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The pandy's insomnia club


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#1 Lis

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 02:20 AM

So, it's 3 am, and I'm still awake. Greaaaaaaaaaaaaat.

I know many of you suffer from insomnia, so I thought maybe we could trade ideas, and offer support (I could certainly use some - I'm getting SO ANNOYED with this no sleep nonsense).

Here are some suggestions that I have collected over the past couple years:

* get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.

* don't just lie in bed if you're not sleeping, get up after 15 or 20 minutes and do something for 10 minutes, then go back to bed. This may keep you from getting that anxious "checking the clock" thing going, which will probably prevent you from sleeping at all.

* sometimes reading a book in bed can be a good way to trick yourself into sleeping; make sure it's something light (not scary), or even better, something really boring (like schoolwork).

* avoid caffeine, chocolate after 2:00 pm. Don't eat anything heavy after 7 pm. Eat a light snack 1 hr before bedtime. Avoid sugar at night.

* listen to music or the TV with the volume turned down as low as you can, so that you have to be very still and quiet to hear it (turn the brightness and contrast all the way down so that it's dark in the room)

* If you begin to hate bedtime, try to turn your bedroom into a kind of "safe haven" instead of being a place to be dreaded. Think of things that make you feel safe - it may be a blanket or teddy bear or other items that comfort you... I went to the extreme of getting pepper spray, a cell phone and a gigantic dog. I then filled the room with soothing colors, scented candles and covered the ceiling with glow in the dark stars.

* make sure your bedroom isn't too hot or cold - this can contribute to you waking up.

* take a bath or a warm shower before going to bed.

* get your thyroid checked to make sure there are no problems there that are causing your symptoms.

* make sure you are not depressed. This can cause both oversleeping, and lack of sleeping. There are antidepressants that can help you sleep at night.

* if you are taking any medications, check out the listed side effects. It could be that your meds are contributing to the problem. For example, I had to switch my effexor from taking it in the night time, to taking it in the morning, because it was contributing to my sleep problems.

* There are short term prescription and over the counter treatments for insomnia that may be helpful for a few days if you are desperate for sleep. Over the counter remedies include things like Unisom and Tylenol PM or benedryll. They should knock you out, but you will probably quickly develop a tolerance to them, and they can have the nasty side effect of feeling slightly hungover the next day.

* A doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe other drugs to treat insomnia (ambien, sonata, etc). These drugs do have some nasty side effects, and they can be really addictive, especially if you have an addictive personality. But for some people, they work really well.

Okay, that's all I can think of right now. Clearly, none of these are working for me right now (some of them worked for a while), since I'm currently a raging insomniac, so I'd loooooooooove to hear some other suggestions.

:)

Lis


#2 Louise

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 02:42 AM

Lis babe - I'm just shooing my husband away from the 'puter and telling him that no, I'm not going to recommend half a dozen stubbies of beer before bed as a sleep aide. Men!

At times in my life I've experienced poor sleep (which is quite often) my doctor prescribes Deptran, one of the old class of antidepressants (Doxepin hydrochloride). Though they're not often given for depression anymore, they're still found to be effective for sleep troubles.

For the first couple of months, I sleep like a baby and it's really deep sleep.

Sometimes that breaks the bad sleep cycle, but if it doesn't, you do build up a tolerance to it and find that you have to take more for the same effect.

Side effects include a dry mouth next day and feeling a bit drug-f*cked for the first seven or so days on them - but I still think they're great for a short-term sleep solution.

If you've been doing something highly stimulating before bed, do some light reading before sleep i.e. it's never a good idea for me to carry a head full of partner-rape writings off to bed, so I read something totally unrelated until I sleep.

Chanting something over and over; doesn't matter what it is but try to stay focused on it. This has worked for me sometimes.

I hope it's not out of line to suggest that masturbation and orgasm can provide an effective wind-down too...

I don't know how you keep being brilliant, Lister-sister...I'm worse than useless on insufficient sleep and hate ongoing sleep-problems more than anything.

I hope you can resolve it.

xxxxxxx


#3 Lis

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 03:02 AM

If you've been doing something highly stimulating before bed


Haha, like....... post here?

That's actually a good suggestion, and if I can solve my conjoined computer problem, I'm sure it will help. The problem for me is that I need to have something distracting going on (usually it's the TV on very very low), because otherwise I get really intrusive thoughts and worries, and I've learned that if I let that go on too long, it can spiral into a problem with panic.

But you're totally right that the over-stimulation of the computer isn't helping AT ALL.

And tell your man that alcohol doesn't work for me, because for some reason I have to sit around waiting to be sober before I can attempt sleep. Although I have heard that a glass of wine before bed helps a lot of people sleep.


#4 Cira

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 03:03 AM

Count sheep.

