Adult Sleep Cycles

Updated on December 24, 2010
E.D. asks from Olympia, WA
12 answers

Arg. It's 1:40am and I am awake. I've always been a bit of a night owl, but this is too much.
We all wake up around 7-8:30am. I drink one and a half cups of French press (approx. 200 mg. caffeine) every morning. The kids nap at 2:00 or 2:30 and I sometimes get to have a bit of down then. Regardless, by 4pm I feel like a zombie. I can barely keep my eyes open. Then, after I put the kids to be around 8:30-9:00pm, I am suddenly WIDE awake and feel stimulated. Again, Arg!

I've been taking Valerian with no affect.
I have taken melatonin in the past and haven't had more tiredness (maybe I should try it again).

Once I am asleep I am down for the count. It doesn't really bother me if I wake up to help one of the kids back asleep, because I am right back asleep afterwards. It's that original falling asleep that is difficult for me. Goodness, I'm like an infant! The problem, for me, is not so much interrupted sleep (or is it?) but length of sleep. If I don't get a good 7-9 hours I am ten times the grump and don't have the energy to do things that I value.

I welcome all of your suggestions. If they aren't helpful to me they'll be helpful to someone else (and thank you for taking the time to write them!) But I'll be honest. There are two things *I* simply won't do 1. Cut coffee out completely 2. Use a sleep aid that is addictive.

TIA for any and all suggests you have!

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answers from Seattle on

So what are you willing to do?

If you're willing to go to bed at 11 each night and watch the news in bed or something, give that a try.

How about decaf coffee? Or how about reducing the amount of coffee?

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answers from Houston on

After my daughter was born, I thought she was a terrible sleeper. I was exhausted all the time and was suffering from a number of health problems. I had insomnia, I couldn't get to sleep at night, I would wake up in the night, I couldn't get up in the morning. Headaches...oh the headaches. I'd have to take a nap on the weekends (and even napped at work on my lunch hour). It wasn't until after she turned three that I finally had had enough and went for a consultation with a sleep specialist.

As it turns out, I have sleep apnea. I was snoring. A lot. I was keeping my daughter awake! According to my sleep study, I was "waking" OVER 30 TIMES AN HOUR. I've been on CPAP therapy for a few months now and I can absolutely attest that I felt 100% better in just a few days. I still try to get as much sleep as possible, but I can easily function on 5-6 hours of sleep if needed vs. spending 8-9 hours in bed and still needing a nap. Now I'm not saying that is problem with you. But, I am saying that it is worth a call to your doctor for a serious discussion.

As a note about melatonin, my grandmother takes it sometimes but she has to take it late afternoon (4:00) for a 9:00 bedtime to feel the effects.

Is decaffeinated coffee out of the question?

When is the last time you had a physical? Checked iron levels? Vitamin B? Thyroid?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

No need to cut-out the morning coffee, but you may want to avoid it after lunch (if you are drinking it then). I have found that when I am not getting enough physical activity I have a hard time falling asleep. It's almost like the rest of the family is down and I still have energy to burn.

Consider doing some light cardio at night or a yoga video or something that will help "clear your head" and quiet you down for the night. A quick jog and a warm shower before bed and I'm done!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Hi, I am a night owl too. The only way I have found to push back my bedtime is to cut back on coffee and naps. ( I put a combo of decaf and regular in my French press) . You end up super beat for a few days, but the exhaustion gets you to sleep earlier and help you to re-set your clock. Then, you can go back to more coffee and naps.

I think you may find this effective if you just skip your nap. You will be tired. Those are probably the days it would be good to make simple meals so you have a bit less on your plate. HTH

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Have you heard of "sleep hygiene"? It is a medical term developed to help people who have trouble sleeping or getting to sleep. You might try it. I use it. There are a number of steps. The first step is to wake up at the same time everyday, even if you are exhausted...... and do that for enough time to make you tired enough to go to sleep when you want to.


