Any traetment for chronic insomnia?

I just had my 3rd sleepless night-OTC sleeping pills don’t help. I Tried AMBIEN, but left me a zombie next day. is there anything anyone can reccommend?

IANAD - but my doc said for those sleepless nights to pop a Benedryl. No fear of addiction and quite harmless. A little Antihistamine goes a long way, and I’ll tell you it knocks this 220 pound man out everytime. Oh there’s no Zombie feeling either.

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is a YMMV drug. It is the active ingredient in many OTC sleep aids (Sominex, etc). Personally, it makes me drowsy but jittery and unable to sleep. Sheer torture.

I used to have insomnia for several months and got rid of it without any medications by doing the following:

If you are lying in bed and can’t fall asleep after 20-30 minutes get up from bed and do something relaxing like reading a semi-boring book or watching a semi-boring video, but don’t do this in bed. Choose a boring book or video before you go to sleep so you’ll be prepared. Although this feel counter-intuitive, this is the most important suggestion.

For one hour before you go to bed do something relaxing. Don’t do anything very interesting or stimulating before going to bed. Even meditation has an effect of being both relaxing and stimulating at the same time. For some people even having sex within one hour of sleeping may cause insomnia or for others, it may help them sleep.

Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.

Give up caffeine. Even chocolate and some brands of decaf coffee have caffeine.

If after all this you still have trouble falling asleep, sleep in a different room or just some other place that is not your bed such as a couch or even a sleeping bag on the floor. Have a space ready before you go to bed.

If you absolutely want to use some pills, I’ve found that melatonin helps but take it at least 30-45 minutes before your bed time. I used melatonin in the beginning, but I don’t need it anymore.

Do some gentle stretching exercises before going to bed. A lot of people hold tension in their muscles without realizing it. Google “progressive relaxation”.

Regular exercise is supposed to help though don’t do it within a few hours of sleeping; this is too stimulating. Personally, I’ve only found this to help if I do extremely intense cardio; I didn’t notice any difference from light or moderate exercise but maybe it will help others.

Often insomnia is caused by fear of not being able to fall asleep so you start to have anxious feeling associated with your bed.

One more thing. Check all your medications for side effects that may cause insomnia. Sudafed or any antihistimine with sudafed like Claritin-D (the d stands for decongestant which is a large dosage of sudafed) and many nasal decongestants can cause insomnia (such as Afrin). I used to have terrible allergies, but I get allergy shots which greatly help. Try Breathe Right nasal strips instead to help your breathing or doing jala neti.

I don’t have any medical advice, but you might want to try getting up and playing this flash game - It’s kind of fun, but there’s something about the repetitive nature of it that makes my eyes fall shut, even if I play it during the day.

Ambien used to have the same effect on me, but I persisted. After about a week it went away. Now the only problem I have is it’s only sporadically effective.

Lots of treatments for chronic insomnia. Proper ‘sleep hygiene’ has been mentioned, as well as lots of other good ideas.

Try taking half of the ambien. There are other meds you can try. Yadda yadda.

Mostly, go back and talk to your doc again. Chronic sleeplessness is misery.

I suffered from extreme insomnia since I was a kid. Nothing helped. Years later, I was diagnosed with chronic depression, and my doctor prescribed Elavil. It was only mildly effective for the depression, but for the first time in my life I was able to sleep all night. I’m still taking it; if I miss a night, I don’t sleep at all.

I used to just flip around 180 degrees (feet where my head was, head where my feet were) and that would work.

Insomnia can be minor, or it can be a sign of big, bad things.

My husband has PLMS (and apnea and depression and urk), which means he falls asleep, does weird repetitive motions, wakes himself up, and doesn’t realize he was ever asleep. So he’s actually falling asleep, but his sleep is so incredibly poor that it doesn’t matter.

There can be lots of things like this that cause sleeping problems, so if it persists do consider doctoring up. (You lawyer up, so you can doctor up, right? It sounds dumb.)

I have had some mild insomnia lately and it has been caused by stress. Perhaps you are having personal problems that need to be cleared up before you can get your head settled. I hope this is not the case but if it is, its better to deal with the problem than to start taking medication.

