The Terrible Consequences of Sleep Deprivation – Part 1
A Historic Week for Women's Equality and Our Generation Did It

The Terrible Consequences of Sleep Deprivation – Part 2

As I explained in Part 1 on Monday, for four months this year, I tried to function on two to three hours of sleep a night. This was due to the sudden onset, sometime in January, of a nightly crescendo of horribly loud noise from the apartment adjacent to mine.

The snoring was operatic in scale, volume and duration and there was nowhere in my home to escape it.

My life and routine became disjointed. I was exhausted pretty much every waking moment and lack of time became a big issue.

What one normally accomplishes in a full 12-14 hour day, I needed to cram into the morning hours before I ran out of what little steam I had. You can imagine that I never got anywhere near completing the goals of my daily to-do lists.

Looking back now, I think that for a long time I was so mentally impaired that I did not recognize how distorted and diminished my life had become.

Also, it seemed to be something I wanted to keep a secret although I don't know why. But I didn't tell anyone except two or three good friends and then only toward the end of the ordeal.

Finally by May, it felt like my world was falling apart. I was desperate for relief, desperate to sleep.

One afternoon about two weeks ago, I spoke with the condominium association. I explained my situation and asked if there was anything that could be done about the epic snoring.

After a week, they got back to me. Apparently, I was told, anyone can make as much noise within their home as they want. There is no recourse. However, neighbors of this snorer were approached, my problem was explained and it was hoped that they would then get the message back to him.

Maybe that worked. About six or seven days ago, the snoring stopped. Well, I don't know if stopped but it is no longer being transmitted through the wall into my apartment.

That first night with no snoring, no being shocked awake after a couple of hours or so, I slept for an uninterrupted 10 hours and nearly as long in the days since then.

The difference in my physical and mental capabilities now is amazing. I would almost call it euphoria from just being normal again. I'm thrilled at how I good feel and from this point forward, I will never again take being rested for granted.


There is an additional bit of complexity to my sleep problem that pre-dates the snoring issue.

It took me years to find out why I couldn't stay awake later than about 7PM or 8PM. It is called Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder or ASPD and I first wrote about it here.

It is rare, it affects mostly old people, one percent of us, they say, and it means I irresistably fall asleep in the early evening (which does make dinner with friends difficult). Then, of course, I would wake at ungodly early hours – 2AM, 3AM or thereabouts.

Some time after I discovered what ASPD is, I began waking after only three or four hours – wide awake, ready for bear, no going back to sleep. I struggled to do so but after awhile, I gave in and read a book or watched TV for awhile or puttered around the house until I felt sleepy again in a couple of hours.


I recalled having read somewhere about second sleep and found it again in a book, At Day's Close – Night in Times Past, by A. Roger Ekirch.

There is growing evidence, Ekirch explained, that for centuries, maybe thousands of years, the normal sleep pattern for humans was in two parts:

“Both phases of sleep lasted roughly the same length of time, with individuals waking sometime after midnight before returning to rest...Men and women referred to both intervals as if the prospect of awakening in the middle of the night was common knowledge that required no elaboration...”

“After midnight, pre-industrial households usually began to stir. Many of those who left their beds merely needed to urinate...

“Some persons, however, after arising, took the opportunity to smoke tobacco, check the time, or tend a fire. Thomas Jubb, an impoverished Leeds clothier, rising around midnight, 'went into Cow Lane & hearing ye clock strike twelve' returned 'home & went to bed again.'”

Since Ekirch's book was published in 2005, more references to segmented sleep have turned up. The earliest (so far) is from the Greek poet, Homer. In The Odyssey, he wrote, “In his first sleep...”

A Harvard website on sleep notes a contemporaneous report that Napoleon (1769-1821) slept

”...just a few hours at night before rising at about 3AM to work. He then typically takes a hot bath and returns to sleep for a few hours in the late morning.”

Most researchers I've read recently are coming to believe that this was the norm until the advent of electric lighting allowed people to be active much later in the evening than ever before and humankind switched to one long sleep cycle.

Since nothing I had tried kept me from falling asleep much later than early evening, I made segmented sleep my own. Until the snoring problem, it had worked quite well for me.

I would wake sometime around midnight, read for a while or get up to write or watch a movie until getting sleepy again within 90 minutes or a couple of hours.

As I mentioned above, I am currently sleeping much longer, presumably making up for the long deprivation. But as soon as is practical, I will try to get back to my routine of a segmented sleep schedule. Oh, wait. And lose those damned 10 pounds that was so hard to do as part of my 40-pound loss two years ago.

