xlix. 2009: sleep logs

4 February 2010 at 22:53 | Posted in Circadian rhythm | 18 Comments
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As “D” gets the forms filled out, her (my) sleep logs will appear here.  They are of interest primarily to myself and my sleep specialist, Prof. Holsten.  But if you see a long-term pattern, do let me know.  What I see for sure is that I am affected by melatonin and/or bright light.  Next experiment will be to cut the melatonin and see what just morning bright light does.

Sleep Diary

Sleep Diary

The doctor said: "WHAT happened here?"

Umm, I just tried a couple of weeks without melatonin and light therapy, is all.  

More weeks free of melatonin

Back on track

Back on track, such as it is.  My “normal” with the help of melatonin and light therapy.

Posted by Delayed2Sleep (aka “D”).  Updated 22 February 2010.


Next post:  l.  A Man with Too Long a Day (by L)



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  1. Have you tried darkness therapy instead of, or possibly in addition to, the melatonin?

  2. Just now I’m starting a new experiment. I’ll be using light box in a.m., amber goggles evenings (when I remember!), and no melatonin.

    Last time I experimented for a few weeks, April 2009 (see above), I cut out both melatonin and light. This time just the melatonin, to see if it really makes any difference.

    I wrote at the top of this post “What I see for sure is that I am affected by melatonin and bright light.” Yes, the combination affects me. Does just one component do the same?

  3. Wouldn’t it make more sense to introduce the amber goggles while still using oral melatonin, give that a while to settle, and then withdraw the oral melatonin, so that you were only changing one variable at a time? Anyway, good luck with the amber goggles. I find they’re great, but then I’m learning that people with N24 respond differently to light and darkness, and that my N24 is most likely secondary and caused by not getting any sunlight. Which goggles are you using? Try setting an alarm on your mobile phone, if you can do that, so that you’re using them at the same time every evening. What time are you starting them at? My orange specs go on at 9 pm at the moment.

    I’m thinking of cutting out the light therapy some time for a while to see what I’m like with darkness therapy alone, though not right now as I have too much going on in my life. The only thing I’m not strict about right now is the dawn simulation, we don’t bother on my partner’s days off work.

  4. P.S. How are you creating those sleep diaries?

  5. My goggles are exactly the ones pictured here: https://www.lowbluelights.com/index.asp (in the foto with the light bulbs). They are 110% effective. My little rechargable vacuum cleaner’s recharger has 2 large intense blue areas that show that it’s connected. With these goggles, those areas are totally black with no indication of any light at all.

    If you have any tendency toward depression, be very careful cutting out morning bright light while encouraging early melatonin production. The length of the day and the night are determined by the duration of melatonin in the blood at night. Increasing that duration leads to dark winter adaptation which for many people kicks off depression.

    The sleep diaries are very low-tech. I drew the grid in Paint and saved it as a .gif file. I then fill in the appropriate areas/colors from my daily notes.

  6. They look like decent goggles. Life is so much easier for people who don’t have to wear specs already! My mother’s interested in trying darkness therapy, and I’m eyeing up these for her to try out. I was going to suggest messing around with light bulbs first, but since you get free P&P on those specs (they’re classified as articles for the blind, whether you’re blind or not), it might be easier just to try those first.

    I’m still getting used to your grid, because it’s upside down compared to how I keep sleep diaries! I was doing something complicated in a spreadsheet, though I haven’t kept sleep diaries for a while.

    I’m not sure I want to experiment with cutting out light therapy, I’m just curious to see what darkness therapy alone does for me. Perhaps I’ll just make it a week. I could also do with a control for when I start experimenting with blue LED golf ball bulbs, which won’t be just yet as the lamps I’d put them in are now on duty holding yellow bulbs in the hall for the Bathroom Lighting Problem. I’ll also wait until I’m in reasonably good health to experiment like this. Right now I’m having a bit of an ME flare, and I’m finding that I’m actually falling asleep too early and being fairly sleep in the afternoons. My boyfriend suggested putting the orange specs on later, and I’ll probably try that, but first of all I’m going to try an extra shot of light therapy at 3 pm to see if that works.

    Good luck with experimenting with your new amber specs, I hope your sleep doesn’t go haywire while you’re adjusting!

  7. Hello!

    Interesting to discover your blog. I was N24 for twenty years, until I discovered the PRC literature on my own reconnaissance in July 2007, beginning with “How to Trick Mother Nature into Letting You Fly Around or Stay Up All Night”.

    The next day I started taking 3mg of melatonin in mid-afternoon (relative to my estimated body clock which was some ungodly dark hour just then) and had improvements immediately. It’s taken more than two years to work all the bugs out. I went out and bought a “dual time” wrist watch so I could program body time on the digital display and local time on the analog display. For a long time I updated body time every day, but now I no longer need to do this.

