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Sleep deprivation

Old 08-02-20, 04:54 PM
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livedarklions
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Sleep deprivation

I got hit by a car last fall when I rolled a stop sign. I wasn't seriously hurt, but stunned enough that I don't actually remember what happened. I couldn't figure out at the time how I had done such a dumb thing as it really isn't a risk I would characteristically take on. This spring, I caught myself almost riding off the road as my mind drifted during a century, and I suddenly had a revelation --I had gotten into a habit of sleeping very little the night before a long ride so I could get a very early start. I would never do a long drive like that because of the risk of microsleep, but thought that the very activity of pedaling the bike actually kept me alert despite the sleep deprivation. I'm pretty sure I'm drawing the right lesson from the two incidents, and now make sure I get at least 6-7 hours of sleep before any ride longer than, say 40 miles.

Anyone else experience anything like this?
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Old 08-02-20, 08:03 PM
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I did from exhaustion (new rider) not from sleep deprivation. Few close calls.

Sleep deprivation will only make me get exhausted sooner until I'm forced to take it easy and reduce my speed.
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Old 08-03-20, 06:59 AM
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I've never been in a situation where I've nodded off while riding, but when I was younger I scared myself driving while sleepy.

But back in my 20s in the 1980sI was starting out as a disc jockey and pulled some weekend overnight shifts and discovered that it was possible to fall asleep standing up.
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Old 08-03-20, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Anyone else experience anything like this?
I (used to) commute early in the morning, and I haven't noticed a lack of attention. On occasion (maybe 10 times total) I have had to return home very late at night after a long day, often of driving. Being on the bike seems to make me more alert for that short 8 mile trip.

In my case, I know I revert to habit when my batteries are low. I have an unconscious habit to signal and look behind every time I make a direction or speed change, even if there is no one to see it. I generally stop for stop signs, but I will slow and roll them if I have good sightlines and there is no one visible to me.. so I can't say I have an unconscious habit on that.

Glad you weren't seriously injured and thanks for posting this. We are all wired differently and it sounds like you've found a solution that works for you, and it may be a situation and a fix for some others. Communicating "near-misses" is a very important way to improve performance in many arenas, not just cycling.
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Old 08-03-20, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by flangehead View Post
I (used to) commute early in the morning, and I haven't noticed a lack of attention. On occasion (maybe 10 times total) I have had to return home very late at night after a long day, often of driving. Being on the bike seems to make me more alert for that short 8 mile trip.

In my case, I know I revert to habit when my batteries are low. I have an unconscious habit to signal and look behind every time I make a direction or speed change, even if there is no one to see it. I generally stop for stop signs, but I will slow and roll them if I have good sightlines and there is no one visible to me.. so I can't say I have an unconscious habit on that.

Glad you weren't seriously injured and thanks for posting this. We are all wired differently and it sounds like you've found a solution that works for you, and it may be a situation and a fix for some others. Communicating "near-misses" is a very important way to improve performance in many arenas, not just cycling.

Thanks, when I got hit, I believe I was about 55 miles into what was supposed to be a 75 mile ride, and the almost going off the road incident was somewhere in the middle of a century. For me, I think there is an initial "perking up" at the beginning of the ride due to the exertion, but as a ride drags on, that "brain boost" wears off, and I suspect it appears more trance-like than nodding off. I doubt I ever closed my eyes, but probably had a second or two of microsleep which is an incredibly dangerous thing that can occur while driving. My understanding is that drivers often don't even know it's happened to them unless they actually hit something or go off the road.
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Old 08-03-20, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Thanks, when I got hit, I believe I was about 55 miles into what was supposed to be a 75 mile ride, and the almost going off the road incident was somewhere in the middle of a century.
Thanks for clarifying your situation. I know when I'm driving I can tell when I'm getting drowsy and need to stop and nap. One symptom is “restless legs” which wouldn’t appear when cycling. What's your sense of how your "warning signs" differ when riding versus driving?

