I am in my early 40s, live alone with my pets, and for the past few years I’ve gotten into a terrible sleeping habit. At night I conk out on the couch, sometimes as early as 8pm. Like, I set down and I’m asleep instantly. And I nap for 2-4 hours. And the nap isn’t good quality sleep. So then I get up, usually around midnight, and let the dog out and give everyone bedtime snacks, brush my teeth, etc. which takes about an hour. Then I go to bed and sleep for 4-6 hours. It doesn’t seem like that last set of sleep is very productive either. It seems to be bad quality. I’m tired all the time and I wake up tired. My dad does this too, so it might be genetic, but I don’t remember him doing it when I was a kid. I have tried so many times to stop doing this and it’ll work for a few days, maybe, and then I’m back to my old ways. I don’t have the discipline to fix it! Setting an alarm to go to bed doesn’t work either– I either sleep through it or turn it off. I could just get in bed at 8pm, but I don’t want to get in bed at 8pm. And lately I’ve been having trouble falling BACK to sleep once I get off the couch, and that is a new thing.
I know you’ve got readers who know a lot about sleep problems [ed. I think she’s talking about you, gwinne] as well as doctors… do you have any advice for me? I want to be less tired all the time!
Well, we seem to both be tired all the time even without falling on the couch and getting to bed later, so maybe it’s not the bad sleeping habits? And just general middle-age/overwork/stress from [gestures broadly]? Vit D helps #1 a lot, especially if she gets into the habit of taking it NOT right when she wakes up but a few hours later. (I think my body gets used to getting it first thing in the morning and is extra tired if it doesn’t have it yet.) And sleeping in two shifts was pretty normal before electric lighting, they say.
But it’s entirely possible that not getting a 7-8 hour stretch of sleep is problematic– you obviously know your body better than anybody.
Here’s some information on biphasic and interrupted sleep patterns. Most of the Dr. Google links seem to think it’s a good thing and the only problem with having a biphasic sleep pattern is not having a set routine for it. (Though this psychology today link ultimately ends on a negative note.) Terms that may be useful in your quest: biphasic, polyphasic, interrupted, segmented sleep. (Shift sleep just gives a lot of links about people who have to work overnight.)
Anybody in grumpy nation more knowledgeable about sleep than we are have advice for Couchsnoozer? Help!