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Author Topic: Insomnia?
Tara
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For the past three or four months I've been having on and off periods of terrible insomnia -- last night for example, I didn't fall asleep until 6am. Usually I'll sleep just fine, but the bad nights will come for one to five or six night in a row. This doesn't seem to be caused by anything such as anxiety, it seems to be something completely abnormal. My doctor was unable to tell me anything helpful. She gave me Melatonin, a natural sleep medicine, but it doesn't work.
I'd be really interested to hear other peoples' experiences with insomnia. It seems to me that this may be a lasting issue for me, not just something that will go away after awhile.
If you have chronic insomnia, how much sleep do you manage to get per night, on average? How does it affect your daily functions? What medications have helped? What other things did your doctor do to help you?

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Lostinspace
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I have it on and off where I just can't sleep. When it occurs, I have learned to just go until my body says crash. I will go days with out sleep and then sleep from the time I get home from work until the time I have to get up for work again. My wife has learned to deal with it when I have these days. I have never found a medication that helped, just know it is better for me to not stay in bed if I can not sleep, it seems to make it more frustrating and worse!
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dabbler
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There are general sleep hygiene guidelines to use. I'm sure there are tons of lists on the web. The ones I usually tell patients are the following:
1. No caffeine after lunchtime (tea, coffee, soda)
2. Don't exercise in the hour or so before bedtime.
3. The bed should be for sleep or sexual activity. Try not to use your bed while watching TV, reading, chatting, doing work.
4. If you're having trouble falling asleep, after about half an hour get up and do something else for about 20-30 minutes. Pick something quiet and soothing like reading a chapter in a book.
5. Don't change your sleep/wake hours by more than an hour even on the weekends. If you get up at 7 am on weekdays, try to wake up by 8 am on weekends.
6. Avoid naps during the day.
7. Don't drink alcohol. Plenty of research shows that alcohol messes with the quality and length of sleep.

They're very hard to follow. But they do work for helping you sleep at the right time. There are other safe medications to use for sleep. Check with your doctor if the melatonin didn't work. Each med comes with its own side effects, tolerance, and how long it can help. Most sleeping meds only work for a few weeks at a time. Some can cause "hang-over" feelings in the morning. Some can be addicting (benzodiazepines in particular). Others are just plain expensive. Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that deal with the thoughts/expectations of sleep and behavior patterns like the hygiene suggestions above probably have the best long term effects. However, I know many people who swear by their insomnia medication and have taken it for years. Be aware that sometimes that medication can make you reliant - stopping it causes rebound insomnia that is difficult to wait through.

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Xavier
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The two things which keep my insomnia in check: exercise and sunlight.

dabbler's list is great though.

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ketchupqueen
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quote:
The bed should be for sleep or sexual activity. Try not to use your bed while watching TV, reading, chatting, doing work.

I know this is commonly recommended-- but it's totally wrong for me. Often the only thing that WILL put me to sleep is watching tv or reading in bed.
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pH
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Tryptophan helps when melatonin doesn't.

I too can't fall asleep unless there's a cartoon or something playing on the computer. I also put on a particular scent of lotion at night so that I associate that smell with sleep.

Whatever you do, don't lie in bed tossing and turning. Get up and do laundry or something.

-pH

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ketchupqueen
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*nods* conditioning yourself to something can help. I conditioned myself to fall asleep when a certain song plays on repeat; my dad conditioned me as a baby to fall asleep when I heard a different song (I am yawning just thinking about it...)
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Whatever you do, don't lie in bed tossing and turning. Get up and do laundry or something.
Well, then what exactly am I supposed to do? I have problems similar to Taras. Right now I'd say they're almost definitely caused by poor sleep patterns and lots of stress, but there's not much I can do to fix that and I've had sleep problems for as long as I can remember.

Used to be I laid in bed thinking, tossing and turning for at least an hour. Now it's usually at least two and often three or more. I try to avoid "thinking" since I think that's what keeps me up, but I have a hard time doing so. And if I get up and do stuff that just resets the problem.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Tara:

If you have chronic insomnia, how much sleep do you manage to get per night, on average? How does it affect your daily functions? What medications have helped? What other things did your doctor do to help you?

While I was working on my senior projects, for a period of 3 months I slept only 5 nights out of any given week. I was pretty emotionally and mentally drained at the end of that experience, and sought counseling for sleep terrors, and as I mentioned on this board, paralysis of the left side of my face, also caused by sleep deprivation, or something.

Currently I use Sleep MD, which is a natural remedy that has really worked for me. I take it just before I go to bed, and try to sleep 9 hours. Still, I am constantly having problems maintaining a reasonable sleep cycle.

I've also been having problems recently because the nicotine patches I am using are causing extremely vivid dreams that last a long time. I wake up not needing a cigarette, but being disturbed by my dreams. I've looked into methods for controlling dreams, such as lucid dreaming, but I can never tell if it's helping or hurting.

