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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.

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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

I think I fall into the category of a sleep addict. Would be curious about causes and cures.

First I'd like to commend you for asking for help Manerva.

Please email us at our official email andy@sleepersanonymous.org so that we can talk more about the nature of your sleep addiction and how we may be of help.

Thank you,

Andy S

I think I may be sleep addicted. I can't seem to get enough sleep. I worry when I have things to do,wonder how I will make it without a nap.

There are three kinds of Insomniacs. One, is simply one that results from being a late riser and/or a compulsive napper. This individual sleeps so much during the day that it’s nearly impossible to sleep at night. No amount of prescription or natural sleep remedies can help this individual. We know of one poor fellow who slept late, napped compulsively, and stayed away all night hoping to get some sleep. Around the dawn, for a moment, he would close his eyes, lose consciousness for a brief time and then open them again. He went through this torturous cycle for four months. This was at the bottom of his insomnia. That person was only able to do that when he went through the twelve steps of SleepA.
A second kind of Insomniac is the so-called ‘purposeful’ or the ‘overextended’ insomniac. This person really can sleep at night, at least seemingly, but they either overextend themselves so much or find last minute things to do before bed that they never go to bed at time and don’t get enough sleep. They seem to get high by staying awake. We will now bring some true life examples of these unfortunates. We know of a woman who works full time, has a full social life, and is physically active. On top of it all, she is a member of two twelve-step fellowships, goes to meetings, does step work, and sponsors. This woman overextends herself so much that she never has enough time to sleep enough and is exhausted.
Another individual would always find excuses not to go to bed. He would check his on-line banking several times every night, as though his financial situation could suddenly change, and by the time he went to bed, he never had enough time to go to sleep. This individual held a very important technical job that had dangers if a person dozed on the job. Eventually, that man was persuaded by his own sponsee and worked with his OA sponsor. The situation righted itself through the twelve steps of SleepA.
The third category of an Insomniac is perhaps the most common and is the ‘unpurposeful’ insomniac. This person doesn’t find any excuse not to not go to bed. He does not sleep in or nap. He goes to bed at a decent time, shooting for a 7-8 night sleep. Yet, for some unknown reasons, this person takes 4 hours to fall asleep. He may fall asleep immediately but wakes on and off throughout the night which disturbs his sleep. Finally, he may just wake up 4 hours early and cannot go back to sleep.

Andy S.

© copyrighted by Sleepers Anonymous

We late risers habitually have an incredible difficulty in getting up in the morning or who simply get up at 1-2pm or later. At night, we want nothing more than to get up in the morning, and yet, come the morning, it is the last thing we want to do. If we wake up an hour or two before it is time to get up, right before falling back to sleep, we dread the morning. When the morning does come, we find it literally impossible to get up.
The only way some us could get up was with the help of another, a wake-up buddy or our significant others, whether voluntarily or forced, by threats of their leaving, or withholding their love from, us, or by us realizing that we would essentially starve if we did not get up for work. This meant that on the weekends, when we had no fear of getting fired, we slept in egregiously. Thus, we had no time for friends, family, interests, or hobbies. Sleeping in became our most important relationship and favorite pastime. We hated what we were doing but could not stop it.
What Does a Late Riser feel like in the morning?
We late risers felt an uncontrollable desire to stay in bed as long as we could. If it were possible, we would sleep all day, but usually something important finally got us up. It may have been that at 2pm we realized that we were starving and got up to eat a late breakfast. Many of us were able to stay up after that, but some of us returned to bed again. At times it may have been another major bodily function that got us up and, once again, either helped us stay up or not. We relished the comfort of being under our blankets and having our heads on a soft pillow, wrapped up like a baby in a womb, protected from the outside world, with all its worries and troubles. We used our state of unconsciousness to escape life, and fought to the death to maintain it. No matter what we were missing on that day, whether business or pleasure, important or trivial, nothing compared to the avoidance that we experienced, and we flinched from it all for the privilege of being in bed.
When our significant others grabbed our blankets, literally through us out of bed, or dared to pour cold water on us, we hated them with a passion. Many times, we realized that we could not go back to sleep and reengage in what we loved and cared for more than anything in the world, like an active alcoholic feels about his liquor. Sometimes we threatened them not to do it again. However, if we were really motivated, as soon as they were gone, we jumped back into bed, wrapped ourselves with a blanket, and in the case of the wet bed, either slept on their side of the bed, on the couch, on the floor, or may have even had a sleeping bag hidden for such emergencies.

What are the Dangers of Being a Late Riser?
We have missed important meetings, expensive appointments, work, and trips we wanted to go on. Many of us have gotten fired from many jobs we had, due to not showing up. If we are self-employed, we may be losing our business, but even if we are able to maintain it, it comes with greater difficulty, lowered productivity, and decreased earning power. When we did finally get up, we were usually in a foul mood, angry, irritable, sad, or extremely depressed. We spent the rest of the day feeling that way.

After many years, or even sooner, of being a late riser, we may have seriously considered suicide. We may have tried it. Since we are still suffering, we obviously failed. Even when we were not driven to such extremes, many of us have had suicidal ideation, meaning that we felt that life wasn’t worth living. We secretly, or verbally, felt or expressed, respectively, our wish that it would all be over peacefully. We were too scared to take our own lives, but if our Higher Power or others did it for us, we would be fine with it. Countless of us prayed every night to Higher Power to take our souls permanently in our sleep, and were awfully disappointed in the morning that our prayers were not answered.

Also, due to the limited time that we had left during the day because of our sleeping in, our life became incredibly smaller. There was no time to do the things we needed and wanted to do. We found this to be demoralizing, thus cause for more sadness and depression. Since most business and healthcare providers are open 9-5, we found it hard to purchase necessities and to get proper health care. We saw less sunlight, and since the sun is the source of vitamin D, so essential for happiness, it made us biologically sad and depressed. This was especially so in the winter when our disease pushed us to a point of desperation. It is also easier to be with and among people during the day, which is also a cause of happiness, as we are social beings, and the scarcity of that made us feel dejected as well.

Then there was the purely physical effects of staying in bed for too long. Our pajamas and beddings had to be washed more often as we spent too much time in them, and they were not fresh. We lost bone density, for the body was meant to be active, and over time our bones were more likely to be brittle and break. We got painful bedsores and had to apply special creams to treat them. We had aches, especially in our hips throughout the day which limited our movement and ability to exercise which so many of us cherished.

What Were the Effects of Our Being Late Risers on Our Significant others?
Our sleeping in caused tremendous relationship or marital strain. Other than the fear that our significant others had that, together, we would not have enough money to pay the rent and bills, it fell on them to be the villains whose odious job it became to wake us up and make sure we stayed up. They felt we were burdening them greatly by making them our care takers, and they did not understand how we, grownups, acted, like what they considered to be, schoolchildren, who did not want to get out of bed and deal with their responsibilities. They misunderstood us because they did not suffer from sleeping addiction like we did. When we tried to explain ourselves, it was like speaking a foreign language to them.

