Coping with insomnia?

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Willowhawk
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Coping with insomnia?

Post by Willowhawk » 09 Apr 2013, 22:36

Everyone experiences sleeping difficulties at times, but this has gone past "just a phase." It's gotten to the point that I dread bedtime. Last night I lay there crying while my husband snored away-- all right, not really snored, but breathed loudly... Anyway, I've tried the couch-- hard as rock and too narrow-- and ear plugs, melatonin, valerian, Sleepytime tea, all the relaxation techniques I can think of, even diphenhydramine (Benadryl). I've tried reading. I've tried *not* reading. What else is there? :where:
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by Bracken » 09 Apr 2013, 22:54

Hiya, Willow.
Just a suggestion, babe. Take it or leave it, ok?
As a busy working mum myself, I've had my fair share of sleepless nights. Instead of fighting them I got into the habit of welcoming them as time for myself. I was truly in a routine of putting everything else first and rarely took time for a cup of tea or a 20 min snooze on the sofa, and I was tired out. Then at bedtime it was like I was just wide awake. So I started putting the light back on and doing something I wanted to do.

The yoga I never found time for.
The reading I never found time for.
The letter to my tutor...
The hair treatment...
The trying all my clothes on in different combinations in front of the mirror to see what suits me now...
The staring at the wall day/night dreaming...

Even if it meant me going to sleep at 5 when I had to get up at 7. I was awake anyway, so I might as well give that time to myself.
The world is a very different place at 3am. I learnt a lot and gained perspective. And now my kids are older I prioritise myself so much more. I get on that sofa with a cup of tea as often as I feel like it. Power nap whenever my body wants it. Everything gets done in its own time. And I sleep at night. Well, not every night, but most.
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by Willowhawk » 10 Apr 2013, 01:13

:hug: Not fighting it is one thing I haven't tried. Thank you, MamaB! :hug:
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by nia-ceridwyn » 10 Apr 2013, 01:33

I have recently gone through a year of sleeping problems, to the point that I was in tears from my inability to sleep as well. My insomnia was exacerbated by at times severe sciatica causing RLS too. I sometimes went days without sleeping, then might get an hour or three, then the process repeated.

The things that worked for me were trying to maintain a regular night-time routine, including taking hot showers and drinking herbal tea before bed, reading about half an hour before I tried to sleep, not looking at the computer before bedtime, and getting up and stretching/doing yoga if the discomfort kept me awake. I also avoided sugar/caffeine - as well as vitamin c and citric acid which apparently act like caffeine too - late in the day.

Trying to use sleep aids never worked well for me, because some of my issue was pain. I used to have to sleep on my tummy with my feet off the bed a lot, to get a position that eased the pressure on my back, actually.

Do you do anything crafty? Knit, cross stitch, crochet, paper crafts, anything like that? Maybe you could try, when sleep eludes you, getting up and working on something like that. Something to take your mind off not sleeping.

My mother swore by warm milk, though I preferred cocoa at night.

I also had some measure of success with binaural beats, which I had as an app in my iPod, and I popped in headphones and listened. Also, I listened to the Lightbody Exercise sometimes at night and when I was lying down it sometimes had the effect of helping me sleep.
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by ShadowCat » 10 Apr 2013, 07:16

So recognisable... including feeling extremely miserable and tired, yet unable to sleep. Sometimes I would get migraines so bad they would wake me from my initial sleep. I have used tea made with hops, lavender etc and a herbal sleeping aid (vitafyea sedanight) but I find that although then I slept for a few hours, I wouldn't really "rest" and just wake up groggy and grumpy.

A few months back I started treatment with a acupuncturist for other healthissues, and the sleeping issues improved greatly as a sideeffect. So that might be something you haven't tried yet.

I myself found myself dreading bedtime and even resenting my bed because of the endless nights staring at the ceiling. I deepcleaned the bedroom, put on fresh sheets, aired the room out, cleansed it energetically (drumming/smudging etc) so I could make a fresh start after a bout of restless nights. It helps.

Also, using music or guided meditation can help you not sleep, but get to a state of waking relaxation. From there, you might doze of lightly, and so relearn to sleep. Binaural beats help too, although sometimes they give me a headache.

And if you really can't sleep, get out of bed, and do something. Crafting, reading, writing, meditating, yoga...
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by elementalheart » 10 Apr 2013, 08:50

Been there, tried it all - the one thing that worked for me was surrendering to the wakefulness rather than trying to fight it. Sometimes I can lie and give myself reiki, sometimes a bit of turning over works, other times I get up and go to the bathroom and back, or get milk from the kitchen, sometimes nothing works and instead of getting frustrated which kicks the sleep likelihood further away than ever, I get up and go outside, down the garden and back, look at the stars or the moon or listen to the night sounds (a quiet main road outside is a blessing!). Last autumn I went through a stage of doing pre-dawn ritual outside around 4-5am and accepting the wakefulness as a gift.