Thank you all for your commiserations on Monday and your concern and those who pretended to not notice the fall-off in the quality of posts here. I appreciate you all.

Not that I am out of the woods yet: I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the snoring guy isn't just on vacation.


I was hoping the snorer was a large dog who now has a bed on another wall or in another room.

It may be that you have helped a spouse to confront a partner snorer who has kept the whole house awake. AND, you may have even prolonged a life, in that your inquiry could be instrumental in the snorer getting a sleep appraisal and
perhaps a sleep mask for better sleep and more oxygen.

So, good on you. And, yes, I had noticed some typo-type slips in the last
months--but did not think their presence was worth the mention.

That is amazing! One bad thing about condo living (something I've done several times) is that it can be very awkward if there is a problem with a neighbor. Your problem was indeed major, yet somehow, thankfully, it seems to have been solved gracefully.

Well done!

My son, who is 52, snores like that, and has since college or before -- his roommates used to throw pillows at him. I knew this but was reminded of it when he spent a night visiting not long ago and sawed wood for hours. I don't know how his wife stands it; perhaps she's gotten ear plugs. Let's hope your neighbor got Big Time Help with this; it's awful.

Hope the noise issue is resolved permanently. Seems association needs to make some changes in any case! Even campgrounds have noise curfews.

my thought was (aside from how terrible for you) was that the person snoring had terrible sleep apnea and needed to see a doctor about it. Perhaps that happened - probably you will never know. So glad you are back to a more "normal" night - some nights I sleep well - others - fall asleep fairly easily and then awaken a couple of hours later, read for awhile and hopefully go back to sleep again. I need 8 hours a night - but some nights I get less and then want to nap - which then causes me to have a problem falling asleep that night/
Always enjoy your blog, best wishes for a good recovery from a difficult time.

You were certainly much more patient than I would have been before taking this to your association or other source of intervention. I'm glad to know that life has returned to what works for you during the night time hours, but I have to admit to still being curious about your snoring neighbor and what he or she did to effect this change.

Sweet dreams.

I can't imagine the frustration and debilitation of that experience and am so glad it's now in the past. The rule in my house has always been something akin to "You wake me, you die." You've reminded me of one of the biggest shortcomings of apartment or condo living -- common walls. I must remember to be more grateful for my little house and the tiny bit of yard between me and the neighbors.

Ohh - much, much better.

For condos and apartments, this must be difficult to address. I mean, the guy's in his own castle, yes? And how much involvement do all such dwellers want their associations, etc., to have over what goes on in their own place? A tricky situation.

My son had a couple above his place and the woman woke him regularly with her high heels going across his bedroom ceiling very late at night. Perhaps older places or those in colder climes than CA have better insulation from neighborly noises.

For many years I have had insomnia and it oftentimes becomes the sleep pattern you described. I sleep for 2 or 3 hours, wake up and eventually get out of bed and eat a snack and boot up the computer to read the news. I may stay awake for up to 4 hours before feeling sleepy again. Then I am able to sleep for another 2 to 3 hours, but I still feel sleep deprived the next day.

Fortunately, my sleep pattern is not consistent as I may have the "2 sleeps" pattern for 4 or 5 nights; then I will crash for a full night's sleep. I really notice the difference during the day. I can concentrate better and don't feel so addled.

I am glad to hear that the log sawing from the next apartment has stopped. Maybe he moved the bed to another wall. If it starts up again you might gently suggest that and suggest that he see a doctor. I read that snoring can be a sign of Sleep Apnea as well as other medical conditions.

I won't tell you how many trips I make to the bathroom now, but it's more than one. ;-o. Normally, I am able to return to sleep, but not always and that's a problem. I console myself with the knowledge that I don't have to go to work the next day.

I know this isn't a permanent solution, but when I had a bed bug epidemic I had to get rid of my bed. I was afraid to buy a new one until I was sure the infestation had been eradicated. So I bought a folding cot from Academy Sports. It has a foam mattress and is remarkably comfortable. I you had one on hand and the snoring returns you could set it up in a room far away and maybe get some sleep.

I don't know how you managed for 4 months. Sleep is so essential to good health. Hoping you can get a good night's sleep from now on.


Don't ask me about my upstairs neighbors. It had been a nightmare until two years ago when they moved out and show up now for a week or so only two or three times a year.

During those weeks, they allow their child to run for hours up and down the hall - those little feet pounding hard enough that the glassware and dishes rattle in my cupboards. Also, they do something for long periods of time that sounds like boucing bowling balls. More cupboard rattling along with cracking sounds in my ceiling.

