Re: Getting to sleep

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Wed Sep 26 2001 - 16:24:24 BST

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    Subject: Re: Getting to sleep
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    > I was tired but had to do some work, so when I went to bed I was
    > "over-tired". The same thoughts kept going round my head repetitively
    > and I could not get to sleep. The solution is to get up, have a warm
    > drink and read for 15-30 minutes and then return to bed. One can then
    > sleep. The repetitive thoughts can be worries but need not be (in
    > this
    > case they appeared to be simply a catchy tune).
    > This raises several questions:
    > 1. Why does this repetition happen when one is over-tired?

    IMO, the key word here is stress. Being unable to sleep
    simply points in that direction. Repeting thought remind me
    of the way a neural net learns. A learning cycle in a neural
    network consists of a feed-forward loop following by a feed-back
    loop. This way the synaptic strenghts are adjusted to minimize
    subsequent errors when undergoing the same learning
    experience. Although you are tired your brain seems to have
    sufficient access to enough energy reserves, perhaps induced
    by ample amounts of caffein? If you were fatigued, i.e. knocked
    off your feet into a comatose state, you would simply drop
    asleep instantly if you ask me. It seems that occasionaly your
    brain goes into some sort of a overdrive mode, a runaway state
    into a repetitive learning cycle that can only be broken by
    active interference (warm drink and diversion of attention).
    I don't know if we experience the same thing, but sometimes I
    undergo similar `torments of the soul' to put religiously
    metaphorically. IMO it's just stress... not to worry if it's
    not lasting and is easily remedied...
    > Is there some active boredom mechanism that usually prevents such
    > repetition when properly awake? It is notable that (when I remember
    > them) my dreams are not usually repetitive like this. This suggests
    > to
    > me that boredom is an active ability that requires some 'energy'
    > (either
    > asleep or awake).

    Boredom seems to me a healthy mode of the brain where either
    new stimuli are needed or rest.

    > 2. Why does this repetition apparently stop one going to sleep?

    Any mode of stress prevents one from sleep.

    > 3. Why does the 'cure' work?

    Regarding the brain, it's all about chemicals my friend...
    It seems that you succeed in administering the right
    chemicals (tryptophane->serotonin, simple sugars)
    only a little too late.

    Sleep well,


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