    My baseline is a 25 hour body clock. I would “flip over” once every three weeks, almost without fail, over a twenty year period. I don’t recall any three week period over those twenty years were I didn’t pull a sequence of “all nighters” at some point.

    Until my mid to late thirties, there was a pattern where I would get lined up on day mode at the beginning of my three week cycle, maintain consistent bedtime and rising hours for a week to ten days, then it would begin to drift a bit (and so would my mood), until in the final week I might be drifting up to four hours per day.

    Often if I got scrambled enough, my cycle would end with a 28 hour waking period (high energy, high focus) followed by 15 hours sleep-of-the-dead. Then I would be completely normal again for the next week (if I cleverly timed my grand mal sleep event to terminate on day mode, which was a complicated dance to arrange). Sometimes the 28/15 event would occur more than once. One week in my twenties it happened three times in a row, which spans most of six days.

    The 28 hour number could range anywhere from 25 to 28. 28 was a fairly hard limit. I might have my first small yawn after 27.5 hours of waking, and barely be able to function 15m later. I experienced certain kinds of fatigue on these long days (almost always spent working at the computer), but not the kind of fatigue which leads to sloppy errors. These long waking periods at sustained vigilance aren’t supposed to happen in normal people.

    Something changed seven years ago, and these hyper waking episodes no longer occur. I don’t think my body has the energy for it any more.

    For the most part, my sleep latency is “head hits the pillow” unless I’m ignoring what my body tells me. No issues on that front whatsoever.

    I tried many times to maintain a 9-5 work day for more than two weeks, and failed every time. The problem is that by the third week, internally I’m nearly on Tokyo time. My (untreated) galloping jet-lag increases relentlessly an hour a day until it blossoms into hard-core sleep deprivation, regardless of whether I’m nominally sleeping eight hours a night.

    The problem is that this out-of-phase sleep gradually becomes non-restorative. Whatever sleep does to consolidate memory ceases to happen. I develop poor judgement and difficulty maintaining a consistent body temperature, both classic symptoms of sleep deprivation. When I finally relent and let my body sleep when it wants to, there’s a massive deluge of pent-up dream sleep, then I feel 1000% better again. Sometimes after one free sleep episode, sometimes after two.

    I’m present taking 0.5mg at +9.5 hours relative to my earliest estimated natural wake time. Vastly less fatigue than when I started out at 3mg mid-afternoon! I used to call it my “stupid pill” because I would be pretty dull an hour after taking the pill for a couple of hours. I’d come back to life for one really good hour and then it would be time for bed, so half my day was shot for hardcore tasks. At the lower dose, I yawn a bit, but don’t lose much steam and I can power through it.

    Recently, even with the melatonin, I started drifting about +10m per day. Very annoying. There’s not a linear dose relationship where you can take more if you need to regain lost ground. If I missed a dose (e.g. fail to hear watch in loud pub), I would typically lose an hour right there, very hard to recover without swinging around the long way. I was flipping over every four to six weeks for a while, on a semi-voluntary basis. Life gets irritating when you can’t get up before noon, so I’d suspend treatment, and stretch my days out, until I was waking up at 03:00 at which point I would slam the brakes on by resuming the melatonin and hope for the best. 03:00 is a fine time of day to wake up, given many of the alternatives. Before I discovered the melatonin PRC, if anyone had told me they could push a button and for the rest of my life, my waking time would be a consistent 03:00 to 19:00 I would have jumped at it without second thought.

    Just in the last few weeks I’ve combined my new lower dose of 0.5mg (taken a little later) with half an hour under my 2.5W cyan blue LED lamp in the morning. I’m actually managing to slide backward, about 10m per day. Woohoo!

    So far I only have a week of data in my sleep diary to support this, but I feel optimistic. Plus my productivity has soared again, which means I’m working with my natural sleep phase, instead of fighting against it. A week ago I had slipped to waking around noon. After a week supplementing with the blue light, I’m waking naturally at 10:45.

    L: If I take your diary literally, you experience waking intervals >30 hours? Is that true, or does it represent missing data? I would like to contact you directly, so please feel invited to respond via my unpublished email.

  8. Welcome to the blog! That was a totally fascinating comment! I’ve replied privately.
    Here, I just want to point out that the sleep diaries above are mine (D’s), not L’s. I’ve updated the post to make that clear, and am sorry for the confusion.

  9. Hi there, may I ask what program you are using to generate these logs?

  10. They’re real low tech! I note the times on old-fashioned paper and then fill out the table I made in Paint and save as gif. Others use Excel, which I really should learn. In any case, the logs are essential if one wants to find a pattern.

  11. Can you possibly put up a blank copy of the sleep log you made? (if it isn’t too much trouble). They look mighty useful!

