I hope this question is on-topic for this site. It seems to me that sleep is a pretty big ingredient in fitness.
I pretty much never get enough sleep. It's not for lack of trying though. I just can't seem to do it. I find it very difficult to fall asleep. And also very difficult to get out of bed in the morning!
A large part of my problem is that I'm a night person by nature. Even if I'm tired all day long, I often feel wide awake after the sun sets. However to get to work on time during the week, I must get up by 7:30am at the absolute latest. That means that in order to get 8 hours of sleep, I would need to fall asleep by 11:30pm every night. At 11:30pm I am generally not inclined to sleep. Even when I turn all the lights out and go to bed, I find myself staring at the ceiling for a couple hours before finally drifting off.
It's not just a night-time problem though. There have been times where I've been extremely tired and I've tried to nap during the day. Sometimes I can do it, but often I just can't fall asleep, despite being tired. I seem to have an all-around insomnia problem. But it is usually easier to sleep during the day than at night.
I've already talked to 2 doctors about this, and neither of them was very helpful. They gave me some suggestions, which I've tried my best to follow, but it didn't make much of a difference. They did not seem to think that there was a medical cause for my condition. They didn't offer to prescribe me any medication, and I didn't ask.
Admittedly one thing I've been bad about is getting up and going to bed at the same time every day. I make an effort to do so, and I must be at work at the same time every day Monday-Friday, so you would think it would be easy. But if I don't fall asleep until 2:00am or even 3:00am some week nights, then by the time the weekend comes around I may really be exhausted and I may give in to the temptation to sleep past noon, which feels great but probably prolongs my problem.
I do think that the problem is probably largely psychological, because I often find it easier to sleep in hotels and in strange places than I do in my own home. No idea why.
Things I've tried:
- Avoiding caffeine after 12:00pm. This was something my doctor recommended. I actually have tried to quit caffeine altogether a few times, but I always keep coming back to my morning coffee.
- Over-the-counter medication - Sleep aids like diphenhydramine often (but not always) make me drowsy. Still, I've found that even when they make me drowsy, that doesn't necessarily mean I can fall asleep. It's like my brain fights a loss of consciousness down to the last. I tried a number of over-the-counter solutions for 1-2 weeks each, then stopped using them because they didn't seem to help.
- Eating a heavy meal shortly before bed - Same as above. It may make me more drowsy, but doesn't seem to actually cause sleep.
- Keeping non-sleep activities out of the bedroom - I'm haven't been 100% faithful, but I moved my computer and my desk out of my bedroom, and I try to keep my portable gadgets out of there, at least when I remember.
- Staying away from screens before bed - I listed this here because I have attempted it, but honestly I didn't really succeed. My life is pretty much run by computer and as long as I'm awake I'm probably near a screen.
- Exercise - Exercising within 3 hours or so of going to bed completely destroys my ability to sleep. I become "wired" and full of energy. Exercising earlier in the day seems to increase my need for sleep (it's harder to get out of bed the day after I do strenuous exercise), but doesn't seem to increase my drowsiness or ability to fall asleep at night.
I'm really at my wits end trying to solve this problem. I feel like it's affecting my health and my quality of life, and it's definitely affecting my fitness routine.
How can I learn to fall asleep, and keep good sleep habits? Does anyone have any ideas?