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brojack17
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I deal with this a lot. Usually by 10:00 or so, I can tell if it is going to be a "bad night". Most of the time, I fall asleep within 10 minutes of laying down. That drives my wife crazy, but on bad nights, I can be up until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. Most of the time it doesn't happen more than one night in a row.

Stress seems to be my biggest factor.

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pH
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
quote:
Whatever you do, don't lie in bed tossing and turning. Get up and do laundry or something.
Well, then what exactly am I supposed to do? I have problems similar to Taras. Right now I'd say they're almost definitely caused by poor sleep patterns and lots of stress, but there's not much I can do to fix that and I've had sleep problems for as long as I can remember.

Used to be I laid in bed thinking, tossing and turning for at least an hour. Now it's usually at least two and often three or more. I try to avoid "thinking" since I think that's what keeps me up, but I have a hard time doing so. And if I get up and do stuff that just resets the problem.

The thing is, if you lie in bed tossing and turning, chances are much higher that you'll get up getting stressed out about not sleeping. Which will make it harder to get to sleep. Even though you might think you'll get more sleep if you stay in bed, sometimes it can be really helpful to get up and work on something, clean the house, whatever.

I usually end up doing laundry at 2 in the morning a couple of nights a week. Focusing on the fact that I can't sleep just makes it so much harder for me to relax.

-pH

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ketchupqueen
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I've also figured out that I run on a 32 hour "day" or cycle rather than 24 hours. That doesn't work so well when trying to schedule things involving other people, etc.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
Currently I use Sleep MD, which is a natural remedy

1) Natural doesn't necessarily mean safe or effective. (You didn't say it does, I realize.)

2) With the exception of melatonin, none of the ingredients are likely to do much to make you sleep. Unless lightening your wallet has that effect . . .

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Orincoro
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I only sleep well when I'm poor. And for what it's worth, I'd tried a few other things that had no effect, while Sleep MD actually was effective. I'm not unfamiliar with the placebo effect, but I'm someone who can take 3 tylenol Pms and not feel sleepy... so I don't know.

Edit: Sleep MD is overpriced, but doesn't appear to be very dangerous.

[ September 19, 2008, 03:52 AM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]

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brojack17
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Last night was a bad night for me. I was up past 2:00.

I feel for you.

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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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If I get to bed by 2:00, it's a good night. However, moving out and getting a new mattress did wonders for my sleeping, so maybe it's some sort of psychosomatic association with sleeping at home that keeps me up.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
Edit: Sleep MD is overpriced, but doesn't appear to be very dangerous.

Well, I'd be a tad nervous about long-term use of valerian, but maybe that's just me.

I wonder if you have tried melatonin alone? Good chance it is the only (or at least primary) ingredient that is doing the trick for you. I find it very effective for jetlag, and [edit: somewhat] less effective for other sleep issues.

[ September 19, 2008, 08:23 PM: Message edited by: rivka ]

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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by brojack17:
Last night was a bad night for me. I was up past 2:00.

I feel for you.

And this is a normnal night for me. Perhaps even a little bit early sometimes.


I have a theory on why I am such a night owl. I overslept when I first was out of work...not by a lot, but I got 8-9 hours of sleep instead of my normal 6-7 hours worth...and I was almost hyperactive. I felt scatterbrained, and had trouble focusing.


I wonder if I have always used minor sleep deprivation as my own remedy for borderline ADHD.


I am serious....it didn't just happen this once. I actually do worse on tests, at school, and any time I have to sit still when I get more than 6.5 hours of sleep a night. I have serious trouble even when I try to read. I can read for hours and hours at a time usually....but when I have a full 8 hours of sleep I have trouble concentrating. My mind skips all over the place.


The down side of this is I always feel a little bit run down, and tired is my normal operating state.

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Tara
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My doctor gave me Benadryl and told me to use that every night along with the Melatonin for 2 weeks, and then stop and try to sleep without it. This seems to work pretty well for now, but I'm worried that the Benadryl will lose effectiveness over time.
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rivka
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I've mostly taken Benadryl for allergies, where the soporific side effects are unwanted, and they have seemed to get more pronounced over time, not less. YMMV.
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dabbler
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i agree ymmv, but it should be good for two weeks.
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Tara
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
I've mostly taken Benadryl for allergies, where the soporific side effects are unwanted, and they have seemed to get more pronounced over time, not less. YMMV.

If that works for me too, then that's good news! Can anyone back that up?
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ketchupqueen
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Benadryl makes me HYPER. My daughter too.
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Sharpie
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You shouldn't see a reduction in effectiveness of benadryl over two weeks. I have used it for long periods of time with pretty decent success. Melatonin also works for me, but differently: I find that it helps me most in self-regulation. Benadryl will pretty much just help me fall asleep. So for me, melatonin is a better agent, because I'm looking for habit-changing help.

