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Thank you all for the great suggestions!
Starting this weekend I'm going to try sleeping in our spare room for a few nights to see if I can re-set myself.
I really like the idea of thinking through a highly visual story. This is something that I used to do as a kid/teen and just lost the knack along the way. I think I just ran out of topics that didn't cause adult stress. Definitely time to revisit this. I'm going to swipe the dream house visual and see what I can come up with :)
I'm also going to revisit relaxation exercises. I tried this a while ago and found myself clenching my brow and jaw because I was so focused on MAKING myself relax (totally counter productive, I know). I've been practicing Yoga for about 10 years now and have always had the same issues with my savasana. Still, it's been a while, time to try again.
Insomnia just plain sucks. I think it's great that we can share ideas in forums like this and try to help each other out. It's also really nice to know that I'm not alone. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a decent night's sleep in my near future.
I wish a great night's sleep and many more to come to you all!
PATTIJOHNSON Posts: 2,075
10/30/13 1:01 P
I truly sympathize with you. I broke my shoulder almost two years ago, and I still can't sleep on it for very long, so I toss and turn from being uncomfortable. Also, when I go to bed with the TV on really low, I can sleep for 4 or 5 hours straight, usually. My husband is amazed that if he wakes up and turns the TV off, I wake up almost instantly. Often, because he needs sleep, I will switch to the couch and turn the TV on, and I usually go back to sleep within an hour, but if I try to stay in the bedroom without the TV on, I find myself just trying to will myself back to sleep for hours until I finally get up exhausted.
I'm also a clock watcher -- if I have to get up at a certain time early in the morning, I'm up all night worrying about how much longer I have to sleep (or try to sleep), and it usually just gets worse -- I'll fall back asleep 15 minutes before it's time to get up. Good suggestion to turn the clock away from sight.
I'm trying everything I can think of, too, to feel more rested when I get up. I'm highly productive during daylight hours despite being tired most of the time, but of course would like to feel better.
I think that just the anticipation of not sleeping well is a big part of my problem. I have already talked myself into having a sleepless night in bed before I even get there. Changing places where I sleep helps some. If you are a worrywart or are planning on what you need to do the next day in the middle of the night, like me, just getting up for an hour or two and writing things down that I don't want to forget, sometimes relieves some of the stress and allows sleep to happen again.
You can try relaxation exercises (tensing and relaxing all the muscle groups in your body) with visualization of relaxing places. Try taking a warm shower before bed, too.
I offer suggestions, however, I know that the more I focus on my sleep problems, the worse they get. For now, I've just given up worrying about it. I get up when I can't sleep, and take naps when time allows. Of course, I don't work -- if you do, I'm sure this is even more frustrating for you.
As other posters suggested, maybe a sleep therapist would be a good idea.
Think of all of us non-sleepers when you go to bed and tell yourself that you can do better than us! LOL.
Edited by: PATTIJOHNSON at: 10/30/2013 (13:04)
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I've struggled with insomnia. Here's a really good tip: never, ever look at the clock when you're having trouble sleeping. I turn my alarm clock around so I can't see it if I'm up in the middle of the night.
You don't have to eat the whole thing.
I wish I knew as I have had the same problem all my life.
One thing, I do get to the state where I go to bed early one night so tired that I sleep. to rest is just take time to sleep in the day, easy for me as I have retired
Trev, Kent Southeast UK
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Join the 10 minute exercising challenge and get exercising.
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Make sure there is nothing physically wrong first, and go from there.
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BETMAWAL Posts: 177
10/29/13 8:12 P
Here's my two pennies worth. For me one of two things usually happen: I fall asleep on the couch in front of the TV (completely unaware that I've done this except that the clock shows 3.5 hours has slipped by), sometimes I can go to bed and sleep, sometimes I can't.
Or, I'm tired, it's around 11pm, as soon as my head hits the pillow I am as alert as anything.
