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Insomia hell... anyone?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm on a leave of absence from my job in part to kick a long-term prescription sleeping pill habit, which was started in order to combat anxiety in relation to my stressful job.

Just over a month has passed, and though I've completely given up the pills... I'm not sleeping well. I expected rebound insomnia, but didn't imagine it would take this long. It's really stressing me out, so much so that I'm considering going back on them, despite concerns from my doctors.

I've been trying "sleep hygiene" such as listening to soft classical music like Beethoven, but all it does is depress the hell out of me. I can't read or write because it gets me wired, and I can't soak in the tub because it wakes me up.

So, this is my dilemma. If you can share personal experience, and/or have any advice or suggestions I would be very grateful.
post #2 of 27
For me it's hard to sleep because I work nights, and sleep during the day. I usually put a fan on, you know those box fans, and they give me a sort of white noise, and I can submerge myself into, and I'm able to sleep. In fact I can't sleep in total silence. However, I can't listen to music or the TV, and that keeps me awake. Music is bad for me, and I find I can't listen to any music that is really appealing to me, even BEFORE I go to sleep. The music will run through my head and I can't sleep. So for me, the best thing is to blank my mind out as much as possible and let myself go into the sound of the fan, and I can fall asleep.
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks Hope. I've tried white noise as well... without success.
post #4 of 27
I havent had insomnia before so i cant help you but i know from my doctors, that if you stress too much you get less sleep, You have to find something that you really like and go along with that, sometimes you can find a herb or something and smell it and that makes you go to sleep.
My bf's mum puts on his little sister lavander oil on her pj's shirt before going to bed, as soon as she gets to bed she is klocked out.
If that doesnt work then i dunno, sometimes its a placebo (Sp) effect that youre having.

On tv they have just showed about people wanting to be on medication, so the doctors made a pill that looked like the actual medication but didnt have anything in it, then the patients were saying that it made them feel better ect, same with morphene, the doctors were giving them water and they claimed they were alot better ect.

do you think it might be worht going to another doctor??
post #5 of 27
I didn't see anything in your post about physical activity.

If you can't "participate" in the #1 form of "recreation", then get yourself an exercise bike, the kind that has the pedals as well as the moving handles for upper body work-out, and USE IT ! ! !

Work your way up to at least a half-hour on the bike before EVERY meal.

If you have the opportunity to do yard work, or any other kind of physical activity, do it.

It is really easy to "wimp out" and find an excuse for NOT doing exercise, but if you are serious, and are capable of manifesting the dedication that can only come from within you, (it can't be given or prescribed) then you will have come a long way to solving your problem.

The solution will HAVE to come from you -- it can't come from a bottle, pill, or someone else, and when you get through trying all the easy 'fixes" and are still serious about taking care of the situation, then read this post again.

Best of luck to you.

post #6 of 27
How about one of those 'sleep machines' from a place like Sharper Image? I bought my son a Radio Shack model for Christmas, and it was considerably cheaper than the premium brand. Worth a try for 30 bucks.
post #7 of 27
Originally Posted by Deb25
How about one of those 'sleep machines' from a place like Sharper Image? I bought my son a Radio Shack model for Christmas, and it was considerably cheaper than the premium brand. Worth a try for 30 bucks.
That sounds really interesting. What kind of sounds to you get from the Sleep Machine? I might want to try something like that.
post #8 of 27
Things like the ocean, rainforest, rain, a train..... Those are the ones that I can remember on my son's off the top of my head. The neat thing about his (the cheapy Radio Shack model) is that it also comes with a microphone you can put under your pillow if the person you sleep with doesn't care for the background noise.
post #9 of 27
Oh yeah, I forgot. This one has some sort of aroma therapy you can use, too. Here's the link.

post #10 of 27
From what you wrote, it's sounds as if you still have the anxiety issue since you mention you are stressed out. Who put you on the sleeping meds, a internist or a psychiatrist? If you haven't seen a psychiatrist I suggest you should as they have much more training in this type of disorder. Insomnia is a disorder not just a symptom. There aren't many non- addictive anti-anxiety meds out there but one is Buspar ( I don't know the Canadian name if there is a difference). The buspar might be enough to help you sleep, though it is not like a sleeping pill, a drug that has an almost immediate effect; it takes about a week or so to build up in your system. Have you been evaluated for depression. Anxiety, insomnia and depression sometimes go hand and hand.
I am not discounting the homeopathic treatments many have suggested, they do work, but if your problem is severe and effecting your day to day life, you may have to seek further professional help.My medication regime helps me tremendously. I've had insomnia since a child, and was also a sleep walker for years. However my meds are for manic depression (bipolar) so they would not be used in your case, even though they help me sleep, and my meds are not sleeping pills. What you really need to do is get to the root of your problem. Neurontin (non addictive) is another med used for various disorders, including some sleep disorders, but again you need a full evaluation of your problem. Good Luck.
post #11 of 27
Just curious, but what about your bed itself? I was having a terribly time sleeping (I slept, but woke up tired) for a while, and then I got rid of my feather pillow top I had, and suddently slept better for some reason. Also, if I go to long between changing sheets I have trouble sleeping.

