Sudden bouts of little – no sleep

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Martin Reed 4 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #31333

    ✘ Not a client

    I’ve had sleep problems on and off since my early 20’s, I’m now almost 30. I struggle with anxiety and have been on a low dose SSRI for almost two years, which helps me with overall anxiety but not so much sleep.
    This summer I moved cross country with my boyfriend and are living with my family on the east coast. I knew this would be a huge adjustment for me and that it might cause some restless sleep, which it certainly has.
    I’ve had one fully sleepless night and many nights of only 3-4 hours. I wake up between 2 and 4 AM every night. It’s a vicious cycle because now when I awake at 2 AM I am so worried that I won’t be able to fall back asleep I end up riling myself up more. I’m exhausted and luckily not working for another 2 weeks, but not able to enjoy my days off as I’m so tired. After a solid week of it I’m really feeling the effects. Falling asleep isn’t the issue it’s just waking up super early.


    Martin Reed
    ★ Admin

    Welcome to the forum, tiredtraveler and thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear about your current struggle with sleep.

    It sounds as though you are someone who may be a bit more predisposed to sleep disruption so when a precipitating event occurs (such as a big move) you may be more likely to experience sleep disruption. With that being said, it would be very unusual for you to move across the country and not experience any change in your sleep — at least over the short term!

    The key to getting your sleep back on track is to avoid the behaviors that perpetuate sleep disruption — things like spending more time in bed, staying in bed when you can’t sleep, napping during the day, trying to conserve energy, and modifying your life in an attempt to compensate for lost sleep.

    When do you typically go to bed at night, and when do you get out of bed to start your day in the morning?


    ✘ Not a client

    I go to bed between 9-9:30 PM and aim to wake up between 4:30 and 5:30 AM. I tend to stay in bed until that time even if I wake up around 1 or 2 AM and can’t fall back asleep. I know it’s best to get out of bed after 20 min but I often worry that getting up and moving to another room will wake me up even more. I can certainly try it though.

    I am trying to be patient during this time as it’s a huge transition for me and not only have I moved across the country but I’m starting a new job in 2 weeks, so I know the restless nights are linked to all this change. It is hard however to function normally and I find myself getting very irritable and frustrated during the day. I also worry about sleeping at places that are not familiar to me and find myself very anxious before a weekend away as it’s out of my comfort zone and I worry that I won’t sleep in a new place.

    I’m trying not to let the sleep deprivation and fear of no sleep win by doing these things anyway, even if I feel worried beforehand. I’m really hoping I’ll be back on a somewhat normal sleep schedule soon.


    Martin Reed
    ★ Admin

    Did you try the process of getting out of bed when unable to sleep? Although it’s understandable to think that this can wake you up even more, if you are already spending a long amount of time in bed awake, it’s unlikely that getting out of bed will lead to more time awake.

    In fact, this strategy usually has the opposite effect since it can help build sleep drive (by preventing you from ending up with lighter, more fragmented sleep), reinforce the association between your bed and sleep (rather than wakefulness), and reduce sleep-related worry and the unpleasantness of tossing and turning during the night (most people find that getting out of bed and doing something relaxing and enjoyable is more pleasant than staying in bed and “battling” with sleep).

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