Monday, April 21, 2008

The Source of Sleeplessness

How I've struggled these last few months to get some sleep. I find myself unable to turn "off" at 11pm, 1am, 3am...then hell, I might as well keep myself awake because there's fajr prayer and the kids get up by 6 am. I've been managing to get a "nap" in around 9-10am when Buddy takes his nap until the girls get home from school after 12:30 pm. I'm exhausted!!! Human beings can't go on like this for very long.

Last week during a school break, we had a family get together which kept us up till dawn. As a result, my kids slept until 2:30 pm and....SO DID I!!! And then it hit me, I can sleep! The problem has been all along WHEN I'm sleeping. My circadian rhythms are all off causing me to feel sleepy between 8am-5 pm, times when I have to force myself to be awake and take care of my kids and home. I'm not exactly sure how they got that way considering I never slept at those times to establish a weirdo pattern like that. That's more typical of....

hold the phone- those are Saudi summer/Ramadan sleeping hours!

Yes siree Bob! This country has once again managed to screw up my sleep! Even though my kids are sleeping at night, just BEING in this country apparently is enough to mess up my sleep. So having discovered the source of my misery I'm left with a choice:

Do I-

A) go ahead and give in to my screwy sleep patterns, turning myself and kids into nocturnal creatures, completely worthless/unconscious during daylight hours? I'd finally fit in with my in-laws schedule but this type of schedule has many drawbacks in my past experience.
  1. I end up being late/missing several prayers such as Thuhr and 'Asr in order to get enough hours of uninterrupted sleep.

  2. Sleeping during the day has never been refreshing and I wake up feeling zonked and unmotivated despite filling my necessary sleeping quota.

  3. If I sleep during the day, my kids have to come along for the ride because they're still young and I must be awake when they are. My kids behaviour becomes ridiculously bad when turned around (remember, I've followed this type of schedule off and on for several years because of living in my in-laws house).

B) wait until school lets out at the end of May when I no longer have to worry about school hours and try to adjust my sleeping schedule a little every day/week until it corresponds with normal human hours, not Saudi hours. I wouldn't be able to do it before then because I'd always have to worry about waking up to get my kids ready for school and to open the door for them and take care of them once they get home. Although this sounds logical, this also has its drawbacks.
  1. MAY!!! I'm tired and want sleep NOW!

  2. I'll be managing to fix my sleep the exact time that the rest of the country will be switching to night mode and I'll once again be out of sync with everyone and everything else here.

I'll be honest, I'm leaning towards option B and I'll just try to fit in as many "naps" as I can till then. The times that I've had to sleep "Saudi" hours during the daytime have been some of the worst in my life. I've never felt so lethargic, depressed, and out of tune as those seemingly endless summers at my in-laws house when I prayed for school to start again just to be able to resume a normal schedule of night sleeping. Even if I slept for 12 hours, I never felt refreshed.

After trying EVERY herbal/natural remedy known, trying proven behavioral modifications and even calling Peaceful Muslimah in Qatar and Nzingha who goes to Bahrain to see what sleep medicines are available there, I'd be ready to pay someone to hit me over the head with a sledge-hammer if it were guaranteed I'd have a good nights sleep. There are no sleeping pills available here in the country so these are my only options.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see you posting again!
Can you try a prescription sleep aid like "ambien" or "lunesta"- they work great and could possibly get you on schedule.
I enjoy reading your blog.


Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaykum,

Oh, I believe a sledge hammer will get you more than a good nights sleep!!
As crazy as it may sound, a friend of mine drinks Niquil (sp?) on a regular basis to be able to sleep. I am not suggesting that to you though, or anyone, for that matter.
I too don't sleep well, and manage to sleep only after fajr, but for reasons different from yours.
May Allah help you and cause you to sleep sound-during night!

~~Silk said...

My solution is to find the most boring but "good for you" book possible, and take it to bed. It serves to focus my thoughts, and then bore my brain to sleep.

Um, just checking - can you still see yourself in mirrors? If not, there's no cure.

Anonymous said...

alhumdiallah you updated! Do you talk to Ummadam--she has been MIA too long...
Love and Peace,
~Brooke AKA Ummbadier

Anonymous said...

assalam alaikum, I had the same problem and I used melatonin, also good for jetlag, here in egypt it's called vivamax. just google melatonin.

Anonymous said...

Don't you have a baby?

Just roll with it . . . sleep when you feel like sleeping, even just grabbing a nap now and then.

