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Author Topic: I need some help.
Flaming Toad on a Stick
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I can't sleep. I've had trouble getting to sleep all my life (I seriously can't remember a single night where I fell asleep in less than an hour, and it's usually more). Even when my body is completely exhausted, my mind never stops racing, and I snap out of a daze to see that it's 1:30 a.m. and I have a class in 6.5 hours. Maybe I thought the problem would leave when I moved out of my house, but it hasn't. So my question to Hatrack is this: Is there a non-medical way to treat insomnia? Thanks in advance.
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Juxtapose
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This really sounds like something that should be referred to a specialist.

Is there a specific reason that you wish to avoid a medical treatment?

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rivka
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Relaxation exercises

which can be combined with

Imagery

and/or

Meditation

Good luck. [Smile]

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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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Time. I don't have much of it now. 28 hours a week in class, plus studying and homework, plus anything else I need to do. Hopefully, I'll see a doctor sometime later, but right now I can't dedicate enough time to book a specialist and drive an hour to see one.
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rivka
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Also, I will defer to our local doctors if they disagree, but I don't think insomnia requires treatment by a specialist -- at least not initially. Your regular doctor (or since you're a student, there must be a student health clinic?) should have some suggestions which may or may not include a prescription.

If the relaxation tips don't help, try Student Health. [Smile]

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Juxtapose
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I'll second the relaxation techniques, but don't have much more to add. Hope it works out for you.
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Shanna
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I'm like you. I also take forever to fall asleep.

Things that help me:

Imagery - I don't imagine peaceful forests or sunsets on the beach though. I'll imagine scenes from my favorite books or personal stories and think about how everyone would dressed, what the scenery would look like, how their voices would sound. It gets my brain into a state ready for sleeping and dreaming. I know other friends who do similar things with music (I find music distracting though.) But they'll imagine scenes to fit with songs, classical music works especially good.

Scents - This is my new favorite cheat. I have a couple of lotions that I apply to my face or sprays that I use on my pillows which have lavendar and other sleep-inducing scents to help me relax. I've been stressed lately and haven't slept for more than an hour at a time, but this helps me fall asleep and transition back into sleep if I wake up.

Bed Time - Trying setting a time to go to bed every night so that your body can prepare itself for sleep before you even lay down.

Chill - Stay away from computers and tv screens before bed to help ease an overactive brain. Try reading instead.

Don't overexhaust - I know that its harder for me to fall asleep if I'm overly tired. Exercise throughout the day to get yourself tired, but when you start to feel sleepy, don't fight it just because you want to stay up an extra hour or something.


Those are just my personal tips and experiences. Likely you've heard them before, but it helps to be reminded.

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TL
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I have the same problem, on and off. Right now it's on. So I can't really offer any advice, Toad, but I will be sniping the advice everybody else gives you for my own purposes. Yes.

*Goes to peruse rivka's links*

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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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Problem. I can't do anything without thinking about it. I tried some of the relaxation exercises, but all the time i was thinking "I wonder if this will help, hmm, am I sleepy yet, nope...".

I have found that reading usually helps, but imagery doesn't. I end up going through scenes in my head and snapping out of it an hour later, no more asleep than before. And it's hard for me to maintain a steady bedtime.

I think the crux of my problem is that I can't really control my inner dialogue too well. I will inadvertently start thinking about things that get me depressed, or excited, and in a second I'm out of bed, heart racing. I think I may have scared my roommate more than once. [Big Grin]

I'm also a very light sleeper, and a very early riser. Even if I go to bed at 4 a.m., I end up waking up at 8 or 9.

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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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Indeed TL, yes.
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MightyCow
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Sounds like stress may play a role, since you specifically mentioned that you don't have a lot of spare time. You also mentioned that your mind races.

I've had similar problems with insomnia in the past when I've been stressed, and felt like I had a lot to do. What helped me was making a list of things that needed to be done, then crossing them off as I did them, or assigning a specific time to do them. That way, I didn't spend all night thinking about what I needed to do, since I already had a plan to get it done.