It is a process of where you get up every morning at the same time, eat meals at the same time and go to bed at the same time.....religiously. Even if you are not sleepy. If you are not asleep after 20 minutes get up and do something boring like read the phone book (I know....silly). Don't drink coffee, tea after 3:00. Don't have a snack after dinner...makes you wakeful. Develop bed time routine, turn off the TV 30 minutes before bedtime. Don't watch TV, or read in bed-just sleep or sex. Don't drink excessive amounts of alcohol before will make you wakeful mid sleep cycle.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I have 1 cup of coffee in the morning.
If I'm going to sleep well at night, I can not have any caffeine after noon (no chocolate, soda with caffeine, tea with caffeine, etc). I have to be careful with headache medications because some of those have caffeine in them and you wouldn't know it unless you read the label carefully. Caffeine sources can be pretty sneaky.
I make sure my bedroom is comfortable for sleeping (slightly cool temp, no tv or computer) and I like to sleep in a completely dark room. My husband charges his phone and it glows, so I put a sock over it.
I try not to eat or drink too close to bedtime (although a cup of Sleepy Time tea is sometimes relaxing).
I might read for 10 min before lights out but this backfires if the story is so good I can't put the book down.
I take some Valarian and Melotonin about a half hour before bedtime.
I try to wake up and go to sleep the same times week ends and week days. If I sleep late on weekends, it can be Wednesday before I'm back in a good sleep rhythm again.
My husband goes to the gym after work. I find lot's of exercise in the afternoon keeps me too stimulated past bed time. If I get a good walk in (a mile on the tread mill) first thing in the morning, my legs and muscles feel good and the quality of sleep I get is better at night.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You're describing my sleep habits for years. I still have issues sometimes, but almost never have trouble falling asleep anymore. My solution? Trazodone.

I also didn't want to take an addictive sleep aid. I tried Ambien and Lunesta. They worked, but I felt too groggy in the morning. Once my son was born I couldn't take those anymore due to breastfeeding, so my doctor prescribed Trazodone. It's been around FOREVER and was originally prescribed as an antidepressant at a dose of around 400-600 mg daily.

I take 25 mg every night right before bed. My doctor is surprised this small amount even works for me, but it's just enough to give me the boost I need to fall asleep. I'm usually out cold 20 minutes after lying down. And because I'm taking such a small dose I don't feel groggy in the morning, and there's no risk of addiction (there wouldn't be even if I was taking a larger dose).

My dad has had sleep issues all his life, and he finally tried Trazodone on my recommendation. He loves it, and his wife says he's a different person now that he's sleeping at night.

The other good news is that it's cheap, cheap, cheap! I pay $4 for a 60-day supply at Fred Meyer. Can't beat that! I get 30 50mg tablets and take 1/2 each night.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

Yoga before bedtime about 45 minutes and you will take out all your tension.
I've used yoga for almost 30 years and it has had a very good effect on my entire body and mind.
I am a confirmed night owl so this is the only thing that works. And, giving up coffee is not an option for me either.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Is it possible to change your wake up time?: I too am a night owl, but my husband and our youngest are on the same schedule. Little one heads to bed an hour or so before us, BUT sleeps until about 10 AM. Our work schedules require us to be away until at least 11 pm wk days and 12:30 + am or later wk ends (making bed time 1-2 hrs later).

Our oldest has school, so of course is in bed at a reg time on wk days but wk ends is up an hour or so later. I know if I go to bed before my "brain" is ready out of guilt, I will lay awake until at least an hour or more past the time I normally head to bed, usually my brain can't shut down even when physically ready. BOO!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have similar issues with sleep and have found myself to be exhausted during the day occasionally, requiring a nap. But if I nap then I pay the price that night by not being able to fall asleep. When I don't take a nap during the day, I have no difficulty falling asleep at night. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

melatonin works in our house - natural and non-addictive, and taken about 1/2 hour before bed. If you decide to try this again (sounds like you have), you may try to up the dosage. Start low and work up a little at a time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Two recommendations:

1) Are you finding that when you try to go to sleep you can't stop thinking? almost like your brain gets into a "thought loop" pattern? if so, go to a store that selld natural products and buy Bach's Rescue Sleep spray. it contains 6 flower extracts and it works marvelously to help you fall asleep, especially when the "thought loops" are part of the problem. My hubby and I have been using it as needed for several years yet neither of us are addicted at all...we just use now and again. it does contain alcohol (as a preservative for the flower extracts) but you only have to do 2-3 little sprays on the tongue so you're ingesting very little alcohol (if that's a concern at all). If you like it, the cheapest place to get it that I have fond is online at

2) Another non-addictive supplement that is wonderful for sleeping and for mood in general is 5 HTP. I also get it at Vitacost but it's available in stores as well in the vitamin section. Works like a charm!

Hope that helps!

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