View Full Version : Restricting sleep to help insomnia?

04-24-09, 12:37 AM
I have major problems getting to sleep at night, and have for the last two years now. I have problems getting to sleep at night-it'll be four or five am before I get sleepy and tired enough to go to bed. It started just before I got out of the military (no PTSD) and hasn't quit since then.

I was reading up today on alternative cures (I'm trying to put off medication as it's bad enough being dependent on one med!) and read that if you restrict sleep a bit at a time, the brain goes to REM faster.

Thus, if I tried sleeping for seven hours instead of my usual ten to twelve, it'd suck for about two weeks and then I should get adjusted and be fine on seven hours. I'd have to cut it down twice, make sure I'm up at x time every morning and in bed at x time of the evening.

Has anybody tried this for insomnia? I don't mind being on an alternate schedule except that nobody else is on it! It really restricts me socially so that I'm pretty much a hermit. :P

The other idea I read about was taking four two-hour naps throughout the day. It'd be pretty hard to have a job with a schedule like that though.

04-24-09, 01:01 AM
The best advice I've heard, assuming you're following good sleep hygiene, is to wake to an alarm every day at the same time. The idea being that you body will get into a routine and get you sleepy at the same time every night.

04-24-09, 01:02 AM
I don't know about restricting sleep, but I've been looking at some information on sleep disorders recently because I am having a very hard time the last few weeks getting to sleep, or at least getting any restful sleep, before about 1-3 a.m (I have to get up by about 6:00, so this obviously doesn't work).

One thing I found is that your circadian rhythm can basically come unhinged from the it's normal schedule (usually triggered by light and dark, amongst other things) for a variety of reasons. This one rang a bell with me:

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS): This is a disorder of sleep timing. People with DSPS tend to fall asleep at very late times and have difficulty waking up in time for work, school, or social engagements.

One other piece of information I found (can't remember where to provide the link, sorry) is that there is a low point in your circadian rhythm which basically marks the time you want to straddle your sleep around - basically half on each side. Otherwise, it's not likely to be beneficial sleep.

There are ways (detailed on line in many places) to adjust your circadian rhythm back to a more socially-doable schedule. I'm probably going to try them myself.

Anyway, whatever you do I wish you luck...sleep problems are definitely NOT fun.

04-24-09, 01:02 AM
I have never been able to sleep at night(by which I mean before 4:00 am) under normal circumstances for as far back as I can remember. I never tried specifically what you're contemplating intentionally, but I have noticed that in the past when I've gone through periods where I slept for 12-16 hours a day, I needed this amount, and was exhausted without it, and in periods where I regularly got 3-5 hours a night regularly, I did fine with this amount, and would feel really groggy and out of it if I slept for 14 hours.

So, it certainly seems like reducing your sleep hours from 10-12 should be doable, but I don't know how much it will help you sleep when you want to. The only way that I can sleep without medication, or melatonin, however, is by not sleeping at all, or sleeping for only 1-3 hours the night before, and this doesn't always work.

04-24-09, 03:53 AM
maybe the normal sleep pattern isnt for you...
i know i am an 'owl' and i would in theory sleep best if i can go to bed at 3 am and get up at 12 am. that isnt due to meds either, i've been like this since i was a child, a toddler even, its weird.
i dont know. i have considered trying a different sleep cycle if this rebound madness from mph im experiencing cannot be fixed. i'll just sleep 20 mins on mph, but often.

how that works? the brain adjusts, as you already stated correctly - deep sleep phases are not required for the brain (though rest is good for the body, it is not essential). only the REM phases are what you need. if you can cut down your sleeping cycle to ONLY REM sleep and NOTHING else, you can be fine with TWO HOURS of sleep a day.

different patterns of sleep:

obviously, the more and the shorter naps you take, the more you will have to stick to an EXACT pattern, so this may not be for everybody.
i think the everyman cycle could be a very good solution for me, at least for now, not sure about when i'm employed...

all info here:

04-24-09, 05:49 AM
i have the same problem
i dont usually fall to sleep til at least 4-5 in the mornin
im trying something at the moment
i missed a nights sleep last night so hopefully later on tonight ill be able to sleep erlier and wake up erlier
but i rekon ill need to catch up with sleep and probly sleep for long so then i wont be tierd the next night

04-24-09, 01:14 PM
Chartreuse, I've been thinking the same thing! I'll be bringing my sleep problems up with my doctor next time I'm in but that'll be a few weeks as we're about to move. :P

y-quantum, I've been considering that very carefully as well, but have been eyeballing the biphasic pattern instead of the everyman, as I'm trying to get a job still and it's hard to work when you need to be taking a nap, lol. That's what led me to the restricted sleeping idea, which as you mentioned should work out over time.