At night, our motto was, “Never again” or, “Not tomorrow.” Yet in the morning, our motto changed dramatically. It became, “One more minute; one more minute, please…” We knew we were lying. When it was only to ourselves, we did not feel that bad. However, when we lied to our significant others, we felt ashamed of ourselves, our self-esteem went down, and we felt and were incongruent. Of course we had to deal with the ensuing fallout of our lies to them. They felt betrayed. This aspect caused further problems in our already marred connection with our loved ones.
What Failed Procedures Did We Late Risers Use?
We went to sleep on time, earlier, thus allowing extra hours of sleep, and went to sleep at the same time every night. We installed special bathroom lights, minimized drinking fluids, especially caffeinated ones, after 5pm, asked our significant others to take care of the baby at night. We listened to calming music, relaxation tapes, or meditated before or while falling asleep. We bought alarm clocks with pleasant sounds, or sun alarms. We bought less comfortable beds, blanket and pillows. We used phone wake-up services. Some of us even went to the extremes of buying these special mechanical beds that would throw us out of them when the bed alarm went off. We spent years on therapy, especially psychoanalysis to figure out the root causes of our condition. We tried affirmations, hypnosis, and alternative medicine. We took anti-depressants. We prayed. We engaged in fun activities including dating. None of these offered a permanent solution to our problem.

Andy S.

© copyrighted by Sleepers Anonymous

We late risers habitually have an incredible difficulty in getting up in the morning or who simply get up at 1-2pm or later. At night, we want nothing more than to get up in the morning, and yet, come the morning, it is the last thing we want to do. If we wake up an hour or two before it is time to get up, right before falling back to sleep, we dread the morning. When the morning does come, we find it literally impossible to get up.
The only way some us could get up was with the help of another, a wake-up buddy or our significant others, whether voluntarily or forced, by threats of their leaving, or withholding their love from, us, or by us realizing that we would essentially starve if we did not get up for work. This meant that on the weekends, when we had no fear of getting fired, we slept in egregiously. Thus, we had no time for friends, family, interests, or hobbies. Sleeping in became our most important relationship and favorite pastime. We hated what we were doing but could not stop it.
What Does a Late Riser feel like in the morning?
We late risers felt an uncontrollable desire to stay in bed as long as we could. If it were possible, we would sleep all day, but usually something important finally got us up. It may have been that at 2pm we realized that we were starving and got up to eat a late breakfast. Many of us were able to stay up after that, but some of us returned to bed again. At times it may have been another major bodily function that got us up and, once again, either helped us stay up or not. We relished the comfort of being under our blankets and having our heads on a soft pillow, wrapped up like a baby in a womb, protected from the outside world, with all its worries and troubles. We used our state of unconsciousness to escape life, and fought to the death to maintain it. No matter what we were missing on that day, whether business or pleasure, important or trivial, nothing compared to the avoidance that we experienced, and we flinched from it all for the privilege of being in bed.
When our significant others grabbed our blankets, literally through us out of bed, or dared to pour cold water on us, we hated them with a passion. Many times, we realized that we could not go back to sleep and reengage in what we loved and cared for more than anything in the world, like an active alcoholic feels about his liquor. Sometimes we threatened them not to do it again. However, if we were really motivated, as soon as they were gone, we jumped back into bed, wrapped ourselves with a blanket, and in the case of the wet bed, either slept on their side of the bed, on the couch, on the floor, or may have even had a sleeping bag hidden for such emergencies.

What are the Dangers of Being a Late Riser?
We have missed important meetings, expensive appointments, work, and trips we wanted to go on. Many of us have gotten fired from many jobs we had, due to not showing up. If we are self-employed, we may be losing our business, but even if we are able to maintain it, it comes with greater difficulty, lowered productivity, and decreased earning power. When we did finally get up, we were usually in a foul mood, angry, irritable, sad, or extremely depressed. We spent the rest of the day feeling that way.

After many years, or even sooner, of being a late riser, we may have seriously considered suicide. We may have tried it. Since we are still suffering, we obviously failed. Even when we were not driven to such extremes, many of us have had suicidal ideation, meaning that we felt that life wasn’t worth living. We secretly, or verbally, felt or expressed, respectively, our wish that it would all be over peacefully. We were too scared to take our own lives, but if our Higher Power or others did it for us, we would be fine with it. Countless of us prayed every night to Higher Power to take our souls permanently in our sleep, and were awfully disappointed in the morning that our prayers were not answered.

Also, due to the limited time that we had left during the day because of our sleeping in, our life became incredibly smaller. There was no time to do the things we needed and wanted to do. We found this to be demoralizing, thus cause for more sadness and depression. Since most business and healthcare providers are open 9-5, we found it hard to purchase necessities and to get proper health care. We saw less sunlight, and since the sun is the source of vitamin D, so essential for happiness, it made us biologically sad and depressed. This was especially so in the winter when our disease pushed us to a point of desperation. It is also easier to be with and among people during the day, which is also a cause of happiness, as we are social beings, and the scarcity of that made us feel dejected as well.

Then there was the purely physical effects of staying in bed for too long. Our pajamas and beddings had to be washed more often as we spent too much time in them, and they were not fresh. We lost bone density, for the body was meant to be active, and over time our bones were more likely to be brittle and break. We got painful bedsores and had to apply special creams to treat them. We had aches, especially in our hips throughout the day which limited our movement and ability to exercise which so many of us cherished.

What Were the Effects of Our Being Late Risers on Our Significant others?
Our sleeping in caused tremendous relationship or marital strain. Other than the fear that our significant others had that, together, we would not have enough money to pay the rent and bills, it fell on them to be the villains whose odious job it became to wake us up and make sure we stayed up. They felt we were burdening them greatly by making them our care takers, and they did not understand how we, grownups, acted, like what they considered to be, schoolchildren, who did not want to get out of bed and deal with their responsibilities. They misunderstood us because they did not suffer from sleeping addiction like we did. When we tried to explain ourselves, it was like speaking a foreign language to them.

At night, our motto was, “Never again” or, “Not tomorrow.” Yet in the morning, our motto changed dramatically. It became, “One more minute; one more minute, please…” We knew we were lying. When it was only to ourselves, we did not feel that bad. However, when we lied to our significant others, we felt ashamed of ourselves, our self-esteem went down, and we felt and were incongruent. Of course we had to deal with the ensuing fallout of our lies to them. They felt betrayed. This aspect caused further problems in our already marred connection with our loved ones.
What Failed Procedures Did We Late Risers Use?
We went to sleep on time, earlier, thus allowing extra hours of sleep, and went to sleep at the same time every night. We installed special bathroom lights, minimized drinking fluids, especially caffeinated ones, after 5pm, asked our significant others to take care of the baby at night. We listened to calming music, relaxation tapes, or meditated before or while falling asleep. We bought alarm clocks with pleasant sounds, or sun alarms. We bought less comfortable beds, blanket and pillows. We used phone wake-up services. Some of us even went to the extremes of buying these special mechanical beds that would throw us out of them when the bed alarm went off. We spent years on therapy, especially psychoanalysis to figure out the root causes of our condition. We tried affirmations, hypnosis, and alternative medicine. We took anti-depressants. We prayed. We engaged in fun activities including dating. None of these offered a permanent solution to our problem.

Andy S.

