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Always sleepy ... except when its time to sleep


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Had this problem for 20 years now, will try to explain it. I hope you can give me some advices. 

1) I am sleepy with low motivation all day and evening. I want to lie on bed, curl in a ball and wait. I could sleep for 15 hours if alarm didnt wake me up. It is extremely hard for me to wake up, whether its 8 am, 10 am, 1 pm or 3pm. 
2) When it is time to sleep, like midnight, 1am or 2am and i get into bed, i get extremely restless, nervous and anxious. I feel like a hyperactive kid that has been tied up to bed. Its pure agony that i cant even explain. During day i could close my eyes and just make plans and think about things. At night when its sleep time i cant do that, i get extremely restless and anxious and nervous. 
3) I take 5mg Zyprexa (Olanzapine) 3 hours before sleep, doctor gave it to me to help me sleep (dont have any psychotic ilness otherwise). I fall asleep alright now, but now i could sleep 15 hours, no matter if i sleep 7 or 12 hours, its hard to wake up and i remain sleepy. Without the pill, i can never fall asleep before 5 am, which means i cant wake up before 12:00. I am on different types of antidepressants for all those 20 years. 


I tried more or less everything. Tried coffe, tried no coffe.  I have lots of dreams, i dream every night, could write a book about it.  Wondering if this is the reason i am always so sleepy ? Another interesting thing. If i wake up before 11 am, my back hurts (had operation a while back). Even if i sleep for 12 hours, or 7 hours, my back will hurt if its before 11 am. I have no idea why it matters when i wake up and not how long i sleep. Even pain pill wont help me. I am trying to get a new job and this sleepiness thing is really blowing my chances and making my life hell. Please help me if you can. 

Edited by runninghope
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I am so sorry this is happening to you!  How awful.  Wish I had some good advice but I can't think of anything at the moment.  Hopefully others here will see your post and have some good words of help for you.  I struggle with sleep problems but not anywhere nearly as burdensome as yours.  So sorry I do not know how to be helpful to you!

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Hi Runninghope,

based on the things you said I think you should if worklife pernits it try to aim to wake up around 11.30am. It gives you a buffer so your back does not hurt.

If you want to keep having dreams writing them down and recalling then typically makes you dream more otherwise if you forget and ignore them they tend to fade away its up to you. Also if you dream that is a sign you are getting high quality REM sleep.

Somethings you can do is make your sleeping area dark as possible. Use a sound machine or earplugs, use lavender scent and take melatonin as a last resort if you are insomniac. Also take care of your physical, mental, emotional health it might not directly help with sleep but it helps indirectly when people feel distressed they often cannot fall asleep because it is a primitive function. If you feel stressed then you would feel there is a threat and you would not want to sleep somewhere dangerous. It seems less useful in modern world but for some people who live on the streets or other places it still has use. You have to feel nice and safe to sleep good.

It sounds counter intuitive but with energy you get what you give, if you try to conserve your energy you will be more lethargic so try to find ways to spend energy during the day. If you feel low motivation and lethargic you could do something as simple as walking around in circles in a room or a 5 to 10 minute workout video on the internet.

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The spend energy during the day doesn't help. Even if i skip sleeping for a day (i tried that many times) ... i will be extremely sleepy and tired all day ...up to about 11 pm. After 11 pm, its like something in me awakens and suddenly i have energy, motivation, ideas ... its like taking some kind of drug. I wont be able to fall asleep even though i skipped a sleeping day. And if i go to sleep before 11 pm, i will wake up at like 2 or 3 am and i wont be able to fall asleep. 

Could you tell me more about  melatonin? Since i am taking a lot of pills for my depression i dont mind 1 extra, if it will help me. Would it be better than sleeping pill ? Less tired the next day ?

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I don't have any next day effects from melatonin.  It just helps people sleep.  A lot of other things knock you out but you wake up feeling hungover.  I don't have anything bad to say about melatonin which coming from me is amazing.

