Using Sleeping and Naps to Escape/Kill Time

Up until the end of high school, I almost never took naps during the day. I was always too busy, active, or doing school work. I did the usual 8 hours per night attempt that High schoolers make, but most of the time it was more like 6.5 to 7 hours in the end.

In college, I slowly picked up the habit of napping during the day. Typically, I would sleep for 6-8 hours at night, and then grab a nap whenever possible (after lunch, before dinner, or just after dinner for 1/2 hour). I call this a “bad habit” because I would increasingly become more drowsy throughout the day and during class, because my body began to expect that it would have time to rest.

Paralelling this sleeping pattern – unbeknownst to me at time – was the development of borderline personality disorder and depression. By Junior year, my depressive mood, sleeping, and anxiety resulted in a trip to a psychologist for the first time, who gave me a preliminary diagnosis of dsthymia (chronic low grade depression). I also began taking Prozac, and then eventually graduated to Effexor to help with my moods.

All the while, as priorities and events in my life rapidly shifted, I would use sleep as an escape and also as way to kill time. When I attempted to kick my gambling habit Senior year, I found myself extremely bored and listless. Since I couldn’t sneak off to the casino, I chose instead to just sleep in my bed.

Later, when I was formally diagnosed with BPD and depression, and began taking more medication, I realized that I was sleeping a lot more than usual. It was almost like an addiction of sorts. Usually mid to late afternoon, my eyelids would become heavy, I would lose my concentration and focus, and it seemed the only cure was sleeping for 2-3 hours.

My first post college job in a supermarket working the typical 8 hour day was brutal. If I was bored or had nothing to do towards the end of the day, I would try and find a place to hide and fall asleep. Since I was a junior manager, if I was caught doing this I would have certainly been fired.

Fast forward to present, where sleep continues to be like an addiction and a way to escape boredom. Now that I’m working on my own ( doing freelance internet marketing ) and my office is only a few steps from my bedroom, the instant I begin feeling lethargy, depression, or boredom, I steal off to my room and lay down for up to three hours. This nap usually takes place in the late afternoon to evening. This sleeping pattern is more troublesome, however, because I now sleep at least 10-12 hours a night on top of my napping.

As a result, some nights I go to bed at 1 AM, wake up at 1 PM, work for 5 hours; and then sleep from 6 to 8, eat dinner, and return to bed once again at 1AM or so.

Increasingly, I notice that my mind feels more alive while sleeping. My sub-conscious entertains me while I sleep, and I wake up feeling like I’ve had a busy afternoon, when in fact it’s nothing more than a fabrication of my thougts.

When I travel, or if I’m not at home and off my “schedule”, I feel miserable unless I can take a nap. For example, if I’m traveling by plane and need to be awake, I feel completely shitty until I’m able to get some rest. Alternatively, if I’m at the beach with friends and they’re looking to spend the afternoon out, I almost always make up an excuse to stay behind so I can sleep and catch up with them at dinner. These deviations in my schedule don’t occur often, but when they do, I feel crappy and down.

Since college and my BPD diagnosis, there have been very few days where I’m awake for more than 8-10 hours straight. My days are instead broken up by cat naps.

I realize that working on my own exacerbates this problem, in part because I don’t live under the threat of a boss yelling at me if I’m asleep on the job. Working as my own boss has its pluses and minuses, and sometimes the fact that I can take a nap anytime feels good, and sometimes, it feels like I’m trying to escape from the world.

The excess sleepiness could be the result of my medication. I’ve never really investigated the effect they have on sleeping patterns, so perhaps I should.

Ideally, I’d like to go to sleep at 12 or 1 AM and feel like I’ve had a “full” day, where I take advantage of every minute and live life to its fullest.

This optimal situation, however, is the exception, not the rule. Instead I sleep off depression, boredom, or anxiety when it presents itself, which takes time away from my day as a whole. I suppose I should be living life to its fullest, taking advantage of every minute of the day, but this just doesn’t happen. I feel like I need to sleep a lot in order to feel any sort of satisfaction for the few waking hours I do have.

25 Replies to “Using Sleeping and Naps to Escape/Kill Time”

  1. I do the exact same thing… I’ve been depressed as long as I can remember, really, but this sleep as escape thing is a fairly new discovery. and i feel so clever about it, like “take that world, i’ll just go to sleep!” big waste of time, but it’s better than moping around…

  2. Hi Elle,

    Thanks for your comment!

