Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Opinions/knowledge about sleeping aids...

I've posted here before about my inability to get a full night's sleep while working hours typically expected of most companies ( ie, being at work at 9:00 am).  So I've thought about taking sleeping pills.  I've always erred on the side of natural when it comes to medication.  If I can do without medicine, I will.  I've tried that with sleep, but no matter what I do, there always seems to be at least 2 or 3 nights a week where I cannot get the minimum of 7 hours of sleep that I need (while still showing up by 9:00 am) and this KILLS my productivity.

Thus, I'm thinking of turning to a sleeping aid.  What are your opinions/history/knowledge on this?


Sunday, June 27, 2004

In general, be careful about taking any sleep medication long term. They can become habit forming. If you're really having trouble sleeping, and it's a new thing, you should probably talk to a doctor, a shrink, or even go to a sleep clinic.

That said, AmBien works great. Hella-expensive, though, if it's not covered by your insurance, and a doctor has to write a scrip for it.

Valerian is an over the counter herbal alternative. They sell it in the grocery store here.

Brad Wilson (
Sunday, June 27, 2004

Sounds to me like you might have Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder. I have it (and a job that requires me to be at my desk by 9), and it's a killer.

Long term, drugs don't really help. I find that if I use something to get to sleep earlier, it doesn't help me get up any earlier - my body just doesn't want to wake up much before 11 or 12. A very loud alarm clock and long lie-ins at the weekend to catch up with my sleep are how I cope at the moment.

There is a treatment for DSPS called chronotherapy, which involves progressively going to bed earlier, a half-hour at a time, until you reach a normal sleeping time. However, if you break the cycle by staying out late one night, you're right back where you started.

From what I can see, the collected medical opinion about DSPS is that it's genetic and you have to live with it.

Neil Hewitt
Sunday, June 27, 2004

Do you exercise regularly? Make a huge difference for me.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

And don't forget ejaculation.  Exercise can help with that too, often making it more frequently available.  But even masturbation knocks me right out.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Try a double martini, a bottle of good red wine, a nice 12-year scotch on the rocks... whatever it takes.  :-)

A lot of exercise also helps.  I find that when I can put my work down and chill out, I tend to have less problem sleeping...

Fresh air and sun will do it to.

Mark S
Sunday, June 27, 2004

Do foods have any effect on you?  I find that caffeine (of course) wakes me up, whereas milk and milk-based foods make me sleepy.  So if I'm having trouble sleeping regularly, I cut out caffeine after dinner (or earlier) and have a bowl of ice cream in the evening.  After that I can't stay awake even if I want to.

The reverse is true too; if I want to be productive at work, then no major doses of ice cream, milk, cheese, etc. at lunch.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

I've had my share of stress lately, and one thing I hate is not being able to get to sleep at night.

Exercise: definitely key.

I would stay away from anything drug like, including alchohol, to try and get to sleep.  I enjoy wine, and don't think that it helps not hurts when getting to sleep.  But I deliberately stay away from the hard liquor at times like these, because I think it could be so addictive.  I love Manhattans, but not now.

Find out what is bugging you, decide how you're going to deal with it tomorrow, and that will help you forget about it in the short term.  Clinton called it compartmentalizing.  He feels my pain.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

1) As others have pointed out, exercise - at least 3 times a week and preferably more (disclaimer: check w/your doctor first)

2) Reserve a half-an-hour of absolutely quiet time in bed every night... reading.  And read non-fiction:  historical tomes, epidemiology texts, the Zen of C++ programming, whatever.  If you make it more than 15 minutes through that stuff after a hard day's work and/or exercise, i'd be amazed.
Sunday, June 27, 2004

My wife uses Ambien occasionally and believes it works well.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

I'd suggest doing some research on Ambien if I were you.  In some patients it seems to produce hallucinations and psychotic behavior.

muppet from
Sunday, June 27, 2004

I don't work in the software industry like most people on this forum, but I work construction and so am physically tired at the end of the day.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Neil is right. You are probably not a morning person. Forget about sleeping pills., except maybe on Sunday night to get you back on schedule.

Stephen Jones
Monday, June 28, 2004

What to do about sleepiness during the day?

Thanks for the mid-day sleepiness responses...

your sleep pattern

I've been a "night owl" ever since I can remember. Here are some tips, which some people may think are bad & want to dispute.

