Skip to content Skip to navigation

12-Step community for abnormal sleep will launch in Los Angeles

May 25, 2016
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
| Reprints

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.

Topics

Comments

This post is intended for all substance addicts, be it alcohol or narcotics, in recovery, and working the 12 steps with a sponsor.
Although I myself have another addiction besides Sleeping Addiction, it is a process addiction meaning that the addiction is towards a behavior like eating, gambling, or debting. However, the information written here applies to recovered folks in AA and NA.
Many of the latter may think, and there is some truth to it, "Well, as long as I don't use, I should be fine." But this, unfortunately, is not the case. Being sober or clean can both cause sleep addiction, as well as, be affected by it. In this blog, I intend to discuss both.
Many sober and clean alcoholics and drug users started using in order to treat their insomnia, and until they got to recovery were quite successful. But now that the substance was doing more to them than it was doing for them and they had to quit their 'sleeping aid', the insomnia is in full swing. I personally know of such a case, and am told that there are many others. They feel that now that they worked the steps, it should straighten out their sleep too, and are confused and disappointed when they don't.
They fail to see what many in recovery learn the hard way which is the concept of switching addictions. AA and NA don't help the recovered from becoming, or revealing that they were in the first place, other kinds of addicts as well. For instance, half of Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and of Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) came to these process fellowships, after, by going through the school of hard knocks, they realized that the twelve steps that they worked had no effect on these issues at all. To AA's great gift to OA and SAA, other than the 12 steps, is that AA's in OA and SAA are some of the most serious (sober) members because they realize the deadliness of addiction.
But for some reasons Sleep addiction is clouded with mystery. Although I suffered from it all my life, until I started Sleepers Anonymous in May 25th, 2,008, most websites deny that sleeping can be an addiction and instead offer all sorts of common-sensical advice which could totally work for the person who just has problems with sleep, help somewhat the person who is a real sleep addict, but never over the long run, unless they go through the Big Book of AA substituting Sleep for alcohol and being sponsored by either a sleeper or at least an AA that has some sleep issues himself and can relate. It seems that Sleep is the new kid on the block, bullying the other kids, and wreaking havoc in their lives. The worst part is that the other kids don't recognize him as a bully but just as a misunderstood boy. Confused, annoying but harmless.
To be facetious, our program is the SLEEPER program, and a big wake-up call is in order.
To those out there who still have doubts how Sleep can be an addiction, please consider this. Until 65 years ago, nobody thought Food was an addiction. Thanks to Rozanne S. OB"M, who had a good understanding of the disease, suffered from it, and decided to do something about it, today, world-wide, there are over 50,000 recovered Compulsive Overeaters. Interestingly, just like in OA there are overeaters, anorexics, bulimics, and those who have all of it, in SleepA there are oversleepers and anorexics or insomniacs. The same can be said of Sex addiction, which to this day is misunderstood and stigmatized, leading to 99% of SAA meetings to be closed to non sex addicts because the rest of the world does not understand.
Isn't it time we gave the same attention, concern, and concerted effort to put our Sleeping addictions in remission by working the 12 steps of Sleepers Anonymous?!
For various reasons, we have only 6 members in recovery or who are recovered, but AA started with but 2, Bill W. and Dr. Bob. We have a long way to go but if we don't start spreading the word now, nothing will ever be done.
What good is sobriety and being clean when the person doesn't sleep at night, rises at 1-3pm, or naps compulsively. This person endangers his sobriety for several reasons. He has less time to work his program i.e. less time for step work, making calls, working with his sponsor and sponsees. Such a person may miss a meeting due to a nap, sleep through a meeting and get nothing out of it, or worst yet, fall asleep at the wheel on the way back home after an AA meeting and kill someone, kind of a DUS or DULOS, Driving Under Sleep or Driving Under Lack Of Sleep, respectively. These kinds of accidents happen all the time, and the cops don't, and shouldn't, care that it wasn't alcohol. An involuntary manslaughter is just that, let's not mention the guilt that haunts this person.
An AA or NA with a Sleeping addiction will perform poorly on the job, be chronically late and ineffective, grouchy, and eventually may be fired or at least never promoted. Bear in mind too that NA's and many AA's do not use sleeping aids even if they would help for obvious reasons, although I must comment here that it's an outside issue and should be settled between the addict, his sponsor, a doctor, and his Higher Power. AA's who chronically sleep in get less sunlight and interact with people much less which leads to depression. All this goes for the napper as well.
I truly hope that I was both able to put forth how an AA or NA IN RECOVERY can easily become a sleep addict, as well as, the deleterious effects that the Sleep addiction can and will have on his sobriety and quality of life in general.
You may be, and I hope you are, wondering, what you can do if you suspect that you are a Sleep addict or a Sleeper. Well, there are a few steps you can take.
By now, I assume that you read the article deftly written by Gary Enos, who is the first writer of a professional magazine who took us seriously, as well as this post. Unfortunately, we do not have any meetings starting yet but we will let you know when they do. Much more important than official meetings, is what we have been doing for the last 8.5 years, namely working one-on-one with a sponsor who is either a Sleeper himself, or an AA sponsor who's willing to take you on. If they have sleep issues, better yet, but as long as they are using the Big Book of AA, even that is not necessary. Incidentally, we have found that many times, those AA sponsors that take us through the steps happen to be Sleepers themselves. Pretty funny isn't it?
Our fellowship's official email for all inquiries and networking is andy@sleepersanonymous.com
We have no intention to spam you or use your information for commercial reasons, and definitely all will be held with utmost anonymity. All these are covered by the Twelve Traditions which we swear by. Our official blog is http://sleepersanonymous.org and you are welcome to leave comments, concerns, or questions. I will visit it, time permitting, and help out in any way I can.
If you're tired of being tired, if you're sleeping like there's no tomorrow, and if you've exhausted all other means, please join us. We just want to help, and you'll be helping us.

Yours truly,

Andy S. Co-founder of SleepA and Sleeper number one