    I agree about sleep – it definitely feels like a big waste of time, but in a way it is a safe zone from the other things depression makes us do…

  3. i know what you mean,i only work about 8 hours a day come home and feel so tired – like ive worked about 12 hours! then i cant sleep til 12 and always wake up in the morning tired even after 8 hours sleep.. it definately becomes a habit , and when im grumpy and feeling down – sleeping is all i want to do. when really shouldnt we try cheering ourselves up???

  4. Thank you for a very nice job making this blog. I can see that this is a more common pattern to be first diagnosed with disthymia, get prozac and then realise after some time that your problem is not that simple. Best wishes!

  5. hi,

    I think I share the similar problem.

    I have always been a nightowl and sleep 6 hours during High School and never had to take nap in between.

    Everything began to change in my final year of HS and it worsen in my second year of college.

    I think I have depression but I’m not sure. I just had my one-weekend springbreak, and I slept through most of it. I ignored all my phonecalls, text messages, and e-mails from my friends.

    When I sleep, I feel so comfortable and carefree. I could close my eyes and imagine things. I don’t have to deal with anything.

    This is my third sleeping-streak this year, and I feel like losing control. I don’t even want to go back to school.

    I’m really worried because I have never felt this way before.

  6. I feel like all of it is true. I sleep just because I’m bored or simply don’t want to face the facts of this failing economy. Bills are stacking up, my hours are being cut at work. Trying to find a new job on the internet feels like failure because they say they have a position when in fact they’re just looking for people to bench while they figure out how to fire the people that are still there. Sleep is like an addiction, yet it doesn’t distort what is already there. I think the fact of the matter is, we’re all just pussies in this messed up world, and it wouldn’t be so messed up if we just had enough money to get by. I guess we should thankful we have clothes on our backs, food to eat, and a roof over our heads, but from paycheck to paycheck…honestly it just sucks.

    Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one out here like this.

  7. I have been using sleep as a means of escape since retiring. I’ve had depression and anxiety most of my life and now use sleep as a coping device assisted with taking seroquel. This has been going on for three years and at times just want to end it. My wife suffers from ocd and this just compounds the situation…seems like we are just rats on a wheel.

  8. yes i too use sleep as a means of escape ..but the quality of sleep is lousy .it seems to be a viscious circle lately im spending more time in bed lately i beleive is due to boredom and depression ..but not all the time sometime my mind runs like a river makes me tense and anxious so i get up..mope around a bit and say f it and try again , dont know why my behaviours like this towards sleep besides just feelin like crap..can anyone help me with suggestions ? if so would be appreciated thanks

  9. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your comment. I’ve been stuck in a rut of taking naps during “odd” times of day, when most people are switching gears for meals, relaxation, or social activities. Yes, the sleep quality is crap for sure. I usually wake up more tired than if I hadn’t gone to bed in the first place.

    Lately I’ve found that giving myself a small “project” to do will help stem off the need to sleep. For example, clean the refrigerator, try to get a high score playing a computer game, etc. It doesn’t have to be work, just something to stimulate your mind.

  10. I thought I was the only one to use sleep this way and felt this way. I hate doing this. I have small children and feel so guilty for not spending time with them. All I ever want to do is sleep, sleep, sleep. Why do I avoid life so much? What’s wrong with me? I am on Zoloft and Lamictal. What more can I do?

  11. I identify so much with this entry. I have been using sleep as a form of escape for months now. Back in January, after a prolonged depression and anxiety, I started experiencing strange feelings of depersonalization and this weird fear of myself and my own consciousness. This morphed into an all-out desire to simply ‘get away from myself’.
    I have been hospitalized twice and am currently attending a DBT group for people with BPD (I’m still not sure that I have it), but it takes so much effort for me to get out of bed and do things. I used to be so social and outgoing, pretty, popular and a high achiever. Now, I can’t figure out what to do with myself. I feel so uncomfortable in my own skin that I don’t want to socialize and connect with people. I avoid calls from my friends and break plans with people on a regular basis. My thoughts and desires to disengage from myself and not spend time with myself are so strong that I would rather crawl into bed and sleep than be conscious and dealing with them. I take Prozac and Seroquel, but I’ve also tried Remeron, Paxil, Effexor and Risperidol.
    Does anyone else have an experience like this?