It sounds as if you need the TV and the couch to sleep. My Dad (85 years old) has done that for years. I would say just do what works.
BETMAWAL Posts: 177
10/29/13 8:04 P
I like to imagine I'm floating in warm water. Or I just tell myself to nap for a bit, the pressure is off. I like to be in a cool, almost cold room, complete darkness. If I have to get up for a pit stop in the middle of the night I do not turn on any lights. I can see just fine.
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10/29/13 7:01 P
I swear the best thing ever invented for insomnia or poor sleep is my nightguard....it fits just at the front of my mouth and keeps me from clenching. I also stay away from electronics of any kind at least an hour before I go to bed. My husband has a white noise machine as he is a light sleeper from being in the Navy for 28 years....I love that as well...sounds of the water etc.
ICEDEMETER Posts: 892
10/29/13 6:57 P
Been there, done that, really REALLY hope not to be there again... The recommendation of a sleep-study is a good one, as they may be able to isolate a cause that can be fixed. Until you can get that set up, though, a few more "home remedies" that have worked for me:
- having a night-time "ritual" that never varies, no matter the time or where we are, that signals to my body that it's sleep time (for me, this is a cup of hot chocolate made with 1 tsp maple sugar, 2 Tbsp cocoa powder, and 10 oz of skim milk heated in the microwave)
- making sure that my feet are warm before I go to bed (I've got a heated bathroom floor at home, and I'll soak my feet in a tub or use a hot-water bottle if we're away)
- getting a "bite-guard" (I used to have a major issue with clenching my teeth at night - it took a few years and biting all the way through a few of these before I got to the point of not needing it anymore)
- making sure that I fall asleep smiling (I run through a full-body relaxation exercise when I climb in to bed, while thinking about something that makes me smile --- I try to not allow any negative thoughts or thoughts about the next day)
- telling myself a "story" that requires major visualization (I build my "dream house" and visualize each bit of it from the front door on back --- I very rarely make it through the whole house) --- this was actually a tip from one of my docs, who told me about a study that showed that full-brain usage, such as a story with visuals, was proven to aid in relaxing the mind and allowing sleep
When I've had a few bad nights in a row, then I do a "reset" by staying up all night (if I have the time) and not going to bed until the "usual" time the next day. I absolutely avoid the bedroom during that time, since I don't want my brain to get back to associating the bedroom with sleeplessness and frustration. If that's not an option, and I need to get some sleep, then I've found that taking a Gravol works for me the way that the SleepyTime Tea does for you, but without the grogginess the next day. This was recommended to me by my doctor, by the way, so you might want to check with yours before trying it.
I also found that I had success for a few years by changing bedrooms for a while. Since my subconscious seemed convinced that I could sleep anywhere except my own bedroom, a few weeks of actually sleeping in the spare room was enough to re-train me. It didn't last forever, but it was a lovely few years.
Insomnia is no joke, and it's impossible to understand just how debilitating it is if you've never experienced it long-term. I do hope that you're able to find a solution for yourself.
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13KAY13: The kind of insomnia you mention makes me think there would be a need to consult with a professional who is familiar with sleep-disorders. There could be things like stress, head aches, teeth-gnashing, internal discomfort, body aches, foods and/or drinks consumed late at night, house noises, etc. factoring in.
Otherwise, this is what I have done to great success when not sleeping well a few nights in a row. I absolutely forbid myself to take any naps during the day. I make sure for my last meal of the day that I don't eat spicy foods or consume any caffeine. I also make certain I don't drink any liquid anytime close to bedtime. Within a day or two, I find that I am sleeping through the night completely.
"If any thing is sacred the human body is sacred...Have you seen the fool that corrupted his own live body? or the fool that corrupted her own live body? " -- Whitman
“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” -- Emerson
"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." -- Thoreau
Insomnia is a disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or both. You “wake up” feeling tired and un-refreshed. You struggle through your day with strong coffee or tea, and then fall into bed in the evening for another unsuccessful bought of “sleep” just to rinse and repeat. Pretty much everyone suffers with a bought of insomnia at some point in their lives.