© copyrighted by Sleepers Anonymous

You may be wondering what a napper is. We nappers are folks who nap compulsively. We feel an incredible urge to either lie down or just sit comfortably, close our eyes, and shut the world out by sleeping or dozing off for a certain amount of time. We literally feel as though we will collapse, or that something terrible will happen, if we do not nap. We may get enough sleep, exercise, eat right, and be emotionally balanced, but still must nap during the day, evening, or right before bedtime. The addiction has taken a life of its own. Of course, due to the napping, our sleep at night will be disturbed. While laziness may or may not have contributed to the inception of our addiction, we today are not lazy by any means, despite what others believe. We may be very motivated, gifted, and creative, but the naps get in the way of our productivity, relationships, and life in general.
What are the Dangers of Being a Napper?
If we are on the job, or driving, and absolutely cannot nap, we may doze off while working or at the wheel, thus causing tremendous danger to ourselves and to others. We would get so desperate for naps while driving, that we would park our car on a side street, take a nap, wake up completely disoriented, and continue driving. This was even when we drank cold water and waited a while to wake up. It is only by a sheer miracle of our Higher Power that we didn’t get ourselves, or others, killed. Some nappers who did not get the help that SleepA offers, were not so lucky. Driving while being sleepy causes more car accidents than driving while intoxicated with alcohol. These dozing-off moments, or mini naps, may cause an accident on the job or on the road. We may have gotten fired from many places of employment for literally, “Sleeping on the job” or we may be about to be let go from our current placement. Certainly, there is no promotion coming our way.
What Caused One of Us to Become a Napper?
There are many reasons why we may have become nappers. One of our early members found that, when he got either angry or depressed, which for him happened a great deal, that when he took a nap and woke up he was not angry or depressed any more. As a coping mechanism to escape these uncomfortable and painful feelings, he continued napping until these naps took on a life of their own. It would not help at this point for him to get therapy for anger or depression, for the same reason that it would not help the alcoholic to go to a mental health worker for these same issues. Perhaps you too napped to escape an unwanted emotion.
Sometimes his napping was paired with another activity, like Pavlov’s dog as in classical conditioning. He used to eat a lot, and was more likely to take naps after a meal. However, once he did this for a long enough time, the meals and the napping got paired, and, once addicted, the two could not be separated. When he started moderating his meals, and stopped eating heavy meals, and /or that were fatty or starchy, he was still overcome with an overwhelming urge to nap after he ate. Eventually, though, he had to nap whether he ate right before or not. Maybe this is your experience, your napping is paired with another physical activity, or you simply must nap independently of anything else.
What are Some Failed Strategies We Nappers Have Used?
We nappers took many approaches throughout our lives to eliminate or curb our napping. We sat on a hard chair, as opposed to laying on a bed or sitting on a comfortable couch. We put an alarm that will wake us up. We had a bottle of cold water that we could sip while we were napping. When tired, we drank, and splashed on our faces, an inordinate amount of cold water. We drank many cups of coffee, and may have even bought an espresso machine. We went on long walks, exercised, or got very busy when tired. These tactics all failed miserably.
What is Difference Between a Normal Napper and Us?
You may wonder what is wrong with naps, that perhaps they are a good thing. For many others, naps are very helpful. Normal people can take power naps. The differences between normal nappers and us compulsive nappers are the ways we both feel afterwards. Power nappers will feel refreshed and sharp after their naps. They will also sleep well at night. We compulsive nappers will feel horrible afterwards, our thinking will be muddled, and we will be in an altered state of consciousness.
Furthermore, we will be irritable and sensitive to noise; every little thing will bother us. People may conclude that we are angry people when we are just suffering. If we napped for fifteen minutes, for example, it may take us forty five minutes to come to our senses. We will feel like there is a cloud of vapor in our brain that brings on a stupor and a lack of clarity. But some degree of a hangover may remain for hours or even the whole day, thus lowering our alertness, ability to perform, and the quality of our lives. We will find it difficult to fall asleep at night, and the more we nap, the more lack of lucidity we will have, as well as, the more difficulty sleeping at night. At the worst stage of our napping addiction, it may take us half the night to fall asleep, or more.

Andy S.

© copyrighted by Sleepers Anonymous

You may be wondering what a napper is. We nappers are folks who nap compulsively. We feel an incredible urge to either lie down or just sit comfortably, close our eyes, and shut the world out by sleeping or dozing off for a certain amount of time. We literally feel as though we will collapse, or that something terrible will happen, if we do not nap. We may get enough sleep, exercise, eat right, and be emotionally balanced, but still must nap during the day, evening, or right before bedtime. The addiction has taken a life of its own. Of course, due to the napping, our sleep at night will be disturbed. While laziness may or may not have contributed to the inception of our addiction, we today are not lazy by any means, despite what others believe. We may be very motivated, gifted, and creative, but the naps get in the way of our productivity, relationships, and life in general.
What are the Dangers of Being a Napper?
If we are on the job, or driving, and absolutely cannot nap, we may doze off while working or at the wheel, thus causing tremendous danger to ourselves and to others. We would get so desperate for naps while driving, that we would park our car on a side street, take a nap, wake up completely disoriented, and continue driving. This was even when we drank cold water and waited a while to wake up. It is only by a sheer miracle of our Higher Power that we didn’t get ourselves, or others, killed. Some nappers who did not get the help that SleepA offers, were not so lucky. Driving while being sleepy causes more car accidents than driving while intoxicated with alcohol. These dozing-off moments, or mini naps, may cause an accident on the job or on the road. We may have gotten fired from many places of employment for literally, “Sleeping on the job” or we may be about to be let go from our current placement. Certainly, there is no promotion coming our way.
What Caused One of Us to Become a Napper?
There are many reasons why we may have become nappers. One of our early members found that, when he got either angry or depressed, which for him happened a great deal, that when he took a nap and woke up he was not angry or depressed any more. As a coping mechanism to escape these uncomfortable and painful feelings, he continued napping until these naps took on a life of their own. It would not help at this point for him to get therapy for anger or depression, for the same reason that it would not help the alcoholic to go to a mental health worker for these same issues. Perhaps you too napped to escape an unwanted emotion.
Sometimes his napping was paired with another activity, like Pavlov’s dog as in classical conditioning. He used to eat a lot, and was more likely to take naps after a meal. However, once he did this for a long enough time, the meals and the napping got paired, and, once addicted, the two could not be separated. When he started moderating his meals, and stopped eating heavy meals, and /or that were fatty or starchy, he was still overcome with an overwhelming urge to nap after he ate. Eventually, though, he had to nap whether he ate right before or not. Maybe this is your experience, your napping is paired with another physical activity, or you simply must nap independently of anything else.
What are Some Failed Strategies We Nappers Have Used?
We nappers took many approaches throughout our lives to eliminate or curb our napping. We sat on a hard chair, as opposed to laying on a bed or sitting on a comfortable couch. We put an alarm that will wake us up. We had a bottle of cold water that we could sip while we were napping. When tired, we drank, and splashed on our faces, an inordinate amount of cold water. We drank many cups of coffee, and may have even bought an espresso machine. We went on long walks, exercised, or got very busy when tired. These tactics all failed miserably.
What is Difference Between a Normal Napper and Us?
You may wonder what is wrong with naps, that perhaps they are a good thing. For many others, naps are very helpful. Normal people can take power naps. The differences between normal nappers and us compulsive nappers are the ways we both feel afterwards. Power nappers will feel refreshed and sharp after their naps. They will also sleep well at night. We compulsive nappers will feel horrible afterwards, our thinking will be muddled, and we will be in an altered state of consciousness.
Furthermore, we will be irritable and sensitive to noise; every little thing will bother us. People may conclude that we are angry people when we are just suffering. If we napped for fifteen minutes, for example, it may take us forty five minutes to come to our senses. We will feel like there is a cloud of vapor in our brain that brings on a stupor and a lack of clarity. But some degree of a hangover may remain for hours or even the whole day, thus lowering our alertness, ability to perform, and the quality of our lives. We will find it difficult to fall asleep at night, and the more we nap, the more lack of lucidity we will have, as well as, the more difficulty sleeping at night. At the worst stage of our napping addiction, it may take us half the night to fall asleep, or more.

