Insomnia

Some people are born with a high energy level and just don’t seem to need as much sleep as others. Others have hardly had a single good night’s sleep in their entire lives, unless aided by sleeping pills, alcohol or drugs.

Possible reasons for insomnia:

Mental hyperactivity. Some have minds that work extra well at night, especially when it’s dark & quiet and one is lying snugly in bed. No visual or other sensory distractions to interfere with visualising or pondering on things.

“I feel as if my brain has very much difficulty winding down before sleep, so I will lay awake for a long time with thought and ideas going around in my mind. It as always been like this since I was child. I used really like going to bed as a kid, since I could then lie there musing and thinking up good ideas.”

Emma, Aspie from Sweden

“As a teen I suffered insomnia – hardly sleeping at all – my mind was just racing all the time – it got to the point that I was so deprived of sleep I was hallucinating; but it was also an extremely productive and creative time in my life. I am more of a night person anyway and would be up until early hours of morning writing and drawing, because I just could not sleep. I could even tell what time it was by where the moon was through my bedroom window.”

Julie, Aspie from England

“I have tremendous problems sleeping, because I find it very difficult to stop thinking and analysing intently. Imagine a condition at night when your otherwise normally active mind becomes hyperactive and there is nothing you can do to switch it off. The thoughts I tend to have are of academic subjects, and the level of detailed analysis is them are phenomenal. It’s as if I have been mysteriously administered a drug to turbo charge my mind at night.  I ferociously delve into the most minute details in rapid succession, quickly coming to conclusions. I tend to study a particular subject or idea in the daytime and then analyse it at night; and it affects me like a desperately uncontrollable addiction.

Archit, Aspie from India/UK

I often get my best ideas just as I’m about to drift off to sleep. If I go with them I easily miss the ‘sleep train’ I was about to take and am wide awake again. Reading until I fall asleep is usually the most effective way of going to sleep for me – providing the book isn’t too exciting…

Ing, site-author

Bedtime postponement. Being absorbed by something so interesting that one keeps postponing bedtime even when the body signals sleep. Seems to be a growig problem with people in general, with chatting, film-watching or game-playing teens in particular, and possibly afflicting Aspies hyperfocusing on special interests even stronger.

“I’ve always had extreme problems sleeping, and on top of it that problem with postponing sleep endlessly. Could go to bed at 7 in the morning and get up at 4-5 in the afternoon.”

Zooey, female Aspie from Sweden

“I feel sometimes that I get so hyperactive that I can’t fall asleep, that the interest gets so strong on something that I can’t let go so I skip food and sleep so that I can keep at it.”

‘skruw’, Aspie from Sweden

When I’m hyperfocusing on something and starting to feel tired, I keep thinking, “Just a few minutes more…” <fast forward to several hours later> “Hm, why am I so hungry? And stiff in the neck! *ouch!* And what is the sun doing up already? – Ing, site-author

“I have big problems with sleep, mostly with falling asleep, and total insomnia, but also hypersomnia and constant awakenings.”

‘Mardröm’, male Aspie from Sweden

Stress & worry. Well-known to produce insomnia. Stress also creates cortisol which is an antagonist to the sleep-hormone melatonin.

Fear. Many children, especially sensitive children (and even adults) are extremely afraid of the dark and can’t sleep without a light on or would prefer to sleep close to their parents. This is actually a very normal and legitimate need that has been made ‘abnormal’ by modern culture. Every other mammal sleeps with their offspring and wouldn’t dream of putting them in a separate chamber for their own convenience. Since Aspies are generally less susceptible to cultural restrictions, some Aspie parents allow their children to sleep with them and from the examples I have seen myself, their children grow up more harmonious because of it.

“I’ve never understood that nonsense about children having to sleep in their own rooms. We let our children sleep in our bed until they were quite big.”

Leif, parent with Aspie traits from Sweden

Stimulants. In some cases insomnia may be due to consuming too much sugar, coffee, soda, orange juice etc – especially if one is extra sensitive to sugar and stimulants.

“I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine. If I drink, for example, a 20-ounce bottle of Vanilla Coke in one sitting, I’ll be unable to fall asleep until late in the morning and feel very energized. I might even have slight tremors.”

