How can I get healthy sleep patterns?

This question was asked in Neshoba, Mississippi on 08/07/2012.
I am 16 years old. My sleeping pattern has been irregular since I can remember. It's pretty odd, actually. No matter what, I cannot sleep at night. It's literally 5:12 right now. I was inpatient at a health facility twice in 2010 and the second time, I was diagnosed with insomnia and put on sleep medication. But from general knowledge, and my love of researching things of the subject, I conclude that insomnia is a disorder in which it's difficult to sleep at all. For some, they find it hard to fall asleep for about half an hour to an hour. For some, they wake up too early and are not able to fall back asleep. And for others, to just not sleep for a long period times at once (like a day or two). But that doesn't exactly explain what my sleeping pattern is like. I do find it very difficult to sleep, at night. I wake up for school at 5:30 and get home at 4:30. I am usually really exhausted and tired. I will be ready for sleep throughout my day. But when I get home, take my shower (4:45 to 5:15), eat (5:30 to 6:30), and do a few chores (6:40 to 7:30) I will not be tired anymore. I take hot showers, which I know tightens your skin up and relaxes your muscles so that can't wake me up. I drink water normally. I eat healthily. And I am lazy at doing my chores since I'm exhausted. So I'm not doing anything to jitter me up. I will be tired and exhausted the entire day. When I lay down, watch some tv, I know I won't be able to sleep. I even read most of the time, or write. I don't really do anything exciting. And like I said, this has been happening since very early childhood. I'm not hyper at night, just awake. My muscles are still tense from the day and I'll even have a headache sometimes, so why am I so uncontrollably nocturnal?

Doctors Answers (3)

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 8/10/2012

Healthy sleep patterns can develop by adhering to good rules of sleep. You are correct about insomnia and while you may have a variation of insomnia you may also have a medical disorder of which one of the symptoms is wakefulness. You should consult a board certified sleep doctor to help you. It is possible that you have a form of narcolepsy. Narcolepsy patients have trouble staying awake in the daytime and difficulty sleeping at night. Help is available.

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 8/10/2012

As a teenager your body changes and hormone levels may be worsening a chronic problem of insomnia. You may need to have your primary care check your overall health to see that there is nothing abnormal physiologically. You can see a sleep specialist to perform an overnight sleep study and a series of MSLT naps the following day to see how sleepy you are during the day and how disrupted your sleep was at night. I would also have the doctors screen you for depression as this may be having an adverse effect on your sleep quality. This may be a good place to start as you sound like you have a fairly complicated situation with your sleep.

Syed Nabi, M.D.
Answered on: 8/9/2012 6

It is best you see a sleep physician. Your sleep history is complicated and will require a thorough evaluation and a complicated management plan.