Edited by sober4life
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Thank you, i will look into it and test if it helps me. Today i woke up quite on, but first my alarm rang at 10 am, i could wake up but didnt since i worked in the afternoon and i had no motivation/reason to wake up. Then at 12.00, same thing, finaly i got out of bed at 13:00. This Zyprexa i take certanly makes me more sleepy the next day. How do i know ? Well, sometimes a postman wakes me up at 9:00 am and after i collect mail, i go back to bed and fall asleep in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. Before i was on that pill, if something woke me up at 8 am, i would have trouble falling asleep. I will let u know how it goes. In the meantime i reduces my coffe intake and that helps a bit also. Any other advices welcome. 

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On 4/5/2022 at 9:58 AM, runninghope said:

The spend energy during the day doesn't help. Even if i skip sleeping for a day (i tried that many times) ... i will be extremely sleepy and tired all day ...up to about 11 pm. After 11 pm, its like something in me awakens and suddenly i have energy, motivation, ideas ... its like taking some kind of drug. I wont be able to fall asleep even though i skipped a sleeping day. And if i go to sleep before 11 pm, i will wake up at like 2 or 3 am and i wont be able to fall asleep. 

Could you tell me more about  melatonin? Since i am taking a lot of pills for my depression i dont mind 1 extra, if it will help me. Would it be better than sleeping pill ? Less tired the next day ?

Yes Melatonin is something the body naturally releases in the dark it causes you to fall asleep.

There are melatonin supplements people can also take they are usually safe to take.

I would try to exercise regularly during the day if you can, it seems to auto correct a lot of things like it will improve diet and mood and other things. You could experiment with what works for you. I am confident you will figure out a solution because you communicate well and are looking into your options.

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On 4/4/2022 at 12:11 PM, runninghope said:

Had this problem for 20 years now, will try to explain it. I hope you can give me some advices. 

1) I am sleepy with low motivation all day and evening. I want to lie on bed, curl in a ball and wait. I could sleep for 15 hours if alarm didnt wake me up. It is extremely hard for me to wake up, whether its 8 am, 10 am, 1 pm or 3pm. 
2) When it is time to sleep, like midnight, 1am or 2am and i get into bed, i get extremely restless, nervous and anxious. I feel like a hyperactive kid that has been tied up to bed. Its pure agony that i cant even explain. During day i could close my eyes and just make plans and think about things. At night when its sleep time i cant do that, i get extremely restless and anxious and nervous. 
3) I take 5mg Zyprexa (Olanzapine) 3 hours before sleep, doctor gave it to me to help me sleep (dont have any psychotic ilness otherwise). I fall asleep alright now, but now i could sleep 15 hours, no matter if i sleep 7 or 12 hours, its hard to wake up and i remain sleepy. Without the pill, i can never fall asleep before 5 am, which means i cant wake up before 12:00. I am on different types of antidepressants for all those 20 years. 


I tried more or less everything. Tried coffe, tried no coffe.  I have lots of dreams, i dream every night, could write a book about it.  Wondering if this is the reason i am always so sleepy ? Another interesting thing. If i wake up before 11 am, my back hurts (had operation a while back). Even if i sleep for 12 hours, or 7 hours, my back will hurt if its before 11 am. I have no idea why it matters when i wake up and not how long i sleep. Even pain pill wont help me. I am trying to get a new job and this sleepiness thing is really blowing my chances and making my life hell. Please help me if you can. 

Have you tried a sleep specialist? They often work hand in hand with your shrink.

I too could sleep fpr 20 hours and yet force myself to bed. Sleeping disorders can boost up depression a lot and wise versa.