Good luck.

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Princesska
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I've got insomnia too, and I've found that relaxion excercises and the like just make it worse because they make you focus on how you *can't* relax.

That said, you might want to do something that draws your focus away from your mind, which is obviously malfunctioning or else it would let you sleep. Play video games, watch YouTube, or go out for a walk. Maybe you could resign yourself to not sleeping and go out to clubs all night; if you're going to feel s--tfaced the next morning, you might as well have some fun the night before!

Short of a perscription, I would recommend over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol P.M. Compared to what a doctor can give you, they're mild sedatives, but if you're not used to anything stronger, they might do the trick. Also, try drinking wine. It may take a bottle or two, but it's more effective than hard liquor (which can keep you awake with heartburn).

Actually, I'm not sure if you should be reading any of my advice here. I'm psychologically addicted to Ambien. It works and I feel fine during the day, but they're kinda expensive if insurance doesn't cover it.

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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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I'm a couple of years too young for most of that post, but that's all right. [Big Grin]

And, surprisingly, I'm not stressed.

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quidscribis
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Do a Google search on "sleep hygiene" - that'll tell you a lot about what you can do before/instead of seeing a sleep specialist. [Smile]
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aspectre
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Believe it or not, that "hour before falling asleep" and the time contained in "the daze to see that it's 1:30 a.m." probably contains a lot more sleep than you think it does.

Medical studies on people complaining of insomnia have shown that quite often they are sleeping for most of the time they assume they are awake. It's just that the time they assume they are awake seems to last a lot longer than it actually does.

Go to bed, and stay in bed with your eyes closed. Do not open your eyes. Do not check the clock.
Do not read, and do not get up to do something "because I can't go to sleep anyways."
Quite often that "mind buzzing along" is actually a dream state, and opening your eyes or making movements to arise will snap you out of your (possibly lucid) dream into full wakefulness.

[ January 26, 2007, 08:20 AM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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aspectre
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Of course, the above is less applicable if you are suffering from sleep apnea.
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pH
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Have you tried melatonin?

-pH

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Also, try drinking wine. It may take a bottle or two, but it's more effective than hard liquor (which can keep you awake with heartburn).
Bad advice. Not only would it probably foster alcohol dependency, but it's been pretty well shown to interfere with your REM sleep, making the sleep you do get less restful.

If you'd said to drink a glass of wine before going to bed as part of a relaxation process, I'd have had no objection.

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vonk
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Are you extremely frustrated with your dead end job? Do you feel like you've been lied to your whole life and that your dreams really won't ever come true? Have you realized that the American Dream is bullplop and god has abondoned you and your fourfathers are laughing at you?

Maybe you ought to create another personality that can force you to go to sleep, and when you're asleep, the other personality can use your body to wreak havoc in a way that you never could.

Think it over.

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The Pixiest
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I've suffered insomnia my whole life. This is what works best for me.

Go to bed and get up at the same time. Every day. Your body will start turning itself off automatically and waking itself up at about the same time as your alarm.

Don't read or watch TV in bed. Bed is for 2 things and one of them is sleep. TV and reading both get your mind racing.

Don't drink anything 2 hrs before bed, especially anything caffinated or alcoholic. Booze makes you wake up in the middle of the night. And even if you just drink water you'll have to get up to pee.

If it's noisy where you are, get used to having some white noise like a fan running.

Keep it as dark as you can. Moving lights are particularly bad so if you're getting light from cars on the street outside, get thicker drapes and keep them closed.

And finally, if your mind is racing, try thinking of blackness to turn it off. Some how that works for me.

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Phanto
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I too suffer from insomnia, but, oddly enough, I *never* have insomnia on Friday night. Friday night, you see, is the night of the Shabbat, which, in Orthodox-Judaism is a weekly holiday. In that holiday, we do not use any electricity or do any work.

In other words, it's like a weekly vacation.

So a lot of insomnia, then, imo, is that you build up stress from getting involved with work. Perhaps take an hour or two before you go to sleep to do purely relaxing stuff, such as reading a book, listening to some music, having a glass of wine.