The next day I do feel flaked out earlier than ever and I've never managed napping as sleeping in daylight is always hard for me, but I see it as extra preparation for a good night's sleep the next night, I don't go to bed earlier, keep the going to bed routine the same and try again. Sometimes it takes 2-3 days but eventually the body just overrides the brain. In the end I just started looking at a week as so many hours of waking and some of sleeping but had less attachment to where each was in the overall schedule, but I went to bed the same time and routine nonetheless. In winter it is so dark I need more sleep and the normal pattern resumed more or less on its own eventually.

Not sure any of that is helpful for someone that doesn't live alone and work from home, sorry, but maybe bits of it may fit a solution you can work with.

Separate issue but is it the snoring that prevents you getting to sleep? In which case maybe adjust the bed time so you go earlier and get to sleep before it starts, see if that works.
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by Gwion » 10 Apr 2013, 10:16

I noticed this article on the BBC News website. It seems that the received wisdom that we all should experience 8 hours unbroken sleep is not the full story anyway. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by Willowhawk » 10 Apr 2013, 23:22

Fascinating! Thank you for posting that link, Gwion-- that's something I hadn't considered before. I work with newborns, and I teach new parents that there's no biological reason to expect their infants to sleep through the night anytime before 6-8 months of age, or even longer (2-3 years and beyond is still "normal"!)-- why on earth should we expect it of ourselves?

I tried going to bed before my husband last night-- I did fall asleep, but he woke me up (unintentionally) when he came to bed. :roll: He doesn't snore much, or loudly-- my ex-husband had sleep apnea and used a CPAP machine, and that was bad! I find when I can't sleep I get extremely irritable and hypersensitive to every little noise. The ear plugs help some, but-- and this is weird, I know-- they make me feel as though I can't breathe!

I wish naps were an option-- I love naps, and can fall asleep in a matter of minutes if I lay down in the daytime, just listening to my heartbeat. Sadly, this technique does not work at night, when I really, really want it too-- and taking a nap is a way to ensure I won't sleep that night.

I think that accepting the sleeplessness might be key for me. I just start to panic when I "need" to sleep-- ie, when I have to work the next day. Staring down a 12 1/2 hour shift with only 3 hours' sleep is daunting, to say the least!

I really appreciate all your input. It helps to know how others cope! :hug:
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by samurai » 11 Apr 2013, 07:31

I think what everyone has said is very correct. I am a reiki/shamanic practioner,and have found reiki to have broken the cycle of insomnia in a number of cases.

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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by DaRC » 11 Apr 2013, 13:16

I think that accepting the sleeplessness might be key for me. I just start to panic when I "need" to sleep-- ie, when I have to work the next day.
I would agree, there have been periods of my life when for various reasons sleep (or perceived sleep) would not come.

I found that lying there, in bed, and performing the LBE, particularly the litany of relaxing each individual muscle, followed by meditation was a great alternative. Certainly better than tossing, turning and stressing about not sleeping.
This technique, rather than doing anything active, certainly seemed to let my physical body rest and repair itself; I didn't notice any physical effects the next morning whilst cycle commuting / mountain biking (I was checking my stats).
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by WrenWyrd » 12 Apr 2013, 14:38

I rarely have trouble going to sleep anymore, but I regularly wake up around 1 or 2 am and am wakeful for hours, sometimes until 5 or 6. However, even at times when this happens almost every night, I don't suffer from it as much as I used to. Here's how I cope:

-Daily meditation taught me to be with it rather than fight against it. Insomnia used to a very painful experience, but now it's simply insomnia, no less and no more.

-I avoid screens in the evening whenever possible, prefering books or other quiet activities, and try to dim lights after nightfall.

I second the BBC article above and encourage you to read this one as well - it changed the way I view sleep, making insomnia something that has spiritual potential: http://www.tricycle.com/feature/turn-out-lights
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by Opal » 14 Apr 2013, 20:26

As someone who has had years of chronic insomnia, I highly recommend the website http://www.sleepio.com/

Sleepio was developed (and is run by) a professor who specialises in sleep and sleep disorders. It is a six week course (you can try the first week for free) and each week builds on the one before it. In the first week you answer a questionnaire and are able to fill in a sleep diary. This was incredibly useful to me as you can see how long it takes you to get to sleep, when you go to sleep, how often you wake up, and so on. You can then track any changes and know your own profile (very Druidic as it emphasises mindfulness).

Some of the techniques have been mentioned here already, such as getting out of bed and doing something else. Even just getting out of bed and sitting quietly in the dark is recommended. You need to break any association between your bed and sleeplessness. It also affirms that not everyone needs eight hours sleep: quality, rather than conforming to a quantity, is what is important here.

Sleepio's format is fun to use, and is even recommended by the Lancet.

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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by Willowhawk » 15 Apr 2013, 16:04

Thank you all! I truly appreciate your input and suggestions. :hug:
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by Feileacan » 21 Oct 2014, 06:24

These are wonderful methods and it seems I have tried them all. I sadly admit there are days when only medication seems to work. I am one of the unfortunate souls that suffers from Sleep Apnea and would likely benefit from CPAP, but am terribly non-compliant. The acupuncture did help but became too expensive to continue.