  12. Hi Stephanie,
    You are talking about exactly the same thing I was having occasionally from the age of 15 until my first year of college. I’m at my final year of college now.

    I had these strange feelings of depersonalization and fear of my consciousness. I would feel like if I am looking at myself from a slightly different angle. If I was observer of my own life instead of living it. This was especially hard when I was falling asleep in dark. It felt like if I could see my soul or whatever just above me and wanted to catch it with my bare hands so that its closer to my body so that we are a one again.

    I used to sleep a lot. Whenever I could. And it felt like the more I sleep the more tired I am. But firstly, it was sort of escape from everything and secondly, the feeling of awakening I had for couple of minutes immediately after I woke up was just worth it – it reminded me how I had felt before every day when I didn’t have this problem.

    I felt like if what I see might not be real and it took me a while, about 2-3 seconds to reply to questions or to realize some simple things (like what bus I need to take home…)

    I couldn’t see difficult patterns, like in my Maths coursework, or understand people’s motivations and reasons why something works like that and not like that (like in Chemistry lecture). On the other hand, I was able to learn huge amounts of text by heart….only to realize I was learning it for about 8 hours straight when I thought it took me just 1 hour.

    Nevertheless, I didn’t feel like living the life without the salt and pepper and sleeping through it.

    But then… after couple of days or weeks it went away.

    It was happening quite periodically – like 3-4x a year for about 6 years. Sometimes it took 3 days, sometimes it took a month.

    It usually started when I woke up after extremely busy and stressful days, when I knew I went over my limit with sleeping deficit and alcohol. Or when I felt this sudden and never ending feeling of boredom. And it usually left when I was sleeping in a bus or on a plane….then I woke up and felt “normal” again.

    First time, I have experienced it was when I was 15 and smoked marijuana for the first time. Then I had this feeling for couple of days. Since then however, I never took any drugs except alcohol and cigarettes.

    I never tried to go somewhere for pills or advice. In my country (Eastern Europe) we don’t do that to solve these kind of problems – so I was just sleeping more, tried some sports and to socialize. But it wasn’t helping really. When socializing I just became extremely hyperactive, and high, so I wasn’t tired and didn’t feel “it” so much.

    Does anyone have the same?

  13. Hi Mike,
    My sleep habit started in High school and I’ve had trouble with my wakefulness ever since. I have since been diagnosed with nympholepsy. I’ve never fallen asleep without planning to, but I do have periods of extreme sleepiness. You man want to visit a pulmonologist to undergo a sleep study. On the other hand, I can’t dismiss the addictive like nature of the condition.

  14. hi, i’m currently in high school about to take my gcse’s in the summer, they seem to be getting too much for me now and i’m escaping in my dreams every night and i find myself disinterested with computer games books etc, all i have now are these dreams, they usually involve far off places and they tend to branch out from recent events, eg i watched a harry potter film and then dreamt myself into the film, i can’t face my familly it just makes me nervous to be arround them as i’m gay but they don’t know and i don’t know how to tell them, my friends know but don’t quite understand and i’m talking to myself more than ever and nearly driving myself to tears every time. I haven’t a clue what’s happeneing with me and how to sort it, al i know is that in my dreams it all happens perfectly with false stresses and made up people and situations its beautiful, real life is just too much, too loud and so full of people yelling at me and hating me for what i am. All I want is for a guy to actually care about me and my feelings rather than just the fact that i’d rather kiss a guy than a girl. I don’t know what depression feels like and i’m not going to say i’m depressed unless someone can actually diagnose me with it but its just the fact that happiness dosen’t stay for long and the only thing that stops me wanting to just run away to another country is the dreams, its like a personal hug and its a promise of security. my parents however have noticed this tendancy to sleep during the day as well as at night and to sleep quite happily for pretty much an entire day (by sleep i mean day dream in my head, from arround 10 onwards i actually do sleep only to wake at arround 6 to continue dreaming) they yell at me to get out of bed and get on with my day when all i really want to do is just forget the world and dream in comfort forever, its at the stage where the conversations with myself are even occuring in the daydreams, its as though i’m all i have left to fall back on after all, who always gets the tone just right, comforts you and says the right things and always understands you, who really cares for you but yourself. I’m scared but the need to escape just drowns it out. it’s addictive and i just can’t stop.

