Calling all insomniacs, I need your help

Recently I’ve been having disturbed sleeping patters whereby Ifall asleep for three hours, wake up for about half an hour to an hour and finally fall asleep for another three hours or so at which point I’ll wake up for good. This is pissing me off. I believe that the insomnia is being caused by my near obsessive worries about my health. My current malady du jour lists insomnia as a symptom and ever since I learned of this I’ve been unable to sleep properly. I know, pathetic eh? Well, pathetic or not, I seem to be stuck with it. Tonight I am conducting an experiment whereby I will stay awake all night and remain so until midnight tomorrow. Hopefully the accumulated fatigue will ensure I have a nice, sound sleep and demolish the psychological hangup which is preventing me from getting my full 8 hours per night.

I wanted to know if there is anything special that the insomniacs of the teeming millions do to help get to sleep when this sort of thing happens to them. I also want to know if my experiment will work because I’m pretty tired as I type this (at 03:58am GMT) and if it’s a lost cause I might as well go to bed and grab what precious few hours I can.

So…am I on the right track? Or should I be doing something else?

Honestly I don’t think there’s any way to tell whether it’s the right track or not, until you try. There are so many different reasons for insomnia it’s really hard to pinpoint what will work. I can’t even think of anything I’ve tried over the years that works consistently.

It sounds like you know what causing it, at least. Obsessive worries or thinking usually keep me up, too. Normally I just give up, get out of bed and read until I feel I can sleep. Sometimes I just read until it’s time to get ready for work or get the kids up for school, then go to bed at my usual time the next night. I believe the longest I’ve been without sleep is about 3 days, give or take a few hours. It wasn’t pretty. :frowning:

Here’s hoping your experiment will work for you tonight. Good luck. :slight_smile:

Well, if I had an answer to that I’d be a rich woman.
I suffer from a plethora of sleep disorders. I wish you luck, but if you’ve got a real problem (not just a temporary insomnia due to stress, illness, etc.) I doubt that putting off sleep will work. I will go for days sometime without sleep, and still have problems getting to sleep sometimes. Mostly though, my problem is that I sleep too much. Either way, I’d suggest you check out some resources on sleep disorders, as insomnia can be a sign of sleep apnea or ideopathic hypersomnia.

A great place to start is Talk About Sleep. They’ve got message boards and great information.

As far as being on the right track, the best advice I can give you is to try to get to bed around the same time every night, and stay in bed whether you are actually tired or able to sleep or not. Try not to engage in any strenuous exercise or any mentally/intellectually stimulating activities within about a half hour of bedtime. Too much ‘exposure’ can sometimes keep your brain chugging along for hours after you’re ready to sleep. While your body is ready to pass out, your brain can keep you up trying to subconsciously process all the information you’ve pushed into it during the day. Take a warm bath to get your muscles relaxed – it will also increase blood flow to your brain (increased oxygen as well) and will help you clear your mind before you go to sleep. The biggest help is to make a routine out of sleep.

I wish you luck, and if you find something that works, please let me know!

Also, don’t use your bedroom/bed for anything other than sleep or sex - otherwise your mind begins to associate the place with “non-sleep” activities, and it has trouble falling asleep. Avoid caffeine in the evening (or even afternoons if youre sensitive to it like me), and avoid sugars, etc that will make you energetic. Try drinking a glass of warm milk (yes, this does sometimes work!). Since you worry too much, and thats what keeps you awake, try talking out/writing out all the worries and things you have to do, etc before bed. Make a list, write a paragraph, whatever - just get it out of your brain in forget about it. Learn some relaxation techniques…at the least, your body will be able to relax and regenerate a little, even if you don’t sleep. If this is really interfereing with your life, go see a doctor…insomnia can be very debilitating, and sometimes needs to be taken much more seriously than people care to admit. If you think it’s right for you, consider taking sleeping pills. Over the counter stuff like Sleep-eze-D (what I sometimes use) or Tylenol PM (same active ingredient) might be able to help you get a little more sleep.