I’ve been dealing with chronic insomnia for most of my life. I take a high dose of trazadone (an atypical antidepressant) and a high, split dose of Lunesta, and between the two of them, I often get adequate sleep.

You and your doctor might want to consider trazadone, which is fairly often prescribed for moderate insomnia, but be aware that one possible side-effect if you’re male is priapism (the over-four-hour erection syndrome associated with ED treatments). I get near-priapism every night, and although there’s no pain (and no pleasure), it’s not exactly fun either, because it can be trying to find a comfortable sleeping position. I’ve learned to cope, since that’s been happening for 20 years or so.

If you reach the point where you and your doctor are considering sleeping pills, I would think the place to start is Rozerem, since it isn’t even a controlled substance and it’s not likely to cause dependence. It’s got a great profile. Damn, I wish it worked for me!

But my very strongest urging is to avoid Ambien at all costs. This is a real nightmare drug. I had been using it for years and I was certain I wasn’t having any problems with it.


One day I phoned my auto insurance agent and asked some kind of question when the agent said something about “that woman I had hit with my car”. I told him that he was thinking about some other client since I had never hit anyone in my life. He insisted. I denied it. On and on, till he accused me of lying to him and hung up. This is ridiculous, I thought. He was clearly mistaken. I knew my own life, for cryin’ out loud!

Long story short, it turned out that I had hit some woman in my car! But it took place on one of a score or more “missing” days caused by Ambien. It turned out that I had been driving, eating, and even going to work under its spell and never remembered a thing! I started asking around, and it turned out I had terribly humiliated myself by saying and doing humiliating things while under Ambien. I can’t tell you how horribly Ambien abused me.

Now I take Lunesta, which – while it is in the same class of drugs as Ambien – I’ve never had anything remotely go wrong under it, and I and those in my circle have been watching closesly for about two years now.

Please take my advice in this matter and avoid Ambien like the plague it is.

Darkness, darkness, be my pillow.

I have nearly photographic lab quality darkness in my room. I have lots of light in the areas where I stay awake. I make sure that I get lots of light during the “day” (Keep in mind that I work evenings, and go to bed at 3 or 4 AM, and get up at the crack of noon.)

I find that over the long term, that makes the most difference. Noise is not a problem, unless it is just as I am trying to drop off to sleep, and for that, I have ear plugs, but almost never need to use them.

Since doing this, my periodic bouts of insomnia have entirely abated.


I will chime in on the trazadone; I take 150mg at bedtime, which is a high dose but it lets me sleep. Before I started trazadone, I was lucky to get three to four hours sleep per night; now I can (usually) count on six to seven. It has never given me any symptom of priapism but YMMV. I also take 450mg of Welbutrin for depression; IIRC, the Welbutrin/Trazadone combination is very effective as a sleep aid.

I’m glad it’s helping. Aside from the near-priapism, it’s otherwise a great drug for me.

One reason I may be seeing this near-priapism on a nightly basis whereas you are not is that I’m taking 600mg, which is a high dose. It’s not supposed to be used on an outpatient basis at that dosage, but I’ve been fine with it for several years and I can’t get by on less.

I have been a chronic insomniac for my whole life. Have you tried sleeping on a floormat? Try it for a week. I still have trouble sleeping, but it’s less often.

Alcohol perhaps? Maybe a glass of red wine in the evening. Of course IANADoctor, and if I was I’d be struck off.

What a useful thread - insomnia is a common problem, alas. I have suffered for years, and found that many of poetwarlord’s suggestions help, as does getting TOTAL darkness. Some people are more light-sensitive than others; I remember as a child trying to convince my friends during sleepovers that they didn’t really want a nightlight!

The only new suggestion I can add was suggested years ago by my IM doctor: yoga. I have no idea if it helps since I was unable to follow it up then. But I just started taking a yoga class now, and although it is way too early to say if it will have any impact, I can see where it has great potential to improve well-being in many areas.

Does the advice vary between people who have trouble falling asleep, and those who have trouble staying asleep? My husband consistently wakes up between 3:30 and 4:00 in the morning, and can’t get back to sleep though he feels desperately tired. We’ve tried going to bed earlier, going to bed later, eating at different times, you name it. Nothing has made a difference, and it’s starting to wear on him.