weird and babyish to need more sleep than most people - between waking up a few times every night and time to doze off, I'm starting to find I do best on 10 hours, and I like getting up early. Traveling with a group, I have to try really hard to get to bed early or I will be nearly in tears by midday when everyone else is doing fine. My partner (who needs 6-7 hours) is really understanding - not least because it's more fun to be in a relationship with a human than a drowsy bear - but telling anyone else makes it sound like I enjoy bathing in French mineral water while my staff prepare my clothing.
posted by carbide at 2:47 AM on January 29, 2018


Last year, I finally got a sleep study done after years of waking up feeling groggy and dizzy and having memory issues, and...I don't have sleep apnoea. I mean, it's not a condition you'd want for fun, but my respiratory consultant was sure I had it until he saw the results, so it's all the downsides and none of the remedies. I really thought I was headed towards a CPAP and a future of sleeping well, losing weight, feeling clearer.

I have an initial appointment with a sleep clinic next month. I told my shrink that I hope they find something physically wrong with me like a thyroid problem or sleep apnea or something, because then at least I'll have some sort of solution I can implement. I want to be 'sick' so that the possibility of being 'well' exists, instead of this just being my normal.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:17 AM on January 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I tested negative for apnea, too. I asked the doctor what else the tests showed, what were my options for other treatments, and stressed again how much the lack of sleep was ruining my life, and he literally shrugged, huffed, and threw his hands in the air, and kept repeatung that I didn't have apnea, so there was "nothing really wrong." There was a lot of, "Well, I don't know what to tell you," "What exactly is it you expect me to do," and "Are you seeing a psychologist?"

It's the only time I've ever just gotten up and walked out on a doctor.

I mean, I was hooked up to at least five different kinds of sensors, and NONE of them could shed ANY light on ANY problem besides apnea?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:16 PM on January 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


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