I am a chronic insomniac, and I know how “silly and simple” some of these fixes are. Really, it can be as simple as going to bed at the same time, or not having pop with supper. Or it can be a lot more complicated. Consult a doctor, but also follow the advice given in this thread - exercise, but not too close to bedtime, take relaxing baths, etc.
Although I must say, your lack of sleep leaves you somewhat more coherent than I sometimes get!
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=142723&highlight=insomnia

-mnemosyne, who is awake at this time because of an 8 hour car drive and too much Pepsi…

Ben Hicks, just be careful if you are going to drive after not sleeping for so long. Your condition sounds temporary, but I’m no doc.

Ben Hicks have you discussed this with your doctor? Have you made a major change in your life? Have you had a change like a breakup, stop drinking, stop smoking, losing weight, etc.?

The reason I ask this is, I recently stopped SMOKING again and with that (until tonight) I also had to quit drinking because well, drinking goes with smoking.

What about a major event with work or your personal life?

There are many reasons why people become “sudden” insomniacs and sometimes those are medical in nature. If it continues too long, say a week a or more, you might schedule an appointment with your regular physician. He/she may be able to (if well trained) be able to find the cause through a simple question/answer session. If not he/she might require tests.

Not to scare you but if you are normally a sleepaholic like I am and there haven’t been any major outside changes, you may need medical help. It can be a medical condition.

For me, I know, I stopped two very strong forces in my life. I sleep like crap right now.

I am suffering from insomnia right now, writing this at 3:22 am local time. My insomnia of late is stress induced, knowing that there are many things that I need to get done and precious little time to do them. I’ve tried many things, but in my case a nice glass of Armangac usually does the trick. Not so good from an AA standpoint, but sometimes you just need to get to sleep. I’d recommend different approaches before trying this one.

BTW, staying up all night, just because you want to prove to you you need sleep isn’t healthy. If you feel tired and sleepy, go with it. Even if you don’t get a decent sleep, your brain needs to shut down for however long it will even if you just lay there and read a book. Rest is important to your overall health. You will feel 100 times better with going with the minimum sleep rather than pushing it off and trying for a full night’s sleep the next night.

Trust me, been there, done that and all I feel is horrible. Very bad.

In love with another woman outside of my marriage.
Can’t sleep.

Wow, you guys sure are helpful :slight_smile: Thanks for your input. I’ll be implementing some of your ideas tonight.

** Triss & mnemosyne** - Thanks for your concern and also for your tips on how to get a better nights sleep. That goes double for mnemosyne who’s many good ideas I’ll be trying out tonight :slight_smile:
XJETGIRLX - Thank you so much for that link. It looks dead useful. I’m going to spend a good few hours today going through it to see if there is anything I can do to sort this out.

Violet

I don’t drive, but thanks for the concern :slight_smile:

techchick

No, not really. I just started university but I’m enjoying that so much that I have trouble believing that that’s the root cause of my insomnia. Even if I had gone through a major breakup (and I’ve been through a couple - well, they were major by my standards anyway :slight_smile: ), I’m not really the sort of person who would really worry about them. I don’t really worry about anything except my health. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I’m virtually incapable of worrying about anything but my health seems to be the sad exception. I remember when I was 18, a girl I had been seeing for nearly 4 years decided to finish with me, totally out of the blue. I was gutted but I still slept like a baby that night.

Well, as I stated above, I’m an incorrigible hypochondriac. I won’t go into the details of my latest imaginary malady but suffice to say it’s so rare that I called my doctor to enquire about having some tests done to confirm my own ‘diagnosis’ and he immediately leapt into action and…scheduled an appointment with a shrink!

He’s right, too. This bout of insomnia started the very day I learned that insomnia was a symptom of this incredibly rare disease. Besides, I’m still scraping 5 hours a night (8-9 being my norm) so I’m still functional…just :slight_smile:

I know where you’re coming from. I couldn’t keep it up and fell asleep at 5:00am. Still, true to my new sleeping pattern I woke up almost exactly 3 hours later. I’m taking out my crabby frustrations The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin on my playstation now :slight_smile:

Thank you very much for your concern.