I agree with the above about wearing yourself out and dealing with the stress as well though.
post #12 of 27
One of my friend teaches me this method when I cannot sleep due to stress in uni.
1)Lay on your bed in a most comfortable position.
2)Tell your whole body to relax. (I used the word relax, You may want to try "sleep", "switch off", etc.)
3) Starting from the head, tell your brain to relax. (you can start to imagine that your brain fell onto the bed like a feather, or like a sock dropped onto the bed).
4) Continue to tell your eyes to relax, make sure you concentrate on your eyes only.
5) Continue with your ear, breathing, mouth, tougue.
6) Continue with your chest, right arm to your right finger, left arm, heart beat and slowly go down to your toes.
7) If you suddenly realise that your brain wonder away, do it again.
8) After you have reach your toes, begin the whole process again.
9) You will fell asleep before the fourth round and most of the time you dun even realise it.
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thank you to everyone who posted advice. I really appreciate all of it.

Meditation works sometimes, as does wearing myself out with strenuous exercise (though most of the time it doesn't), and I'll certainly consider purchasing that machine from Radio Shack. It can't hurt, and all of these suggestions are good. Thank you all.

I think Barbara is right... I need to discuss this further with my psychiatrist (my GP prescribed the pills, but my psych is monitoring the withdrawal). With depression comes anxiety and my psych recently referred me to the top clinic in Canada that specializes in mood disorders, so I'm hoping they can help with the anxiety/insomnia that is part of the depression, in addition to offering alternatives to medication in order to stabilize my mood.

Ideally, I would like to live medication free, but coming from a family like the Hemingways with multiple suicides (including my father) and other psychological disorders, I don't know if that's a viable option.
post #14 of 27
I agree with Franz, WinWin, and Clumsy. Physical activity is necessary by day, to help you sleep at night. Just remember not to exercise before bed, or it will wake you up. Also no daytime naps!
And as a psych nurse, I highly recommend seeing a good psychiatrist. There are other medications that are not addictive sleeping pills, that can correct mood or anxiety to help you sleep.
And the tips from Clumsy on relaxing at bedtime. Just remember it is a training process. The first few times you do it, you may not see any improvement, but over time you gain more and more control. The key is consistency-I would recommend maybe a warm bath or shower 1/2 to 1 hour before your target sleep time, then a bedtime routine, and the relaxation exercise at the end.

It may help to write down your actual hours slept, too. If you haven't slept well in a month, you may not be thinking too clearly right now! Good luck, I'm sure you need to get back to work as soon as possible!
post #15 of 27
I have been dealing with insomnia off and on too. The only think that helps me relax and get to sleep is my "sound' machine. I have this thing that plays the following:
ocean sounds
stream of water

I prefer the ocean to anything, it reminds me of tides coming in and that helps relax me enough to go to sleep. I have to picture myself near the water and nothing else around me.
post #16 of 27
Massage might be good. I went through severe insomnia once in a my life and it got me going to a massage therapist and it helped.
post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I know it... You're one of the few stragglers posting here along with me at 4am!
Originally Posted by ciera23
I have been dealing with insomnia off and on too. The only think that helps me relax and get to sleep is my "sound' machine. I have this thing that plays the following:
ocean sounds
stream of water

I prefer the ocean to anything, it reminds me of tides coming in and that helps relax me enough to go to sleep. I have to picture myself near the water and nothing else around me.
post #18 of 27
I had trouble falling asleep all my life - until I retired. I know it was the anxiety; I just couldn't shut my head off from all the work. Now I fall asleep within five minutes every time I lie down at night. (Can't stay asleep, but that's another story.)

There have been some good suggestions given. I didn't notice, though, if anyone asked you about your caffeine intake. Don't drink anything with caffeine after about 6 pm. Some people can't have anything with caffeine after noon. I just read last night that it can take as much as 20 hours for caffeine to be totally cleared from the system, so I imagine there are some people who are highly sensitive to caffeine who couldn't take it at all. Having a snack before bed that helps to promote sleep, like chamomile tea or milk might be an idea.

I found a good site about sleep problems last night. You might want to check it out. Follow some of the links to additional information. There may be some ideas you can use.

post #19 of 27
you can try yoga, i find it very relaxing and have my husband try it because he never sleeps...here are some herbs that can help, try them in a tea...valerian (the natural source of the tranquilizer valium) passionflower, catnip (really works i used it on my kids, although it's not as strong as the other 2)skullcap, lemon balm, lady's slipper root, peach leaf, birch leaf, hawthorn, lavendar, lettuce (contains small amounts of thc), and wild cherry bark...these are all tranquilizing herbs, i prefer a tea of valerian, passion flower, and catnip, you can also try chamomile, poppy(which opium is derived from)or 100-200 miligrams of kave taken at bedtime, any questions you can pm me...some herbs should not be taken if you have certain medical conditions, or if you are pregnant or nursing, so if you have any questions, i have plenty of books i could them up for you, or you could consult an herbalist in your area
post #20 of 27
I am a very light sleeper, I wake up to a pin droping and it takes me about an hour to get to sleep. What works for me is a cup of hot milk and the sound machine with the sound of water (rain, streams, the ocean), and the sound of wind. Try that, it might work for you!
post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for ALL the good advice. I think I am going to try one of those machines that play nature sounds. Perhaps that might help... Though I'm usually oblivious to sound/light when trying to sleep. It's the INTERNAL thoughts that keep me up.
post #22 of 27
Another thing that has come out in research in the UK recently, is the link between being out in the daylight and getting a good night's sleep. It stemmed from research about babies who were put out in the prams in the garden for a sleep during the daytime. These babies tended to be better sleepers at night.

