Nighttime Wakefulness May be Perfectly Natural

Gabby
By GabbyPA Latest Reply 2012-09-28 18:35:36 -0500
Started 2012-06-18 07:31:00 -0500

By Mercola: read full article here http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/ar...

According to Roger Ekirch, historian and author of the book At Day's Close: Night in Times Pastii, the historically recent change to this pattern could be the root of a condition called sleep maintenance insomnia, where people wake during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep. Sleep psychologist Gregg Jacobs agrees that we've strayed from our evolutionary pattern, and that waking up during the night is actually a normal part of human physiology.

"The idea that we must sleep in a consolidated block could be damaging, he says, if it makes people who wake up at night anxious, as this anxiety can itself prohibit sleeps and is likely to seep into waking life too," BBC News reportsiii.

"Russell Foster, a professor of circadian [body clock] neuroscience at Oxford, shares this point of view. "Many people wake up at night and panic," he says. "I tell them that what they are experiencing is a throwback to the bi-modal sleep pattern." Jacobs suggests that the waking period between sleeps, when people were forced into periods of rest and relaxation, could have played an important part in the human capacity to regulate stress naturally."

According to Ekirch, those waking night time hours were oftentimes used for quiet contemplation and introspection, in addition to more active pastimes like making love. Many just don't take the time to contemplate their life and dreams anymore, which can increase anxiety, stress and depression. So, the next time you wake up in the middle of the night, instead of panicking or worrying about "not being asleep when you should," try to relax, and remember you may just be tapping into a very natural rhythm, and use that time for meditating on your dreams instead of giving in to worry.

Natural Stages of Sleep

According to sleep psychologist Gregg Jacobsiv from the featured BBC News article, you cycle through four stages of sleep every 60 to 100 minutes.

Stage 1: A drowsy, relaxed state between being awake and sleeping
Stage 2: Slightly deeper sleep state. Interestingly enough, here, you may still feel awake. So, you may be asleep and not "know" it
Stage 3: Deep sleep stage. Once in deep sleep, it's quite difficult to wake up, as there's so little physiological activity going on
Stage 4: After Deep Sleep, you briefly enter stage 2 again before entering REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is the dream state

In order to understand why you can't fall asleep or stay sleep, you need to understand that sleep is the outcome of an interaction between two classes of variables: sleepiness and "noise."

Sleepiness – Under normal conditions, your sleepiness should gradually increase throughout the day, peaking just before you go to bed at night. This is ideal, as you want your sleepiness to be high at the beginning of the night, leading you into Stage 1, as described above.

"Noise" – refers to any kind of stimulation that inhibits or disrupts sleep. If noise is conceptually greater than your level of sleepiness, you will not fall asleep. "Noise" occurs in three zones: the mind level, body level, and the environmental level.

According to Dr. Rubin Naiman—a clinical psychologist, author, teacher, and the leader in integrative medicine approaches to sleep and dreams—one of the most common symptoms of insomnia is a condition called "cognitive popcorn." This is when your mind produces uncontrollable thoughts that keep you awake, and it is one of the most common forms of mental "noise." Other forms of noise include physical noise such as pain, discomfort, indigestion, or residual caffeine from drinking coffee too late in the day, and "environmental noise," such as a snoring partner, music, lights, or a bedroom that's too warm.

In order to easily fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night, you want your sleepiness level to be high, and the noise level to be low. According to Dr. Naiman, more often than not, the reason why people can't fall asleep is NOT because of lack of sleepiness, but rather because of excessive noise. Therefore, the FIRST thing you need to ask yourself when you can't sleep is:

"Where/What is the noise?" (Is it mind/body/environmental?)

Typically, you will find a number of different factors contribute to the noise burden keeping you awake, so it's important to carefully evaluate your environment and inner/outer state to determine ALL the contributing factors. If you address one problem, but not the others, you still may not be able to fall asleep, or stay asleep throughout the night.


18 replies

crazeknot
crazeknot 2012-09-02 13:31:11 -0500 Report

Well Gabby that gives me some insight & new things I'll look into. Love U, 4 all the good articles. Will be moving in mid-Sept. 2 AZ. Will get back 2 u after I'm settle. Peace-Out Linda

crazeknot
crazeknot 2012-07-26 18:30:23 -0500 Report

I've found out, if I'm in a relaxed state before I can usually go right to sleep. I've chronic insomnia. I've had since in my early years. They say have a cup of warm milk. As a child & growing up on a large dairy farm , I've drank plenty of warm milk. It doesn't work for me. I only get a few hours of sleep at night. In a week I've only had 8 hrs. It's something to do w/ my metabolism. I'm missing something, that's what the dr's told me. Over all this is a very good article, keep some more of the good article coming. Thanks Gabby!!!

