“You May Be Getting More Sleep Than You Think” by Andrea Peterson. The Wall Street Journal, 7/14/2015.
This article caught my attention because, frankly, it agrees with my theory. Many times, I have tossed and turned and looked at the clock: 1:30 am. I roll over, then roll right back again. Still can’t sleep. I glance at the clock, but now it says 3:45. Whoa, where did the time go? I guess I was asleep after all.
Another common scenario: Toss and turn, no sleep seemingly for hours. But then I think, “What was all that about being back in high school, roaming the halls in my underwear, missing half of the semester, and not knowing where I should be?” Surely that was a dream. I must have been asleep.
It makes sense. When we are asleep we are unaware of the passage of time, so we only remember the time we are awake which then seems to fill the whole period. Sometimes I am watching Judge Judy, blink my eyes, and she is hearing another case. I must have dozed off for a few minutes without realizing it.
Many people with insomnia think they sleep much less than they actually do. They feel like they have barely slept at all, but their partner in the morning tells them they were out like a light. About half of insomniacs get a normal amount of sleep—about 6 hours—but underestimate the amount by one hour. On the other hand, people who really don’t sleep much overestimate the amount of time they sleep.
“You can have insomnia and still get an adequate number of hours of sleep. New research shows that insomnia is less about the amount you sleep and more about what your brain does during sleep.” Insomniacs appear to be normally asleep—not moving, eyes closed—but their brains are racing.
One researcher says,”Insomnia is not a problem of too little sleep. It is the problem of too much brain activation. When patients tell us, ‘My mind is wandering. I’m thinking all night. I’m aware of everything that is going on,’ it is entirely possible that their experience of sleep is exactly how they describe it.”
Medication and therapy only tend to increase sleep time by about 15 minutes. Experts suggest the old methods of sleep restriction work best: avoid daytime dozing and go to bed later.
From my own experience, I’ve found dozing during the day is irresistible, especially after activity. If I then can’t sleep at night, I’ll get up and play a computer game for maybe 15 minutes, only enough to get completely awake. I find it much easier to fall back asleep after being totally awake than from a half-awake condition. Tossing and turning could be my body trying to wake itself up, as if it knows that is what is needed.