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I am sorry you are suffering from sleep deprivation and lack of motivation. I know how that feels only too well.

what meds are you on for depression, some work with and others against the sleep cycle. A few things I tried that make a difference for me…

-changing the timing of my pill intake, am to pm etc

-cleaning my pre bed routine to one that works for me, music, meditation, background noise like rain or a washing machine

-thinking positive repetitive thoughts until I simply fall asleep. Staying asleep can be hard so do it again as required

hope something might help you

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I take 375mg venlafaksin (brand names alventa, Effexor, etc.), usualy when i wake up or during the day when i remember to take it. I take 5mg Olanzapine (Zyprexa, etc.) about 3 hours before sleep. I did try to replace Zyprexa with 30mg Mirtazapine (Mirzaten, etc.) but it felt like i have even harder time waking up the next day. 

I had this problem long before i ever took Zyprexa or Mirzaten. Before it, i went to sleep at around 4 or 5am and slept 7, 8 or 9 hours. Im going to buy Melatonin 3 or 5mg and try it this weekend when i can afford to lose a night of sleep. Considering that i am used to Zyprexa and Mirzaten which are very strong, i am afraid that mere over the counter no prescription Melatonin will not have any effect. I tried very high dosages of tees and herbs but nothing had any effect on me. I am wondering if it would make sense to move alventa to evening, its funny though, online data shows that it can cause sleepiness or insomnia. Interesting. 

This problem of mine is very old, older than even taking antidepressants. Even as a kid i remember when we had somewhere, the whole class, other kids fell asleep alright while i had trouble falling asleep. Its as if my rhytm is turned upside down and i cant fix it. Today i finaly got out of bed at 3 pm. My alarm first rang at 11 am. I didnt even think about staying up because the thought of moving the clock to 1, 2 and 3pm was overwhelming, i just wanted to go back to sleep just like a drug addict wants to take a drug. I work in the afternoon so that is not a problem for me. Its a problem if i want to switch to a morning job. And people think me strange or lazy for sleeping till 3 pm. But it is not as if i enjoy this - i would do anything to change it. I really dont understand how i can be sleepy all day and crave going to bed. But when its midnight that most people go to sleep, suddenly something wakes up in me, like some demon that turns on the power and i wake up and going to bed makes me extremely restless - like some inner child in me is resisting the parents that ordered him to go to sleep. 

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Try the melatonin, nothing to lose. It didnt change anything for me personally, but I know people it did work for.

an off label trick is to take Nyquil or any of the brands listed for nightime cold or allergy relief. I’m sure you have heard about this but thought I would put it out there. I’m sure any antihistamine could have a similar effect too.

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I ordered a pack of 3mg melatonin pills and will try it. I will also try slowly going off the zyprexa, because the last time i went off cold turkey i couldnt fall asleep till 6 am and it was pure torture. So i will first try half the pill of zyprexa with a pill of melatonin and then see how it goes. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have been taking 3mg melatonin pills for a few days in a row now. I reduced zyprexa to 2.5mg before sleep instead of 5mg. In a few days i will try to further reduce zyprexa. Going from 5mg to 2.5mg didnt help in me waking up earlier. More and more i think its the depression, not the pills, that is making it so hard to wake up and be sleepy. Cause its not only that im sleepy - i have zero drive and motivation for anything when i wake up. So i go back to sleep. I will soon try to play a good video game when i wake up, maybe that will wake me up sooner. 

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Are you an over thinking style of person like me, brain just wont stop manipulating information until I’ve concluded its bad for me, or I shoukd rethink it!

sometimes for me the only way to sleep is extended efforts towards meditation, soft music, and put on thunderstorms on TV, black screen so the light doesnt disturb me…..

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Im overthinker, though i come to negative pretty fast. I dont even have to think much - usualy i wake up suicidal or really depressed so i dont even have to think - the moment i wake up, the pain hits me like a bus. 

As for sleeping ... its amazing. During the day im completely zombie like. If i get out of bed at 2 pm, its hard - i could sleep more. But i get out of bed. I have zero drive, zero motivation, i just wanna go back to bed, curl, hide. Then as hours go by, if i stay awake, maybe around 6 pm i will somehow get to life, suddenly get some drive and motivation back, so i can get some work done, earn my living. 