Kidding.  Of course.  Insomnia is a problem that comes and goes for me...the irony being that it doesn't seem to come and go w/ stress.  It just seems to come and go whenever it feels like it.  ???

I don't have anything that I've found that has really done much good, though there are a few things that help me somewhat...and I'm probably going to repeat some of what you said, Lis.  

*Drinking something hot and caffeine-free, like herbal tea.
 
*Taking a hot bath

*Reading in bed

*Listening to quiet music (Tori's album "Scarlet's Walk" works like a dream for me for some reason)

*I have tried Valerian root and it has worked, but I have used it very rarely, b/c I have this adversity to taking anything...even herbs.

*I have also taken various OTC drugs for sleep when I had to.  Some work well (ironically, the cheap-o Equate brand from Wal-Mart worked best for me) but I do get that slightly groggy feeling the next day.  I did notice that the groggy feeling wore off after the first few times I took them, but again (as noted above), I have a general adversity to taking pills, so I use these only when I get desperate.

*Concentrating on something - anything - mundane helps me a lot...Kind of like the chanting Lou mentioned.

*Perhaps the biggest thing is I've learned to try not to go to bed with unresolved issues.  If I'm angry or hurt or upset, I need to get as much of it out as I can before I have even a remote chance of sleeping.  And if I need to get something crucial done, I'm better off just doing it.  Otherwise, it WILL keep me up - guaranteed.

*Another thing to note is too try to keep your sleep pattern somewhat regular -- for instance, if you were to not sleep tonight, you're better off NOT sleeping during the day tomorrow if you get the urge.  You should actually wait until tomorrow night...That's what the doc says, anyway.  Who the hell knows?  My mom suffers from insomnia, too, and she says it helps not to sleep during the day (unless you are *extremely* tired), but it doesn't make as much of a difference to me (though it does help).  *shrug*

xoxo

Lynn


#5 Louise

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 03:17 AM

I need to have something distracting going on (usually it's the TV on very very low), because otherwise I get really intrusive thoughts and worries, and I've learned that if I let that go on too long, it can spiral into a problem with panic.

You live alone, don't you hon? When I stay by myself, I must also have a low-key noise like radio, because that other human voice is comforting. Silence will make me imagine things I don't like, and I'm sure you know what that's like.

Actually we should have a bore Lis thread so that you get both unstimulated and want to shut down...poor love.

xxxxx


#6 Louise

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 03:22 AM

I'm right with you on the unresolved issues too Lynney -particualrly anger.

I think it feels somehow bigger at night - I hate writhing and twisting all night - you ever felt like jumping out of bed and driving to somebody's place just so you can give them a good slap?

When this happens to me, I write a savage letter, perhaps not to send, but just to divest myself of the rage. Posting here is good to, because your mates'll agree that yes, the person who affronted you is an unmitigated turd, which might be childish of me to say, but it helps  
:;):


#7 Lis

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 03:22 AM

Actually we should have a bore Lis thread so that you get both unstimulated and want to shut down


HAHAHHA - sadly, I think it's such a combination of things at this point, that while walking away from the computer tonight may help, there have been nights recently that I've laid in bed and done absolutely nothing all night (which is remarkably boring).

I almost think the "sleep" part of my brain is broken. But then I read the 10 zillion other posts on insomnia on the board, and think that there has got to be a solution to it, or a combination of things that I just haven't been able to figure out yet.

Anyway, I'm putting my laptop under my bed to prevent me from entertaining myself in my sleepless state to see if that has any effect. :)

Keep the suggestions coming!


#8 Mary

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 03:23 AM

watching fish swim always helps me relax and get sleepy. i am trying to get a fishtank again now, they are so soothing to watch

someone also suggested to me once if you dont want a fishtank that watching a lava lamp can produce the same calming effects


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#9 Cira

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 03:29 AM

I think it feels somehow bigger at night - I hate writhing and twisting all night - you ever felt like jumping out of bed and driving to somebody's place just so you can give them a good slap?

In a word...YES!  Maybe that's where I'm going wrong...maybe I should start doing just that. ;)

OR where I'm going wrong could be the lack of exercise, the freezing cold room and the Almond Roca cookies with coffee at 1:30 am...LOL.  I might be well-advised to reread Lis's suggestions again.


#10 hilary

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 03:42 AM

things that have worked for me:

hot tea (chamomile, usually)
melatonin
listening to NPR really quietly on my radio/alarm
for reading, i'd recommend diane ackerman's 'natural history of the senses' not because it's boring, but because it isn't overly stimulating, but still very interesting.
this is something my mom taught me years ago:  lay in bed on your back.  starting with the top of your body and moving downward, try to tense up every individual muscle.  hold the tension for a moment and then slowly breathe relaxation into your muscles.  while doing this visualize something calm like a sunset, or the ocean, or a cool forest.  i think my step-dad likes to imagine being a seagull floating over the surf.

something i've used a few times:  i try to start thinking in a dream-like way.  you know how dreams tend to be fluent, but not make much sense in a literal way?  i sort of force myself into a dream.  maybe i think of walking down the street, then i start hopping and floating for distances.  i start seeing my neighborhood's rooftops and hopping from one to another.  the real effort for me is keeping the thoughts from turning scary and violent, but it usualy works to just remind myself to think of pleasant things.  

