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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: I lack the ability to wake up - interfering with work/school

 misspuppychow - Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:51 am

I seem to lack the ability to wake up! I have zero problems falling asleep, I have zero problems staying asleep, and once I finally get out of bed I am happy and energized the entire day. Other than the inability to wake up, I am perfectly healthy and normal.

I have been known to sleep until 4:00 pm. I have been known to sleep for 14-16 hours. I sleep between 8-10 hours per night, depending on how much schoolwork I have.

I am 21 years old and this has been a problem for as long as I can remember.

I have been known to get up, walk across my room, shut off my alarm clock, and go back to sleep. When I finally wake up naturally hours later, I don't remember turning off my alarm at all. I will hit snooze for as long as snooze will go off and never actually wake up. Other times, I won't even hit snooze. I'll just sleep straight through the alarms.

When my cousins visit, they wake up super early and apparently are as loud as a marching band down the hallway outside my room but I never hear them. People can come into my room and I'll never know.

I don't know what else to do. I have tried multiple alarm clocks placed around my room. I have tried using the radio, using my ringtone on my cell phone...

My grandma suggested it was because I didn't get enough sleep so I slept for 10 hours per night (bed at the same time, wake at the same time) for three weeks. I experienced zero change.

Any ideas on how to wake up? I'm going to be graduating soon and working as an RN. I have to be at the hospital at 7:00 am and if I can't fix this, I'll get fired from being late so often.

Please help. I didn't see a sleep forum and I didn't know where else to post this.

Thank you.
 Dr. K. Eisele - Sun Feb 17, 2008 7:43 pm

User avatar Dear misspuppychow:

You need to see a sleep specialist and have a sleep study performed. You may have sleep apnea which can make you tired literally all the time.

Until you can get in, here's what you need to do to wake up. Get one of the old alarm clocks that has the two bells on the top and the arm between them that strikes the bells. They are very loud! Then, get a large metal saucepan to put the set alarm clock in. When the alarm goes off it will be extremely loud, because of the two bells and the echo inside the metal saucepan.

Good luck!
 misspuppychow - Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:18 pm

They have ruled out any sleeping disorders. I am not tired during the day, I have no problems falling asleep, and I do not snore. Once I finally wake up, I am up and perfectly wide awake with no need to nap. I never just nod off without the intent to sleep. I slept through three alarms on my phone, one alarm across the room, the maintenance guy banging on my bedroom door, and thus causing my roommates dog to bark like crazy. It woke up another roommate two floors down, but not me and it was just outside my door. Mind you, this was around noon, after I had been sleeping for 11 hours. This happens all the time and the sleep doctor I saw had no real suggestions to offer. I miss a lot of my classes because of it and my grades are slipping.
 Dr. K. Eisele - Mon Feb 18, 2008 1:02 pm

User avatar Dear misspuppychow:

That is a big problem. Are you at all dissatisfied with your choice of career? Is anything (besides the sleeping problem) bothering you? I'm wondering if you're feeling bored in some way, particularly with your school program. This could be a subconscious desire for it all to go away.

On the other hand, I'm not advocating for you to quit. As close as you are to having a nursing degree, it would not make sense to quit now, unless it is making you really unhappy. It could simply be that down deep, you really want to do something else with your life--if that is the case, then it may be enough to realize that nursing could be a stepping stone to that something else.

Some people with this type of problem find it helpful to "program" their mind to wake up in the morning. They chant to themselves, "I will get up when the alarm goes off," over and over until they are asleep. I've never heard of any of them having nightmares about the alarm clock as a result.

Good luck.
 misspuppychow - Mon Feb 18, 2008 1:29 pm

Nursing is definitely a stepping stone. I just got accepted to a PA program, so I'm off to get my masters and become a physician assistant. It isn't that I don't like nursing though. I thought long and hard about the PA vs NP debate and ultimate chose PA because I want to work in surgery and emergency medicine and I prefer the medical model over the nursing model. I am enjoying my nursing curriculum though because I can see how it will benefit me as a PA in the future.

I quit the job I hated at the end of December and I returned to waitressing because I absolutely love it!

I am constantly stressed out over school, but that was not the case in high school (where I could not study and get As) and I still had the waking up issue then.

Maybe I should get a less comfy bed :)
 Dr. K. Eisele - Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:16 pm

User avatar Dear misspuppychow:

Funny thing about those stepping stones--it's easy to become so focused on the long-term goal that they forget to have fun along the way. It's an unusual state to be in, because you feel good about your choices, perhaps even satisfied, because you haven't lost sight of the goal, which is a good thing. People sometimes find out about halfway to the big goal that they are miserable. This kind of thing often shows up with an inexplicable condition such as yours.

Some people even find out they have a depression hiding out underneath the surface. The bad thing about this sneaky kind of depression is that it tends to hit you when you least expect it, and consequently, when you're least able to deal with it. I'm not saying that you do have depression, but I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't some condition, at least in a mild form. Perhaps you hang out in bed so much because you're stressed about your workload. School and job can be a lot to do.

I think some self-examination is in order. Some people find it easiest to do with the help of a counselor. Mayber your school has a counselor with whom you can discuss these issues.

Good luck.

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