Last edited by flangehead; 08-03-20 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 08-03-20, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by flangehead View Post
Thanks for clarifying your situation. I know when I'm driving I can tell when I'm getting drowsy and need to stop and nap. What's your sense of how your "warning signs" differ when riding versus driving?

When I'm driving, it's literally like my eyelids are getting heavy (trite, but true). I don't know if I had any warning on getting hit by the car as the seconds before it occurred are a total blank to me and I don't know whether that was actually falling asleep or loss of memory from the heavy impact. The almost going off the road really had no warning, I just suddenly realized it was happening in time to pull it back in. I can't really describe it, almost like someone flipped a switch off and immediately on.

I have read that sleep-deprived driving can be just as bad as serious DUI, and the ability to judge one's own impairment is really poor for obvious reasons.
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Old 08-09-20, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post

I have read that sleep-deprived driving can be just as bad as serious DUI, and the ability to judge one's own impairment is really poor for obvious reasons.
In my experience, it is.

When I was young and in between high school and tech school, I had a job as a security guard for a year. Sometimes, I'd work two 8 hour shifts back to back. Ride my motorcycle home, not able to fall asleep for a while, get maybe 4 hours of sleep and ride my motorcycle back to work.

Another time was with my current career long ago. Due to an overload of normal work and having to prep a machine for sale that was due ASAP, I worked 31 hours straight. Very inefficiently, I might add. The drive home in my pickup truck after that was just like driving drunk. I refuse to work those kind of hours ever again.
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Old 08-09-20, 09:22 AM
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I once rolled off the side of the road while dozing off.
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Old 08-09-20, 02:42 PM
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Once you read Dr. Mathew Walker's book Why We Sleep, you'll make sure you get your min 7 hours every day.

More sleep resources:

Dr. Matthew Walker on Sleep for Enhancing Learning, Creativity, Immunity, and Glymphatic System 2-28-19

#49 – Matthew Walker, Ph.D., on sleep: The penetrating effects of poor sleep from metabolism to performance to genetics, and the impact of caffeine, alcohol, THC, and CBD on sleep
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Old 08-09-20, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by befleury27 View Post
I once rolled off the side of the road while dozing off.
I really came close to doing that. I had no idea such a thing was possible. I was pedaling the whole time.
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Old 08-09-20, 09:59 PM
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I have never had a problem with sleep on the first day of a long ride. Maybe the third day. I try to be careful about getting a good night's sleep before a ride though. Go to bed early.
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Old 08-10-20, 06:59 PM
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Falling asleep, daydreaming, etc. while riding were definitely problems, when I used to do 400, 600 and 1200 km brevets.

I tried to build up a reserve sleeping bank before the ride. Get a full night's sleep for several days. Go to sleep around 8pm for a 2 or 3am wake up. I carry an alarm wristwatch, so I can take a 10 minute nap on the side of the road, when I get to the only 1 eye open at a time mode.

My other instant brain boost is a dextrose (sugar) tablet from a German food store. That's quick acting but short lived. It's useful for getting me to civilization. For one day distances (up to 400 km) the trick is to do them on a continuous caffeine and sugar high. My body started rejecting that trick on the third day of a 1200k.
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Old 08-11-20, 04:50 AM
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Originally Posted by SBinNYC View Post
Falling asleep, daydreaming, etc. while riding were definitely problems, when I used to do 400, 600 and 1200 km brevets.

I tried to build up a reserve sleeping bank before the ride. Get a full night's sleep for several days. Go to sleep around 8pm for a 2 or 3am wake up. I carry an alarm wristwatch, so I can take a 10 minute nap on the side of the road, when I get to the only 1 eye open at a time mode.

My other instant brain boost is a dextrose (sugar) tablet from a German food store. That's quick acting but short lived. It's useful for getting me to civilization. For one day distances (up to 400 km) the trick is to do them on a continuous caffeine and sugar high. My body started rejecting that trick on the third day of a 1200k.

Interesting. I was in a habit last summer of doing 150 mile ride every Saturday after a normal 5 day work week, which obviously wouldn't allow me to adjust my sleeping patterns like you did. I was getting up around 3:30, and leaving about 5:30. Basically, I ate a lot and drank massive amounts of coffee during breaks. Weirdly, I never connected doing that with sleep deprivation, but in hindsight....

