Anxiety dreams

I have, as I noted the other day, been getting plenty of sleep the past few days, but I've nonetheless been waking up groggy and tired. I know I have significant sleep debt, but it seems unfair that I'm more tired after getting a full night's sleep than after getting a half night's sleep.

The other odd thing is that I've been having anxiety dreams and nightmares. Mostly related to work, which is weird because I'm in more or less a busyness lull at work--plenty to do, but not nearly as much deadline stress as I was under for a couple of months there.

Even had a (mild) test anxiety dream a few nights ago. My test anxiety dreams have generally been not so bad ever since The Last Test Anxiety Dream some years back, but it's interesting that I do continue to occasionally have them, despite my last exam (as such) having been 15+ years ago. (Just to be clear: last time I mentioned TLTAD, I think someone thought I was referring to the first dream I mentioned in that linked-to entry. I'm actually referring to the dream described in the final paragraph of that entry.)

5 Responses to “Anxiety dreams”

  1. Anonymous

    I researched sleep issues once for a story (still languishing in hackneyed hell) and part of what I learned was that the body is on a clock. Basically, the sleep pros tell you to sleep in 3s or 1.5s to be ON CYCLE – this simply means that if you sleep 4 hours you will waken OFF CYCLE and feel at least as tired as when you began. However, if you waken at 3 hours or potential 4.5 hours then you would have completed the cycle and waken feeling refreshed.

    Here is a link regarding the 90 minute issue:

    Here is one with good stuff:

  2. Jed

    Yeah–different people have different cycle lengths, but mine is definitely around 90 minutes; a decent night’s sleep for me is about 6 hours, and 7.5 hours is a pretty full night’s sleep for me. But the past few days no external stimulus has woken me up; I’ve slept as much as I seemed to need. I think mostly it’s been 7.5 hours, but hard to tell ’cause most of those nights I’ve woken up at some point and then gone back to sleep.

  3. Jay Hartman

    The thing I don’t get about the 90-minute increment thing is, how can you really tell how many minutes you have been asleep? You may know what time you went to bed, but unless you are the “sleep as soon as head hits pillow” type, it seems very hard to have a down-to-the-minute estimate of how much you actually *slept.* e.g., “Did it take me 3 minutes, 7 minutes, or 17 minutes to fall asleep last night?” My answer is that I don’t really know.

  4. Jed

    Can’t know for sure, certainly, but when I go to bed completely exhausted and then the next morning I have no memory of anything after the minute when I glanced at the clock as my head hit the pillow, I tend to assume that I was asleep within a minute or two at most after that.

    Also, I have a clock right next to my pillow, with a lighted display, and I pay a lot of attention to it; it’s very useful when I wake up at 3 a.m. and my body isn’t sure whether it’s time to get up yet. So if I’m lying in bed awake for what feels like a long time, I’ll generally open my eyes and glance at the clock to see whether it’s actually been a long time.

    But I should also say that the 90 minutes thing probably isn’t exact. For me, it may well be 88 minutes, or 93 minutes. I got the 90 minutes number by observing the approximate amount of time that I slept on various nights, over a period of months or years, and gradually noticing that it usually seemed to be pretty close to 6 hours, 7.5 hours, or sometimes 4.5 or 9 hours. I don’t use an alarm clock, so when I’m not woken up by noise outside or by being too hot or too cold, I figure the amount of sleep I get on a given night is somehow related to my body’s sleeping patterns. So when I heard that most people tend to have a cycle of a regular length, and that the cycle tends to be somewhere in the 1-2 hour range, I connected that with my most common sleep times and concluded that my cycle tends to be roughly 90 minutes long.

  5. Bhadrika

    Interestingly, most people are around that 90min estimate. The reason why the cycle effects yout he way it does is that’s the time it takes to move down through the levels of sleep to the deepest one, where dreaming happens (some dreaming happens earlier, but this is the real “work” of dreaming your brain needs to do), and then back up to fairly shallow sleep. If you are awakened during a shallow time, waking up is easier; if you were dragged out of the deep end, you’re groggier and more tired feeling.
    Of course, part of my narcolepsy is that my dream cycle is all wiggy, so none of this helps me much…
    As for the rest of your post, Jed, if you had a significan sleep debt, it might be more that you had a significant deep dream debt, and that your brain is working to catch up on the overflowing Inbox — hence more deep dreaming, more trouble waking up at the right time in the cycle, and more emotionally fraught dreams. Or, you brain had gotten used to a certain level of stress, and when life lightened up, the dreams decided they had to take over supplying the angst to keep it at the usual level… or maybe it’s something else altogether…

    Hope it gets betters, whatever it is!


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