An effort to launch a new 12-Step fellowship with meetings in Los Angeles could help to call attention to the linkages between abnormal sleep and a number of substance and process addictions.
Organizers of Sleepers Anonymous (SlpA) are publicizing an e-mail address (SleepersA12@gmail.com) that individuals can use to ask questions about or express interest in joining the fellowship. Andy S. tells Addiction Professional that he realizes the effort to grow this movement will likely make gradual progress, as many individuals with problematic sleep start addressing the issue after seeking support for something else.
In Andy's case, that other problem was overeating; he describes past patterns of overeating and napping (sometimes up to five times a day) that plagued his life. He attended Overeaters Anonymous meetings, but spent much of the time talking about his daytime naps and nighttime insomnia. “People looked at me like I was crazy,” he says.
It was only after he convinced someone to sponsor him, even though he wanted mainly to address his sleep issue as primary, that Andy began to benefit from the power of the Steps. “The sleep issue had taken on a life all its own,” he says.
He believes others will have to find sponsors willing to focus on sleep before Sleepers Anonymous becomes established as a thriving 12-Step community.
Types of sleepers
Problematic sleep certainly is a phenomenon with which addiction professionals are familiar in their work with patients. Andy also emphasizes that some people begin developing problems with alcohol after experiencing insomnia and using late-night drinking to help them fall asleep.
Drawing from SlpA's copyrighted material, organizers cite three main types of sleepers who could benefit from support:
“In-Sleepers” who consistently struggle to get up in the morning, and might try to compensate by sleeping very late on their days off from work.
“Nappers” who might take naps several times over the course of a day, and often wake up in a confused state.
“Insomniacs” who have an incredibly difficult time falling or staying asleep and may lie in bed in anguish for hours; SlpA says this is the most prevalent problem of the three.
Andy distinguishes between these issues and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy, though he theorizes that individuals receiving medical treatment for these types of disorders could benefit from 12-Step support as well.
He says the idea for the fellowship started after another Overeaters Anonymous member contacted him to say that while he had successfully addressed his eating issue, he was routinely falling asleep in meetings and also falling asleep on the ride home. Andy hopes the first SlpA meetings will start in Los Angeles in the next several weeks.