I’m not even sure if this happens to everyone, but in my experience, the more nights in a row I go without getting enough sleep (like <5 hours) the harder it is to fall asleep or stay asleep for a longer period of time. Just wondering what the biological process might be that prevents adequate sleep in a body that desperately needs it.
Team_Muff_N_Stuff: Don’t quote me on this, but I would assume it has something to do with disrupting your circadian rhythm. That is, when you aren’t sleeping when you’re supposed to (night), your body & mind start to adjust & plan to not sleep during those hours, with the assumption that it needs to be awake & alert at that time.
ClassBShareHolder: Not an expert, just sharing my experience with years of sleep issues. Also, I now take an antidepressant in the morning and a benzodiazepine in the evening to assist with anxiety.
I find a regular sleep pattern greatly helps. I MUST be in bed by 10:00. If I’m not, I will definitely be up sooner than if I go to bed earlier.
Now, when I was having issues, I had what I can best describe as a tingling or twitching in my shoulders. I had no problem staying awake to get things done but have come to assume it must have been adrenaline or similar stimulant keeping me alert. The feeling is similar to what caffeine would cause me (been zero caffeine for decades now.)
So, for me, the more sleep deprived I am, the more stimulants my body produces to keep me awake. This makes it doubly hard to fall asleep. If I get to bed on time, and catch up on weekends, my body is tired and relaxed and I quietly drift off to sleep with no jitteriness.
I also have a prescription for sleeping pills I haven’t used for a couple years. The chemically assisted sleep allowed me to get caught up and establish a routine. The problem I found with the sleeping pills is the effect didn’t wear of after 8 hours so I was groggy the next day. Towards the end of taking them, I’d take one on a Friday night, then nap off the grogginess and be ready for Monday. I always made sure I was going to bed at the same time every day to establish the routine.
Also mindfulness/meditation helped with relaxing and falling asleep through the jitters.
TL;DR If I am sleep deprived, my body produces stimulants to keep me awake. This makes falling asleep even harder. When I’m rested, no stimulants are needed, and I can fall asleep at my regular bedtime peacefully.
issamememyguy: When you reach ~20 hours of no sleep, your body starts to produce little burts of norepinephrine (adrenaline making sauce) and dopamine (reward chemical / energy sauce) as a way to keep you alert since its evolutionary training is telling it you’re either in danger or doing something strenuous to keep yourself out of danger. You may notice yourself get kinda jumpy once you’ve been awake for 24+ consecutive hours since your adrenaline levels are getting significantly higher.
The longer you stay up, the more adrenaline and dopamine you’ll be producing (up to a limit that I’m not educated enough to know) which will eventually start to take it’s toll on your body and mind. This is the “strung out” feeling people talk about when binging on stimulants (looking at you, college kids). When you get to this point, the baseline levels of adrenaline and dopamine in your body are much higher than they’d normally be.
When you lay down to try to sleep, your mind is racing from the dopamine and your heart is racing from the adrenaline. Your body thinks it’s in danger mode, and it’ll fight off sleep as much as it can. The longer you’ve been awake, the more in danger mode you’ll feel. Eventually though, you will reach your physical limits and pass out, so there’s that to look forward to.
Edit: didn’t read the full question, but I’d imagine that not getting enough sleep several nights in a row would trigger the same response as no sleep at all. I have no evidence to support this claim.
Source: stress-induced insomniac in my highschool years, spent my sleepless hours Googling how insomnia works