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Insomniac Help!

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Hannahclear, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. Hannahclear

    Hannahclear Well-Known Member

    So I can't frickin' sleep. I haven't been able to sleep properly for well over a year. It started towards the end of my pregnancy, then all the baby sleep hell stuff, and now my sleep cycles are destroyed and beyond recognition.

    I do the basic stuff already. Cup of herbal tea before bed, no screen time for at least an hour before bed, go to bed and wake up at the same times. It's not helping.

    Melatonin makes me sleepy, but if I wake up, I rouse too completely and often can't go back to sleep. This pattern comes and goes. Sometimes it's not so bad. Sometimes it's a disaster.

    I'm *thisclose* to call my doctor and going the Ambien or Lunestra route. I don't want to do it, but I'm seriously considering it.

    Any stories or advice are much appreciated.
  2. flyingsit

    flyingsit Well-Known Member

    A few years ago I had serious insomnia problems. Do you ever fall asleep in other parts of your house? I had no difficulties falling asleep on the couch in our family room, so when I was awake in the middle of the night I'd go downstairs and sleep there. Not ideal, but better than not sleeping. I did take Ambien occasionally too.

    My biggest problem was that my brain wouldn't shut down; I wouldn't even be thinking of specific things, or worrying about anything in particular, it just felt like my brain was running on a hamster wheel. When I explained that to my doctor, she gave me a prescription for a very very small dose of Ativan (a tranquilizer), which did the trick most of the time. My long-term solution, which I still use (no longer take meds) is to calm down my brain by what I call organizing things. I make alphabetical lists of random things: band names, flowers, car models, girls' names, boys' names, skaters etc. I think it works by calming down the extraneous thoughts enough for the falling-asleep process to work.
  3. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins Well-Known Member

    I find that exercising in the afternoon/evening helps a lot. Not right before bed, but about an hour. I take a warm bath/shower then, too. To relax in bed, I count backwards from 100, slowly. I time my breathing with it so that I "listen" to myself, too. It's an old stress management technique from the 1980's, but it works for me.

    When my mind is racing over all the things I have to do, I spend five minutes making a list and keep the pad/pen by my bed. That puts my mind at ease and helps me sleep.

    When it's house-related stuff and I really can't sleep at all, I just get up and do something: a few loads of laundry, some mending, clear off a bookshelf, anything to feel like I've accomplished something. That puts my guilt to sleep.

    I've been waking in the night lately and I finally figured out why: our bedroom window overlooks a cul-de-sac some distance away. When the *^^(*)) security guard does his rounds, he makes a u-turn and the lights shine right in our window onto my side of the bed. I tilt the blinds up at night (to redirect the light, but not block the morning light) and I can now sleep through the night again.
  4. Nan

    Nan Just me, retired

    Cereal. My husband and daughter both have insomnia quite a bit and when it comes, they get up, have a small bowl of cereal and can go right back to sleep. Maybe it's the combination of the carbs and milk.
  5. iloveemoticons

    iloveemoticons Well-Known Member

    Yes, I love having a small snack before bed too, and exercising and tiring yourself out some time before bed is a must. And don't put mental pressure on yourself to get to sleep either. You'll still function fine the next day even if you can't get to sleep on time, so don't overthink it :)

    OMG, I thought I was the only one that did this! This definitely helps and keeps your mind from racing. My latest was list countries by alphabetical order. I tried to get at least three for each letter, but the H countries killed me :lol:
  6. mmscfdcsu

    mmscfdcsu Skating Pairs with Drew

    OTC MidNite worked wonders for me. It is all natural. Just melatonin alone did nothing for me.
  7. Andrushka

    Andrushka Well-Known Member

    I have problems with Insomnia, I usually eat something before bed(bad I know but I can't sleep on an empty tummy and it's not hurting my figure). If it's really bad,benadryl. Ambien does nothing for me.They gave me Ambien when I was preggers with my eldest,they said "Now you need to go home because you'll probably fall right to sleep in 20 mins"....I went home,cooked myself something to eat,sat down and watched tv, THEN went to bed and only slept about 4 hrs. Excercise helps too.
  8. Rex

    Rex Well-Known Member

    I take melatonin and valerian. Sometimes I wash them down with Sleepytime Tea. They help me get to sleep, but I always wake up at the same time, and toss and turn until its time to get up for work. I make up for my sleep on the weekends (although they say this doesn't help) You are not alone and I hope you find a solution.
  9. mmscfdcsu

    mmscfdcsu Skating Pairs with Drew


    It won't work for everyone, but I had one hell of a struggle with insomnia until I found this stuff. You can even take it if you wake up at 3 in the morning.
    Rex and (deleted member) like this.
  10. LilJen

    LilJen Reaching out with my hand sensitively

    I feel for you, Hannah. . . dh and I have both had bouts with insomnia, him moreso as we (FINALLY!) figured out he has an anxiety disorder AND was a perfectionist all these years after masquerading as a nutty artist.