04-24-09, 01:15 PM
Driver, I've been trying to do this too but it's very very difficult for me to get up in the mornings. I'm going to give it a shot though and try to add some exercise in as well for the next few weeks while we're moving, and get to the doctor once we're settled in GA.

04-29-09, 11:01 PM
The best advice I've heard, assuming you're following good sleep hygiene, is to wake to an alarm every day at the same time. The idea being that you body will get into a routine and get you sleepy at the same time every night.

I think that can be very good advice.

One interesting thing, though, just to relate a bit of what I've noticed about my own recent sleep challenges, is that even though I do have an alarm set for the same time every day, it's like my brain literally wouldn't get out of sleep phase for several hours afterwords. I took my Adderall, I eventried adding caffeine to the mix, I tried exercising, and STILL there would be this heavy, fogged feeling to my brain to where I could just fall back asleep at any second.

It's a little better now - I am getting some quality sleep every night, but the problem is that I seem to only be inclined to sleep four or five hours, which obviously isn't enough.

04-30-09, 11:51 AM
chartreuse, this is similar to my own issue. I can take my adderall and go right back to sleep, ha ha...if you let me sleep until about noon though, I wake up just fine. Ready to go, chipper, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and all! It's weird.

And actually as long as you feel OK after 4-5 hours of sleep, it's OK to only get that much. Some people naturally go into REM phase sleep more quickly than others so they get what they need in those 4-5 hours. Likewise older people tend to need less sleep for whatever reason, lol.

adhd editor
04-30-09, 12:07 PM
Here is some advice from experts regarding ADHD adults and sleep. These articles are specifically tailored to ADHD adults. Hopefully you will find some helpful advice in these articles that will help get you on a more regular schedule. Sleep issues can really mess with your mental and physical health.

Good luck and sleep tight!

additudemag. com/adhd/article/5402.html

additudemag. com/adhd/article/1697.html

additudemag. com/adhd/article/5254.html

06-03-09, 04:29 AM
Tried waking up at the exact same time every day, but since I wasn't getting to sleep until 3 am or later all I ended up doing was giving myself a serious case of sleep deprivation. Hm. I'm glad I did it at my mother's house though, if I'd tried it at home I would've died in a car crash-I'm told I offered to drive my mother to the airport at 9 am (approximately 3 hours after going to sleep), but I was so exhausted I can't even remember the conversation!

I'm going to try working forward again (fancy name's "chronotherapy") and then sticking to an exact schedule to see if that will work. I've got a doctor's appointment the 9th (missed my last one because-you guessed it-I couldn't wake up in time for it!) and will be discussing this then. Around 2 pm, when I'll be a little more awake. ;)

Thanks guys, just checking in!

07-06-09, 05:18 AM
I've been 'free' sleeping for several months now without any meds. I believe that I have a delayed circadian rhythm disorder - for which there is no cure!! I usually get tired anywhere from 4am to 8am and sleep for 8-12 hours. I wake up refreshed when I do this. Sometimes out of the blue my sleep pattern changes and I can stay awake all day and then I fall asleep about 5pm and sleep really well for about 4 hours. This continues for about a week and then I go back to my old pattern. It's incredibly frustrating. If I force myself to stay awake or to get up I'm depressed and unmotivated and or/extremely irritable and hypersensitive to natural light and to noise. I've recently tried reboxetine and it has made my sleep worse. I took it at night for the first week and my day time sleep was light or non existent. When I took a dose in the mornings I slept OK for a bit but then woke up really depressed. I've tried so many medications that it becomes depressing in itself when yet another one doesnt work. I've been on dex in the past but dont want to be on it long term. I feel that I will have to go on it again in the short term just so I can live a normal life for a while and get to appointments with doctors so I can try and sort this sleep problem.