((((((((lis))))))))
i hope something here might help.  
i know all to well the pain of sleeplessness.  i used to go for 3 nights in a row with no sleep on a regular basis.  i thought i'd just go crazy.  i know having my dog with his head on the pillow next to me and the cat tucked next to me helps me to feel safe.

(((((hugs)))))
hilary


#11 Cira

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 03:49 AM

this is something my mom taught me years ago:  lay in bed on your back.  starting with the top of your body and moving downward, try to tense up every individual muscle.  hold the tension for a moment and then slowly breathe relaxation into your muscles.  while doing this visualize something calm like a sunset, or the ocean, or a cool forest.  i think my step-dad likes to imagine being a seagull floating over the surf.

Damn, Hilary, you kick all sorts of ass.  I'd forgotten all about this little trick - someone suggested it a long time ago and it helped me, but I'd sort of forgotten about it.

I also do the same thing, w/ thinking in a dream-like way...but couldn't figure out how to say it so that it made sense. :)

xoxo

Lynn


#12 cubby

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 04:11 AM

You've already hit most of the remedies that I've used, but there are a couple that have helped me.

Giving up coffee.  Coffee triggers a release of cortisol, which is the stress hormone.  Supposedly a cup of coffee upon rising will lead to elevated cortisol levels as late as 11:00 that night.  I start my days with green or black tea, both of which have more than enough caffeine to make me go zoom, but leave me WAY less tense.

Tryptophan is a mild soporific.  Have turkey dinner.  Also peanuts, cheese and warm milk can have the same effect.  Sometimes a cup of white cocoa helps me - steamed milk, white chocolate, a little sugar (or splenda) and some vanilla.

Focused breathing like yoga pranayamas helps me relax and sometimes makes me sleepy.

I've heard good things about kava kava (although it hasn't worked for me).

A change in exercise sometimes helps.  I have no idea why, but if I switch from biking to swimming for a week I sleep better.  

Chocolate triggers an endorphin release.  I recently read that the release is less caused by the chocolate than by how the chocolate eater *feels* about eating the chocolate.  According to the article, fake chocolate leads to the same happy happy joy joy without the drawbacks.  I don't particularly like chocolate, so it seems acceptable to me.  Chocolate "purists" have threatened to pummel me with sharp sticks for even suggesting that they substitute fake for real chocolate, so take this suggestion for what it's worth.

I would add herbal remedies and supplements to the list of items to consider for side effects or interactions.

And just a quick note on OTC sleep aides.  They trade on the groggy side effects of antihistimines.  Taking antihistimines for more than a day or two can cause the side effects to flip flop, leading to restlessness and the inability to sleep.

OK, that's all I've got.  Good luck.


#13 Jes

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 06:04 AM

Make a promise to yourself to study Trusts and Estates.  All day, put pressure on yourself to study Trusts and Estates.  If you don't study Trusts and Estates all night long, at least until three am, you will fail out of law school and become a broke, homeless bum.  Really, you should study Trusts and Estates until four or five in the morning.

Think this way all day long.

It works for me and Career Counseling.

Jes


#14 Lora

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 06:15 AM

Yep, most of the things I use have already been mentioned, but two others:

1) I bought one of those long body pillows and if I'm having trouble sleeping sometimes it helps to lay down next to it and just kind of mold it closely along the back of my body (I think for me it sort of provides a sense of safety/security).  I do this sometimes even when G. is there (much to his annoyance, but the pillow doesn't make me hot and doesn't move).

2) A variation of the relaxation technique Hilary mentioned.  I find that if I tense muscles when I'm already tense, they tend to stay that way, so I do the same thing, but without the tensing part.  I lay on my back and start with my toes, then my feet, then my calves.... and concentrate on completely relaxing each part of my body and feeling the way it feels against the sheets or bed (if applicable).  If I can't get a particular muscle to relax sometimes tensing it just a bit helps, but not too much (and you don't want to disturb the already relaxed parts!). Usually by the time I reach my shoulders I am feeling groggy and I abandon the exercise and just go with it.   :sleepy:

Lora


#15 Crystal

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 07:08 AM

I've had some luck with one of those sound soothers (waves, thunder, white noise, etc) or even buy one of those "mood" CDs and play it softly in the background (Distant Thunder is one of the better ones for me).

I also keep a book by the bed.  Reading for 10 minutes can make a big difference.



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