Can't sleep to my wake up time despite following Stimulus Control

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Martin Reed 1 week, 3 days ago.

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    ✘ Not a client

    My Sleep window while undergoing SRT (Sleep restriction therapy) is currently 12:15am-6:30am.
    I generally am able to fall asleep within 5-10 minutes however I continue to wake up anywhere between 5am and 6:15am, usually somewhere in between – lets say 5:30am.

    Despite getting out of bed and sucking it up until its time to go work or past 6:30am, I usually almost never am sleepy enough (tired? yes indeed) to go back to bed and never sleep through until my designated wake time.

    How long does Stimulus control take to work?
    Will I ever be able to sleep through to my designated wake time of 6:30am?
    Initially my sleep parameters were 2-7am and I used to wake up around 6:15am…it seems no matter what I can’t make it to my designated wake time but I assure I am still tired and do not feel my best throughout the day.


    Martin Reed
    ★ Admin

    Sorry to hear about your issues with sleep. When you wake before the end of your sleep window, what makes you decide whether or not to get out of bed? Do you ever go to bed before the start of your sleep window, or nap during the day?


    ✘ Not a client

    I choose to get up when it’s apparent I’m awake/alert/frustrated and/or anxious… usually 10-15 mins max.

    I NEVER nap.

    Rarely do I go to bed before sleeep window but sometimes by 5 or 10 minutes to time sleep w window. I generally fall asleep within 5-15 mins max.

    I’m getting better about getting up when I can’t sleep where I used to go to couch (And go back – you told me that wasn’t good unless I wanted to sleep on couch for the rest of time) so I stopped that. Now I just wake up and read, make coffee, and start my day once the sun comes up and go about my day. I don’t worry about it but still I continue to wake up around 430-520… somewhere on there. No apparent reason.

    Not eating, smoking or drinking before bed (most nights – so when I do I know that may have been a factor) bedroom is cool, dark, and comfy bed and sheets. Perhaps I just need more time and consistency?


    Martin Reed
    ★ Admin

    So, if I understand you correctly, your current sleep window is 12:15am to 6:30am — but you often wake somewhere between 4:30am and 5:20am. Is that right?

    This suggests that your average nightly sleep duration is somewhere around four to five hours (if we allow you some time for falling asleep at the start of the night). Does that sound right? If so, you might find it helpful to reduce your sleep window a bit (somewhere around five-and-a-half hours might be beneficial).

    How do you feel when you wake between 4:30am and 5:20am? Do you feel rested? Do you get through your day pretty well, or do you experience very high levels of fatigue and/or sleepiness?

    Before you had any issues with sleep, when did you usually go to bed (roughly) and when would you get out of bed (roughly)? Were you more of a night owl or more of a morning lark?


    ✘ Not a client

    Yes – that’s correct, 12:15 to 630am and seems to always wake up from around 4:30-520 I gather as that’s been the case but I no longer look at the clock. Recently I’ve started being able to return to sleep and I suppose I attribute this to be less preoccupied with sleep and less anxious. But not always; that still a new thing maybe 5-6 times.

    When i wake at this time I am not refreshed or ready to get up and am tired, clearly in need of more sleep. Part of the problem is I wouldn’t know what to do and couldn’t settle down as I was just focused and upset that I wasn’t sleeping, irritated,
    Miserable. Used to be more panicked but now I’m more “who cares? Whatever, it’ll pass” and I attribute that to having some good nights.

    When I get 4.5-5 hours or less than that yes I feel tired, anxious, wired but beat and zombielike and grumpy, not in control of my emotions.

    I’ve always been a night owl. In my 20s I’d stay up until 1130 at the earliest to 2:30am – sometimes 3 or 4am if I was partying. In my 30s I had to adapt and weeknights typically did 1130pm-8pm… in early 30s became weird about sleep and wouldn’t be well rested – I suppose I was drinking regularly. For a short time a girlfriend would sleep over and id emulate her going to bed habits and that worked for me until We broke up and I went back to hanging out at bars til late and smoking cigarettes.

    In my late 30s to early 40s (I’m 42 now) after breaking up with a girlfriend at 39 I went into an extremely anxious nightmare until just a month ago or so when trying sleep restriction – which I feel has saved me from a much worse hell.

    I’m not perfect now but I feel more armed w the coping skills and confidence to know I can sleep. There is nothing scarier than thinking you’ll never be able to sleep enough or like a normal person or at all again. Terrifying to the soul – it is getting better and this week I’m on a roll with good sleep efficiency even though I haven’t been strict all nights on sleep restriction. I’ve been sleeping through but going to bed past my beginning of window.’

    I’m wondering what causes one to wake up at that time everyday. I’d really love non fragmented sleep but at least I suppose I am somewhat able to sometimes go back now though it’s not certain and when it happens it usually light or on and off in a light sleep.


    Martin Reed
    ★ Admin

    Great to hear that you’re no longer checking the clock when you wake! I think the fact you no longer worry about your nighttime awakenings is key to your recent improvement.

    As you have also experienced, sleep restriction can really help build sleep drive and observing a regular (and appropriate) sleep window also helps the body clock follow a predictable rhythm. The result is less time awake during the night — and this means less time available for worrying about sleep, too!

    Going to bed after the sleep window starts isn’t a big deal, and in fact it can be a good idea if you don’t feel sleepy enough for sleep when the sleep window begins. The real key is to try making sure you are always out of bed by the end of your sleep window so your body clock has a consistent morning anchor and you allow enough time for sleep drive to build during the day.

    To answer your final question, you might find it harder to fall back to sleep when you wake between 4:30 AM and 5:20 AM because sleep drive is low by this point. When you combine a significantly reduced level of sleepiness with any remaining sleep-related worry or anxiety, it can be hard to fall back to sleep.

    Finally, it’s important to bear in mind that it’s completely normal to wake during the night — it is our response to these awakenings that determine how easy (or hard) it will be to fall back to sleep.


    ✘ Not a client

    Thanks Martin – you’re doing gods work here and are as important for insomniacs as a cardiologist is to a person with heart problems. I try to blow up your name on my sleep groups as you get it always on point, correct, and lack fluff – you use good examples and detailed language in a meaningful instructive but non judging way. Some people have the gift to teach; I appreciate you sharing stuff that works. I’m so greatful I didn’t get hooked on benzos and went this route. Thanks again


    Martin Reed
    ★ Admin

    I really appreciate the kind words — do keep in touch!

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