    Lots of good suggestions here. I'd add yoga or stretching, which i still do sometimes before bed to relax myself.

    Also, I know cognitive-behavioral therapy helped dh a lot--could it be that there are simply issues or adjustments you're still needing to make to motherhood that you need to work through/talk through? Interestingly enough, dh's insomnia started RIGHT after our daughter was born--he had 3 weeks off and then had to go back to work and COULD.NOT.SLEEP. He tried every drug under the sun, believe me. (Ambien is scary. Or was for us, at least. Lunesta works better for him but is pricey.) The anxiety of "would he get enough sleep or would the baby keep him up and then he'd be totally exhausted the next day" and "ohmigod, I'm now the main breadwinner in the family" and "ohmigod, I have a kid now" in addition to other stuff going on really, really threw him. It was a lot of adjustment and we were just not prepared for it! (He still experiences the mind racing bit way too often, even with Lunesta.)

    I hope you can find some good solutions!
  11. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

    Why are you reluctant? Both of these medications are to be taken as needed and are not meant for long-term use every day. In other words, you can take one and see what happens. If it works, take it again, only when needed. If it doesn't work, then don't take it again. Ambien can be split in half because some people are extra sensitive and only need half the smallest pill. Lunesta leaves a bitter taste for many people that lasts throughout the day. It also only lasts a few hours. Sonata is another short-term medication for nights when you don't have 8 hours before you wake up.

    If your insomnia is caused by anxiety, then I'd consider a low dose of Ativan, Klonopin, or Trazadone. Insomnia caused by anxiety has to be treated differently than insomnia caused by other reasons.

    All this assumes that you're not breastfeeding, of course.
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  12. NancyNC

    NancyNC Well-Known Member

    Are you breastfeeding? If you're not and you aren't opposed to alcohol, I find that a very small amount of wine (3 oz max) helps immeasurably. I rarely have insomnia so this helps, but I don't know how it would work if the insomnia occurs more frequently. I know people that still swear by a glass of warm milk too.
  13. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

    I've had a few issues with sleeping, mostly from waking up multiple times. I bought a "sleep aid" from the store that has diphenhydramine, a drowsy agent in cough syrups. Works like a charm, and it's non-addictive, too.
  14. Octoberopals

    Octoberopals Well-Known Member

    As a chronic pain patient, I have an extremely hard time sleeping. It takes both Ambien, Librium [anit-anxiety pill], melatonin, & a small amount of pain medication for me to sleep. Sometimes I can sleep all night, sometimes not. I've used herbal tea or warm milk to relax, heating pads or ice packs to reduce the pain before trying to go to bed [at approximately the same time each night] & getting up in the mornings at the same time. It's really irritating & I know that different things work for different people. Good Luck to all.
  15. Veronika

    Veronika gold dust woman

    I wouldn't reccomend wine--your body can actually wake you up when it's done processing the alcohol.

  16. Hannahclear

    Hannahclear Well-Known Member

    I do think worry and general "things on my mind" have something to do with it. Usually, I wake up because my son is making a little noise. I don't go in unless he can't settle himself, but it sends my nervous system into active mode.

    I think leaving his door closed all night may help. Don't know why I insist on opening it anyway. We live in a very small space, so if he really had an issue, I would eventually hear it (or hubby would).

    I think I'll stick with melatonin for now and use the journal technique and a relaxation technique I already know. The cereal is a good idea too.

    I don't want to do anything heavier for a few different reasons. I'm afraid of becoming dependent on the sleeping pill and I'm considering having another baby.

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll give you all an update tomorrow. :lol:
  17. Twilight1

    Twilight1 Well-Known Member

    I took a workshop about sleep disorders/ problems and the presenter said the best thing you can do is go to bed at a regular time and get up at the same time everyday.

    Avoid direct sun for I think at least 3 hours prior to bed.

    Make a to do list for the 'things on your mind'

    Do not work on anything like finances prior to going to bed.

    Go to sleep when tired not exhausted. (Exhausted could just be physical not the sleep inducing exhausted)

    If you feel yourself dozing off, then you will fall asleep.

    Normal falling asleep time is approx. 30 minutes. If you don't fall asleep get out of bed and do a mind numbing activity.

    Set your alarm, but turn it away so you don't get caught up in I only have 'this many hours to sleep'.

    If you wake up through the night do some kind of mind numbing activity... read a book, watch TV, listen to music etc. Then go back to bed after 1/2 hour.