Can you get Benedryl? I am a light sleeper, taking one Benedryl every night gets me through the wakeful periods, helps me get a full night's sleep without that sleep hangover you can get from sleeping pills. And it also helps my allergies to the dust storms.

Anonymous said...

I am a light sleeper too and I know exactly what you are saying! I feel so tired and my kids(7 and 2) keep on waking atleast once at night and this has made me really tired(and I gain weight if I don't sleep well!). sf

Susan said...

I use Melatonin, which is found in the UAE, no longer in Oman, but likely in other pharmacies/heath stores in the region. This is sold as a supplement-not as a OTC or prescription sleep aid. I don't use it habitually, but it does help me regulate my sleep patterns when I've been traveling. It also has no side effects that I know of--not habit forming, no lingering drowsiness, etc. Colleagues of mine who cross time zones on a regular basis swear by this.

I know you've got your hands full, but many people find yoga and other exercise a great way to force a regular and steady sleep pattern. Twenty minutes/day just might help.

safyy said...

I'm with Cairo Gal. Melatonin is a gift straight from Heaven. A bottle of it here costs about $3 too.

Kris said...

I am so glad to see you back! I enjoy reading your posts.. Sorry about the sleep thing though, that's rough. I've never taken anything but the melatonin the others mentioned, I've heard the same things about it being good.

Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaykum,

I googled a bit and perhaps you will find useful some (not all) of the content at

There are a lot of tips online as I noticed, give it a try insha'Allah. And yes, reading in bed is sooooo good, it became my routine and I do not think I could go to sleep without it now. Certainly better then any "drug", well, at least for me!

May Allah bless you with healthy sleep.

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

Lisa- I wish...but there aren't ANY sleep medicines here.

dalioness- no NyQuil here either (has alcohol in it). Thanks for your dua'a.

silk- LOL, I think Saudis ARE vampire-like and completely shun sunlight:-) I used to do computer solitaire but now that doesn't work either. The thing is, I get so sucked into stories I end up not stopping, even suck ones.

Brooke- haven't talked to her, we have some mutual friends (although I can't remember who exactly) but I don't have her phone#. she's in a postpartum posting slump apparently.

anon-wa alaikum, 'vivamax', it's worth a try.

intlxpatr- Buddy's 18months now, usually sleeps ok, but I am stuck with him in my bed ever since he learned how to flip out of his crib. I can't say that's been great for my sleep. I've already tried taking antihistamines, no help.

sf- I can see how that happens. When I'm awake more, I'm eating more. I'm becoming ravenously hungry at about 3am too.

Cairogal, safyy, mama kalila- I tried melatonin for EttaMae when she was younger, she had MAJOR sleep issues. I tried it too in England but it didn't seem to do much for me. I think perhaps I didn't use it long enough to establish a new sleeping pattern.

dalioness- wa alaikum salam, you're so sweet ...thanks for looking that up for me. I think until my 'rhythms' get re-established even the best bed-time rituals won't help. I've tried almost all of them already.

Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaykum ukhti,

If I am sweet, it is only because you are so much sweeter! wink.

I will continue to keep you in my dua insha'allah.

Nomaden said...

Oh...! BTDT! Poor you!

Another tip that might help:
I got allergy medication for a rash the dishwasher soap caused - Fenistil. And that's making me fall asleep within 30 min. after taking it. I wouldn't advice eating antihistamins every now and then, but as an emergency remedy?

Considering that the doctors here in Kuwait prescribe fenistil for everything from a cough to pneumonia and psoriasis - I'd suppose it might be available in Saudi too.

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

vibeke- subhannulah it's serendipity that made you comment on the antihistamine. I was washing dishes at my SIL's house without gloves 2 days ago, which I always wear at home, and have the WORST rash on my hands that's making me INSANE with itchiness...I just took some antihistamine and anti-itch cream but if this doesn't work, I'm going to try some fenistil.

Anonymous said...

Assalaamu alaykum;

Subhan Allah, I really feel for you! Last summer I travelled so much, I found it too difficult to keep up with the local time zones.

The sunnah of our beloved Prophet (pbuh)is to pray if we have difficulty falling asleep or are unable to do so. I've often thought about this hadith and you know what - if you think about it, as soon as you start praying shaytaan will convince you you're ready to fall asleep and you probably will :)

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

anon- I think you're right. I resolved to read some Quaran the other night and immediately nodded off.

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