AutoTopic: The Minimum Amount Of Sleep You Can Get By On?

An interesting question, Mr. AutoTopic.  If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I’ve been through the circus of diagnosing sleep apnea and my subsequent fitting for my Darth Sleeper CPAP device.  However, sleep and I have a long and troubled history.

As a kid, I slept without issues.  Like all teenage boys, catching me awake was a real challenge.  As a younger man, I could go without sleep for unlimited amounts of time as required, which in the Army is a helpful quality.  In fact, when people ask me if I struggled in college, I normally respond with, “No, I merely stayed up until 2AM for three out of four years so I could graduate in the top seventy-five percent of my class.”  It takes extra effort to put things inside of rocks.

Anyway, the older I get the less tolerance I have for missing my shuteye, which became quite evident when the sleep doc told me I’d been operating on the equivalent of a 20-minute nap per night for the past seven years.  Enter the CPAP… and a new and glorious depth of sleep.

Then my second sabbatical in Afghanistan happened.  Make no mistake – the CPAP works just fine, and in the end it probably what has saved my ass from either complete insanity or worse, but suffice it to say that the stress of this round isn’t doing me any favors.  Alternating between problems, I found myself hollow-eyed every day and unable to remember important things like pants, stuff my boss told me, and shit like my name.  I would either wake up after 20 minutes or simply not fall asleep until three or four AM.  After some weeks of averaging seven hours over five-day stretches (punctuated by 2-day sleepfests at night), I had to do something.

Enter melatonin.  Mel and CPAP have got me completely normalized again, so I no longer dread bedtime.  The melatonin is like an express elevator down to REM-level sleep, and the CPAP keeps me from interrupting myself.

So take the answer to the original question for what you will.  Two or three hours is about my limit, and for only a couple of nights in a row, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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20 Responses to “AutoTopic: The Minimum Amount Of Sleep You Can Get By On?”

  1. I hate sleep issues. I love my sleep. LOVE my sleep. Place me slightly reclined and I can fall asleep (just not on an airplane).

  2. I remember the good old days when I could blow off sleep for a night if I was having enough fun (and drink).
    Not so much anymore…

  3. Melatonin is a godsend when the zzzz’s aren’t forthcoming. Glad you’re getting SOME rest but I still can’t imagine getting so little sleep. You sound a lot like my dad with your sleep habits. He does the 3-4 hrs/night too. I did it in college but I’m too old for that kind of crap now!

  4. LadyRyl got her CPAP before GranmaLadyBug, but even before that, she asked us if we could get Melatonin for her on our yearly forays into the Excited States. Buying a years supply WILL get you looked at by a Meijer’s clerk. It was not cleared for use in Canada for about five years.
    I’ve always been fortunate to get 8 hours when it was available. Now, retired, usually, but sometimes blog-excitement has me back up and composing in the middle of the night. Then my half-hour 6 PM nap becomes a two-hour catch-up, from 5 till 7 PM.
    You and Darth get all the sleep you can. Did you really have to haul him half-way around the world, and soon haul his helpful little ass back? May the god of somnolence smite you with a sandbag.

  5. whiteladyinthehood Says:

    Hope you get some good restful sleep and enjoy MamaRants! (I’m going to quit commenting over here so John can win his crown back…)

  6. I am an insommniac, I sleep 4 – 5 hours a night if I can. If I can’t I catch a nap in the afternoon. Then comes the catch up where I sleep 16 hours a day for a couple days.
    Almost 15 years ago I was prescribed a course of steroids to deal with arthritis issues which were crippling me. I was only on a mild steroid for 3 weeks, but I did not sleep more than 5 minutes a night for 6 full weeks. I broke a toe, I was so sleep deprived. I couldn’t drive or operate even a hair dryer without supervision 🙂 I finally had to resort to taking an antihistamine to get some sleep. My doctor kept me at home until I could get at least 4 hours a night.

  7. Oh, in the good old days of my twenties, I could do on less than 4. Many’s the convention I’d slip into the video room showing old Doctor Who reruns, and grab an hour or two. Nowadays, with the plethora of stuff I take, I get about 7 hours unconscious, only about 3 or 4 of that REM, though. But the sanity remains ever strong – just ask the hot pink dog with purple ears and a green belly, sitting here watching me type. (Sorry, the dragons went back to their perches after helping me watch “How To Train Your Dragon” the other night.)

  8. “Back in the day” I held a record in my old unit with 91 hours without sleep. I was completely delirious and (so I hear) hilarious. I also slept for damn near 24-hours when I was finally able to shut down.

    I have similar issues with apnea and was on CPAP for about 8 months until the doc discovered my apnea was actually central apnea and would require BiPAP. (AHI in 2 studies averaging 63.)

    I’ve not tried melatonin, but have heard many good things from folks who do. May give it a try after reading your article.

    Still occasionally pull 24-36 hour stints (normally because of job requirements – read: on call), but not often. Between the apnea and other “demons” I normally average about 4 hours per night.

    • Yikes… well, give the melatonin a try.

      • And if that doesn’t work, there’s a neat all-herbal concoction called “Night Nervine” that I use (as melatonin, like so many things, doesn’t work for me). St. John’s Wort, Valerian Root, and a mess of things that sounds like an inventory of a witch’s cauldron, but it works. If you need to know where to get it, give me a shout via ‘Rants site here, and I’ll dig up a distributors’ list for ya.

  9. 2-4 is norm. The permanent nap comes later. Melatonin helps?

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