One thing I didn't notice in the posts that might help (forgive me if I missed it) is a little Feng Shui. When I moved my bed such that my feet were pointed toward the door and there were no windows behind me, it made a bit of a difference. It reduces any fear of harm, even if the fear is subconscious. You might give that a try if your room allows for that transition and your mate is willing to go along with it.

Thank you for creating this topic. It is much needed. :zzz:

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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by xidia » 21 Oct 2014, 08:49

My lifelong insomnia cleared up when I dealt with my underlying (and mild, and thus undiagnosed) mental health issues. Now it comes back if I'm stressed. I give it a couple of days where I actively try to address the stress, then if it's still around, knock myself out with zopiclone, or promethazine (anti-travel sickness, makes me super-sleepy) or Valerian tea for a couple of nights to get enough rest that I can properly handle the stress.

If I don't tackle the stress, nothing else actually helps.

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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by gwendolyng » 22 Oct 2014, 19:11

I too, am a chronic insomniac and have been for years. I followed all of the aforementioned suggestions, but found that after several days in a row of 1-2 hours of sleep, none of it mattered. I just wanted sleep. A couple of things that have been absolute saving graces for me include these: if you have a television in your bedroom take it out. The energy it emits--even when not turned on--can cause sleep disruption. Also, the portion of the brain that helps keep you awake is the thinking part. If you can produce images or focus on pictures in your mind, it helps to turn the thoughts off. Often, when the thinking is turned off, sleep will follow. I am a hypnotherapist and found a relaxation script that has always worked for me.

Imagine yourself walking through a woods. Nestled deep within the forest is a cabin that overlooks a beautiful, peaceful lake. In your mind, walk into the cabin and set it up however you want it to look. Remember to focus on the descriptive picture of ithe interior of the cabin in your brain. Take your time with this. Next, imagine that you walk out onto a deck. The deck is constructed so that it is built over the water. On the flooring of the deck is a pile of huge stones. Pick up one of the stones and throw it into the center of the lake. Watch as the rock hits the water and makes the ever-expanding circle of ripples. Follow the ripples all the way to the shore. Be certain that you concentrate on the rippling effect even if your mind wants to jump ahead of it. The trick to this is to create as much imagery as you possibly can and to keep your brain focused on the pictures.

One other quick note. Vitamin D deficiencies can be linked to insomnia.
Hope these helps!
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by Badger Bob » 23 Oct 2014, 09:59

One thing that has helped me over my years of insomnia is checking the light levels in the house. If I am having trouble sleeping I find it helps if I turn off the main lighting and just have a few lamps on after dark. The brightness on the TV is turned right down and it is only watched in darkness. Mind you I find it difficult to sleep indoors so if I am really having problems I pitch a tent on the lawn and sleep out there where there are no bright lights at all and that does the trick every time. A friend who also has sleep problems recommends switching all the electrical items off at night, leaving nothing on standby and especially switching the Wi-Fi off at the socket. I don't know if this has any effect or not, it didn't seem to make much difference to me.

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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by Catafonia » 23 Oct 2014, 11:46

I find switching all electrical items off, leaving nothing on standby and absolutely no lights in the bedroom, helps enormously. I also turn off the TV at least an hour before going to bed and drink a cup of calming herbal tea to help me get to sleep.

Sweet dreams!
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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by Feileacan » 28 Oct 2014, 05:00

gwendolyng wrote:

Imagine yourself walking through a woods. Nestled deep within the forest is a cabin that overlooks a beautiful, peaceful lake. In your mind, walk into the cabin and set it up however you want it to look. Remember to focus on the descriptive picture of ithe interior of the cabin in your brain. Take your time with this. Next, imagine that you walk out onto a deck. The deck is constructed so that it is built over the water. On the flooring of the deck is a pile of huge stones. Pick up one of the stones and throw it into the center of the lake. Watch as the rock hits the water and makes the ever-expanding circle of ripples. Follow the ripples all the way to the shore. Be certain that you concentrate on the rippling effect even if your mind wants to jump ahead of it. The trick to this is to create as much imagery as you possibly can and to keep your brain focused on the pictures.
What a beautiful suggestion, Gwendolyng. I will definitely try this. For 4 years I've had a "sleeping chamber" for sleeping. It has the bed, night table..very basic. No TV, ambient lighting and soothing nature sounds. The bed is properly set per Feng Shui guidelines (for lack of better words). It does make a difference to separate activity and bed. Have a room for activity and a different one for sleep. Your mind will eventually know it is time for sleep when you go into the room.

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Re: Coping with insomnia?

Post by DaRC » 30 Oct 2014, 16:21

This article (about half way down) has some good advice/science on sleeping
http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/10 ... ve-energy/
It's GeekMentalHelpWeek so there are a bunch of articles on the subject.
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