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rivka
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Phanto, that's very interesting! I tend to find it impossible to go to bed before 11 or so most nights of the week, and then watch DVDs to fall asleep. (Not really insomnia, which I had for a couple of years during my separation and right after the divorce.) And during the week I can never sleep during the day, except if I'm sick.

However, Friday nights I usually fall asleep MUCH earlier. Sometimes before 9 -- occasionally even earlier, especially in the winter. And I can sleep for hours Shabbos afternoon with no problem.

Shabbos turns off (or on?) some mental switch for me. So it's interesting that it does something similar for you.

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Princesska
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Now I will attempt some better advice...

quote:
Originally posted by Flaming Toad on a Stick:
Time. I don't have much of it now. 28 hours a week in class, plus studying and homework, plus anything else I need to do. Hopefully, I'll see a doctor sometime later, but right now I can't dedicate enough time to book a specialist and drive an hour to see one.

I thought it over last night, and I think this may be the crux of your problem: Time. If you're in a situation where you don't have the time to see a doctor, I'm guessing you don't have the time to do anything other than work, work, work either. You need time for yourself and the things you actually want to do, but you don't have it. And your body and mind, feeling the need for this time, carve it out for you in the middle of the night. Yes, you're too exhausted to make use of that time, but on a biological level that's almost irrelevant.

I've been there. Sometimes I'm still there, but thankfully not lately.

Anyway, unless this is your last quarter/semester before graduation, you're already set to start grad school/real job afterward, and you know that you can limp through the homestretch with a lower-than-average GPA (because good grades need sleep), DROP A COUPLE OF CLASSES. Especially those pesky morning ones, or whichever are giving you the most grief. If they're giving you physical pain like this, they just aren't worth it.

Your body is revolting at your workload or general situation, and if you try to fight it, you'll just end up exhausted, beaten, or addicted to a weapon that actually worked. Instead, let your insomnia be a sign and do what it tells you to do. If you can make your days more tolerable, the nights will follow.

By the way, is there a clinic or doctor on your campus? A specialist may be ideal for your problem, but a general doctor can help too.

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dean
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Medicaly solutions to this sort of problem aren't necessarily onerous. One of my friends had trouble with her brain racing when she was trying to sleep and an extremely low dose of anti-depressants worked like a charm.
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jlt
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I have had my own problems with insomnia. Try smelling lavender, it helps. Also it helps if you try this one thing... you lay flat on your back with your arms relaxed and your legs relaxed and straight. Then focus on relaxing each of your muscles in turn, your legs, your arms, your ands, your fingers, your jaw, your shoulders, your neck, your forehead. Then just lay there and relax and breather. I think of the clouds moving through the sky when I do this. I makes you very relaxed, helps you fall asleep. Also, no TV- TV is bad when you're trying to sleep. Try to cover up source of artificial light, even the glowing numbers on an alarm clock. Try to have either complete quiet or relaxing, lyric-less music. If you have an iPod there is a podcast called music for sleep and relaxation (or something close to that) which is very good. Sometimes I listen to audiobooks but only if they're books I already have read and that aren't page-turners. If you can't fall asleep once you've laid down and relaxed then just be determined to sleep. Lay there with your eyes closed and try to think of very little. Even if you're frustrated, keep your eyes closed and stay laying down, eventually you'll fall asleep. Good luck, i hope this helps!
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pH
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quote:
Originally posted by dean:
Medicaly solutions to this sort of problem aren't necessarily onerous. One of my friends had trouble with her brain racing when she was trying to sleep and an extremely low dose of anti-depressants worked like a charm.

I use a very, very low dose of seroquel. And when I say low, I mean LOW. Average dose is something like 600mg, and the lowest-denomination pill is 25mg. I bite the 25mg pill into halves or quarters. And the good thing about things like that is that you only take them when you need them. I took it every night for a few weeks, but then I found it a lot easier to sleep on my own. Now I just use it when I'm really stressed.

But still, try melatonin.

-pH

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