This year, the lack of places I want to stop at for pit stops has limited the length of my rides to about 100 miles. Your description makes me realize that I was hiding the sleep deprivation from myself with the coffee, and the no stop COVID dodging riding I'm doing now doesn't allow me to do that, so the sleep deprivation became too obvious to ignore.
​​
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Old 08-11-20, 11:37 AM
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Unfortunately, I've had some similar incidences. Something I'm not proud of...one time I had been riding really hard and it was the first day of really hot weather. I was fatigued. I accidentally ran a stop light (it really wasn't on purpose) that my brain didn't process had changed. Either someone yelled "hey the light is red" or the voice inside my head did. Anyways I wound up skidding the bike into a door of a car that was crossing the street. I felt really stupid and it cost me $500 to repair their dent. That was some time ago and I try to not go out if I'm feeling distracted or fuzzy headed.
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Old 08-17-20, 04:16 PM
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Even if You don't fall asleep while riding.. (you would have to be Very tired!!) sleep deprivation would make your reaction time slower and would limit your vision and perception seriously.. I worked nights for years and returning home after a night work required extra attention and I might confess I sometimes wasn't careful enough to be in traffic.. It was always a short ride to the train, but still... I Actually got in trouble with pedestrians mostly. Also waking up in the mid afternoon, usually only sleeping 5 hours I would go on with some chores always on my bike.. I finally was hit by a motorbike a couple years ago. It was not my fault at all, but I am sure every factor counts and decission making is more effective when we'll rested...
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Old 08-18-20, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by MMonde View Post
Even if You don't fall asleep while riding.. (you would have to be Very tired!!) sleep deprivation would make your reaction time slower and would limit your vision and perception seriously.. I worked nights for years and returning home after a night work required extra attention and I might confess I sometimes wasn't careful enough to be in traffic.. It was always a short ride to the train, but still... I Actually got in trouble with pedestrians mostly. Also waking up in the mid afternoon, usually only sleeping 5 hours I would go on with some chores always on my bike.. I finally was hit by a motorbike a couple years ago. It was not my fault at all, but I am sure every factor counts and decission making is more effective when we'll rested...
Part of the issue is we can "fall asleep" without knowing it ever happened. It's not obvious like nodding off, but can take the form of "microsleep" where you very briefly become unconscious of outside stimuli for periods as short as a fraction of a second.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsleep

I suspect this is what happened when I rolled the stop sign in front of the car. It might explain why I don't actually remember the incident despite not sustaining any blow to the head.
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Old 08-18-20, 04:07 PM
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Safety first...
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Old 08-18-20, 05:09 PM
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how many hours of sleep did you have when both incidents happened ? did you ride the day before ? and how much sleep do you usually get on average ?
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Old 08-19-20, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by MMonde View Post
Safety first...

Yup, enough sleep has definitely taken priority over early start in my case.
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Old 08-19-20, 12:22 PM
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Dude! Listen to me: go get a sleep apnea test NOW. You don't have to be old, fat and male to have sleep apnea. Lots of women, skinny and athletic people have it. It has nothing to do with not getting enough sleep. It has to do with a combination of biological factors all working together to build a long term sleep deficit. And a long term sleep deficit doesn't go away with one good nights sleep, or 3, or 5, or a months'. If you have sleep apnea, it doesn't matter how early you got to bed or how late you get up; how fit you are or how fat; what you eat. If your partner says you snore, you may have sleep apnea. Everything the OP described and several responders replied--it all sounds like sleep apnea to me (not a doctor, just a fellow sufferer).