I complained once and the father yelled at me that I am an idiot, that he cannot possibly be expected to control his child's running. Uh-huh.

I live with dread for the day they move back in full time.

My sympathies to your son.

I don't know whether I am really losing it, but I just checked back on yesterday's post and, to my horror, discovered I said basically the same things yesterday. It's too late to tell you to skip my comment, but please forgive my memory lapse.

Thank heavens the "problem" has been resolved and hopefully not just on vacation! I can imagine how delicious that first 10-hour sleep must have felt.

Wishing you happy, well-rested days ahead!

So glad things have improved for you! And we're not pretending when we say your exhaustion didn't show up here... Maybe if would have been better it it had and we could have cheered you on to report the problem earlier! 😍. And I'm with whoever said management in any co-housing structure should have rules about noise issues...

So happy you're feeling better!

I am happy to learn the problem for now has been resolved. I follow your writings because they are informative, fun, political, and personal. Thank you for sharing your story and the information you so thoroughly research with all of us. I disagree with the condo association and think the rules need to be changed. I had a friend who received complaints anytime they played any type of music, before 10 pm, when they would turn it off, from only one neighbor. When checking with other neighbors they said it wasn't loud or a problem. However, that condo association threatened fines. Enjoy your sleep and thank you again for sharing your story, I found it helpful.

Ronni, thank you for sharing your sleepless nights experience. I hope the problem has been resolved. It's not easy living in a condo complex. There are many issues that arise when walls are shared, and there can also be ornery dictators running the condo associations. Some play favourites, others think they own the place.

You have a right to your peace and quiet.

If nothing is done, perhaps you should buy an heavy metal ACDC CD, featuring Angus Young wailing like a wounded bird of prey. Play that thing against your shared wall for an hour while you take a walk outside.

Maybe the snorer was ousted from the main bedroom, perhaps he has hearing issues or can't distinguish his butt from his elbow.

Our a back neighbour family with pool held parties any old night. Screaming loud music. Thankfully, they moved a year ago, and now the house is occupied by four ghost like senior women. Nice!

Comedy aside, I am sending you a huge Montreal hug for all that you do.

I have the same problem in that after 5 hours of sleep, I am wide awake for about 90 minutes and then I fall asleep again!

I am glad, Ronnie, that the snoring stopped. I was going to suggest that you consider moving back to NYC where the only noises you have to contend with are sirens, garbage trucks at 4AM, gunshots, strange screams in the middle of the night and an occasional boom box.
As for 2-phase sleeping, I'm pretty much doing that now.
I manage 2 or 3 hours at night and another 2 or 3 in the afternoon. And, I'm none the worse for it.

These two posts have reminded me of staying in hotels where one must share walls, floors, ceilings, and water pipes. I always ask for the top floor and usually an end of the hall room. I can't always be accommodated, but 7 times out of 10, I am. If we happen to have our grandchildren with us while staying in a hotel, I ask for a ground floor room because i know their small feet would annoy those below them if we are on higher floors.

I hope the improvement is permanent. Thank you for sharing the consequences of the loss of sleep.

Glad to read things are changing back to normal.

For some strange reason some sounds seem to magnify for me. Plus, my tolerance has deceased. Normal sounds like hubby putting a glass down or rattling potato chip sack seems like explosion. So hearing a stranger snore would do me in.

I am fortunate to live in a house. My husband hasn't live in an apartment for 50 years, he couldn't handle it. I tease him and ask what happens if we need to move to senior apts. or assistant living? A dear friend, 93 years, is in nursing home has a roommate who snores, wakes her up every night. However, the 2 roommates like each other, so she doesn't ask to move. I would!

Thank you for posting this experience Ronni. I think I have the segmented sleep problem. Most people don't think lack of sleep is much of a problem but I know it to be very serious. I just cannot function the next day and put off most everything I need to do until the following day when I hope I've been able to sleep. I can't sleep in since I'm my husband's caretaker. I seem to always wake up between 5 and 6 A.M. whether I sleep well or not.

So glad your noisy neighbor is quiet now.

I am so glad you're getting decent sleep now, Ronni. It's hard when walls, ceilings, and floors don't provide enough sound insulation for people to live normal lives without disturbing others. I spent the first six years of my life in a top-floor apartment, which was all my parents could afford, being shushed a lot by my mother because whenever my brother and I started to get even a bit rambunctious it would disturb elderly Mrs Slater who lived right below us. I remember she would bang on the ceiling of her apartment with a broomstick to let us know!

Well, I spent a lot of time reading storybooks instead of running about, and I guess that has shaped my whole life, one way or another. On the good side: a lifelong love affair with books! But on the other hand: also, a lifelong habit of not exercising enough.