It lead them to further research which suggests that about an hour outside in the afternoon helps to regulate the body clock and set the body up for sleep later.

It may be worth taking a walk in the late afternoon/early evening if you are able.
post #23 of 27
Have you ever tried Sleepytime tea with honey? It helped me normalize my sleeping cycles after I stopped bartending.
post #24 of 27
I have severe asthma, which during the summer is horrible for good sleep and within 7 eyars, I had 4 kids, the last two were only 11 months apart, plus I suffered with depression for about 8 years. By the time I got off the anti depressents, and did not have a baby to feed or help during the night, it took me an ADDITIONAL 2 years to get back on a good sleeping pattern.

I too quit my job, got a divorce, went into working for myself and no longer needs the pills of any kind. I do find that if I don't took a GOOD B complex, I get mine at Trader Joes, my anxiety will creep back in and mess me up in many ways.

What worked for me:

#1 Being honest about the stress in life & making those changes, even the hard choices

#2 Exersize helps

#3 a good b complex


#5 white noise. I have been sleeping with the same machine since I was 15..I am now 35.

#6 I did use meletonin for awhile right after my last baby and it did help.

good luck
post #25 of 27
I've also been using Melatonin and find it to be very helpful.
post #26 of 27
I usually go for that relaxation process form the other direction. I lie on my back and relax my toes, then my feet, ankles... yadda yadda until I get as far as my head... normally I don't get that far because I seem to drift off around about the time I start to relax my arms. If that fails I go and lie on the sofa and put something mindles son the video - something I've seen dozens of times before, just as background noise. THose are really only on very bad nights though. I've always listened to audiobooks at bedtime - I'm a big kid really - but getting into a routine does wonders. I tend to have a warm drink - not too hot, I'm prone to burning myself - take it up in the bath and have a warm, but not hot, bath with lavender oil or bubblebath in it. Then I climb into bed and stick on the audiobook. All you really have to do is lie there and let the words wash over you. I find it's always good to listen to audiobooks read by only one person... a new voice tends to keep you awake. I've always listened to Tony Robinson reading Terry Pratchett.... he's got a lovely voice to listen to - sometimes I don't even hear past the first few sentences! If that interests you I can always pick one up and send it out to you
post #27 of 27
I have a pretty stressful job, and I had a lot going on in my life...and I had insomnia due to that stress, just like you. My doctor prescribed me zoloft to help with the anxiety....and what do you know?? It worked!! It made me sleepy, too, so I took it at bedtime, ran the humidifyer and my fan, and went to sleep. Maybe your doctor needs to prescribe you something that targets anxiety and see if that helps as well. I was prescribed Ativan, but didnt take it because they are easy to get addicted to.
Maybe talk to your doctor about dealing with the anxiety and see if they can prescribe something for it. Zoloft is good, and from what I understand, there arent any withdrawal symptoms. Paxil is another one...but I was a little concerned about committing to that one because I was only on it for a short amount of time, and I know for a fact that Paxil has withdrawal symptoms.
You already have a counselor so thats half the battle with anxiety. Ever been diagnosed with an axnxiety problem? Like General Anxiety Disorder? Maybe thats the problem...not properly diagnosed.
Everything that I could sugggest you have tried. Hot baths didnt relax me either, just made me more awake...reading or writing just left my mind racing with even more issues....giving my mind free reign to worry about stupid things (like at 3am...thinking..gosh...what happened to my music box? Where is my black shirt....did I wash my skirt? and on and on and on until it was time to get up and go to work!)
Maybe get yourself on a schedule. Go to bed the same time, get up the same time. Do not go back to sleep, and do not take naps throughout the day. Make your bedroom for sleeping only (and one other activity...you know...g-rated website ) dont watch tv, dont read. That way your mind knows its time for sleep. Keep the room dark, invest in black out lined drapes. You can get them professionally made for your window size. Keep that room slightly cooler than you like. Maybe cut the heat down at night ( My doctor had me try this, and it worked...even though in an extremely warm room, I can fall asleep.) or drop the air conditioner a little bit more at night. Get a fan, and run a fan. Get a humidifyer and run that as well. I think the sounds are peaceful. If your cats wake you up constantly like mine do, kick them out of the room and shut the door until you kick this habit.
Good luck, and I hope maybe some of my advice helps!
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