Your experiences with insomnia

I’ve been having terrible insomnia lately. I’ve never really had a normal sleep schedule–I’m the sort of person who would sleep from 3am to around noon if left on my own. Obviously, that doesn’t really fly with school/work in the morning, so I’ve been making do with five to seven hours at night (usually in bed by midnight), then a nap of two or three hours in the afternoon, when I’m done with class or whatever. During the day, I’ll fall asleep with no trouble at all–in class, reading a book, doing homework. I’m always exhausted. (I know I don’t have mono, although I did have it a couple years ago, and I’m not anemic and my thyroid works ok, so it’s none of those.)

I’ve also always taken a long time to fall asleep. It’s at least an hour between when I get in bed and when I actually fall asleep, usually more. Since I came home for the summer, it’s been completely impossible for me to get to sleep. I’ll go to bed around midnight, and not fall asleep until four or five. I’ll toss and turn, and I think about all kinds of stuff, and sometimes end up crying or having an anxiety attack.

I’ve been dealing with severe depression for a long time, but it’s been really bad since my winter break. Obviously, the insomnia is part of it, and I’m being treated, but my doctors and I haven’t found a solution yet, so I’ve been taking sleeping pills. I took Ambien for a couple weeks, and it was amazing–it took about an hour to kick in, and had some side effects that I didn’t mind very much, but I would fall asleep, and stay asleep! However, my psychiatrist didn’t like the side effects, so he switched me to something called Restoril. This doesn’t do a damn thing. I don’t fall asleep for hours anyway, and then I have weird dreams about arguing with people. I’m not happy with this at all.

Anyway, have you had insomnia? What was it like? What do you do about it?

Mine usually manefests when I get up to relieve myself and can’t get back to sleep. Usually I fall asleep when it is time, but for some reason I have trouble getting back to sleep if I get up.

I have had some luck with 5-HTP which seems to have helped both my depression and my insomnia. Ask your doctor about it. In the past I have had some luck with melatonin - again, ask your doc.

One new trick that has been helping me has been to leave the covers off until I get rather chilly, and then climb back under the covers. For some reason this rush of warmth relaxes me very quickly and I fall asleep.

One last thing: If you are taking prescription drugs for your depression, please please please be sure to talk to your doc before adding 5-htp to your diet.

I suddenly acquired terrible insomnia last august. I just can’t fall asleep. When I get to sleep I can usually stay sleeping. I’ve been on amitriptyline since November, and it usually works. It’s an anti-anxiety med plus drowsiness inducer.

My inlaws gave me some sleep tapes a couple of days ago, but they seem to put me in an unusually light, unrefreshing, and dream-filled sleep.

I have a consultation appointment at a sleep clinic next week.

Insomnia sucks.

I don’t really have terrible insomnia anymore, but I will say that Tylenol PM worked far better for me than anything made specifically for sleeping. (Never tried an Rx though.)

My inner clock is like yours - late nights and sleep until noon every chance I get. Most times I just can’t fall asleep. Rather than dwell on things, I just resign myself to the fact that I’ll be up for a while. I don’t stress about having to get up in only 3 short hours, and how tired I’ll be all day. I flip my clock over so I don’t constantly see the time, and I grab a book and read with a soft light. I’ll go wake my birds up and spend time with them. I’ll drink some tea. I do whatever is relaxing to me, whatever is pleasant and easy. This will vary for you, but maybe finding a ritual will help…and no more tossing and turning in a dark room, lying on a bed that becomes uncomfortable after a while and staring at the minutes flying by.

I’ve been taking Welbutrin XL 150mg 3x plus Trazodone 150mg 1x at bedtime for the past seven or eight years for severe depression. The Trazodone / Welbutrin combo results in seven to eight hours sleep.* The Trazodone was added as much as a sleep aid as an anti depression medicine. Prior to adding it, four to five hours sleep per night was a good night; it was more often on the order of three to three and a half. You might discuss the above with your doctor.

*I work nights now and sleeping is once again becoming a problem.

I almost never get insomnia but sometimes I get Restless Leg which then proceeds to keep me awake. I hate it, especially since we don’t have cable now. (The best thing to do is watch some mindless TV, IMO). Someone said Ibuprofen works, and most of the time it does, but sometimes I still suffer. Usually I can fix it by moving to a cooler place in the house…after a while, the blood or whatever will calm down.

I often have insomnia, of the “can’t fall asleep” variety. Once I’m asleep, I stay asleep, but getting there can be difficult.

While I’ve never tried prescription medication, I found the over the counter sleeping pills to be worse than useless. Here’s what works for me:

  1. Try to go to bed at roughly the same time every night. Leave time for a bit of winding down. I try to always read for a few minutes before going to sleep.

  2. About half an hour before going to sleep, take 1-3 mg of melatonin. I get the “sublingual melatonin” from GNC, which you let dissolve under your tongue over 10 minutes or so – I find it works better than a pill. The goal is to reinforce your brain’s natural signal that it’s sleepy time – you don’t want to wait until you’ve been lying awake for three hours and then take it, or you’ll have even worse problems the next night.