  15. I experience so much of what you describe. Trying to deal with it is tough enough, but even worse is those around me, husband especially, doesn’t understand and doesn’t know how to give support. They say things that don’t help at all.

  16. Thanks for your sharing. I feel so miserable when I escape in my sleep and then awake so guilty knowing that I havenot escaped anything. I just hAD MY LAST COFEE CUP AND WILL TRYTO SEEK HELP.
    THANKS A MILLION, ALL OF YOU YOU HAVE CONTRIBUTD!!!

  17. Im in bed right now. I only work two to three days a week , so I just sleep the rest waiting for my partner to get home.i love it so much aswell as reading in bed!

    1. Hi Andrea,

      Thanks for your comment and reading the posts.

      You are definitely NOT alone. BPD isn’t common, but it isn’t rare either. People with BPD – like myself – are often so consumed by our emotional disarray that we fail to realize others know what we’re going through.

      Please talk to a mental health counselor or your family doctor. Visit a qualified doctor to see if you fit the BPD diagnosis (or something else). No one has to know about it – just do it for your own peace of mind.

  18. Whoa, this thread is old but thanks for it! I am having this sort of issue also coming out of college…and I work at home as a offsite coder so the situation is scary similar. I also have/had a mild form of depression where I took prozac up to a couple of months ago.

    So I go to sleep anywhere from 1 – 4 am, wake up after 8 hours, and then in the evening compelled to nap as a way to alleviate boredom. While it feels great, this love – or addiction – to sleeping has cause me problems with both work and my social life.

    At least I know im not alone…and thanks for that.

  19. I LOVE TO SLEEP. I CAN SLEEP ALL NIGHT AND GET UP HAVE 3~4 CUPS OF COFFEE, READ MY BIBLE,AND PRAY, BE UP FOR ABOUT 5 HOURS, AND IAM READY TO TAKE A 2~3 HOUR NAP.
    I SLEEP TO ESCAPE FOR SURE. I HAVE DONE THIS MY WHOLE LIFE.I FEEL GUILTY WHEN I CANCEL ANYKIND OF ENGAGEMENT ENGAGEMENT, BUT I’VE PULLED AWAY FROM LIFE,FRIENDS AND FAMILY.I HAVE GAINED 110 POUNDS OVER THE LAST 7 YEARS, MY KNEES ARE SHOT AND WALKING LEAVES MY IN TERRIBLE PAIN, IAM IN A DIFFICULT PLACE. IT SEEMS THAT SLEEP IS A BEST FRIEND AT TIMES, I GET SO ANGRY WHEN CONFRONTED ABOUT MISSED PHONE CALLS OR TEXT, I JUST REALLY DON’T CARE,BUT AT THE SAME TIME, I DO CARE. I USE TO BE FUN, THE LIFE OF THE PARTY,BUT DEPRESSION AND SLEEP WIN ,OVER AND OVER.

  20. Thank you for this entry. Now I don’t feel so alone. I sleep all the time. I sleep when I’m not even tired just to be free from life for a few hours.

  21. I appreciate this entry. I have found lately (past year or so) I sleep obsessively. I, too, find it an escape from reality and am far more amused by my dreams and sleep-life than I am by reality. In fact, the more I sleep, the more vivid and real my dreams become. I can wake up and drift back off into the same dream, and often do. I have ADD and BPD, and take Adderall for ADD each morning. Even with it fresh in my system, I can take a nap after working just an hour or so. Fortunately I work from home, so I can adjust my schedule as needed. Still, it’s gotten to the point where I need to stop sleeping so much. On the weekends I find I can be up just a few hours a day and not feel that I missed much.

    Obviously none of this is a good sign, and I’m aware of that. At times, I can go the other direction if so inspired, and sleep very little. It’s all about how I feel in my life at any given moment. I’ve always felt that BPD is similar to Bipolar in that we have ups and downs, but ours are generally related to events that have occurred and are more transient in nature. My point being, when things in my life are going great, I can thrive on little sleep. It’s always a bad sign when the sleep begins to envelope my days, and it’s definitely a sign of depression settling in.

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