Nowadays, I worry about my chronic, worsening cough. It's bad enough that I am bothering my husband with it, but at least he understands that I can't help it, that I'm trying everything the doctors say and would give anything to be able to stop. I really hope I'm not ruining any of my neighbours' sleep!

I hope your peaceful sleep continues, Ronni.

I bought an old condo when I was first divorced. The space was beautiful: high ceilings, crown molding, plaster & lath walls, hardwood floors etc. etc. etc. However, there was no insulation between floors - the units had been used originally as town homes for people who lived in other parts of the state.

The HOA rules specified that some percentage of the lovely hardwoods should be covered with with carpet/rugs. My upstairs neighbors hadn't done so and when I complained about the noise to my them, the fellow said (something to the effect) that he was from NYC and that I didn't know what noise was so get over it.

So many familiar stories. When I was a teenager, my family moved from an apartment to a two-story house. My mother took advantage to sometimes escape my dad's snoring, which thankfully was not that bad, by going downstairs to sleep on the living room couch.
One morning she awoke to find that someone had tried, but failed, to break into the house at the back door. She went back to the marital bed.

I have had bad experiences also with snoring neighbors or roommates.

One question: Why didn't the condo association go to the offenders directly instead of the neighbors?

So glad you are getting some sleep now. REally pleased.

Here are some things that have helped me with sleeping problems:
* Taking melatonin 30 minutes or more before my bedtime. I don't wake up groggy. It doesn't interfere with the brain's experience of actual sleep like prescription meds do.
* Wearing yellow glasses/goggles that fit over my own when I end up reading online or watching TV after my bedtime. The blue light emitted by electronic devices tells my brain that it is daytime. The yellow glasses mimic firelight. (I found these online.) So, I have learned to read an actual book in soft light, not a screen.
* Wearing earplugs -- the disposable soft kind that expand to fill the space in your ears. They don't have to go in very far to work. I use them if I go to bed after my husband starts snoring.
* Reading "The Sleep Revolution." Attention-grabbing info about what lack of sleep does to us -- like you said, Ronni -- AND various ways to combat insomnia of all sorts. Includes many references, not just the author's own personal experience.

Cat, I began taking Melatonin also, though another month is needed to see an effect.

As for computer light, I installed f.lux which puts a warm light onto the computer that diminishes the blue. In the evening I lessen the brightness of light as well, then turn it back up in the morning for a brighter look.

Another good site for insomniacs to read is the Harvard Health Review site, esp. "Too early to get up, too late to go back to sleep..." There are many of us out here.

We once lived in an apartment where the parent(s) allowed the little 3-year-old girl to roller skate from the kitchen to the dining room and back for hours at a time. Just as I had screwed up the courage to confront them about the problem, they moved away. So I dodged that bullet.

In another apartment, I would have sworn that the upstairs tenants were actually bowling all evening -- until a visitor who had had the same situation in her apartment informed me that the noise was actually caused by getting up and down from recliners. Evidently every time a commercial would come on they would both get up for snacks and it did sound just like a bowling alley. Unfortunately the floor plans of our apartments were identical and, they would go to bed at the same time we would -- however, they had a television set in their bedroom and would listen to the PTL Club every night for at least an hour, keeping us awake for that extra hour of sleep that we desperately needed. I chose to compose a humorous poem regarding the situation and tacked it on their front door. They were not amused. In retaliation, they complained to management that I played my piano sometimes on Sunday afternoons (when I thought they were at the swimming pool) so that I would not annoy them. I played softly, but I still received a nasty note from management. Luckily we moved shortly thereafter, so we avoided a show-down.

Since then we have lived in our own houses since then and, except for a teenager riding his dirt-bike for hours in his family's front yard, we've avoided the noise problem except for that of my husband's snoring (and possibly my own snoring). I now use a "white noise" machine of the tide coming in and going out, as well as a snort of liquor once in a while. I definitely NEED my sleep!

So happy you are getting rest!

re sleep apnea: My husband's had it for decades; has tried all the devices and had two surgeries, nothing has worked. He sleeps in another bedroom. I also second white noise machines, noise-cancelling headphones and like the cot idea.

But I cannot help but wonder why a condo association would have no noise clause in its aggreement.

There •are• condos built with superior soundproofing, I live in one. That should be a prime consideration to anyone buying one because you never know who will be your neighbour. We never hear music or people walking, let alone snoring.

This is an absolutely crazy story! What a nightmare it must have been.

We all have our fingers crossed that you continue to get deep, fulfilling sleep each night.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)