1. Unisom works for me in an emergency, like if I have to get up early and drive somewhere I'll take it. It leaves you groggy, but much more alert than if you hadn't gotten any sleep, and in fact in some places it's illegal to drive if you haven't had enough sleep. It's got one of the same active ingredients as Nyquil, but in larger doses.

2. Turn off the computer, turn off the TV. Set a time about an hour before you go to bed, and REGULARLY turn these things off - they're a horrible distraction. Turning off or dimming the electric lights wouldn't hurt either. NO ELECTRONIC DEVICES AFTER 10PM. Pretend you're having a blackout of your own and drink wine by candle light.

3. For a while valerian root & melatonin worked for me, but I sort of gave them up after a while. Melatonin about an hour or two before I wanted to go to sleep, and the valerian about a half hour.

4. Don't eat after 8pm, don't have any sweets either. Reduce your caffiene intake to zero, especially in the afternoon. In other words, don't mess with your blood sugar levels!

5. Get exercise. Not just a little, but a lot. Walk, jog, bicycle, do the treadmill thing. You need to burn off calories - you consume thousands of calories every day (at least 2k in theory, right?) - but what do you do to burn them off? That's all excess energy you have before you go to bed.
Monday, June 28, 2004

What would be the best time for exercising? Assuming that we have to be at work by 9am, Monday to Friday…

Cecilia Loureiro
Monday, June 28, 2004

Two things:

1) Try earplugs, I use the soft foam ones. The extra quiet really helps if little noises keep waking you up. Or soft music.

2) Before using drugs, consider going to a behavioral psychologist. It's a mind over matter thing, but if you're laying awake at night thinking about problems your body will be stressed out; you need a script of positive things to think whenever the problems start to build up.

Anony Coward
Monday, June 28, 2004

In any order

vigorous sex
good whisky (single malt)

Monday, June 28, 2004

"What would be the best time for exercising? Assuming that we have to be at work by 9am, Monday to Friday…"

I work out every morning from about 7AM to about 815-830. Luckily we have a gym in the building so I can shower there, grab some breakfast with friends in the café, and then be right on time for work.

Generally I run every other day (although I really should be running every day) after work but before dinner, so I usually eat dinner around 7:30PM or so.

I find that the combination of getting up early and working out regularly ensures that by 11PM I'm ready to fall asleep.

The annoying part is that on the weekends the gym doesn't open until 8:30, so my body wakes up early and I force myself to play on-line poker for a while until I can leave (the hardest part is that I end up not eating breakfast due to the close proximity to lunch).

Captain McFly
Monday, June 28, 2004

What would be the best time for exercising? Assuming that we have to be at work by 9am, Monday to Friday…

Some people say that the best time is the end of the afternoon, such as 3-4pm, if you wish to fall asleep at 11pm. But unless you have little work hours, before work is also a good idea.

And as a notice, alcohol does not help with sleeping, even with small doses. Sure, you might fall asleep faster, but alcohol causes awaking during the night

Eric V.
Monday, June 28, 2004

I'll debunk one thing stated in this thread: that sleep aids are necessarily habit forming.

I use (1) Sominex-lookalike a night. Actually, Walgreen's house brand of blue aspirin sized sleeping pills. It is 25mg  of "diphenhydramine". I have used this dose nightly for more than 7 years with no problems with building a tolerance.  I take one and in about an hour-1.5 hours, I am profoundly sleepy.

I avoid taking more than one per night unless there is some external factor at work that may deprive me of sleep. The "recommended" adult dosage is two, which makes me groggy for about 1/2 the next day and is therefore too high.

Agreed, in an ideal world you would not need this stuff. But I never slept worth a crap until I started to use Sominex like pills. It's a body chemistry thing.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I find that instead of being constantly shifted a few hours off from "normal", I tend to simply have longer days.  Without a fixed schedule I have to adhere to (which drives me crazy), I'll have 25- to 26-hour days.  If I don't want to go completely around, once a week or so I'll have to forcefully put myself back in phase, one way or the other.

Stupid sun...

Monday, June 28, 2004


"Sleep drugs aren't habit forming, I just happen to take one every day, all the time."


muppet from
Tuesday, June 29, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home