RUSTY777
RUSTY777 2012-09-03 15:51:01 -0500 Report

LINDA? I AM THE SAME WAY, AND FOR ALL MY "MOMMY YRS" I SLEPT 2 OR 3 HRS A NIGHT, FOR I WAS ALWAYS THINKING AND COULD NOT TURN OFF MY BRAIN, FOR I LOVE TO CREATE AND DESIGN. SO I SEEMED TOO EXCITED TO SLEEP FOR LONG. I STILL DO NOT SLEEP LONG, FOR I STILL LOVE TO PUTTER AND CREATE ALL THE TIME. IT IS WHAT I LOVE DOING. NOW HUBBY IS RETIRED, SO I HAVE TO CONSIDER MY HOURS FOR HIS SLEEP AS HE LOVE'S TO SLEEP. :D I DO NOT. SO I DO JUST THINGS AT NIGHT TIME THINGS TO RELAX BY, AND WHEN MY HEAD HIT'S THE PILLOW, I AM OUT LIKE A LIGHT. I FIND A SOUND MACHINE HELP'S ME TO SLEEP A GOOD DEEP SLEEP, AND I FEEL VERY REFRESHED AFTER ABOUT 5 HRS. IF I LAY BACK IN MY LIFT CHAIR IN THE AFTERNOON OR EVENING, I DO DOZE OFF AND MISS THE END OF MY HOUSEHUNTERS HOW. :D BUT KNOW IT WILL BE ON ONCE MORE SO THAT IS OKAY. I JUST FALL ASLEEP FOR ABOUT 15 MINUTES AVERAGE. I TRY TO STICK TO A TIME FRAME EACH EVE. IF I GO TO BED BEFORE 10:30 PM, I AM AWAKE AT 3 AM AND WANTING TO GET UP AND START MY DAY. IF I GO TO BED AT 11:30 PM, I SLEEP UNTIL 5 AM. WEIRD BUT IT WORKS FOR ME. HAVE A GREAT MOVE, AND HOPE YOU LOVE AZ. :D

crazeknot
crazeknot 2012-09-28 18:35:36 -0500 Report

Thanks Rusty777, U & I have a very common problem. I would like to hear more about yr creative & designing?

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-06-19 12:25:33 -0500 Report

I walk into my room, turn on the tv (it stays on all night as an expensive night light) If I do wake up I watch tv or read or play angry birds or words with friends till I fall back asleep. The one thing I noticed is I cannot sleep in total silence. It gets on my nerves. When I can't fall asleep or wake up and can't fall asleep it is because I have a lot on my mind.

swlinda
swlinda 2012-06-19 11:49:57 -0500 Report

I have trouble sleeping at times and then again I sleep like a baby. My ex-husband said it was my conscience bothering me.

usandwe
usandwe 2012-06-19 04:43:00 -0500 Report

When I wake up at night if I am not tired after visiting the bathroom I tend to sit up and read, sometimes it takes only 20 minutes to fall asleep and at other times it can take a couple of hours. I try not to go downstairs as I know I will only want to snack on something. I find the hardest part for me is to not feel guilty or stressed about reading as this can make it worse.

Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2012-06-18 20:16:38 -0500 Report

Good points. It is hard enough determining what noise is keeping me awake. At night at work I have to try and guess what noise is bothering my residents and keeping them from much needed sleep. Last night a usually sound sleeper was complaining of not being able to fall asleep. I ran through all the reasons I could think of, she said no to each thing. At shift change when passing on this info a coworker said "I bet it is because a spider ran under her bed yesterday and the maintance guy couldn't find it and told her this." The three of us all agreed we would have faked a very dramatic spider death.

irishbear
irishbear 2012-06-18 14:58:02 -0500 Report

Great article! Ever since I can remember I've always had a hard time falling asleep, even as a kid. Once I'm asleep it's fine. I find it hard to turn off my
brain, and sharing a bed with a spouse who has sleep apnea kinda sucks too.
As I read the article I was checking things off in my mind, so now to fix it.
There are many times after staying awake in bed for over an hour I will just
get up and stay up all night and all of the next day.

old biker
old biker 2012-06-18 08:54:55 -0500 Report

Funny this mentions noise as a factor. which I am sure it comes into play..I grew up in New York City in a neighborhood where the noise of the city was always present..This time of year with the windows open you can hear..Trains, planes and automobiles and people out in the street..The noise was 24/7 and I never had trouble sleeping
Then I took a job which took me to Atlanta Ga..Big difference..The first month I was there I had problems sleeping and a very uncomfortable unsettling feeling every time I was in that apartment..It was so bad that I was thinking of moving back to New York
Then one day while I was sitting there wondering why I felt up tight, it dawned on me..It was quite, there was no noise.. and that was what was making me uncomfortable..I turned on the stereo and left the TV on at night and that was the end of the problem :-)

MewElla
MewElla 2012-06-18 08:11:12 -0500 Report

Good article, very interesting…I struggle with all the thoughts inside my head playing over and over and naturally hard to settle down…There's nothing better than a good nite's sleep, sure makes the next day easier to tackle.

Gabby
GabbyPA 2012-06-18 07:34:56 -0500 Report

I am sorry to post such long stuff, but I have been finding a lot of great information. I really encourage you to read the entire article (when the news section gets straightened out, I will post things there again)

Anyway, this part about 4 hour increments is very interesting. I often wake up after just 4 hours. I usually get up, do something and then go back to bed. My sweetest sleep is after I get up and feed the dog and do a few things. So maybe my pattern is not all bad??

The other thing that I struggle with is the noise, mostly in my mind. My mind will keep me awake for hours sometimes. I have to find a way to turn that off, or just not be afraid to get up and do something useful.

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