Science behind sleeping while you're awake

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Working eight hours a day in front of a computer with a bunch of unproductive meetings? Yeah, I wake-sleep through most of my day.


I microsleep at night some times. I call it sleep limbo. I am not asleep, I am not really awake either.


I think I’ve noticed this happening recently to me. I use a technical term for it – “zoning out”.


I have a buddy that seemed to microsleep or zone out a lot. Many times, it was brief and not noticeable. He had some tests done and they determined that he had been having absence seizures. Wonder how different microsleep and absence seizures are.


Considering this election cycle, you have no idea how much I hope this is true.


I find that what keeps me awake when I want to micro-doze is:

  1. Music: something energetic. Double points if I can get myself singing along.
  2. Tactile sensation: I carry a hand exerciser, both because I have wrist problems and because it really helps with this. Gum-chewing also seems to work, and dancing to music (see point #1). If I’m in a meeting, doodling.
  3. Caffeine: If I have to drive a long distance, I throw a can of Coke into my car.
  4. Vigorous exercise: This may overlap a bit with #2, but this is the most effective way to wake me up on a dozey day.
  5. Being well-rested: for obvious reasons.

But since I know I’m prone to such things, I take the bus to work, and try to avoid driving long distances whenever possible. It’s not a large risk any particular time that I’m driving, but I know that if I go enough kilometers, it’ll eventually bite me.


Unaware? I am absolutely aware when this happens to me, it’s terrifying.


I apparently do this all the time, because my husband will say “Roll over, you’re snoring” and I will angrily reply that I wasn’t even asleep.

I’m a joy to live with, I tell you what. :wink:


I suffer from Sleep paralysis occasionally, not fun!

This micro-sleep I definitely do, on a boring journey, I know like the back of my hand I’ve suddenly realised that I’m nearly home and don’t remember miles of the journey maybe this explains it?

You have to take into account this is England and very congested with hundreds of stops, course and speed corrections etc per mile let alone the other hazards to watch out for and avoid!

Thirty-three years driving without an incident BTW, here and overseas (Not in Russia or anywhere like that)!

So I can understand say the creative part of someone’s brain, bored of looking at headlamps and tail lamps for miles on end and beggaring off, the same with remembering a part of the journey as you have remembered it many times before.

The parts of the brain needed must stay awake in this micro-sleep, not like falling asleep through fatigue.

Sounds like an interesting article. I’ll have to read it when I’m awake.


For emergency, temporary wakefulness, I rub the tip of my tongue on the roof of my mouth. Jarring, but it’s good for a few minutes of wide-eyed, twitchy alertness.


And that wakes you up?

I get how the unusual tactile sensation might help keep you awake, but I don’t get how it would be “jarring.” I’ve tried various motions and pressures, and none of them would live up to that description.

But hey, if it works for you…


We must have different responses to the stimulus. For me, it’s the tactile equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.


Doing that’s a weird tickler that shivers me timbers.


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