I know there are quite a few of us out there that are chronic insomnia sufferers. For us, this isn’t a hiccup in a usually successful sleep pattern, this is years of sleep frustration that is usually accompanied by years of trial and error while we try to figure out how to get this elusive good night’s sleep. Some of us are lucky enough to have found this luxury at least once or twice. If you’re like me, memories of these nights are carefully placed on my mental mantle along with fond recollections of once in a life time holidays.
I head to bed for sleep at 11:00PM. It takes me 30-60 minutes to fall into a restless sleep. I wake up multiple times, toss and turn for a few hours, then around 2AM pass out until roughly 4:30 or 5AM where I go back to tossing and turning. Sometimes right around 6:45AM I pass out again which kind of sucks because that’s 30 min before my alarm goes off… I have tried: a sleep journal, new bedding, new mattress, new pillow, blackout curtains, covering all discernible light sources, blinder for my eyes, playing soft music, leaving the fan on (white noise), earplugs, lowering my bedroom temp, going to bed at the same time every night, getting up at the same time every morning, getting up as soon as I “wake up” (regardless of what time it is), napping, NOT napping, meditation/breathing exercises, completely cutting out caffeine vs a single cup in the morning, not eating/drinking before bed, going to bed with my socks on/off, activity vs no activity vs different types of activity at different times and locking the cat out of the bedroom (duh) with varying degrees of almost success and downright failure.
I have gone to see a few different doctors over the years. The first shrugged his shoulders and told me to stop drinking my morning cup of coffee (the only one I have in a day). The next 2 were visited out of desperation a couple years apart when I completely stopped sleeping, and my sleep deprivation got to the point where I wasn’t functioning anymore. Each prescribed me a week’s worth of sleeping pills to re-set myself – I absolutely hate sleeping pills, but in these circumstances after 5 nights of taking them they did re-set me back to my "usualy" sleeping habits where at the very least I get a couple solid hours a night.
At this point I think my insomnia is “learned” – it’s become habitual for my body and brain to be like this in the bedroom, this is just “the way it is and has always been”. The reason I think this is my problem is because I have had some FANTASTIC “couch naps” and if I try to move myself to the bedroom I stay awake. This doesn’t happen at any specific time of day, I just pass out with the TV playing for HOURS uninterrupted and wake up feeling refreshed and energized. I don’t know what it is, I just get this nice feeling like “hmmm… I’m tired. I should close my eyes and sleep now” and POOF I’m out. I cannot even begin to describe to a person who hasn’t had chronic problems sleeping how amazing this is and feels. This happens about 6 times a year. Unfortunately I know this isn’t a “healthy” habit as it completely messes with my internal clock. My husband and I also do a little camping in the summer and at least half the nights that we’re out I sleep fairly soundly through the night with almost the same refreshed and energized feeling when I wake up. This happens about 4 or 5 nights during the summer. Not the greatest sleep in the world, but not as awful as when I’m at home. We’re really active people so it’s not like there’s an exercise increase that’s helping this along either. The fact that I can sleep in places OTHER than my bed makes me believe that this has gone beyond “I can’t sleep” to something more like “I can’t sleep in the bedroom” which is learned behavior.
My question: Is there anyone out there that has successfully un-learned their Insomnia? What was it that worked for you? I would like to be able to sleep in my own bed again!
The one thing that does help me which I use sparingly is Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time tea. A strong cup of this stuff knocks me out to the point where I’m up maybe once in the middle of the night for a pee break, and other than that am awakened maybe 2, 3 times tops and am able to fall back asleep until my morning alarm. It doesn’t work for more than 2 nights in a row and leaves me a little fuzzy the next day. It relieves the stress of knowing I’m not sleeping for a night which is a nice break though so the fuzzy-ness it’s worth it.