Now the night. If i didnt take any pills for sleep, i would fall asleep between 4 and 6 am, depending on when i would wake up the previous day. It would be a struggle. I would get really nervous. Which is crazy cause during the day, lying on bed is fantastic - even if i dont sleep, i am so calm, i think about plans, etc. But at night ... i feel like adhd child that cant stay still. Its like a child in me is resisting his parents and dont want to go to sleep. Its torture. Its like my internal clock is completely warped and no matter what i do ... even if i magicaly start waking up at 7 am ... even after 3 months it will still be torture. 

My sleep ritual is always the same. I go to bed when i feel the pill kicking in, im getting sleepy. I lie down and start watching a sitcom on my low light laptop. Its always sitcom, funny series, to lighten the mood. I usualy watch like 20 minutes, then turn around and go to sleep. When i didnt have the pill, it usualy took more like 40-60 minutes of series before i felt i could turn around and go to sleep. 

Its not just sleepiness during the day - its the complete lack of drive, motivation - its like i just wanna lie down and die. Only hours later, something will wake up in me and suddenly i will get motivation for random things and go do them. 

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I dont believe your alone in feeling this way. Our illness, depression, keeps us in bed as long as we care for it too, then we will suddenly find a kicker to get us moving, but wander around doing trivial stuff until we figure we should go back to bed! Safety under the sheets.

i dont have any magical solutions but the following have helped me.

Can you establish some routines in your life, doesnt matter what they are, shower, dry hair, eat etc, but keep them small and manageable….. gradually you expand the routines to include other stuff.

people suggested I get a hobby but that soon dried up my interest in hobbies, so I went for a walk and included 10 minutes of guided meditation every evening.

i also wrote down a list of all the good things that happened that day….. wasnt always much but there was always something….. then I tried to do one more the next day.

just some thoughts, as I understand what you are going through…..

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More and more i am starting to think this is not the medications making me feel this way, but rather depression. I checked my log and i was able to wake up at 11 am, multiple days in a row, on same medication i am on right now. Further, cutting my sleeping pill in half didnt make a difference.

Its not just being sleepy - its like i lack the will to live. Today i woke up at 12:30 to do something i had to do, but i really felt tired and bad (after 7-8 hours of sleep). At 13:00 i decided i will go to sleep for another hour or two. I ended up moving my alarm clock until i finaly got out of bed at 19:00 - and i could sleep more - i dreamt so much if nothing else, i wanted to think and dream on it. 

I understand that parts of year energy is lower then other part - with me it was always like that, i had better and worse part of year. But now i didnt have a good part for like 8 months. 8 months of not feeling that being very motivated feeling. I try to include routines and sometimes i manage them, sometimes i dont. 

Probably the worst problem i have in my life right now is what i could call the 1 day rule. Lets say a certain day i wake up feeling very bad, but i find some godly strength to be super productive and work all day and do 5 days worth of work. I go to bed feeling super happy about how much i accomplished. But the next day i will wake up feeeling super bad and suicidal again - just like if i didnt do anything the previous day. This is so hard because no matter how much i try ... everyday i start from zero once again. And probably the only thing that really makes me feel better is work. If i work, i feel better. And its not about how much money i earn - its about how much i "suffer" or how much i feel i have suffered. Its like i have an inner parent that wants me to work my ass off and i can only feel good when i have suffered enough. Kind of like a runners high - u only feel it after you have suffered a bit. I get similar feeling when i am working out with weights. But the problem is its near impossible for me to find motivation to get going. I decided im gonna give psychotherapy a try cause its clear me alone with meds cant make a dent and its only getting worse. 

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I tried melatonin and my subjective feeling is that it helps me go to sleep, i tried 3mg. But i took it with half dosage of my usual pill so its not perfectly objective. The bad news is that i am still sleepy during the day. The hardest thing being getting out of bed. And i think its not the pills that are responsible. Its depression. I will try to explain. 