During particularly vicious insomnia, which is for me usually triggered by externally-caused anxiety, I find that ambien is very great. I use it infrequently -- a few nights at a time. Supposedly it loses effectiveness if you use it long-term. I do get a strange amnesia-like thing with it; it's not that I forget the events of the night before, it's that I forget that I remember them. As soon as I'm reminded, I remember remembering. Gah, I don't know how to explain it. [Smile] But ambien is one of those medicines that does exactly what I want it to. I fall asleep, I sleep 8 hours, I wake up rested.

Obligatory scrabble content: benadryl is in the official scrabble dictionary. (Insomnia gives one extra study time.)

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Sharpie
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
Benadryl makes me HYPER. My daughter too.

It makes my sister hyper, too.
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Raymond Arnold
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Are there guidelines on how much Benadryl is safe to take? I've tried taking 2 pills (recommended dosage for an adult) to help me sleep, but it never works when I want it to. Usually it doesn't actually make me sleep, just makes me tired, but generally the problem isn't being tired but actually falling asleep.

Overall, medication just doesn't seem to affect me. Tylenol, caffein, antihistamines (including Benadryl when I take it for actual allergies) just don't seem to accomplish anything, at least anything they're supposed to do.

A certain rather famous actor kinda... died... recently from sleeping pills, so I'm wary of using any kind of medication to help sleep.

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Tara
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:


A certain rather famous actor kinda... died... recently from sleeping pills, so I'm wary of using any kind of medication to help sleep.

Yes, and I feel like I know what he was going through now... [Frown]
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dabbler
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Lets get the record straight. Heath Ledger:
quote:
the New York City medical examiner's autopsy report revealed his death was due to an unintentional life-ending cocktail of prescription drugs, including anti-anxiety medications Alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam (Valium) and Lorazepam (Ativan), the sleeping pill Zopiclone (Lunesta) and the sedative Temazepam (Restoril), which is also used for insomnia.

Xanax. Valium. Ativan. Lunesta. Restoril. That is one HECK of a lot of meds for sleep. I feel quite certain that those were not all prescribed at once from the same physician. From news articles at the time, it sounded like he went to a few ERs and got some different scripts. He might have had a few older scripts with leftover pills. No physician in their right mind would prescribe all that to one individual to take on the same day.

That is four medications from the same class of drugs (benzodiazepines) and one med from a related class!

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pH
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quote:
Originally posted by dabbler:
Lets get the record straight. Heath Ledger:
quote:
the New York City medical examiner's autopsy report revealed his death was due to an unintentional life-ending cocktail of prescription drugs, including anti-anxiety medications Alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam (Valium) and Lorazepam (Ativan), the sleeping pill Zopiclone (Lunesta) and the sedative Temazepam (Restoril), which is also used for insomnia.

Xanax. Valium. Ativan. Lunesta. Restoril. That is one HECK of a lot of meds for sleep. I feel quite certain that those were not all prescribed at once from the same physician. From news articles at the time, it sounded like he went to a few ERs and got some different scripts. He might have had a few older scripts with leftover pills. No physician in their right mind would prescribe all that to one individual to take on the same day.

That is four medications from the same class of drugs (benzodiazepines) and one med from a related class!

Also to be fair, depending on how long you've ever been deprived of sleep, you eventually will try pretty much any combination of anything that might possibly make you drowsy. You will get scary and desperate.

Also, Lunesta sucks for keeping you asleep. I used to be on it...I'd wake up after about three hours and be completely unable to get back to sleep. Lots of 3am laundry.

I'd say honestly, if this has gone on for a significant period of time, if you've tried over the counter remedies, if you've tried conditioning yourself to certain scents or sounds, see a doctor ASAP. There could be an underlying cause (secondary insomnia), and lack of sleep is just very bad for your mental state.

It feels SO GOOD to wake up the next morning when you've a full night's sleep for the first time in a while.

-pH

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Tante Shvester
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
I've also figured out that I run on a 32 hour "day" or cycle rather than 24 hours.

It's like you're from another planet!

quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
I only sleep well when I'm poor.

Are you keeping all your money stuffed in your mattress? Maybe it is getting too lumpy when you are flush with cash.
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T:man
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I only sleep when I have money.
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Tante Shvester
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I hear you. I wouldn't want to be poor, not for a million dollars.
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Tara
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I just wanted to drop in to say that getting daily exercise has REALLY helped my insomnia. It seems that the duration of the exercise is more important than the strenuousness of it. Make sure to keep up your exercise for at least 20 - 30 min a day, and make sure to not rest during that time, even for a minute, because your body needs that long for you brain chemistry to change, which is what really makes an impact.
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Tatiana
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Sunlight in the optic nerve plus exercise daily really helped me. To get both at once I would run outside.