Andy S.

© copyrighted by Sleepers Anonymous

I was born to an average modern religious family in a foreign country. My mother was a pleasant, friendly, and gregarious woman-a real person magnet. My father came from a home whose mother went through war horrors as a child and a father who died when he was a three-year-old from a rare heart attack at the age of thirty three. My grandfather was either a real heavy drinker or an alcoholic but was a good man. Both my mother and father were first-borns who were born to first-borns i.e. folks who did not know what they were doing who were born to folks who did not know what they were doing. My father was in the military and spent some time as a drill sergeant. At a later age, I became one of his privates and this relationship that has since changed for the better, has been my staple for most of my life. It influenced the course of my sleeping addiction greatly.
When he was a kid, to keep safe from the anger outbursts of his tortured-spirited mother, he immersed himself in his studies. He was very motivated and it was important for him to succeed. Eventually, he did succeed in his chosen field to an incredible degree. He read the unabridged version of Les Miserable when he was eight, something he never failed to remind me at different periods of my life. While he said that to motivated me, it broke my spirit. I am forty eight now and cannot read that book. I probably never will.
Although he rode me on his bike to kindergarten in the mornings, due to being a hard-working physicist he worked late hours. When he came home, he ate his meal in five minutes, military style, and disappeared learning about the Mongols or the like.
In my home country, at that time, psychologists were considered at best charlatans and as worst brain washers. Both false stereotypes did not help me as a kid or later in life. My sleeping addiction is correlated to three things. One, a natural propensity as a scared child. Two, as a compulsive overeater. And three, as someone who has suffered the throes of Bipolar I, the most violent mood swings psychiatric disorder for twenty nine years. I will do my best to talk about my sleep addiction and only bring the other factors when necessary.
My grandmother, a fantastic ethnic cook, would watch with delight as I gobbled down her freshly-made food. After that I would usually nap into a stupor. When I would wake up she, who was always a straight-forward person, and also went through the worst war horrors, would always say, “Andy, if you sleep during the day, what will you do at night?!” As a young child I was very confused for was it not she who cooked all this food?! Being an impressionable kid, it really hurt my feelings. At the time, I slept just fine at night, but eventually, her words became a sad reality.
Whether if at the time a therapeutic intervention would have helped this scared and to some degree unmotivated child and prevent him from becoming a full-blown sleep addict remains the mystery of my life. I would be remiss if I did not mention one more thing that she fortunately bequeathed to me, namely the Bipolar gene. She had Cyclothymia, a much milder form, as she never spent a day in a mental hospital as an adult. My path was quite different. I say fortunately because I truly believe that I would have never have developed my sleeping addiction without my Bipolar I and would not be able to help those who already have been helped and those who will follow. It helps me make sense of my sufferings, and though my sad and checkered past still makes me cry sometimes, I know that there will come a day when it will have all been worth it.
As I was the oldest, and did not have an older brother, and my father was not around much, being the scared kid that I was and too afraid to go to camp, I would spend my summers waking up really late, watching TV for hours, eating and napping. My parents were rightfully worried about me. My salvation came from an unlikely source. My father’s half-brother, Uncle David, who took me under his wings. I spent entire summers in his house. He took me everywhere and his friends became my friends. I have never heard of such an uncle from anyone. I know I was a scared child because I wet my bed until the age of ten. Only fearful children do that.
Another reason I know I was a scared child is because when at the age of three and a half when my younger brother was born, I, who was always very verbal, started stammering. I felt neglected even though both my parents loved me. This just worsened as the other three siblings were born and raised. My perception, however skewed, was my reality and I interacted with the world accordingly.
As a child, at 2:10pm, six days a week, there was a special radio show called “A corner for the mom and the child”. My mother always spent that time with me, listening to the different stories like “Noddy the midget” or “Nils and the wild geese.” I was mesmerized by these radio broadcasts (shows my age) and they enhanced my imagination. What is more interesting, in retrospect, is that I always lied down on the floor while the program was on. Neither my mother nor I ever thought much of it.
In grade school, my troubles in getting up became more salient. I just did not want to face the day. My mother would go to great lengths to get me up. She would open the curtains and I still remember the song she made up, and even the music she used, to get me up. It was, in our then mother tongue “Good morning to the children, good morning to the cute ones, good morning, good morning.” She also opened the curtains. I really hated it, but after repeating it enough times, it was more painful to stay in bed than to get out of it, and by Freud’s pleasure principle, my mother won every time-during the school year of course. In retrospect, she saved my life, for I would have turned into a juvenile delinquent very early on. Left to my own devices, I would get up at three. For many years in my life, when I could do what I wanted, that was exactly the time range I got up at.
On the weekends, various incentives were used to get me up. My parents would arrange a dressing-up contest to see whether I, or the brother I mentioned earlier, could dress up more quickly. While that was fun and worked for a while, since he was always faster in everything and more motivated, I got tired of his winning and that was the end of that game. At a later age, when I would be late to the morning prayers, I always, by using Freud’s ego defense mechanism of displacement, told my friends that I was late because of him. Many years later, I made the mistake of revealing this to him which displeased him greatly.
At the age of thirteen, we left to America, as my father got a position in a prestigious university in Los Angeles. My father was always an early riser and full of energy. He would go to the early prayers so that he could get on the freeway before traffic. I never really understood how someone could do that. One thing he told me that I will never forget was that when he was in the army, he slept so much that everybody called him “Sleepy”. He told me that one day he decided that he wanted to be an accomplished man and stopped oversleeping by sheer willpower. He said that he understood my difficulty in getting and staying up in the morning but urged that I just need to “push” myself that is all.
In the middle of tenth grade, when I was merely fourteen and a half, my life’s course took a turn that lasted for the next twenty nine years. We got a telephone call one night that my saving angel, the big brother that I never had, my Uncle David who always took care of me, was shot in the head. His platoon was ambushed on the way to arrange a good-bye party for a bunch of soldiers including himself. He finished his service defending our home country, but came home in a military helicopter for the wounded.
He was very strong and he lasted for three days in critical condition as the doctors frantically operated on his brain. My father said he looked like an angel, and that is what he was to me. After three days, he died. The bullet that went through his head has been reverberating in my heart for nearly three decades. To tell the truth, I am still not completely out of it. In later years when I visited his grave, I was shocked to see his helmet, with a hole, right there. While I thought it was macabre, I could not understand how nobody ever stole it. It is still there intact.
What followed was the beginning of the end. I fell into a major depression and became bed-ridden. I was suicidal but a clergyman who was also my teacher told me that suicides are murderers and go to Hell. Although today I do not believe in Hell, and believe there are nobler reasons not to kill oneself, it worked at the time and I am glad it did. But this had no effect on my suicidal ideations, or the belief that one would be better off dead than alive, something I suffered from most of my life from then on. It was only until I entered the twelve step system that I finally got some kind of a break from that. These days I feel it only on holidays and it is very painful and scary, although I know that I would not act on it. I have too much to live for and now people depend on me. Just those three weeks in the end of the year are particularly difficult.
When I would confront my parents with my suicidal ideas their reactions were vastly different. My mother would start crying. My father would use Viktor Frankl’s technique of a paradox and said that I am free to do what I wish, and that he would not stop me. I did not like it very much, and later, in my studies, learned that paradoxes are more suitable for trained therapists and carefully so, and certainly not by family members. But he did the best that he could do.