Today i woke up at like 8am. Obviously it was far to early for me, so i turned around to sleep more. Took me quite a while to fall asleep, was a bit anxious, turning around, etc. I actualy got up for a bit and i felt "OK". Then my alarm clock rang at 12. I didnt even think, i set it to 1pm. It was really hard to get out of bed but i managed. Only for a few minutes. I could stay awake ... but i had no reason to. Absolutely no drive, motivation for anything in the world. I went back to bed at 1am ... and god that felt good, it was like all my pain went away and the bed hugged me and said to me everything is going to be ok. At 3 pm alarm rang and i got out of bed. I felt better, had motivation, didnt feel so sleepy, etc. Its like my inside clock is completely upside down. 

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Well, right now, getting up at 11 pm would be a huge accomplishment for me. I did it for a while, but right now im happy if i can get out of bed before 2 pm. My long time goal would be 10 am. 

Today i verified that it is indeed not meds fault, even though im sure they add a little bit. Today i woke up at 8 am and ate some apples. And i felt alright. I had no drive to stay awake, i felt panicky at the thought of it, cause that would mean so many hours are ahead of me. But if it was the meds .... then at 8 am i should feel almost dead. But i didnt. So it is depressions fault. I simply have no reason to get out of bed cause my only goal really is to survive during the day to go back to bed. I know that 2 years ago sometimes i woke up at 8 am without alarm ... and i stayed awake for 2 hours looking at some thing that used to really interest me. Now there is nothing. Nothing that really interests me. I need to work on that. 

Im still open to suggestions from you, @Extremebeginner 

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Posted (edited)

I came here today because of sleep related depression and apathy. It's great that this post is recent.

I have been having major sleep problems for as long as I can remember. I too feel that I should naturally be awake starting at around 6:30-7pm and sleep during the day. And my sleep cycle is chaotic and mostly inconsistent. If I could wake up and sleep when I pleased, I would likely be ok aside from being depressed. The problem is that it doesn't allow me to fit into society at all and being depressed is terrible.

I've known a few other insomniacs and hypersonmiacs in person, and it has always been the root cause of many of our life's biggest issues. I don't want to come off harsh, but for those reading without real problems sleeping, please refrain from comments about chamomile tea and nice walks. I've probably heard the same generic advice hundreds (thousands?) of times now.

Instructions for fixing sleep:

A lightbox (10,000 lux) with a mechanical timer set for 30 minutes every morning can anchor down a sleep cycle. Food matters as well. Fasting during the hours you want to sleep and eating a large breakfast (that is, breakfast is bigger than dinner) is significant. The time you wake up matters more than the time you go to sleep and the length of time you fall asleep for. The amount of hours sleeping will decrease over time as your body gets more efficient. For melatonin, it's not a sleeping pill. It's a hormone that STIMULATES a specific internal reaction that initializes those feelings of sleepyness (yes, it's a lack of certain stimulations that keep you up, not the presence of them). Melatonin needs 2-3 weeks of consistent daily use (within 30 minutes of the exact same time taking it each night) before you'll notice results from it. Again, it's not a one-off sleeping pill. For wake up time, it needs to be very consistent and slowly moved (30 min a week). Waking up at the designated time, getting light, and immediately eating is the most important thing you can do. All other "generic" advice applies too (light exercise, etc.)

I've been to sleep specialists and various doctors. I've gotten multiple sleep studies done. And so on. This is the correct way to fix similar sleep problems that you or I have. It takes about 3 months of consistent discipline before you can say you're stable. It takes 6 months to say that you recovered. The first month is the most difficult. The goal of month 1 is to just wake up at ANY somewhat consistent time and follow the routine. The goal of months 2-4 is to gradually move the clock back (30 min a week, no more no less) until it's at a good time. The goal of then to 6 months is bolting down that time. The goal beyond 6 months is maintenance, which is easy. (I've done this before a decade ago).

