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Tips on dealing with the 3am mind churn please

(46 Posts)
TheGirlOnTheLanding Fri 19-Dec-14 08:29:57

I'm putting this in general health as I'm not sure whether it should be in mental health or menopause!

I've never considered myself an especially anxious person, but on the occasions something is playing on my mind, usually work-related, I get that wide awake at 3am, worries churning round my head, that I'm sure is quite common.

Lately though it's happening a lot, and it's worry over stuff that seems perfectly manageable in daylight, yet I just can't seem to get perspective on it at night. The same anxious panicky thoughts go round and round and won't shift. I'm also waking earlier and earlier, and getting physical symptoms (stomach pain, and shivery panic) that I've never had before. I've tried visualising them swept away on a wave, and relaxing each part of my body, but this doesn't work.

I'm mid forties and pretty sure I'm perimenopausal, so it may be related to that, but with the tummy symptoms I also wondered about IBS (I know that's anxiety related, or can be.) However, as I am currently getting as little sleep as I did when my children were small babies I really need practical solutions to help me switch off the brain churn and get some rest! Any takers?

iwantaginsoakedXmas Fri 19-Dec-14 08:42:26

ooh - I have been waking up in the middle of the night this week. It's never happened to me before, generally a sound sleeper.

Perhaps it is peri related? I am in the same age range as you.

Are you perhaps thinking things through about Christmas? Making sure your lists are up to date?

mrsrhodgilbert Fri 19-Dec-14 08:53:57

I've struggled with this myself over the last few years. My solution, which works brilliantly for me, is to listen to podcasts on my iPod. It has to be talking, conversations etc which I can concentrate on. Music is useless for me because I can still think but listening to conversations, fairly quietly so you almost have to struggle to listen, works a treat. I put the headphones in just one ear, depending on which side I'm lying on. This has got me through a terrible family bust up, husbands shock redundancy and cancer. Hope it helps.

TheGirlOnTheLanding Fri 19-Dec-14 10:51:05

That sounds like a very good idea MrsRhod, thank you. And sorry to hear you've had such a rough time, hope 2015 is much much better for you,

TheGirlOnTheLanding Fri 19-Dec-14 10:54:32

IWant, it has been all sorts of stuff - Christmas things to do, work problems, worries about the kids, just a general sense of anxiety and overwhelmed-ness. It's horrible. But when I get up, it all seems to calm down - all I'm left with is the tiredness. I'm starting to dread going to bed and feeling guilty that I'm keeping DH awake with my tossing and turning (he's a much lighter sleeper than me and it doesn't take much to disturb him.)

VelvetGreen Fri 19-Dec-14 11:29:13

Would you be willing to give mindfulness meditation a go? Very basically involves focussing on the breath and then paying attention to the physical sensations in your body. It really helps the anxiety and physical symptoms dissipate. I have an anxiety disorder and am perimenopausal, and mindfulness really does work. It's worth taking a little bit of time to learn the practice properly, but you can start applying it straight away.

If it is something you may be interested in there is some good info here (you can download some of the meditations - try the three minute breathing space to begin with), and i'd also really recommend this book, which takes you through the whole process. The other thing i'd recommend is yoga, as it works out all the tensions in your body as well as calming your mind. The book i recommended includes some basic yoga if you don't want or have the time for a full practice.

Footlight Fri 19-Dec-14 11:31:18

Write it all down. Just in list form. It kind of empties your head and then you can get back to sleep.

TheGirlOnTheLanding Fri 19-Dec-14 11:34:38

Do you mean meditate when I'm lying awake Velvet, or just start to practise it as a matter of routine? I have downloaded a really good mindfulness app a while ago, which was where the relaxing each part of the body routine came from, but after a week I got sloppy and stopped doing it regularly. I should definitely start it again, but at night I can't seem to fend off the worries, the anxious thoughts intrude. If I'm more disciplined about practising maybe that will help me let go of them?

TheGirlOnTheLanding Fri 19-Dec-14 11:36:20

That book you've linked to looks great, thanks for the recommendation.

VelvetGreen Fri 19-Dec-14 11:50:24

It is a good idea to establish a regular meditation practice, but you can use the technique anywhere and any time. The hardest bit about practising mindfulness is remembering to practice, and when you're in the middle of a whirlwind it is hard to believe it will stop it it can and will but you eventually learn to use the technique before you get to that point, before the thoughts have taken hold.

One of the most useful things i've taken from it is the mantra 'thoughts are not facts' and realising that they are transient and actually have no power over you. It is very liberating to look at your thoughts with a detached interest rather than allowing them to consume you. I do hope you try the book - at the very least it will give you something to do when you can't sleep fsmile.

PJ67 Sat 20-Dec-14 00:24:06

Hi. I can relate to this. I woke around 5 am the other day and couldn't get a work related issue out of my mind. A strategy that I have found helpful is to imagine a box with a lid on it. When there is something that is worrying you in the middle of the night tell yourself that you are putting that thought or worry in the box and closing the lid. You are not getting rid of it but allowing yourself to save it for later ie during the day. Give it a go.

TheGirlOnTheLanding Sat 20-Dec-14 10:03:58

Thanks PJ. That sounds like a good short term strategy to try. I will give it a go. Hope your work worry is resolved soon too.

