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Thread: Insomnia

  1. #1
    Member joft's Avatar
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    Unhappy Insomnia

    Fuck insomnia.

    I don't wake up in the middle of the night. I just can't fall asleep to begin with. On a normal night I fall asleep within 20-40min, but about 1/4-1/3 of the time it will take longer than an hour or two, and the subsequent sleep is not deep or restful.

    It's really distressing and I can't seem to find the cause or solution.

    Exercise: I exercise in the afternoons, sometimes as late as 6pm, but I go to sleep usually around midnight. So I'm not getting pumped up right before bed.

    Caffeine: At most 1 cup of coffee, usually between 11am and 2pm. I cut it down periodically and have not noticed any difference in the insomnia.

    Screen time: I use flux. Doesn't seem to help.

    Stress: Definitely part of the equation, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient. If I have insomnia while I'm stressed about work stuff then my brain will probably ruminate on that instead of sleeping. But I've had other kinds of rumination- especially songs stuck in the head.

    Discomfort: Every time I am having insomnia I just cannot get comfortable. Too hot under the blanket, too cold outside of it. Random itchy sensations that grab my attention. Lying on back, side, stomach, and each one feels right at the beginning but eventually becomes uncomfortable.

    We keep a fan on in our room for noise and air circulation. Sometimes the sound randomly grabs my attention and sounds very loud, even though it's always the same. I've tried various sleep aids. Melatonin supplements, alcohol, mmj. Sometimes it seems like they work. Other times it doesn't.

    WTF is this bullshit? Is there any scientific consensus on why it happens or what to do about it? Anyone else have experience with insomnia?

  2. #2
    A Transient Configuration Sistamatic's Avatar
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    I have been using low dose Trazodone to help with insomnia. It helps, but it is a prescription medication so you'll need to ask your doctor for some.

  3. #3
    Member joft's Avatar
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    I am reluctant to consider medication. Not only because there is a well-known dependency problem with sleeping meds, but also because I have had opposite reactions with meds that cause drowsiness. The worst night I can remember was one I took some cold meds that had DXM, and became intensely restless and even had restless legs

  4. #4
    Global Moderator Polemarch's Avatar
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    Klonopin helps me. But dependency is a concern. And by dependency, I just mean that if you take it regularly every night, and then don't take it one night, you might notice it. It can be easily weaned off of. Small doses (0.25 - 0.5 mg) about 3 hours before your desired bedtime is a good move. I'd recommend using the smallest effective dose.
    We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.

  5. #5
    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    what helps me is not being a full time student and motivation via instant gratification in the form of money.

    the truth sounds bad but i can't lie. the difference is so drastic. for me it's mostly a matter of scheduling and making sure i am fucking exhausted by the time i go to bed.

    edit: i also have horrible anxiety & i suppose one method of coping is not allowing yourself to think about anything whenever you want. i didn't say this was healthy. :/
    Last edited by jigglypuff; 05-30-2014 at 06:25 AM.

  6. #6
    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Intuitively, I'd say consider anxiety as a factor based on what you're describing about your lifestyle. (You suggest lack of exercise, stimulant consumption, and electronics are not likely causes, leaving your emotional state as the factor you haven't addressed/ruled out.)

    Lately I take diphenhydramine, which is a mild OTC sleep med. It seems to help. Does make drowsy in the morning sometimes, but rarely fails to work.

    As far as anxiety, years ago I took Seroquel (not sure the generic name), which is a pretty heavy prescription anxiety med, and the effect on my sleep patterns was notably immediate and dramatic during normal sleeping hours but not outside of them. (It didn't make me drowsy if I took it during the day--it just knocked me right the fuck out in less than an hour if I took it at night while otherwise unable to fall asleep.)

    I don't know anything about the Flux thing. Nonetheless I'm tempted to say ask yourself how confident you are in it. The advice I've regularly received (not that I follow it), is a strict screen-blackout moratorium for up to two hours before I plan to sleep.

    I have noticed that reading physical paper books in bed seems to help me fall asleep (focusing on the content of the book interrupts rumination cycles), whereas reading text on a backlit screen does the opposite. Might be worth trying that just to see if you can establish the outer ends of a screenlight-dosage bracketing strategy and then narrow it down to a level you're more precisely comfortable with.
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  7. #7
    Your Huckleberry lethe's Avatar
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    I've had plenty of experience with it, and when I'm not careful it becomes a big problem.