A tip: I use my computer's notepad to offload my over-active mind. It chatters on and on after being awake at night and alone and needs flushing. Writing down the thoughts makes them stop.

If this is the correct advice, then why is fixing sleep for us so difficult?

The answer is that the instructions may be simple, clear, and reliable but the execution of those instructions is always extremely difficult (eg. "Just eat less calories and exercise more" will get you to lose weight 100% of the time, but easier said than done). For reference, I'm on month 2 of trying to fix this after it got out of control again, and I've had 12 sleepless nights over the last 5 weeks. Today, I had 3 hours of sleep. Yesterday, another 3 hours. Over last weekend, I slept for 20 out of 24 hours on Saturday. It happens, and it's brutal to go through. But I have achieved success before (about 10 years ago) and got it very stable for most of the year before I fell out of discipline and other later abuses on my sleep schedule over the last decade (eg. studying late at night for university). Even then, it lasted a few more years before I broke my ability to sleep about 2 years later from work.

Chances are very high that, while there is something probably wrong with us genetically, we very likely don't have some sort of easily categorized malfunction (eg. sleep apnea) that we can solve in any "set it and forget it" sense. In my experience, it requires constant upkeep, and even then, I would still get a rate of 1 sleepnless night / 2-3 weeks.

Depression: cause or consequence?

Ten years ago, it was actually fixing my sleep cycle that "cured my depression." I just got out of what was essentially a multi-year mental health institution world tour. They gave me all sorts of pill cocktails, told me I had all sorts of childhood traumas, kept telling me to "talk about it" and "express my feelings" and "the real problem is that you feel powerless" etc. The mental health industry and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race, and I've left with far more mental and physical problems (side effects) than what I had going in.

The sleep problems lost me jobs and caused me to fail in school which made me more depressed. Therapists and doctors not only saw the cause-effect in reverse, but they were almost unable to see it differently. It absolutely had to be mental illness causing the life problems and not the other way around. The whole industry, from insurance to admins to psychologists, behaved this way.

But what I will not deny is that a broken sleep discipline absolutely does lead to a depressing, lonely, unstable, and apathetic life of period failures that often feels impossible to crawl out of. @runninghopeIf you'd like to take the instructions and advice of my post, then maybe it will bring you some motivation to know that I'm also out there right now banging my head against the wall doing the 6 month instruction set too.

It will work if I just keep at it though. Or, at least, it will be good enough for me to live life with.

Edited by morningnight
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Posted (edited)

@morningnight The instructions sound logic and not much different from what i have been trying. But to some degree i solved part of the issue ..  because i now have the pill that allows me to go to sleep at 11 pm if i so wish and i will sleep all night until the alarm goes off. Infact, i had this pill for 4 years. And checking my log, i see there were whole weeks of me waking up everyday at 11 am, which means i could wake up at 10 am also (which is my perfect wake up time).

The pill isn't the problem ... sure, maybe its making it 10% harder to get out of bed but, its the depression and lack of reason to get out of bed thats the problem with me. I remember in 2020 i belive it was .. i was making certain electronic devices, i was super motivated since it was something new. And i remember i ate and drank lots of food/fluids before sleep so i woke up almost everyday at 8 am to go pee. And guess what. Multiple times, on my way from bathroom, instead of going to bed, i sat in front of the computer and started browsing through some data about my project and sometimes i spent 1 or more hours doing this. And i dont ever remember sleepiness being the problem. 

I really have a rough time last 2 years .. i had it rough for many years but whats new is that i accomplished some things and about others, i gave up, figured i cant accomplish them anymore, dont have the energy, knowledge, power, etc. All this years i had 1 really big goal and i was working towards it and even when it was super tough, i wanted to accomplish this so much that i dragged my ass out of the pit. Actualy this year is the first year when i dont have a single goal. Most of the time, if i had a button to "quit", i would. I just went on a diet + went wacko in sports, just to get a goal, even though i didnt really need a diet that much. But it makes everything easier knowing that each day i have to eat exactly the amount that i set and i have to run for the amount i have to, no matter what, i have to do it. Gives me purpose. 