I've had it and been treated for it, for years. I never nodded off on a bike or driving or in a movie. But I did walk around all the time in a fog. The treatment has totally changed my life. And it's made my 6 or 7 hours quality of hours of sleep, not thrashing and not getting rest. Sure, it takes some guts to wear an appliance. But when you get out on a century and actually don't feel ragged out when you used to, you'll say: "Damn, why didn't I do this earlier?" (I am not a sleep doctor, I do not own stock in any appliance sellers, I have no pecuniary interest in anything in this post ... but a personal interest in people understanding that this is a real thing and it can be reversed.)
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Old 08-19-20, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Elbeinlaw View Post
Dude! Listen to me: go get a sleep apnea test NOW. You don't have to be old, fat and male to have sleep apnea. Lots of women, skinny and athletic people have it. It has nothing to do with not getting enough sleep. It has to do with a combination of biological factors all working together to build a long term sleep deficit. And a long term sleep deficit doesn't go away with one good nights sleep, or 3, or 5, or a months'. If you have sleep apnea, it doesn't matter how early you got to bed or how late you get up; how fit you are or how fat; what you eat. If your partner says you snore, you may have sleep apnea. Everything the OP described and several responders replied--it all sounds like sleep apnea to me (not a doctor, just a fellow sufferer).

I've had it and been treated for it, for years. I never nodded off on a bike or driving or in a movie. But I did walk around all the time in a fog. The treatment has totally changed my life. And it's made my 6 or 7 hours quality of hours of sleep, not thrashing and not getting rest. Sure, it takes some guts to wear an appliance. But when you get out on a century and actually don't feel ragged out when you used to, you'll say: "Damn, why didn't I do this earlier?" (I am not a sleep doctor, I do not own stock in any appliance sellers, I have no pecuniary interest in anything in this post ... but a personal interest in people understanding that this is a real thing and it can be reversed.)
All truth.

Glenn
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Old 08-19-20, 05:24 PM
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I'm now addicted to asking Alexa to "open ocean sounds" as I head to bed. My mind and body love the rhythm.

If I'm still having trouble, I'll take a Benadryl.
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Old 08-20-20, 02:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Elbeinlaw View Post
...But I did walk around all the time in a fog. The treatment has totally changed my life....
Another vote for true. I had a co-worker who had it. We thought he was drinking too much. He got treated and he was like a new person. It really helped him.
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Old 08-21-20, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Elbeinlaw View Post
Dude! Listen to me: go get a sleep apnea test NOW. You don't have to be old, fat and male to have sleep apnea. Lots of women, skinny and athletic people have it. It has nothing to do with not getting enough sleep. It has to do with a combination of biological factors all working together to build a long term sleep deficit. And a long term sleep deficit doesn't go away with one good nights sleep, or 3, or 5, or a months'. If you have sleep apnea, it doesn't matter how early you got to bed or how late you get up; how fit you are or how fat; what you eat. If your partner says you snore, you may have sleep apnea. Everything the OP described and several responders replied--it all sounds like sleep apnea to me (not a doctor, just a fellow sufferer).

I've had it and been treated for it, for years. I never nodded off on a bike or driving or in a movie. But I did walk around all the time in a fog. The treatment has totally changed my life. And it's made my 6 or 7 hours quality of hours of sleep, not thrashing and not getting rest. Sure, it takes some guts to wear an appliance. But when you get out on a century and actually don't feel ragged out when you used to, you'll say: "Damn, why didn't I do this earlier?" (I am not a sleep doctor, I do not own stock in any appliance sellers, I have no pecuniary interest in anything in this post ... but a personal interest in people understanding that this is a real thing and it can be reversed.)

I'm very familiar with sleep apnea having lived with people who have it. I don't. This was very specifically related to a weird sleep pattern I'd gotten into, getting 3-4 hours of sleep the night before a long ride. My routine sleep patterns are fine, and I don't have a general problem. It was very specifically related to waking myself up 2-3 hours earlier one day a week. I stopped doing that and the problem is now gone.

TL/DR: Sometimes sleep deprivation is just sleep deprivation. Thanks for the advice, but all due respect, what is true for your health doesn't necessarily generalize. My job requires a very high level of mental acuity, if I were having the symptoms you describe, it would be obvious immediately.

Last edited by livedarklions; 08-21-20 at 01:45 PM.
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