They also threatened me that if I did not get better they would have to take me to therapists who would brainwash me. That really scared me and I at least pretended to get better. I believe that possibly if there was a therapeutic intervention at that point, coupled perhaps by decent anti-depressants, I may not have become manic later. But as things stood, I kept on sleeping a lot. My grades started to plummet and that exasperated my father who always believed that I could be smart just as he was. I was a total disappointment to him and it was killing me.
When I did go to school, I was so depressed and beginning to get addicted to naps, so much so that after lunch, I would skip classes and go into an adjoining museum that was a part of my high school. It was dedicated to those war-days’ horrors that my grandmothers went through. I would nap there for hours and when I was awake I would “tour” the facility, looking at pictures, and listening to the strident speeches, of the perpetrators. It was a horrible way to for a teenager to spend these months but there was nothing I could do differently. It was the one place I could escape and nap. Thus I was in the horrors of horrors.
Eventually, my parents capitulated and I was sent to a brilliant therapist. He saw me twice and realized that I needed a psychiatrist. I started seeing one that our insurance covered and he was not a very bright fellow. But he did prescribe medication talked to me, and at some point, clued on to the fact that I might have Bipolar I.
Finally, at the age of sixteen, I had a total psychotic breakdown and was brought to the ER catatonic i.e. I could sense everything around me but could not talk. It was very frightening. I was transferred to a mental hospital for a month and then to a much better one, where I spent what usually takes two to three months, namely to stabilize on Bipolar I medications, in ten months. Why it took so long is a mystery to me to this day.
In the unit they had a special subdivision for teenagers which was perfect for I was sixteen. After several months, I would go to the second floor to the school that they had. After a while I just could not get up in the mornings and the teacher had to come and coax me endlessly out of bed. It is important to state that at this point I was not depressed but rather manic and STILL could not get up. The sleeping-in addiction has taken hold.
After ten months, and my not getting better, I acted out egregiously and was kicked out of the hospital. I continued to see my new doctor there but on a different unit. I saw him for two years, while I was going to a nearby community college. Although he was a brilliant man, who was graduated from high school at the age of sixteen and went to medical school, as well as came from a family of tremendous scholars, was a very poor psychiatrist and made some decisions that affected my life adversely for years.
While in community college, I slept in most of the two years, and constantly failed my courses. I was put on academic probation twice. I also will not forget how I would have to lie down on the grass. It was very awkward as nobody else, except for a homeless man, did that. After two years, I was kicked out for lack of academic promise. I was at a standstill; I did not know what to do with my life.
As my family was becoming ultra-religious, I suddenly had a revelation. If I went to a divinity school and became an ordained clergyman, surely all my problems would be over. My parents and friends of family were hopeful that Andy just might make it after all. Unfortunately, just before I left, the doctor decided that my Bipolar I, who everybody knows is a lifetime disease, was an acute case and that I could get off the medicines. He took me off them, discontinued therapy, and I went to a normal and demanding environment, where I was supposed to wake up at 7:30am, study all day, and go to bed at 10pm, without my family, therapy, or medicines, for the first time in my life.
Within two months I fell into a depression so great that I was bed-bound again. In fact towards the end of the seven months I stayed there, I had the weirdest experience which was a combination of depression and sleep addiction at its worst. I spent twenty four hours a day in bed. I was awake the whole time and only near the dawn I would lose consciousness for a split second and the whole cycle would start again. Some concerned students tried to help me unsuccessfully. Some of them thought that I was lazy or evil, and the administration kept threatening to expel me.
Finally after seven months, my parents came to visit me. I had not showered in months. I laid naked on the bed without linen under the blanket, and the floor was filled with dirty laundry that has not been washed in ages. My mom came to visit me first and was calling my name in the hallways. I will never forget it. When she saw me she was deeply sad and helped me do the wash. The next day my father came. Being the former drill sergeant that he was, and not having particularly good bed-side mannerisms at the time, he used the harshest words I have ever heard him use. They were probably what they used in the army when a private was displaying the most disgusting behavior. I thought he would throw me to the streets but towards the end he softened and said that they would take me back home and that I would see the same psychiatrist that took me off the medications to begin with. I liked the plan not because it was good but because it was familiar and anything was better than where I was at the time.
The ‘gifted’ doctor put me on the strongest anti-depressant at the time that later on caused a lot of damage to so many other Americans that someone even wrote a book about it. Incredibly, although I had a mood swing disorder with psychotic features, he did not think that it would be a good idea to put me on a mood stabilizer and an anti-psychotic. Within a few weeks I was so manic and violent, breaking windows, starting physical fights, and getting arrested, that I was put in a mental hospital not only to get stabilized but also to protect the community that I lived in from me and to protect me from myself.
The best thing that happened was that I was never treated by that doctor again and never went home to live again, the latter which I both hated and feared in the beginning but turned out to be the best idea ever in my life. By the way, my father confided in me at the time that there was a consensus in the religious community in which we lived that he should put me in a locked facility for the rest of my life. But there was a social worker that had a lot of experience with addiction and he convinced my father that I still had a chance. He was right.
In the end of my three month stay in the hospital, a wonderful and bright social worker who was doing discharge planning decided that my living with my parents was making me ill and that I could never hope to get better and independent unless I lived somewhere else. As I was not ready to live in an apartment with a helping roommate, and we have not heard of the psychiatric rehabilitation team that eventually changed the course of my life, I was sent to the best Board and Care (B&C) in the city for a year to learn some independent living skills before I moved into an apartment with that roommate.
A B&C, for those who do not know, is essentially a warehouse for people. It is a place for folks that the world does not want to deal with. We did not know it at the time, but the chance of success was actually very low, but it was better than going back home. Although I did learn and excel in many of their courses like assertiveness and communication skills, anger management and process groups, we spent most of the day doing nothing and I hung around people who smoked, drank, and used drugs all day, although I did not participate in these activities.
There was one individual there who took me under his wings. He had a PhD. In Philosophy and a Masters in Psychology. He was a saint. He taught me that I was a good person, something that is foreign to most addicts in their addiction. He taught me that although I was religious, or at least pretended to be, that I could still be devoid of spirituality. In that sense he prepared me for my journey through the twelve steps. He also, through his best student there, taught me about affirmations which I have been using on and off for twenty five years.
Thus began my five-year stretch in the B&C. I really liked the process groups every morning and actually talked a bit too much. I also loved the breakfasts that they prepared for us: eggs, good bacon, and pork sausages. At some point, I even enjoyed the filing I was doing for free in the vocational center down the street. But at a certain point my addiction hit me hard again and I could not get up for any of it.
Always being the self-seeker that I was, it still amazes me that I would rather sleep in instead of talking in front of a whole group. I knew I needed my morning medicines, but my addiction prevented my getting up to get them and I would only get up at 12-1pm which was the last opportunity to do so. What astonishes me even more is that I love bacon and sausage and am a compulsive overeater, and yet I preferred sleeping to all that tasty food. It makes me think that my sleep addiction is worse than my food addiction. But when I stopped being around people and being productive in the volunteer job due to sleeping in, was when my father got involved.