JamForTea Sat 20-Dec-14 10:09:48

I think it might be a good idea to try and tackle some of the things that are worrying you during the day so that your mind is less likely to focus in them at night. Perhaps write some down with potential solutions or as suggested, do some relaxation techniques during the day as well. It sounds like your brain is throwing up problems at night which you're perhaps ignoring or trying not to focus on in the daytime. If you give them a little attention that is focussed on helpful thinking, it might have a positive knock in effect to your night time worrying?

Hassled Sat 20-Dec-14 10:11:38

If it helps to know you're not alone, then you're not alone - I'm going through very similar at the moment. I knew I needed to get a grip when I was lying awake at 4am trying to work out if DS3 had indoor or outdoor PE that day and if the latter, where his football boots were. Barking mad. I really like "thoughts are not facts", and the gaining detachment that Velvet mentioned - I think that will help.

Rainbowshine Sat 20-Dec-14 12:24:04

My two processes for trying to fall asleep are to count backwards from 500 or to imagine a beach or garden and relaxing there (similar to meditation).

I agree that sorting out the root cause of the worry is needed, and I've found mind maps good for this. Google mind maps and you'll be able to see how they work.

JuniorMumber Sat 20-Dec-14 12:34:57

I get this. I spend hours awake at night worrying about a plethora of things, from whether my daughter's belly button is an odd colour, to my flagging career, to worrying how many registered paedos live in my area - and then end up frantically googling everything.

My latest trick is to imagine being massaged from the feet upwards by a handsome, Adonis-like Swedish masseuse. If you get distracted from the visual you need to start again from the feet. Usually fall asleep when he gets to the thighs, sadly smile

HappydaysArehere Sun 21-Dec-14 19:34:38

Came on here to ask for help and saw your postings. I have had a sleep problem for twenty years - ever since menopause. Was given a few sleeping tablets which used to give me four hours sleep. Stopped them as didn't want to go down that route and doctor was reluctant to give them to me. I sleep in 90 min cycles. A good night allows me to go back to sleep each time I wake. A bad night, and I have had them continually for the last fortnight keeps me awake for the rest of the night. Then some nights I can't sleep at all. I am so jet lagged that it takes me ages to get going. Now tomorrow I must get shopping that requires me to drive. I won't do this if I haven't slept. I have come to bed early, desperate to sleep. Now worrying that I won't be able to function and do all the things I usually do over Christmas. Wondering if I should try Valerian or anything else. Had a lot of stress this year and have been trying to help a friend who is in a desperate state as her husband is terminally ill. Like other posters my mind is in a constant state of activity. I have tried picturing a large O and emptying my mind, watching an artist paint, lying on a beach......going to try the quiet radio voices.......also must read no matter how tired or I won't get off at all. Of course now worrying about sleeping.

elfycat Sun 21-Dec-14 19:45:06

Warning: This post contains 'woo' and anyone not of a 'woo' persuasion should skip to the next post.
There is a complementary therapy - rescue remedy - which is freely available everywhere (boots, H&B, most supermarkets etc). Over the last few years there has been a 'night remedy' which has the essence White Chestnut in it. In addition to the stress relieving 5 essences in RR the White Chestnut is for relaxing mind chatter.

You can buy the single bottles but I'd recommend getting the mix as the stress/ fear relieving other essences aren't going to have a negative impact. A few drops in a glass of water to sip when you're awake and thinking of stuff.

Haggisfish Sun 21-Dec-14 19:49:42 have really good guided meditations that help me sleep.

HappydaysArehere Sun 21-Dec-14 21:31:16

Will look for this tomorrow. I will ask for a night remedy with white chestnut in it. Hope I find it. Thank you.

NiceAcorns Sun 21-Dec-14 21:43:24

This is me too. Might be back here in the early hours.

Have had private counselling, but her breathing exercises aren't cutting it.

I use rescue remedy, podcasts, the "Calm" app & wine. Have decided it's time to go to the Drs. If I can get an appointment.

My anxiety is always work related. I can't change careers. This is it for the next 25 years

Sparklingbrook Sun 21-Dec-14 21:49:37

I make mental 'lists'

All the towns I have ever visited
All the pubs I have ever been to
All the people I know

I tend to drop off to sleep again mid list.

PigeonPie Sun 21-Dec-14 21:53:13

Like mrsrhodgilbert I've found that listening to something helps, but also like her, I can't listen to music as I start thinking again. I listen to the World Service as it has lots of varied programmes and then I can hear Farming Today and the beginning of Today if the radio's still on at that time.

I have a small ear phones with the memory foam in ear plugs, but only use one so I can still her the DSs if they call. The radio is set on a timer so it will turn off after a certain length of time if I do go to sleep.

Ubik1 Sun 21-Dec-14 21:54:57

My anxiety is also work related and I'll be joining you on the 4am insomnia bus. It's like my mind is just turning over a problem, over abd over, seeking a solution. And then I get to work and deal with the issues. Then back to night time anxiety. And I have three young children.

I am 40 and need to work full time fir the rest of my life. Perhaps I just need to accept that this is what the grown up industry.

Ubik1 Sun 21-Dec-14 21:55:22

Industry? Grown up world looks like

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