Saturday, 12 September 2015

Aspie sleeping habits

Question: are you (or the Aspie in your life) a morning person or a night owl?  Or do you (or they) have sleeping habits that don't fit the usual pattern at all?

My Aspie tendencies become more pronounced when I'm tired or sleep-deprived - my sensory processing goes to hell, I get even more socially awkward than usual, and my tiny shred of executive functioning deserts me completely. I reckon a solid eight hours z's a night would make a big difference to my health and my general ability to function - if I could get it.

The first problem is I'm a serial night owl.  I've really never been able to handle mornings, by which I mean anything before about 9:30am.  Which presented a particular dilemma when I had a job that started at 5:30am, and is still a problem now that I work office hours.

I've tried just going to bed earlier, but that doesn't work.  It usually ends up either like this:
  • I try to get to bed earlier, but thanks to the disorganisation that comes with executive dysfunction I don't get around to it until the usual time anyway
Or
  • I get to bed earlier and then can't sleep because it's earlier than my body's used to going to sleep, and I've got too many racing thoughts about life and work and whatever I'm currently obsessing about and deconstructing my latest social failure in minute detail and worrying about how I'm not getting enough sleep.
I usually don't sleep in a lace dress or full makeup, though
Plus, I genuinely feel more alert and do my best work later at night.  It comes in handy when I get involved in sporadic performance-related things, but isn't so helpful for 8:30 starts at the office job.

On top of owlishness I also get pretty epic insomnia which resists everything I've thrown at it: warm milk, various prescription meds, herbal supplements, get-ready-to-sleep guided meditations, listening to whalesong and burbly Enya-type nonsense, exercising, not exercising, reading before bed, not reading before bed, and liberal quantities of booze*.

 I'm not sure whether any of this is an Aspergers issue or not.  I only have one brain, and a variety of bullshit going on it it, so it could be any combination of:
  • Aspergers-related sleep issues
  • ADD-related sleep issues
  • Depression-related sleep issues
  • Sensory processing issues - I love the weight of heavy blankets and featherbeds and the heavier the bedclothes the better I sleep.  But I also feel the heat something awful and am way more comfortable when I'm cool, so for most of the year heavy blankets are an impossibility
  • I should probably get checked out for sleep apnea, because I tick a couple of boxes for that.  It's on my list of things to do, along with seeing a dentist, getting my eyes tested, getting a few not-dangerous-but-still-annoying moles lopped off, updating my mental health care plan and getting my eyebrows sorted out.  Don't hold your breath on any of that actually being done anytime soon, though.
I really like the sound of the way we apparently used to sleep until the 17th century, in two blocks of four hours with an hour or two's wakefulness in the middle.  That's a lifestyle I reckon I could get behind, but it'd be hard to make that schedule work around the commitments of the modern day.

Anyway, enough about me.  I'm interested to hear from other people on the spectrum: are you a night owl too, or are you an early riser?  Or do you have a non-standard sleep pattern?  Do you have insomnia?  (And do you have any tips to deal with it???)  I'm really interested to see what trends emerge...


*Alcohol is not recommended as a sleep aid because even if it does knock you out it screws up the quality of your sleep.  But it should be pretty clear that I'm not a how-to guide for sleep hygiene.