One morning, shortly after quitting the volunteering, the secretary came to my bedroom and said, “Andy, your father is on the phone. It’s serious!” I knew she was not kidding and got up immediately. When I picked up the phone, I got the same speech that he gave me back in divinity school, the same harsh tone and the same hard words. He also added that if I did not get up and go to volunteer, he would lock me up for the rest of my life. I told him that I understood and went back to bed. This happened several times but I could not get up.
I was not even depressed at the time, but when I got up late, I felt that I was in a stupor. My head was heavy and cloudy and I could not think clearly. I missed a lot of sunshine and vitamin D, being around people, and being productive and it made me depressed. Thus it was not an early morning depression that caused the sleeping in, but rather the depression followed the sleeping in.
I asked the different workers there for tricks how to defeat it. One person suggested drinking a lot of water before bed so that I would be forced to get up in the morning to urinate. It did make me get up but after going to the restroom, I went back to bed. Another worker came up with affirmations but they failed miserably. I also was prescribed a certain medicine for my insomnia that had the side effect of drowsiness in the morning. One of the residents shared with me that she got acupuncture and was able to get off sleeping medicine. I got acupuncture, and after that, for a while, I actually could get up in the morning, but eventually I went back to my old ways and resumed my sleeping in.
My father kept on threatening me with a permanent lock up. It was his way to motivate me to wake up and be productive but it had the opposite effect. The more he pushed, the harder I fought back. I asked around a little about what a locked facility was. I was told that it was a closed place that you never left. They tell you when to get up and when to go to bed. They are very dirty. The quality of life is very low. After a few years you stop recognizing yourself in the mirror. The last part scared me a lot for it was always important for me to look good. But the worst part is that it was worse than prison because there was no possibility of parole and I would never become anything.
One Friday, our B&C sent some folks to play their team in volleyball and a wise counselor insisted that I go. It did the trick because I got a taste of what life would be like there. I got back so depressed that I went back to bed. The next morning I got up at 1pm.
One day, to my horror, my counselor confronted me and told the as follows, “Today I received a phone call from your parents. I must ask you a question. Are you still interested in bettering yourself?” This hit me from left field. I was not expecting it. I told him to give me a week to think about and then came back and told him the truth. He told me that while he appreciated my honesty, there was no point in our working together. I was devastated.
Around the same time, my parents, both alarmed that that I was in the B&C for five years and that I was getting institutionalized, decided that the problem was that I was overmedicated and made a plan to get me out. They got an outside psychiatrist, therapist, and a letter on a letterhead saying that I needed to get out of there. The B&C was not excited to let me go, but had no recourse. Within a month I was in my own apartment for the first time ever at the age of twenty six. The only mistake was that I insisted, out of ego, not to have a therapeutic roommate. I got a job as a favor from the social worker that convinced my dad not to lock me up doing the most hateful jobs that I was not fit for and got paid less than minimum wage. After doing that for about a year and napping excessively during it, I stopped going to work, went off my medicines, and ended up in hospital within three months.
After three weeks in a local hospital, I was transferred back to the same B&C to stabilize, but after an incident, I was forced to go to a horrible hospital where I spent three months basically in bed all day, coming out just for the meals and medicines, but not going to any groups. I was very rambunctious during that time and had to be strapped and tranquilized several times. I was also quite unpopular with the patients.
One day, a nice lady came to visit me and offered to talk to me in the yard. She took out two cigarettes, and I liked it because she seemed nice and I liked to smoke when I was manic as it took the edge off. She talked about all sorts of things I did not understand and asked if I would be willing to sign some papers next time she came. When she left, a kind nurse explained to me that she was sent to be my conservator and that she would probably place me in a locked up facility for the rest of my life. I was going to become what was called “A ward of the state” a man without any rights.
Luckily, I just got a new psychiatrist who knew my father and alerted him to this. My father rush over and took me to this building in the Valley which used to be a pickle factory, where my father told me to tell the judge that I wanted him to be my conservator. We did it and soon I was transferred to a sanitarium. Before the sanitarium though the new psychiatrist put me on a new drug that, other than horrible nightmares for the first three months, had less side effects than the drug I was on. I am still on that drug today twenty one years later.
The sanitarium was an interesting place. It was a house surrounded by a tiled fence that left a meter to walk around. I just could not live in a place like that. After three days of sleeping, I ran away at night, and knocked on my parents’ bedroom at 3am. I told my father that I would do whatever it takes to stay out of hospitals and have a normal life. He gave me a hug and a room to sleep in.
The next morning my therapeutic roommate, and three members of this sober companion team, my father and I had breakfast together. I was to move into my apartment with the roommate who would make sure that I took my medicines, and would be taken places by the companion team. I was also going to go back to that hateful job, but anything was better than the way things were before and indeed it was the beginning of a new chapter of my life. I was twenty seven years old.
But my sleeping got the best of me, and the companions’ job became mainly to terrorize me and to limit my sleeping time. I hated them. They were taking away my drug. I just did not want to feel anything and hated to face that, at that age, I had no degrees, no profession, no car, and was told what to do all the time. I would take naps in the evenings and I would make deals with them. They would time it and I would fight them. In the morning they came to wake me up and I hated it. Eventually things got so bad in the morning that, on my father’s orders, they would spill water on me to wake me up. It worked but it felt horrible and was no way to live one’s life. My father simply ran out of options.
Eventually they were dismissed and instead I started working with a psychiatric rehabilitation team that saved my life. I went to their building every day. We had groups, coaching, activities, and sports every day, and I had a companion that was trying to motivate me about life. But in order for them to get me there, I had to wake me up in the morning and I did not want to do that. They came every morning and knocked on the door for half an hour, but I realized that if I ignored them they would just leave and I could sleep endlessly. Eventually they caught up to my game and I was forced to give them the key.
Then the battles really began. My coach would come at 8am to get me up and I would resist at all costs. He would get upset and yell at me. He forced me to go take a shower saying that it would wake me up. The problem was that he last thing I wanted to do was wake up, so instead I would let the water run and lied on the bathroom floor. Eventually he caught up to my game and confronted me with the fact that I would rather sleep in left-over urine than wake up clean. I explained to him, much to his surprise, that sleep was my priority.
I do not know exactly how it happened but I think that after about a year of being forced to get up against my will, of going on fun activities, of getting coaching, and by getting treatment from a superb psychiatrist, I decided that maybe it was time for a change and decided to participate. I made the unilateral decision to quit that odious job and re-enroll at the same community college that I was kicked out of seven years earlier.
Because I got so much help from the field of psychology, I decided that I wanted to help people and concentrated my studies on psychology. But I was still sleeping in and napping a lot, and those two years took five years. Eventually, I was graduated and my family who was all there could not have been prouder.
I then transferred to a four year college to continue my studies in psychology. I still slept in a lot but was able to manipulate my schedule so that I took most of my classes in the afternoon. Even then I would use the vast areas of grass to nap on for hours. I would wake up confused and barely able to study. At times, since the grass was still wet from the night dew, I would wake up with the back of my pants and shirt soaking wet. I got a lot of strange looks by other students. Since the four year college had summer and winter sessions, I was able to make up for all the excessive sleep and this time, the two years of school took just that-two years.
