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Insomnia - has anyone found any real solution? It's making me really miserable :-(

(57 Posts)
MaisieHerbert Sun 31-Jan-16 04:40:36

I've suffered with insomnia on and off for years now. This is the worst protracted spell of it I have had for a while. It's bloody awful sad
I don't have any problems going to sleep but I wake up between 2 and 4am every night and sometimes just can't go back to sleep - or I eventually go back to sleep but only get an hour before the alarm goes off and wake up feeling exhausted.

I know being on my iPad isn't a good idea but gawd it is sooooo boring. I'd rather be doing something than lying fretting for hours about nothing. I don't like reading a book because I have too put the light on and that disturbs dh. I'm honestly starting to dread the nights. Is it worth asking the doctor about sleeping pills? I never have done because I worry about feeling groggy in the morning but I need to do something to break this bad patch.

Has anyone found any real solutions that help?

Focusfocus Sun 31-Jan-16 05:18:50

Hand holding. 15 week old baby sleeps beatifically through the night while other babies don't. He's asleep as I type this. And yet ......

annandale Sun 31-Jan-16 05:28:50

I've usually found I suffer from this (like this morning!) when I am feeling low and stressed. Would you be able to try an evening swim or run before going to bed? Does it happen more/less often if you have sex the night before?

FrameyMcFrame Sun 31-Jan-16 05:30:17

I suffer too. Also have health anxiety so lie awake thinking I'm ill.
Hope you get a better night tomorrow.

WavingNotDrowning Sun 31-Jan-16 05:34:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MaitlandGirl Sun 31-Jan-16 05:39:49

B12 injections and vitamin D tablets help me - I'm naturally low in both and know when I'm due for another B12 shot as my sleep goes to pot.

Baconyum Sun 31-Jan-16 05:52:17

Been bad for past year for me. I've done all the things that are recommended. Warm baths, milk, herbal tea, essential oils, incense, meditation, white noise..........

Nothing is working. Currently getting 3-5 hours a day/night. If any of you happen upon the miracle cure I'd love to hear it!

Sleeping pills have absolutely no effect on me whatsoever. Even when I've had high doses pre-op.

WavingNotDrowning Sun 31-Jan-16 06:00:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MaitlandGirl Sun 31-Jan-16 06:35:24

Waving yep - I had almost 16 years of terrible insomnia, it didn't matter how tired I was when I went to bed I'd still be awake past 3am and it got to the stage where if I was still awake at 4am I didn't bother staying in bed and I'd get up. I'd then crash on the sofa for an hour or two late morning and be awake again almost all the following night.

When I eventually saw my doctor, about something else, my blood test showed really low B12 and D levels. My levels were so low I've actually got peripheral nerve and brain damage now sad

I had a whole series on weekly, then fortnightly injections and now I'm every 3 weeks. It's made the world of difference and I now sleep for about 7 hours a night and can fall asleep within 2 hours of going to bed.

Blueberry234 Sun 31-Jan-16 06:36:46

Due to stress and pain I get around 3 hours broken sleep a night and have done now for months, just sending a hug as I have no answers and it is utterly shit

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Sun 31-Jan-16 06:56:00

Over the counter sleeping pills can be helpful when you just need to conk out all night and not worry about staying asleep. They are anti histamine but sold for sleep. I take 2 if I'm super exhausted but can't trust myself to stay asleep! Don't do it often but sometimes you need to know you will sleep because they anxiety about not sleeping prevents sleep!

TheWoodenSpoonOfMischief Sun 31-Jan-16 07:03:12

No advice but if you think reading might help, you can get reading lights that you clip onto a book.

FishWithABicycle Sun 31-Jan-16 07:39:16

I've had this sort of insomnia for as long as I can remember.

Helpful things are:

Before originally settling down at the start of the night, not using my phone or other screen as my last activity before sleep. If I read a real book for 20 mins before switching the light off I tend to stay asleep much longer.

Wear earplugs if you can. If there is a possibility of kids waking you can take turns for earplugs alternate nights with DH. This can help you sleep deeper and longer.

Before settling down look at the time and frame a positive optimistic statement in your mind about the forthcoming sleep e.g. "it's 11:30 so I can have seven hours of sleep"

Re-frame your expectations about sleep. It's normal to wake in the night 2 or 3 times as the brain cycles through different levels/types of sleep periodically and we wake briefly between each cycle it's just that most people just grunt and roll over and go back to sleep and don't form any conscious memory of being awake. When you wake up don't allow yourself to pessimisticly think "oh no I'm going to be awake for ages now" but instead tell yourself "it's OK, I have just finished one sleep cycle I can go back to sleep and start the next one" and see if you can roll over and go back to sleep before your brain gets too active.

If you find yourself really awake and not at all tired don't stay in bed. Let bed be a place of sleepiness and sleep. Get up and spend half an hour in another part of the house. Go sit on the sofa with a drink of milk and relax without courting sleep. (And yes I've been know to set the world to rights on mumsnet at times like this). After spending 30 mins of clearly not trying to go to sleep, return to bed and try to settle yourself again in the same way as you do at the start of the night (and yes as a pp says get a good quality book light and you will be able to read without disturbing dh) or you may find a spot of masturbation helps you feel nice and relaxed and see if you drop off. If you don't, repeat the above. Don't stay in bed awake for hours.

Don't fret about having a short period of wakefulness in the middle of each night. 2x restful sleep for 3 hours with a short break in the middle can feel sufficiently restful and refreshing if you don't fret about it. You no longer need 8 unbroken hours as you did when you were younger.