    I'll just spit out a whole bunch of advice. I'm sure you've heard a lot of it before, but coming up with a system and sticking with it until the problem is fixed is necessary if you really want it to end. Trust me, being unwillingly awake for three days is MUCH more inconvenient and unpleasant than staying away from T.V., computers, and cell phones a couple hours before sleep.

    As for medication stuff, I'm not a fan myself. Alcohol is no good, interferes with REM. Trazodone is actually pretty awesome. Tylenol PM is just Tylenol with some Benadryl (diphenhydramine), best just to get the generic pink ones w/out the Tylenol. They help and aren't habit forming. Although I've hear that some people are experiencing very low grade pain throughout the day, its been so long and so low that they don't notice it, but its enough to interfere with sleep - so some Ibuprofen or similar might also help. I don't like melatonin and the doses usually given are way too high and so might backfire.


    So here's the deal: most people have a lot of overlap and multitasking and constant business going on. It might be unrealistic to think you can just stop in the middle of all that, lay down where you are and expect your body to get to sleep. Your mind/body needs a separation, a delineation between "awake, be busy" and "time to rest". So you will need a designated space AND a routine to trigger or train yourself into recognizing its time to wind down.

    Some of these things are obvious, especially about the space. Don't use your bed for non-sleep or non-loving purposes, even better if you can avoid using the whole room. If it takes more than half hour laying there awake, get up, do something quietly like read for ten minutes in another room then try again. Don't go to sleep hungry. Avoid stimulating things like caffeine. arguments, and screens a few hours before hand. If you have any particularly relaxing activities you are trying to do regularly, like a meditation, do it before bed. Reading might help keep your brain busy/quiet (a necessity for me).

    Ok - about the routine. It might seem elaborate to start, but after it becomes established your body should be trained to relax in response to even just pieces of it. Here is what I did - I was trying to have as many cues as possible to tell me it was sleep time and this was special. I used sounds, smells, temperature, taste, everything I could think of and I only used those particular things when I was relaxing. I made a routine and did it in the same order at the same time every night.

    First, I picked a chill out/calming CD that I enjoyed and was only to be used at night and had no other associations. Then I started taking baths at night, listening to the CD and using a (calming) bath scent that was only for night baths. The heat and the soak relaxed me as I listened to the music. I mentally designated that time as time when I had no other responsibilities. I kept reminding myself that the day was over. From then on the lights stayed dim and no screens. I drank tea (again a special flavor just for relaxing) and would read. Then I used a scented lotion on my chest. Only then would I go to bed, reading more until I fell asleep. I also got a sound machine for my bed and kept the bed and sheets clean and comfortable.

    It was hard to implement, but after about a month I looked forward to the process. By then if I just tasted the tea, heard one of the songs, or smelled the lotion I would instantly mellow, fast as a snap. Your routine will probably not be the same, but I highly recommend you develop one suited to your tastes and involving as many senses as possible.

  8. #8
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    Personal sleep-inducing method:

    Create a dream house in your mind, to which you can mentally go every night before you fall asleep. Imagine it in as great as detail as possible. Try to experience it with all five senses: Decorate it. Walk through the grass barefoot. Smell the flowers in the garden. Hear the sounds inside and outside the house. Etc. Get immersed in the sensation of being there. Fill the place with people you love and/or admire. Then think up stories on what might be happening in your house. Invite fictional or historical characters and watch them interact with the inhabitants of your house (including you). Have a dinner party with Rachmaninoff and Tolstoi, for example. Whatever works.

    Everytime you have trouble falling asleep, invent a new episode (preferably in the same house). Or continue where you last left off.

  9. #9
    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    Fuck insomnia.
    Fuck it all to hell.

    Clearly you've put some thought into sleep hygiene. The effects of temperature cannot be understated; it's said that chronic insomniacs have difficulty cooling down. A shower prior to bed can help, but the ambient temperature in the room is most important - it should be cool, but not too cool. I can only sleep with one bed sheet and another cover at my feet. Aside from that, 30-60 minutes of reading in low light prior to sleep does wonders to relax you. I also run a white noise mp3 on loop when needed, from simplynoise.com, and wear ear plugs. Fuckin' sleep commando.

  10. #10
    Senior Member skip's Avatar
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    @lethe - can you give some examples of the fragrance(s) and tea flavor(s)? I know about lavender and chamomile, are those what you use?
    Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that a problem.

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