The best sleep I've been able to have in all the years since I was a child came during the 7 years that I slept with the head of my bed right under a big south-facing window (in the northern hemisphere). Having the sun wake me up was the best thing of all for my sleep problems.

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Raymond Arnold
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I bike ride fairly extensively, although it usually ends up being in 15 minute chunks, so maybe it's still technically not enough. On weekends I often go out for over an hour. Doesn't help.

quote:
Lets get the record straight. Heath Ledger:

quote:

the New York City medical examiner's autopsy report revealed his death was due to an unintentional life-ending cocktail of prescription drugs, including anti-anxiety medications Alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam (Valium) and Lorazepam (Ativan), the sleeping pill Zopiclone (Lunesta) and the sedative Temazepam (Restoril), which is also used for insomnia.
Xanax. Valium. Ativan. Lunesta. Restoril.

That is one HECK of a lot of meds for sleep. I feel quite certain that those were not all prescribed at once from the same physician. From news articles at the time, it sounded like he went to a few ERs and got some different scripts. He might have had a few older scripts with leftover pills. No physician in their right mind would prescribe all that to one individual to take on the same day.

I'm not afraid I'm going to accidentally take too much in the near future and kill myself. I'm afraid of starting down a path leading to a point where the set of drugs that Heath Ledger took will actually appear a logical choice to me.

[ September 26, 2008, 02:16 PM: Message edited by: Raymond Arnold ]

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Epictetus
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quote:
I'm afraid of starting down a path leading to a point where the set of drugs that Heath Ledger took will actually appear a logical choice to me.
I recommend talking to a pharmacist. They can give you an idea of how much of a particular drug is safe to take, whether there's any chance for addiction and what other drugs are safe to take with it. And the best thing is, their advice is free.

I don't know if you already have, but that's my advice, for what it's worth.

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pH
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quote:
Originally posted by Epictetus:
quote:
I'm afraid of starting down a path leading to a point where the set of drugs that Heath Ledger took will actually appear a logical choice to me.
I recommend talking to a pharmacist. They can give you an idea of how much of a particular drug is safe to take, whether there's any chance for addiction and what other drugs are safe to take with it. And the best thing is, their advice is free.

I don't know if you already have, but that's my advice, for what it's worth.

In general, in order to kill yourself on prescribed drugs would take FAR more than you'd ever be prescribed in one setting (AFAIK, please don't try this at home). I have flat out asked a psychiatrist if I could kill myself using klonopin (not that I wanted to), and he said I might sleep a while and be sick to my stomach, but that it wouldn't kill me.

The same kind of goes for the warnings against alcohol + medication. If my doctor knows that I drink (which I will discuss openly, and which I do not do particularly often) and still prescribes a medication, I usually assume it's fine to take as long as I'm not a frat boy doing multiple keg stands in one night.

-pH

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DDDaysh
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I have had periodic insomnia for as long as I can remember.... back to toddlerhood! It is apparently genetic, as several of my cousins have the same problems. Mine are even worse though. It isn't merely that I cannot fall asleep, I also cannot wake up! Thus, sleeping medications are usually not very helpful. Usually, they don't help me fall asleep, but they will make it even harder to get up.

If I can tell early enough that it will be a bad night, I will take benadryl. However, Benadryl is less effective over time at helping me fall asleep. If I have to take it more than two nights in a row, it won't really help. Exercize during the day has seemed to help me for brief periods of time. However, after two or three weeks, I'm back to insomnia.

My insomnia isn't every night, but usually two or three nights out of the week. I don't know what I would do if it were every night.... ack!

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Tara
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quote:
Originally posted by DDDaysh:


My insomnia isn't every night, but usually two or three nights out of the week. I don't know what I would do if it were every night.... ack!

That sounds a lot like my problem... I'm just curious, when you say you have insomnia on a certain night, how much sleep do you get on that night? How much sleep do you need to be able to function well during the day?
For me, if I get 5 hours of sleep, I can function normally through out the day -- anything less than that is bad.

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pH
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I've been up all night for the past....since Friday.

I get to a point where I'm what I call "sleep-crazy." Loss of coordination, mental fuzziness, etc. It is very not fun.

But I am a little more productive at night despite the mental fuzziness. At least....I think I am. It's entirely possible that I'm not. During the day, I'm useless.

-pH

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ketchupqueen
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quote:
I have had periodic insomnia for as long as I can remember.... back to toddlerhood! It is apparently genetic, as several of my cousins have the same problems. Mine are even worse though. It isn't merely that I cannot fall asleep, I also cannot wake up! Thus, sleeping medications are usually not very helpful. Usually, they don't help me fall asleep, but they will make it even harder to get up.

You're not by any chance related to me? And my eldest daughter?
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