I then transferred to graduate school to continue my studies. As I had serious learning disabilities and could not even read middle-school material, I was convinced by the counseling office to enter the Marriage and Family Therapy program (MFT) where there was not as much reading involved as in psychology. I got through my higher education by listening in class, asking questions, taking notes, and getting basically all A’s.
The master’s program was two years long. As everybody else but me was working, the classes were held at night. This relieved me greatly, as I could sleep in and nap as much as I wanted. I just had to be on the roads at five thirty and make it to class. However, all the excessive sleeping took away from my ability to complete my homework, and as that school did not have winter and summer classes, the program took me four and a half years.
When I was practicing therapy as a student, I realized that I was too sensitive and took on other people’s problems. It hurt and sadden me. I could not separate myself from the clients’ troubles. Eventually, I told my parents that I could not become a licensed therapist and it made them and me sad. I did not even want to finish my studies, but my mother explained that people have more respect for people with degrees. So I studied for the finals for six months and passed the tests. It was around that time that I discovered that when I was very sad or angry, that if I took a nap, I would wake up feeling better. I used this dysfunctional coping mechanism and my napping became worse. Eventually, I was graduated and my entire family who was there, was very happy, though there was a tinge of sadness, as everybody knew that I would not work in the field.
I was thirty eight at the time and it was ten and a half years before this story was written. I must also mention that I dated many gals and showed up to many of the dates half asleep. That did not make a very good impression and I hardly got a second date.
On my parents’ thirty seventh wedding anniversary, the entire family flew to my home country for two weeks. Someone had an idea for a match and I even considered that if it worked out, I would go back to live there. But I made myself a solemn promise, “Andy, if this relationship does not go through, you’ll come back to Los Angeles, join Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and get help for your sleeping addiction as well.”
Fortunately, after marathon dating, the gal dumped me. I flew back to the States with my tail between my legs. I remember the first day of my return. I went to my parents’ house to watch one of my favorite movies. I was slightly tired and took a nap. To my horror, I woke up three hours later. I was totally discombobulated. Thus started my three months that became my bottom. For three months, all I did was wake up late, eat all day, and take up to five naps a day lasting for hours. At night I would toss and turn with anguish. Thankfully, I still managed to take my psychiatric medicines twice a day and did not become symptomatic. It was a very scary time. I would be afraid to cross the street after a meal because I was so hung over and sleepy. The food and sleep addictions intertwined with one intention-to kill me.
My father would visit me once a month with a sad look on his face. He said that as much as he hated to do it, he would have to lock me up forever if I did not improve. He explained, and he was right, that sooner or later I would stop taking the medicines and either end up in a ditch, commit a serious crime while manic, commit suicide, or die of exhaustion. He just could not take that chance. Our relationship was always strained, but I felt badly for him. After all, he was still my father. The third and last time he came to visit me I said, “Dad, you don’t have to worry about me anymore. I’m joining OA!”
Within a week I started going to meetings, first one a week, and then three. But it took me some time to seriously work the program. After about a month, on a Wednesday evening that I will never forget, a man came to speak for ten minutes at my home meeting in Los Angeles. He was the exact opposite of me. He was confident and happy, had lost a hundred pounds, had an incredible job, and was engaged. I was scared and miserable, forty five pounds overweight, never worked in my life, and hardly got a second date. He came up to me after the meeting carrying a copy of the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous (Big Book) with his before picture. He had what I wanted and I was determined to get it.
I asked him to be my sponsor but posited that my napping and sleeping in were hurting me much more than my overeating. I begged him to sponsor me only with sleep, and after a few objections he grinned and agreed. He was also in AA and could sponsor anybody with any addiction. All he had to do was substitute the word “sleep” for “alcohol.” He gave me all the things I needed to do on a daily basis, basically read a paragraph from the Big Book and write a paragraph about it, call him every day and read it to him, as well as, run every major decision by him first, go to five meetings a week without allowing for more than one day between meetings, call three program people a day. After a month of sobriety he said, we would get together in a coffee shop and take the first step.
He was smart in taking me on with sleep only. He knew I was not ready to handle two addictions together. But he also knew that as long as I binged on food, I would still nap. And so after two months of relapsing and some stern warnings by him, I started my food and sleep sobriety on the same day, May 25th, 2008. That was the day of the founding of what was to become Sleepers Anonymous (SleepA). At the time, I was the only member.
Although I still could not wake up in the morning, I stopped napping completely for three and a half years until I stopped practicing the steps and went into a four-year relapse from which I have been back for the last two years. Amazing things started happening to me besides for losing weight and stopping to nap. After two months of both sobrieties I got my first job ever which lasted for a year and a half. It was very satisfying to be useful. A month after that, a nice gal asked ME out for the first time in my life. I was becoming a better and more spiritual person and people were noticing it.
Because I also suffer from OCD and OCPD, the fourth step, instead of taking a month or two, took me ten months of an hour and a quarter a day, or 375 hours. The fourth step showed me that I was not a victim but rather the source of most of my troubles. It showed me also that I was living the life of a fake religious person who would have to come clean. When it was finally the day for the fifth step or confession, we both went to my house. I locked the door and closed all the windows. It took ten hours. I discussed many of my main resentments, my sexual misconduct, and my fears. He did not judge me, gave me feedback, and asked if I was sorry for everything, and if I promised not to do it again. I was contrite and promised. Then he left and I went to sleep.
The next day I woke up at 6am and was able to maintain that for a year. I also got the rest of the fifth step promises except that I was still obsessed with food and naps. I could maintain eye contact. I felt that every person was my friend. I was happy. I felt guilt-free of my worst infractions.
One day I got a call from an OA fellow. He knew about Sleepers Anonymous. He said he needed help because he would sleep through meetings and fall asleep while driving. He had a family that depended on him and it scared him even more. He was a napper. I referred him to my sponsor who took him through the steps in the same manner as he did with me. This man has been free of his symptoms and has the longest sobriety in SleepA. Ironically, it turned out that even my sponsor was a sleeper. He was an overextender and used every excuse not to go to bed. After going through the twelve steps with his sponsor, he too was relieved of his symptoms. We have lost contact, but if he is still practicing the twelve steps of SleepA, there may be five Sleepers in recovery in the United States instead of the known four.
I only did some of my amends, when I stopped working the steps and relapsed for four horrendous years. I binged and napped every day, and slept in for four years. And eventually, as my father has feared, I went off my medicines for the last time. After three months in a psychiatric hospital to stabilize on my medicines, I was put in a sober living for five months to get out of the ensuing depression. Eventually I did stop being depressed, but I still could not get up in the morning or stop napping.
Four months after getting out of the depression, the manager of the sober living got a letter from my internist. It said that I was borderline diabetic. I was only mildly concerned. It did make sense though because I would binge on sugar many nights, for an hour and a half, in the sober living, and then pass out for three hours-four and a half not well-spent hours.
My parents who would come to visit me at the sober living every two weeks, came one Sunday. We started talking, but I could tell that there was something on my father’s mind. He cannot hide being worried. Suddenly he got straight to the point. He said that he was told about the letter and as he already lost one son to diabetes II, my youngest brother OB”M, who was also a hundred pounds overweight, he refused to lose another. He asked me what I intended to do about it. After talking about seeing a nutritionist, I admitted that just doing so would not help because I was addicted to sugar and only OA would help. My mother begged me to go back and after my getting very emotional and crying for twenty minutes, I promised them I would return and do the deal.
