Sleep Disorders/Broken Sleep Cycle
For at least the past 6-7 years I have been dealing with something that seems abnormal. I typically go to sleep around 10-10:30pm and wake up around 5-5:30am for work during the week. Sometimes, on weekends, I'll intend to sleep in for another hour or so, but that often ends up backfiring on me.
It appears that in the 6-7am hour I regularly enter into another REM sleep cycle, which ends up feeling like the sleep is deep enough to be the middle of the night instead of the morning near the end of a night of sleep. It will be significantly more difficult to wake up at 7 than it was at 5:30, and I'll feel heavy, slow and groggy. I will often also have a slight headache with pressure behind my eyes. (Not sure how this relates to sleep, but it's coincidental enough it must be connected somehow.) If I don't use an alarm on those morning when I choose to sleep in, I can even sleep well beyond 6am, and it never matters. If I wake up on my own at 7 or 8 or 9, I typically only feel more groggy and like the REM cycle I'm in is equally as deep as it should be at 2am.
I would love to get back to a normal sleep cycle, where 7 hours of sleep results in waking up feeling rested and ready to enter the day.
A few notes that might help:
- I regularly drink coffee in the morning, typically with 1 mug after lunch
- I do not drink much alcohol, perhaps 1 drink at dinner (beer or wine) about 3 times a week
- I do not use tobacco products
- I am not on any prescription medication
- I was found to be Vitamin D deficient a couple years ago, and now take 5,000IU of D-3 on most days to supplement
- I will often do some reading on a tablet before going to sleep; when I read an actual book, I last about a page or two; a somewhat longer on the device (perhaps effect of the LED light)
- I eat a good diet, with my vegetarian wife cooking a variety of meals, and occasionally having some type of meat on the side with mine (very limited processed foods, if any; and not typically lots of fat or sugar in the diet)
I know it's not clinical in nature, but I've been using a sleep tracking app on my iPhone (Sleep Cycle) to try to get some of my own data. I attached an image of one of the Saturday nights I used it. It captured what appear to be 5 REM cycles, with one also occurring between 6-7am.
5 rem cycles in the exact number of rem cycles a normal sleep cycle will have. This just might be normal for you. I suggest you check some of my tips below.
TRY THESE TIPS RELIGIOUSLY FOR AT LEAST 4-6 WEEKS BUT MANY HAVE SEEN RESULTS IN AS LITTLE AS TWO.
3 HOURS BEFORE BEDTIME, STAY AWAY FROM, CAFFEINE, ALCOHOL, CHOCOLATE, EXERCISE, CARAMEL COLORED SODA LIKE COKE AND PEPSI AND GINGER ALE. ALL THESE MAKE FOR RESTLESS SLEEP.
30 MINUTES BEFORE BEDTIME TAKE A HOT BATH. LATEST RESEARCH FROM JOHN HOPKINS IS THAT PUTTING THE HANDS UNDER THE HOT WATER, PALMS UP, SENDS IMPULSES TO THE BRAIN THAT IT IS TIME TO RELAX FOR SLEEP.
15 MINUTES BEFORE BEDTIME, DRINK A GLASS OF WARM PLAIN MILK. MILK WHEN HEATED CONTAINS TRYPTOPHAN, A NATUAL AMINO ACID SLEEP INDUCER.
WHEN YOU GET INTO THE BED TAKE A FEW DEEP BREATHS, YOU ALSO CAN SET YOUR RADIO FOR SOFT MELLOW MUSIC HOWEVER,PUT IT ON A TIMER FOR 20 MINUTES. DO NOT TWIST AND TURN FOR MORE THAN 20 MINUTES. IF SO GET OUT OF BED,GO INTO ANOTHER ROOM AND READ A BOOK OR MAGAZINE, NO TV OR COMPUTER. WHEN YOU START TO DOZE, IMMEDIATELY GO BACK INTO THE BED. THIS RETRAINS THE BRAIN INTO THINKING THAT THE BEDROOM IS FOR GOOD RECUPERATIVE SLEEP. DO THIS AS MANY TIMES AS YOU AWAKEN THRU THE NITE. IT WILL LESSON AS THE WEEKS GO ON.
IF AFTER 6 WEEKS, NO IMPROVEMENT IS SEEN YOU SHOULD CALL YOUR LOCAL HOSPITAL AND ASK FOR THE NEAREST SLEEP DISORDER UNIT TO HAVE YOUR SLEEP MONITORED.
YOU CAN ALSO GO TO SLEEPNET.COM FOR MORE SLEEP FORUMS.