    Find out if you are a lark or an owl. Larks need to go to bed early. Owls need to go to bed late.

    And final note, women's menstrual cycle can cause sleep issues. Just prior to our period we have more trouble sleeping.
  18. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

    I feel for you Hannahclear - 'm a chronic insomniac and find that the supplement 5-HTP helps.

    Contrary to what iloveemoticans says, I do not function if I don't sleep. I did when I was younger, but not anymore. Mind you, I'm referring to no sleep at all. I generally wake up every hour or two and can get by on five or six hours of such broken sleep.
  19. NancyNC

    NancyNC Well-Known Member

  20. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    Lots of people have given great suggestions - I've also found that acupuncture helps reduce the worry/anxiety insomnia, which it sounds like yours might be.
  21. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Yuzuru, Medvedeva, T&M, Shibs, P&C

    Have you tried taking a bath (not shower) before going to bed?

    Relaxation techniques?

    The most important thing is to not worry about not getting sleep.
  22. BittyBug

    BittyBug Dispirited

    Ugh, I used to be the best sleeper, but starting this summer, I keep waking up in the middle of the night. Usually, I'm just hot, so I toss and turn and eventually fall asleep, but because I can't sleep uninterrupted of for at least six hours (eight would be a total fantasy), I'm constantly tired. I don't have any problem falling asleep, just staying asleep. Any suggestions?
  23. Hedwig

    Hedwig WoolSilk Fanatic

    I had huge trouble sleeping when I was in the middle of a depression. I wasn't able to really sleep for nearly 6 months.
    Different things helped then:
    If it was really dire I took a sleeping pill. I share your aversion to sleeping pills (or at least I did - I had to be dragged to the doctor to let me prescribe sleeping pills!) but they were a godsend. I only took one every other week when I felt that I really needed a good night's sleep for the next day and the relief of actually sleeping for 6-8straight hours is beyond anything.

    Relaxing techniques also helped. I have some mp3 tracks of relaxing texts where you hear someone telling you which muscles to relax or to find a calm peaceful place etc.
    Again this was something I would have scorned only a few years before that episode but it helped me quite a bit.

    Stretching right before going to bed also helped me. Maybe it is the focussed mind on the stretching that calmed the brain down. Exercise right before bed isn't really helping though. Let at least 2-3 hours pass after exercise before you go to bed if you have trouble sleeping.

    best of luck and really sleeping pills - if used rightly - can make all the difference!
  24. Hedwig

    Hedwig WoolSilk Fanatic

    I haven't tried it myself as I don't have that problem but I read that the most effective route to take with this kind of problem is to get up once you wake up and get on with the day. And not go to bed again until your usual sleeping time.
    Hard. Very hard.
    But apparently, after a few days of doing that, your body recognizes that you will get up once you wake up and will then take the necessary amount of sleep.

    It is a drastic treatment and I don't know if I would be able to do it but from what I heard it is very very effective...
  25. Twilight1

    Twilight1 Well-Known Member

    ^ sleep disorder workers recommend this.

    A couple days of sleep deprivation and you will fall asleep.

    One thing I found out is it isn't the REM sleep you want but stage 3 & 4 that are the most rejuvenating. I remember I read somewhere that the average REM cycle is about 4 hours so that was where I thought we had to get 8 hours of sleep so we had 2 full REM cycles but that isn't the case at all. The first 4-5 hours is our most restful sleep, and after that we bounce between level 1-3, but more of 1 & 2.

    I always wondered why I would bounce out of bed after 5 hours and be good to go for the day and other days when I was in bed longer I would drag more sorry butt out of bed. Too much REM sleep is bad... there is a connection between too much REM and depression.
  26. Myskate

    Myskate New Member

    This might sound odd but how old is your mattress? Mine is getting up there and I find that if it is not turned regularly, I cannot sleep on it. Sometimes I just turn 180 degrees so my head is at the foot of the bed and I go right to sleep. Weird but it works for me.
  27. Hannahclear

    Hannahclear Well-Known Member

    Better last night, though I was awake from about 11:30-2. Thanks for all the tips. I tried writing down my thoughts and some cereal.

    At least for me, this comes and goes. I should be better soon. I'd just like to stay better.

    ETA: Think I might try acupuncture.
    Nan and (deleted member) like this.
  28. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

    As nutty as this sounds, I recite all 50 states and their capitals when I'm awake. And it mostly seems to work.
  29. NancyNC

    NancyNC Well-Known Member

    A coworker has been getting acupuncture therapy to help her deal with the chemotherapy and anxiety/stress related to her breast cancer diagnosis. She was hugely skeptical, but has been amazed by the improvement she has noted.