The next day I went to my first meeting. Within a week I had a sponsor. He was not just any sponsor. He was Sleeper number three and was sponsored by the napper that was sponsored by my original sponsor. This man had the insomnia part alone. Most of his adult life he could not get more than four hours of sleep. It made him late for work, tired all day, and although he was sober with his food, his lack of sleep played tricks on him in that department too. Thanks to SleepA, he was now sober for a year and a half, and slept between six and eight hours a night. He now has three and a half years of sobriety in SleepA.
He took me on immediately, and we started working the steps of OA and SleepA together. I got a two-for-one. I went to about seventy OA meetings in ninety days, but still could not get sober in the food or sleep program. One day, I realized that I was hopeless and texted him that I was dropping out. He would not hear of it and would not allow it. I kept floundering, but around the first anniversary of my brother’s death, with the help of using the tenth step, I stopped binging for two months. Although I had binges since then, they were far and few in between. Another three months, six months, and then nine months without binging. And the binges would only last for one day. My sponsor decided to make my sobriety loose and we count my food and sleep sobriety from the day we started working together August 29th, 20015. Eventually I stopped binging, and lost twenty pounds. If I start walking every day and cut down a little more on food, I could lose another ten and be just ten pounds over my ideal weight. I am no longer in the prediabetes stage and my lipid panel is healthy.
I went through the first three steps rather quickly and then came the dreaded fourth step. I may add that this entire time I still could not get up in the morning and also napped compulsively. The fourth step, because of my OCD and OCPD, took about an hour and a half a day for four months or a hundred and eighty hours. When I listed the people, places, and things that I resented I had seven hundreds of them not including the last seven years of my life. We got together on a Saturday and did the main work of the fifth step. It took six hours. Ironically, since I could not get up in the morning, I asked the worker at the sober living to drag me out of bed.
Four interesting things happened that week as a result of the fifth-step promises. After two days, I started getting up in the morning and stopped napping altogether. On that Tuesday, I got the interview from Gary Enos about Sleepers Anonymous. On Thursday, I got a job getting paid for something I would do for free-writing. I worked for that place for about eight months and wrote a correspondence course for prisoners that is now being printed in two hundred copies. I also wrote a spirituality book that has much of the wisdom I have learned in the rooms and the program that in one year from now will have four to five hundred copies made. I entered the non-profit at a decent salary, and was told by my employer that my time was worth three times a much, but he just could not afford it.
But my sponsor and I did not stop there. I asked him if we can go deeper into the fifth step and we met every Saturday for an hour for five months, going from person, place, and thing and resentments after resentments, and after finishing half of the whole thing, he decided that we would just tackle the rest the next time we did the steps, including, of course, the last seven years. He said that I am an addict and that I need to get the ninth step promises or I will quit.
As part of the fifth step promises I also, after a year and ten months in the sober living, moved to a gorgeous apartment in a nice part of Los Angeles, with the most beautiful furniture that I picked myself. I have a decent relationship with my father, who by the way has made his amends to me too and has changed dramatically. I am good friends with my mother, my siblings, and their spouses. My twenty six nephews and nieces love me and I love them dearly; they are the only children I will ever have, as I am forty eight and a half and my life is just starting. I also have many psychiatric and psychological illnesses and conditions whose symptoms can flare up with the stress of children and are highly inheritable-it just is not in the cards.
I live alone and not in institutions in which I lived for eleven years since the age of sixteen when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar I, making it about a third of that span-not a way to live one’s life. I recently passed the one-year anniversary in my apartment, and it is the first year that will make one or break one. The institutions, though offering constant support from staff and companionship from other residents were teeming with difficult characters including me and an overload of being sensory overwhelmed. As I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), I am extremely sensitive to noise, smell (of vaping), taste (bad food), and temperature (no A/C) etc…I could not thrive in a group setting. In my apartment, I control all these sensory things and am content. I am also a loner and that helps too, although I get the exposure I need to others in the different fellowships that I attend. My life is blessed.
Four months after moving, through the constant encouragement of my life coach, who himself is a writer, I decided to start writing fiction. I never thought I could do it because I figured that I could not invent things out of thin air. Then it occurred to me. Write short stories with myself as the protagonist, based on things that occurred to me or that could have occurred to me; add elements from people’ stories that I heard, add a twist, and I have a story. As my life stopped being chaotic for the first time, and my addictions were being treated, I sat down for five hours a day and after four days wrote four different short stories.
I say this not to tout my own horn but to simply show what OA and SleepA have done for me. Instead of dying from diabetes II or a heart attack in a locked facility and never accomplishing anything with my life, I write every day, and now after eight months of doing so, I have written sixteen short stories spanning two hundred pages. I also wrote three stories for children, one parody, and a semi-autobiographical novel. The ideas keep coming faster than I can write them.
I have reached the ninth-step promises and have gotten most of them. Although I still have to go through 10-12, in a sense I do the tenth step when I am disturbed, resentful, or afraid. I pray and meditate almost every day, and am being of service, helping Sleepers being a part of it. I came to OA and SleepA to stop binging on food and to sleep normally so that I would not end up in a closed facility. I got all that, thank my Higher Power. But I got more than that: less selfishness, self-seeking, and complaining, and more kind, giving, loving, happy, and able to pursue a living I am passionate about.
Although I am not a religious, but instead a spiritual, person, I feel that by taking the twelve steps of OA that inspired the twelve steps of SleepA, the Big Book, following my sponsor’s directions, going to meetings, and keeping in contact with other program members, have given me Redemption, Salvation, and Hope. It took forty eight and a half years, and that is OK. It was all worth the wait, and as time goes by, I have less and less regrets.
So why am I saying good bye? My life is slowly coming together at last at the age of forty eight and a half. I still need to join writers’ groups to work on my stories and make them publishable so that I can start making money of them. I want to meet and marry a wonderful, attractive, woman that our love will be mutual. I have to develop interests outside writing. I need to be present to my many relatives. Most importantly, I need to do my programs and continue to recover. I simply do not have time to do all that and be the moving force of SleepA. Someone else will have to do it. But I did touch the lives of three other sleepers who are in recovery and I hope that one day there will be many more. It really is up to you.
So for now, I wish you all the best. Please pray, or keep a good thought out, for me, and I will do the same for you. Who knows, we may run into each other one day. Would that not be something?!

Your friend,

Andy S.

© copyrighted by Sleepers Anonymous

Please seek medical and/or therapeutic advice before and during embarking on our program. If the doctor and/or therapist say differently than this article, and/or the posts, then they are right and I am wrong. In that case, kindly disregard what I wrote, and suggested, and do what they say.

Andy S.

© copyrighted by Sleepers Anonymous

Dear All,
My friends and I have started a 12 step support group for oversleeping. We've had 2 meetings so far. Does anyone want the information or make any comments? Please email sobrietyyizlyf@gmail.com.
Thanks, Zany

Oversleepers anonymous today 5/3/18 @2pm and every Thursday at 2pm EST.

Dial-in Number- 515-739-6070

Access Code-356306

Oversleepers anonymous Meeting Thursday, July 26th 2PM.

Dial-in Number- 515-739-6070

Access Code-356306