To not make this to long .. with the meds for sleep i have right now, falling asleep is not an issue anymore. Having a reason to wake up is the problem. I turn off the alarm clock and i go back to bed because that is the only thing i would like to do at that moment. Staying awake is painful and being awake, nothing gives me pleasure. But going back to warm bed and escaping from pain for a bit longer ... thats nice. 
 I remember the feeling .... i dont know when was the last time i had it but i remember the feeling of waking up and having this slight positive "anxiety" in your chest ... its like slight rush of adrenaline but in a good way .. u just want to jump out of bed, crank some rock music, put on a shirt and do stuff. Yeah, i remember that feeling. But i dont know when was the last time i had it. Is it depression, or is it the lack of purpose/goal ? Or both ? Im trying therapy in a few weeks ... i tried it like 2 years ago .. only 2 sessions .. didnt like it. But im giving it another go since i pretty much tried everything else. But i know it wasn't always like this. I had weeks or maybe even months on end when i looked forward to the next day and when i had a good motivation, i never had a problem jumping out of bed, even if i slept only 3 hours.

Edited by runninghope
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  • 3 weeks later...

@runninghope Hi, I'm making a follow up after a month. Your post was rambling on for a while, so I'm not sure what the central point of it was.

Here is my follow up: Overall, things are going well, and I'm on the tail end of misery. My energy has largely returned after I moved onto the diet and exercise portion of the 3 - 6 month plan. One goal was to increase testosterone because such abuse on my sleep system (and the diet and lethargy that goes with it) will drop these levels very low and the effects of depression, nihilism, and lethargy will compound themselves. Once this has been fixed, I'll be moving onto the "purpose" part of the plan, which seems to be what @runninghopeis having trouble with. I don't think I can give myself a real purpose to wake up for unless I fix my physical self first. So I'm focusing on that. It takes top priority. So if it means a responsibility isn't done during the day in order for me to sleep on time, then that's just what it is (I've removed most of my non-critical commitments during this time).

Summary of what worked / what was experienced

Sleep:

After a total of fixing my sleep in the way I've described earlier, I'm now averaging around one 50% sleepless night (ie. only sleep for 3-4 hours) per week, so that's a huge improvement. I've been on a schedule to set the clock back 30 min every week or so, but I've been stuck on 10:30am for about two weeks. I don't want to push it to 10:00 unless I know I can hit 10:15-10:30 consistently. Melatonin is still being taken consistently. My light box is on a timer that turns on 20 minutes ahead of my alarm. I use an alarm with puzzles in it so I don't hit snooze. I avoided nearly all caffeine and naps. By the end of this month, I no longer needed any caffeine to keep me awake and had a clearer mind from not having any. I only used half a sleeping pill maximum 3 times per week to avoid dependency. Ideally, they shouldn't be used at all. Except for a light snack shortly before bed, I stopped eating passed 7pm. I kept bars of 20g protein next to my bed which I ate immediately after shutting off my alarm. This helped significantly in bolting down my runaway sleep-wake cycle and was one of the most important things I did.

The diet and exercise routines have helped tremendously with lethargy. I chose a low-effort plan. Here's what I eat / do:

Diet:

~35% fats for total daily calories (coconut oil, omega 3, nuts, and meat), 0.8 g/kg of body weight for protein intake daily, and the rest are complex carbs (oats, potatoes, bread, brown rice). That's it. Not much else on top of that besides my vitamin levels. I eat slightly over maintenance calories to avoid feeling sleepy throughout the day (for me, 1800 cal/day). I supplement daily with 2g of Omega 3, 150 mcg of vitamin D3, one generic multivitamin, and men's gummy vitamins that contain folic acid and zinc (since the multivitamin doesn't have them). I eat more lean meat and fish, 2-4 times / week for red meat and either 2 cans of tuna (my maximum) per week or 300g of salmon per week. I add spinach to meals whenever I can.

