Week of:
Mar 03, 2017

Noisy dorms — Help, I can't sleep!

Hi Alice,

I cannot sleep in my dorm room. It is always loud. I have read many articles about sleep hygiene, but no matter how healthy and relaxed I am before trying to sleep, I will wake up whenever there is noise.

I sleep with earplugs, but they do not block out the noise well enough. I wake up exhausted every day and it is seriously interfering with my ability to study, participate in activities, and otherwise enjoy life. I was very happy at my school until I had to move into this noisy room. After a visit to the campus health service, they diagnosed my insomnia as "situational" (due to the room) and recommended that I sleep in a quiet location, but that is not an option as I cannot prevent the noise.

I was not experiencing much stress at all in life until I moved into the room where I could no longer sleep. When I am stressed, I am always able to sleep fine as long as it is quiet; if it is noisy, I cannot sleep no matter how relaxed I am.

Sleep apnea

Dear Alice,

This isn't much of a question, but I'm definitely in search of an answer. I suffer from sleep apnea. My throat collapses when I go to sleep. I have to strap an air pump (CPAP) to my face at night. I've been wearing this thing for almost two years. Without it I awake an average of 78 times an hour. Although I'm much better with the CPAP, I feel as though this disease is still going to kill me eventually. The CPAP seems so barbaric. Isn't there any new solutions to my problem?

— Very Tired Indeed

Losing sleep over sleeping pills — Will I become dependent on them?

Dear Alice,

I have been having a really hard time sleeping at night. I do my best to stay on a regular schedule as best as I can and steer clear of caffeine, but nothing seems to be working. I have considered taking sleeping pills, but haven't for fear of becoming dependent on them for sleep at all times. Do you know how addictive they really are or if there are any other methods I could try? Thanks so much.

Sleep or physical activity?

Dear Alice,

I would ideally love to maintain a consistent exercise routine. However, there are stretches of time during which I get very little sleep, due either to a hectic schedule or a lot of stress. During these times (sometimes one or two weeks), I find it almost impossible to go work out. I'm simply too fatigued (I don't drink caffeine because it disrupts my sleep — even one cup in the morning!). The result is that I start to get flabby and untoned, and I then I tend to fluctuate between almost-toned to back-to-flabby.

My question is, what is the relationship between sleep deprivation and exercise? When you are very tired and have been getting little sleep for several days, is it better to just take it easy and let your exercise program go, or is it better to persist and work out anyway, albeit at a lower intensity?

I have bouts of insomnia, so it's not too helpful to just say "try to get more sleep." Sometimes I just can't.

— Tired and Flabby