  3. Once you’ve been lying awake for more than 20-30 minutes, get out of bed. Watch TV, walk around, read something. I find that once I’m lying there beyond a certain amount of time, I’m far too aware that I’m not sleeping to fall asleep. If I reset, I’ll end up falling asleep sooner than if I just stay there and try to force it.

I’ve had problems with insomnia for as long as I can remember (at least grade 7, probably before but I never thought about it). I’m 25 now. I have never really seen a doctor about it (though sometimes I think I should!) because I can usually cope.

I usually have trouble getting to sleep, and I always have trouble staying asleep…I last 3-4 hours and then wake up, toss and turn, and maybe manage another restless 3-4 hours after that. On a good night, I only wake up once. On a bad night…well, I spend it on the couch with a book (so as not to keep my husband awake) and don’t get any sleep at all.

Occasionally, I will try and OTC sleep aid, such as Sleep-eze-D (Diphenhydramine HCl) which helps relax tense and twitchy muscles, but does nothing for my overactive brain. Thing is, I basically have noises in my head! Like a constant background radio, or trying to sleep next to a room full of talking people. Not voices telling me to do stuff, but just reruns of conversations I had that day, or, worse, a single word or phrase that will just repeat itself ad nauseum (the other day, the word was “Infinatum”. Over and over again. Infinatum, infinatum, infinatum, infinatum) No wonder I get up to read.

One thing that did reduce the amounts of terrible sleepless nights was to reserve my bedroom for bedroom activities only. That’s harder to do in a house with family, or in a dorm room, but it really helps. Bedroom for sleep and sex and getting changed, and some other place entirely for TV, reading, studying, etc. Helps train your brain that that room is only for sleeping.

Cut out caffeine. I don’t drink anything with caffeine after about 3pm, and even then, I might only have one can of pop, or a single cup of tea in a day. More, and I notice it at night. Of course, I appear to be VERY sensitive to this stuff, so YMMV. The same goes for sugar…no desserts at night. It makes a big difference for me.

Warm milk, herbal teas, etc might work for you before bed. Personally, warm milk makes me gag, and tea makes me pee, so neither are really helpful to me.

Try and get up/go to bed at the same time every day (weekends included, if possible!) Basically, there are a lot of non-medical things you can do to help regain control of your sleep habits.

There are a myriad of other drugs out there that might also help. Based on the ads and the info I’ve read, Lunesta would be a good one if you feel your damn brain won’t shut up. If and when the time comes when I finally see a doctor specifically about this, that’s the drug i’ll ask about first. Clearly, IANAD, but it seems targetted to brain activity rather than muscle relaxing.

Anyways, good luck!

Something that caught my attention is that you had been (still are?) napping for two to three hours during the day. I’d personally strongly recommend against that. I suffered from insomnia when I was in college (and still have bouts now and then, but nothing like when I was in college), and to this day I’m scared to death of naps. Napping became that thing that was pleasant at the time, but that I paid for dearly later that day when I was still trying to fall asleep at 2 a.m.

I also second the recommendation to set for yourself a bedtime and try to get to bed at that time as often as possible. I have to have my bedtime routine in order, or I just can’t fall asleep. Time to wind down is very important. I’ll share some other things that have helped me. Try at your own risk, yada, yada.

First of all, if you’re like me, the reason you’re taking so long to fall asleep is because you’ve got so many things racing through your mind. Try to find a way to curb that. I know it sounds impossible, but you might be surprised. TV usually works best for me. I turn on something—a half-hour show is usually best—that keeps my interest but won’t keep me awake (nothing too noisy). I allow myself to watch the show, but make myself close my eyes during the commercials. Before I know it, I’m asleep.

Another method I’ve used is to start at the beginning of the alphabet and think of foods (or names, or whatever) that start with the letter “A.” It’s kind of a breathing exercise too. You take a deep breath in, and while you’re breathing out, think of a food that starts with “A.” When you can no longer think of any more, you give yourself three deep breaths, and move on to “B,” and so on. I don’t think I’ve ever made it past, oh, “T” or so. I find it slows my breathing down and gets my mind off “stuff.”

Other nights I write a story in my head. I have a couple of stories that I start from the beginning on, and I’ve never made it very far. I know there’s someone else here on the boards who does that too, I remember from another thread on this subject.

One more thing: Relax your mouth! I can’t emphasize this enough. Unclench your teeth, and get your tongue off the roof of your mouth. It really does help.

Or, judging from the length of my post, you could read it every night and it would put you to sleep. Best of luck to you!

mnemosyne is 100% right about the caffeine – I totally forgot about that. I don’t drink anything with caffeine in it after lunch. If I do, I’m up for hours that night. I think some people can have a later cutoff, but for me it’s lunch time.

