Common Problems

By Emma Forbes

Question: I am not waking up from my core sleep, and not responding to alarms. What Can I do?

All of the schedules posted as examples in the articles are simply averages. This means that if it shows a 3.5h core, it may not be exactly 3.5h for you. Everyone’s sleep architecture is different, and sleep cycles are different too. This means that you may be better off with a 3h – 3.25h – 3.75h or 4h core (instead of 3.5h core). Ideally, you want to be waking up from a period of rem, or very light sleep (which happens cyclically throughout the night). You will have to experiment or have multiple alarms every 10 minutes to see which alarm you respond to, then make that alarm your normal alarm time.

Question: I have been getting lots of REM, but I am still very tired, why is this?

 You are either waking up at the wrong time when your brain is in a slow wave-state (in which you can change your alarm time like above) or you are becoming chronically SWS deprived! You need to find out how you can change your schedule or lifestyle to improve your daily yield of SWS. You should aim for 1.25 hours of SWS a day.

Question: I am following my nap times very strictly, but I still can’t sleep in a nap. Why?

There can be two reasons for this. It may be that your naps are placed at the wrong time and do not match up with your ultradian (or circadian) rhythm. Commonly people will make an equidistant schedule, placing naps at equal intervals throughout the day, and this may not suit your biological clock, or they place naps unevenly but without any rhythm, and so they are trying to sleep when their rhythm is telling their body to wake up (a wakeful peak of their BRAC). Secondly, it may be that you have not yet trained your rhythm efficiently because you have not been deprived of enough sleep to force your body to change rhythms. Perhaps do a nap exaptation to train your body to a certain rhythm.

Common Problem: bodily changes whilst adapting to a schedule

If you have not before experimented with your sleep, then there is going to be a huge change in how your body functions.

Digestive Problems: Your digestive tract needs to learn to stay somewhat active throughout the periods you were typically asleep before. Normally your bowels will stop moving after about 10 pm at night in preparation for sleep, but when you are sleep deprived they may not start back up. This can lead to constipation and changes in stool, but this will stabilize after some time. If you are suffering from constipation then you should consider only drinking liquids for the first few days to keep your energy up without putting a strain on the guts.

Metabolic Panic: You will become a lot more thirsty and either a lot more hungry, or a total loss of appetite. For tips on nutrition visit the nutrition section in the Nutrition and Recipes forum. At this point in time, it is important to keep drinking water as you get thirsty, as water is an important resource in homeostasis.

Temperature Drop: You will notice a body temperature drop accompanied by a drop in resting heart rate. Within this period you should keep your extremities warm, with woolen socks, and maybe a thermal undergarment. You may experience sudden chills when your graveyard hours approach.

Eye Strain: You may encounter some eye strain as your eyes adjust to long periods of time open. The best thing you can do for your eyes is to keep them refocusing (short to long-distance focusing), rather than keeping them focused at a certain length (watching a screen or book). Eye drops or coconut oil can also help with dryness, especially whilst driving a car or doing any highly perceptive activity.

Emotional Instability: You may experience emotional swings with both positive and negative associations. During adaptation, whilst in a REM deprived state, irrational thoughts and emotional surges may occur. It is best to recognize these when they occur and consciously resist them. Whilst in an SWS deprived state you may also have symptoms of addiction, depression or heaviness.

Immune Response Overdrive, Suppression, Rebound: Naturally, with sleep deprivation comes the suppression of the immune system. There will usually be a first period where your symptoms are stronger than normal. If you have a current sickness then within the first day or two you will get sick. A second period begins where you are perfect without symptoms, as the immune response becomes suppressed. This does not mean you are or are not sick, but you will not be able to tell. A third period may begin where your body goes into an immunity rebound, symptoms will become much worse than they actually should be, and as you catch up on sleep and adapt this rebound will settle and go away.