Exercise:

As much of these as I can do as often as I can, trying to do all three in one setting: 100 bodyweight squats, 20 diamond push ups, and 10 pull ups. That's it, usually taking 15 minutes.

Mental health:

I will sometimes sit with my laptop on my lap at the end of the day with notepad open and lay around until a thought comes into my head. Then I immediately write it down. After an hour of this, my thoughts are usually sorted out in some manner and I can "conclude" them in some way and be ready for sleep. As you can see from the earlier post, the first month of fixing these sleep problems took its toll. Since sleep deprivation is also forced isolation, it can lead to a lot of self-critical and overly-introspective thought patterns. There were some days where I was on multiple days of no sleep and I had to actually sit on my couch and do nothing but wait 7 hours until the day was over so I can try to sleep again at the appropriate time. Some days entered suicidal levels of depression (because it was compounded by me being a useless bum around the house). I tolerated it, and most of these introspective patterns have drastically reduced themselves as the ability to sleep (and at the right time) got more reliable.

Plans for the future and general advice

@runninghope, I think you're doing this backwards. Please read this in its entirely without skipping. Your approach was what I first tried but then failed at because I could never land on what goals I wanted to commit to long term. The better approach, imo, is to focus solely on the body and your physical abilities for a few months before asking yourself bigger life questions. Nearly everyone I know of who has ever successfully got out of a depression has mentioned that taking care of their psychical self / exercising was the first thing they did. I'm convinced by the results in myself and others that there is no way around this and that you have to perfect diet, exercise, and sleep before more meaningful conversations with yourself can be had. If you feel unmotivated to either follow a low commitment exercise plan, sleep properly, or even just not eat poorly, that right there is the main problem. All thoughts on purpose, meaning, emotions, goals, and childhood whatevers should be set aside for these things to be fixed, and fixed well, first. Some mental issues will begin resolving themselves in the background while this is being done.

Personally, I'm at an inflection point in life for multiple reasons. I'm choosing to just handle the basic responsibilities of these loosely defined plans until sleep and mental health issues are reliably under control (3-6 months, entering my 3rd month now). It's easier to do it in this order anyway. Think. When is your deadline for deciding on what you want to do with your life? 2 weeks? 2 months? 2 years? Mental issues regarding things like purpose and motivation are all abstract and up in the air, and thus, routinely change on a whim. But judging by your post, I think you already know this.

The motivation problem

When it comes time to make decisions on what motivates me to maintain myself every day (besides the meta-project of repairing my physical body after a decade of abusing the way I sleep), I think I will either work on that this month or the next month by adding steps towards those goals to a daily or weekly routine plan and see whether 1. the goals fit and 2. whether I enjoy doing them. This worked well for me last time because instead of committing to a large goal like "I'm going to go to med school to become a neuro-chemist," you can instead practice the entrance exams and hang around med-school student forums or webinars (you have the internet, use it). Maybe spend money on experimenting with an online class? If you then realize you don't like studying chemistry after 3 months, then it's no big deal because you haven't emotionally invested into the idea of med school or told anyone about it anyway. You only incorporated a few of basic assignments into your routine and can drop such a plan with almost no penalty (penalties usually take the form of broken promises to others or the general self-doubt from switching big goals too often).

If you don't drop such a plan and find yourself to be good at it (and find yourself regularly adding more for this goal to your routine with no problems and high success), then the problem of not having a reason to wake up has been fixed, yes? So it's arbitrary what that goal is to some degree and gut instincts can work fine for finding it. However, if you're on this forum, chances are whatever the goals you're working towards are (in the very least) secondary to fixing your physical and mental self first. So that's why I'm suggesting not to actually worry about it until you have your physical strength, consistent proper sleep, reliable mental stability, and stellar nutrition for a solid 3-6 months first. Otherwise, you might just be too weak for whatever you signed up for.

Take care

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