Sleep Pattern Erratic, Need a Nap during a “short day”

I finish up my day around 12 AM or 1 AM, surfing the net, checking email, or completing other projects. Every night, I try to go to bed by 2 AM.

Most of the time, however, I don’t actually “fall asleep” until 4 AM or 5 AM, which makes for a poor night’s sleep. Between 2 AM and when I fall a sleep I roll around in bed, feel uncomfortable, and my mind runs in many different directions. I also act very impulsive, getting up to go to the bathroom a few times, check my email, or get a drink of water. My body experiences “hypnic jerk”, or sudden minor muscular spasms as I try to sleep. I also find that I feel itchy and my legs throb a bit. Strangely, these sensations only occur during this part of the day, when I’m trying to fall asleep at the “right time”. On the other hand, if I nap during the day, I have no trouble falling asleep whatsoever.

Once I do sleep, my alarm sounds at 11 AM, and I usually turn it off and return to bed. At this point in the morning, I recall very intense dream sequences and don’t feel rested at all.

As a result, I’m too tired to get my day started and don’t actually “get up” for the day until 2 PM.

Once physically out of bed, I go into the TV area and force myself through a routine of sit-ups and push-ups. For most people, this routine would take 15 minutes. For me, however, it takes 3 times as long, because I spend the first 30 minutes staring blankly at the floor, or out the window. I feel like I don’t have the ability to “get up and go” like others do.

After this brief exercise, I shower, and eat a late 3 PM “breakfast”. At this point, I actually start being productive: I go out and run errands, or sit down at my computer and do work.

I generally work for about 3-4 hours, at which point I begin to feel very depressed, tired, and void of any motivation whatsoever.

I end up taking a nap between 6:30 PM and 8 PM, and wake up slightly refreshed in time to cook myself dinner and watch the news. Generally I get a little boost after eating, and spend the subsequent hours watching TV or working some more at my computer.

At about 1 AM I begin to wrap up my day and repeat the same cycle all over again.

The problem is, my days end up being very short and mostly spent sleeping in bed, or attempting to sleep. When I do sleep, it’s all vivid dreaming, which doesn’t rest my mind – quite the opposite – it tires me out even more.

All told, my productive time is 3 PM to 7 PM, then 9 PM to 1 AM, unless I really force myself out of bed in the late morning.

I’ve read that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, which interupts sleep patterns and other restful states of the mind. Instead of enjoying various stages of sleep, such as REM sleep, deep sleep, and recuperative sleep; I just experience REM sleep. Although dreaming can be pleasant, it ultimately leaves me exhausted, unfocused, and lethargic.

I’ve tried to think of ways to get a “normal” sleeping pattern back. One idea is to just get up no matter what at 11 AM when my alarm sounds, and ignore the sleepiness that normally sends me back to bed. If I can get myself up and around at 11 AM, I will add another 3-4 hours to my waking day, thus interupting the pattern of sleeping after my alarm sounds. This change would also interupt any REM sleep between 11 and 2 that completely drains my mind of energy.

Another idea is to move my bedtime back to 12 AM instead of 2 AM. Instead of sleeping between 5 and 11, I would sleep between 3 and 9, giving me another 2-3 hours of productivity on the front end of my day.

My thought is that I the best solution is probably a combination of both of these ideas, but not both together at once. Perhaps going to bed earlier is a good place to start. Then, if I wake up early or at my normal time, I have at least allowed myself a fighting chance at a longer day.

I need to get back on track gradually, and undo whatever habits have caused my erratic sleeping pattern.

When I finally do return to some sleeping normalcy, I think my mind and body will feel better and more rested during the daytime. This feeling, in turn, would probably make me feel more positive about myself and my day, so that I don’t feel as if I sleep away my life.

The end result: more productivity, which all people, especially BPDs, need!