MaisieHerbert Sun 31-Jan-16 07:52:52

Thanks all. I'm going to read this all properly later (DC all over bed now!) and try some of the suggestions <sleepy thanks>

MaisieHerbert Sun 31-Jan-16 07:54:10

Ps I will mention the possibility of the B12 thing to my doctor as I have an appointment this week anyway

NorksAreMessy Sun 31-Jan-16 08:01:46

I am a lifelong insomniac and have developed the following strategies, I hope some of them help you
. No coffee after lunch, no tea after dinner
. No sugar at all (!)
. Very seldom drink wine, and then only one glass in the evening
. Some sort of OUTSIDE exercise every day
. DH snores terribly. We now have separate bedrooms...(with visiting rights!) and so I have a blissful double bed to myself and peace, and he doesn't have an insomniac jabbing him in the ribs at 3am. This has worked perfectly for 25 years.
. Memory foam mattress topper, it keeps me warm and all aches and pains disappear
. Two paracetamol at bed time for arthritis symptoms and ranitidine for stomach
. Fan or some sort of white noise
. The best one so far...Audible books. Somebody reading me a story, means that I am not bored, am fully relaxed and rested and comforted. I then avoid the circular 'I cant sleep' anxiety, and replace it with 'I am resting, I am calm'.

These days I sleep better than I ever have in my life, but I have to follow all of the above...even in hotel rooms, so it takes a bit of planning

yongnian Sun 31-Jan-16 08:10:45

Have chronic insomnia too...it was getting worse and worse...started taking hefty vit d doses whilst pg...hey presto no more insomnia. It truly has been the miracle cure and if I forget to take it it starts again..

dudsville Sun 31-Jan-16 08:12:02

The problem with sleeping pills is gp's won't prescribe them long term. You will be screened for anxiety and depression and referred for a course in sleep hygiene. If you don't know about the tips in sleep hygiene then that will be useful.

I was once given tablets. I quite literrally fell in love with them and went back for more and was told no and I broke down. It's an awful affliction and I don't feel gp's understand. I don't care if tablets are addictive and shorten my life. Reliable sleep is like a cool drink in a desert for sufferers and I would choose a shorter life if it was a well rested one.

Over the decades I've developed my own strategies. As a result I will, in a year, have about 7 days where I get 7/8 hours. Those are amazing. Life is so different from that perspective! I will also have about 4 or 5 bouts lasting several weeks each where I slowly shrivel as a result of a couple of hour-long naps a night. I just ride that out. And for the rest of the year I can now reliably bank on 5 hours of broken sleep but I find I can manage, that's my "normal".

To achieve this I use a mixture of over the counter tablets and alcohol (not altogether! ) mixed in with phases of none of these so that my body doesn't habituate such that the effect wears off. I practice faultless sleep hygiene and life style choices. You had my sympathy op when you spoke of the bordom though! My god the hours spent either usefully planning something or wondering something like how Brad and Jennifer met are innumerable!

SitsOnFence Sun 31-Jan-16 08:27:47

I had a period of night waking and being unable to get back to sleep last year (hormone related!) What helped me:

1. Accepting that I was going to wake and adjusting my bedtime accordingly (only worked as I had no problem falling asleep initially). I knew I needed at least 6 hours to function the next day, so would go to bed at 9pm to be sure to achieve this! Besides, until the advent of electric lighting it was quite standard for adult humans to have 'two sleeps'. Adults sleeping through the night is a relatively modern phenomenon.

2. When I woke I would not worry about getting back to sleep. I'd already had my minimum hours, and anything else was a bonus. I would pick up my book and go downstairs and read for a while. If and when I felt sleepy, I'd go back to bed. If I didn't fall asleep quickly I would get up again. I avoided screens (tv, tablet, etc, but would sometime sort washing or empty the dishwasher)

3. 1 caffeinated drink when I woke up, then caffeine-free (not decaf) drinks for the rest of the day.

4. This might not work for you, but I always keep the bedroom very cold and have extra blankets on the bed now. Falling asleep requires a small drop in core body temperature (or summat like that) plus I find snuggling in the bedding helps. In the summer, I would put one of those gel filled cold packs (the sort you use for bumped heads) under each arm.

I hope it passes for you. I never did manage to 'cure' mine, but I did at least achieve a period of happy coexistence with it.

Branleuse Sun 31-Jan-16 08:40:44

a good Indica-type cannabis really helps, if you can get hold of it and is relatively free of side effects, especially if only used for nighttime medicinal purposes

Hhhmmmmm Sun 31-Jan-16 08:42:32

Magnesium oil has worked for me and everyone I've recommended it to. Available from health food stores and supplement section of supermarkets.

Hhhmmmmm Sun 31-Jan-16 08:43:37

I second all the very good sleep strategies suggested above at the same time.

Lyndie Sun 31-Jan-16 08:44:19

Lovely advice above. Sleeping tablets are not licensed for long term use and will become habit forming and also people develop tolerance. That's means they need higher doses to produce to same effects. Which does nobody any favours. Do look up sleep hygiene it really works. It's agonising getting out of bed and avoiding screens but worth the effort. There are some anti-depressants that can be taken at night that help with sleep but are not sleeping tabs, but some people get a terrible hangover the next day with them. Good luck though.

Branleuse Sun 31-Jan-16 08:44:22

and no caffeine after about 3pm, and try and limit it to 2 or 3 cups maximum.

Chamomile tea all afternoon and evening. Be careful what alcohol you drink and how much. Drinking alcohol can sometimes get me to sleep, but it is the worst thing for making me wake at 2 or 3am and not being able to get back to sleep.
If you must drink, a glass or two of red wine is often the most soporific.

FaithAscending Sun 31-Jan-16 08:45:57

I struggle to sleep because of anxiety issues. I've found it really helpful to do daily mindfulness - I use the 'Headspace' app - before I go to bed. It leaves me feeling in a calmer mindset so I settle better. First 10 sessions are free so it's worth a try!

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