‘NeantHumain’, male Aspie from USA

Sensory sensitivity. Some supersensitive individuals can’t sleep if there is the least bit of noise and may be kept awake even by very slight sounds from air conditioning, birds etc. (Earplugs may really help in such cases!) Others can’t sleep with/without a window open or if it’s slightly too cold, warm, humid or light. Or if the bed linen is not soft enough for one’s hypersensitive skin. Some might be sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field and sleep best in a North-South position. Many hypersensitive people sleep better with a weighted blanket.

“I have come to realize that any kind of sheets feel like sandpaper to me, even the really expensive ‘egyptian cotton’ is like a fine sandpaper.”

Ruth, Aspie from USA

“I sleep SO much better when I use my weighted blanket as opposed to regular blankets or sheets.”

Tracey, adult with SID/SPD from USA

The full moon. Can make it impossible for some people to sleep at night and push one’s sleep rhythm forward even more.

Yes, yes, I know this is supposed to be utter nonsense, but the week leading up to the full moon I still can’t sleep, no matter how tired I am. If I miraculously manage to fall asleep before midnight, I invariably wake up again after a couple of hours and am wide awake all night. I’ve been aware of this for 30 years (and got sent to the school psychologist for falling asleep in school at those times, after I’d been up all night) so I really don’t think I’m imagining it. Patterns I notice usually get a scientific explanation a few decades later, so I’m sure this will one day be explained too.

Ing, site-author

Atypical sleep pattern. E.g. being a B-person -> see Atypical sleep patterns

MELATONIN

Insomnia may in some be due to a deficiency/irregularity in melatonin production. Taking synthetic melatonin works for some, though not necessarily for everyone.

“They have suggested that melatonin helps, as research has shown that Aspies seem to have irregular melatonin production in their bodies. On trying melatonin, I found it helpful. Apparently melatonin is an enzyme, which regulates your body clock and regulates your sleep as well as initiates it. Research seems to show that Aspies have irregular melatonin production and, in fact, some Aspies reported the opposite problem to me of needing a minimum of 15 hours’ sleep in every 24 to be able to function. So, apparently, this sort of sleep disorder is due to irregular melatonin production in our own bodies, which has now been shown to be a physiological problem that Aspies have been shown to have!”

Archit, Aspie from India/UK

SLEEP TIPS

“Sleep problems are something I’ve struggled with for a long time, but have now solved.

“All these tips about not guzzling coffee, soda, sweets before bedime, not even te, eating too much, being too hungry etc., all those things I had already avoided. Then I read a tip that was the key to my insomnia:

“‘Regard your bed as the bastion of sleep.’ – don’t do anything but sleep there, no eating, no TV, no reading in bed… This way you program body and soul that this is a place for rest only. I have since followed the advice, and that’s how I’ve gotten my insomnia under control.

“The drawback was that from being a bookworm I’ve almost stopped reading entirely, but that’s a sacrifice I can live with.

“This is now it’s done:

“1. I don’t go to bed until I’m really tired. If I’m not ready to sleep I won’t go to bed.

“2. When I go to bed it’s lights out. Can feel tough sometimes, but usually one will go to sleep after a while.

“3. If, for some reason, I can’t sleep after a certain time (45-60 min), I get up and do something else instead. Then I try again next sleepy-period. To lie tossing and turning forever doesn’t work, it’s actually quicker and more effective to abort the attempt and start the process over again.”

Danne, Aspie from Sweden

LINKS

How to cure insomnia commercial resource but loads of useful info.

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3 Comments »

  1. john said,

    i cant sleep without benadryl and melatonin….else i am up at 3AM +- 5 min. been that way all my life .

    i heard we aspies have messed up melatonin levels and thats why we all have insomnia.

  2. Velvet said,

    I find that if I’m dehydrated at all when I go to bed, I get mentally hyper as soon as I lay down…but when I sit upright, I feel sleepy….so I lay back down, so I get mentally hyper again, so I sit up again….

  3. Sam The Willow said,

    I cant sleeeeppppppppppppppppppppppppp. Is there any like food remedies


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