  12. Hello, Grace. I can easily put up a blank copy from home, but I will not be there until mid-May. Sorry you have to wait!

  13. I have just discovered today I may have this disorder, (after going to bed at 4:30 am, waking at 1:30 pm many days in the last month). I sleep very well, once I get there.

    I quit my job 4 months ago, now I think because of sleep deprivation. I got 6 hours at most while working 9-5. Now I have my own business but my husband is an “early bird” and thinks I’m “slacking”.

    Just tonight (7pm) I took a 300 mcg melatonin to see if that would get me to nod off by about 1am. I doubt it. 3 am seems to be the time I get sleepy since we changed the clocks.

    I went to Mexico, 2 hours behind and had a perfect sleep schedule waking at 9:30 am.

    My first question is does it matter that I was born in CA and now live in NJ? Am I always going to be 3 hours behind the East coast?

    Second question- I was a sleepwalker as a child ages 4 to 10, (almost every night), are these two sleep problems somehow related?

  14. Sounds like DSPS all right (that doesn’t exclude other sleep disorders, I feel obliged to mention). If it is DSPS, it should have started well before age 20. Finding out more about the disorder, and educating your husband as well, should get priority. An accepting, understanding family is so very important. (‘Twould be so nice if employers and others would understand, too, of course.)
    Your 7 PM melatonin probably won’t do a thing for you. Try it instead about an hour before you usually get to sleep. Experiment 15-30 minutes on both sides of that. Don’t give it up until having tried various timings. When you find it making you sleepy some minutes before usual bedtime, go for it. Stabilize for some days, then try a tad earlier. Requires patience and is not guaranteed. Can often give a sleepy window of a half hour or so which easily can be overridden – get thee to bed at first sign of sleepiness.
    Your questions: I haven’t heard of a relationship between sleep-walking and circadian rhythms disorders, but sleep research is still in its infancy. Where you were born makes no difference. Our bodies react (abnormally) to the light-dark cycle where we are. A DSPSer travelling west a few time zones will be an early bird for some days but will get over jet lag and be on the DSPS schedule again in a few days. Good luck.

  15. Hey, it’s me again. I just scoured my gmail and there’s no trace of a personal message around 22 Feb. Maybe give it another ping, or try via User:MaxEnt at Wikipedia. What a world. Leave the smallest crack open, the spam starts to ooze and hiss and unfurl into your inbox like a pastry bag under an elephant. Super damn gross. I’m looking forward to exchanging some notes.

  16. Thanks for the comments. There’s a lot I don’t know about this.

    Actually I think this started when I was 13. While babysitting I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 3 am when the parents came home after a late party. Then there were the numerous all-nighters at sleepovers and girl scout camp at the same age. I could always stay up as late as I wanted without getting sleepy.

    I didn’t even start drinking coffee until I was 16. It really became a habit in college. Studying until 2 am while my roommate snored away before her 8 o’clock class. I never could make that 10 am class, just cribbed notes for it.

    Things got a little better when my kids were small. I had no choice but to get up during the week. My husband still took them weekend mornings so I could sleep in. Noon being my favorite time to wake up on Sat and Sun.

    I read some clinical trials about melatonin being given to people with DSPS 5 to 7 hours before bedtime. It didn’t work for me last night, had to take my usual shot of Nyquil cough/cold which is the only thing that makes me sleepy. It does play havoc on my stomach the next day though. Bed at 2 am and awake at 10 without the alarm. Felt great.

    I will try 150 mcg at 6 pm and then 300 mcg at midnight. I would be happy to be able to sleep by 1 am and wake at 9. That’s probably about the best I’m going to be able to do and it fits my new work at home schedule. I’ll keep a chart and see if I can shift 15 minutes every night.

  17. Hi again, dsps2,
    You have the right idea, but it sounds like you may be intending to rush it. Take the night melatonin dose an hour before the time you’ve been going to sleep lately. Ease it earlier and don’t push it too fast.
    If your small afternoon dose makes you at all sleepy, you can reduce it quite a bit. It may have some long-term, positive effect. Note that to counter the early, evening, melatonin, you need to get bright light to the eyes when you get up. Long hours of melatonin in the blood signals long nights — maybe longer than winter nights. That can lead to depression. Bright light to the retina reduces the blood level of melatonin and stops the secretion of it.

  18. Thanks for the advice. There’s only one problem, I forgot how BAD melatonin makes me feel! I don’t think I can take it at all. I couldn’t wake up at all this morning and I felt like CRAP ALL DAY! I think it stays in my system for way too long, almost 16 hours and I only took a very small dose, (150 mcgs per day for 3 days).

    It feels better to be sleep deprived. Now I don’t know what to do. Any advice?

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