Having true insomnia is a terrible experience. I had it a few times in my life. It has lasted weeks at a time where I barely slept at all. I can attribute those incidences to stress and I knew it then as well but that didn’t make me sleep. What happens is the insomnia produces more stress and it becomes a vicious cycle of misery.
After trying Tylenol pm. and Sominex OTC, I saw a physician who prescribed Sonata (didn’t work) then Ambien (also didn’t work).
Finally I tried some relaxation techniques. Clear your mind then slowly concentrate on parts of your body “falling asleep” starting with your toes and working up. I found that was the only thing that helped me. Good luck.

If left to my own devices and not required to meet any kind of schedule, my body will quickly drift to a 25-30hr awake 12-15hr sleep cycle. Been that way since puberty.

The official term for what I have is Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. My brain refuses to shut down for the evening. I can be deadass tired at around 5 or 6pm, but around 9pm my pulse elevates and I become more alert. Frustrating as hell and it makes it really hard to function in society.

Currently I use two Rxs to give me at least something resembling a normal circadian rhythm: Lunesta at night and Adderal (amphetamine) in the morning and noon. Lunesta is a beautiful drug. I tried Ambien and it was ok, but it didn’t hit me fast enough and it lingered with me for too long. But hoooboy is that stuff fun if you fight it and stay awake. Restoril was a little better, but didn’t hit quite hard enough and still lingered until around noon the next day. Lunesta, though, wow. It hits hard and fast but fades away in just a few hours, which is perfect for me. My only complaint is the motor oil/dogshit taste that it puts in my mouth. Pretty common side effect from what I hear. My doc and I agree that it’s not the best solution in the world, but we also agree that I gotta do what I gotta do so I can function alongside everyone else.

And yes, OTC stimulants like caffeine and nicotine will screw you up real bad if you have a sleep disorder. Minimize them.

I have heard lots of hosannas from other people with DSPS about phototherapy, and this device in particular. Haven’t tried it myself, as it’s a fairly pricey experiment.

That’s basically what my side effects with Ambien are–it knocks me out for about 12 hours after I take the pill, and before I fall asleep it sometimes make me totally loopy. Then I’d have mild hallucinations and amnesia. I’d email my roommate and not remember it the next day, stuff like that.

I don’t smoke and don’t drink coffee, tea, or soda, so no caffeine or nicotine. I’ve mostly stopped napping now that it’s the summer and I don’t have to get up at the crack of damn dawn.

Something I’ve noticed about Restoril is that it gives me weird dreams. I dream about having arguments and fights with people, about all kinds of things. I usually enjoy my dreams, but these ones are pretty unpleasant.

Second this; naps are not helping you. It’s a difficult adjustment, but you’ll probably sleep better if you aren’t taking naps in the afternoon.

My insomnia comes and goes. One of the wonderful side effects of going to the gym on a consistent basis is I’m having fewer and fewer bouts with it. I highly recommend this book, which helped me immensely.

I’ve struggled with mild sleep onset insomnia for my entire life. It’s exceedingly difficult for me to get to sleep unless I’m tired, and even then it usually takes a half-hour or more. This resulted in my keeping essentially a 25-hour day in college. I’d fall asleep an hour later every day, and wake up accordingly (being sure to wake up for classes, then collapse back into bed).

I’ve since mostly shaken that habit, although it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Currently I’m on Adderall, like Draax, but for other reasons, and it gives me severe insomnia. It wasn’t as bad as when I was on Prednisone for a short period - after three days of being unable to sleep at all, I was essentially non-functional - but it magnifies my sleep onset times to four or more hours (which is pretty ridiculous) unless I take the also prescribed Klonopin to calm myself down at the end of the day.

Worsening insomnia can be caused by stress, right? We’re in the middle of a big project at work, so my work schedule for the past four weeks has gone from 37.5 hours to 50+ hours a week - not including the half-hour a day of unpaid lunch of course - and most of those fifty hours have been highly stressful. Since this new change I’ve not been able to stay asleep! (which is coupled with the fact that 1/2 hour is the very shortest time it has ever in my life taken me to fall asleep when not dead on my feet. About an hour is typical) I wake up an hour and a half before my alarm goes off about 60% of the time lately, and never fall back to sleep. So, although I’m tired a lot of the time, no matter how much time I spend in bed I can’t seem to sleep more than 5-6 hours a day, even on my sole day off each week.

Thank god the project deadline is next week, and we’re slated to meet it.

One thing I found is DO NOT just lay there hoping you go to sleep. If you find you are not falling asleep, get up and do something, read a book, watch some TV. DO not overstimulate yourself, no videogames or raves :). I sometimes findit easyto fall asleep in front of the TV because you aren’t cluttering your mind. I would put in DVDs fo Futrama, and fall asleep, not because I find them boring, but because I knew them so well I could just mildly watch them and then drift off.

Huh. I went and got some melatonin, and it worked for one night, but today/tonight it totally failed to work.

I repeat- insomnia sucks.