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Sleeping tablets: really need help/ advice

(20 Posts)
MorrisZapp Mon 22-Mar-10 15:35:44

I've had insomnia issues all my life. I know exactly what to expect and how to manage it.

But now that I'm PG, it's all gone hideously tits up. I've been told by GP that I really shouldn't be taking my sleeping tablets in pregnancy and so far I have obeyed this advice.

But I'm reaching breaking point. I can't go on like this with only getting a few hours sleep each night. It has a massive knock-on effect for every aspect of my life. I just can't cope with it.

I have never taken tablets on more then an intermittent basis - maybe once a week when I really need them.

The tablets I take are over the counter, anti-histamine style ones, and temazepam 20g for a nuclear hit when I need it once a month or so.

I'm having my 12 week scan next week and my booking appt, but I just know the midwife will say 'have you tried a hot milky drink and trying to relax' etc which is useless.

Can anybody give any practical advice about what the harmful effects of sleeping tablets are, why I shouldn't be taking them, and any possible alternatives?

I know I'll be very sleep deprived when junior arrives but that's different.

FourOfFour Mon 22-Mar-10 16:36:01

Hi Morris, as a fellow insomniac, I sympathise sad

I'm TTC at the moment and have stopped taking the antihistamines as they impair fertility too.

I've been making a massive effort to get up as early as I can (even after a sleepless night). If I manage to make it to the evening, I generally fall asleep a lot more easily.

AFAIK, antihistamines fall into the category of 'not proven to be safe' rather than being a known teratogen. If you really aren't functioning, it might be the case that the risk to you is greater than that to your baby?

Have you really pushed your doctor on this? I think they all tell you not to take anything at all when pg, even if the risks are small.

It's miserable though, I do understand.

FourOfFour Mon 22-Mar-10 16:38:57

sorry, shocking sentence construction there blush

MorrisZapp Mon 22-Mar-10 17:03:39

Thanks so much four. Really good to meet a fellow insomniac, not that I wish it on anybody! Good luck with TTC.

The confusing this is, I took the temazepam when I was very early PG, without knowing I was up the duff.

When I asked the GP if this was a problem, she was like 'Oh no, don't worry at all' in a really lighthearted voice.

But then went on to say not to take any more. She did explain the thing about 'not proven to be unharmful' as opposed to 'proven to be harmful' and I do wonder if she was very tacitly giving the decision back to me.

The problem is, even if I were to decide to go ahead and pop a pill, I'd feel so worried and guilty about it that it would probably keep me bloody awake! Also I'd have to lie to DP as he is adamant that I shouldn't take the pills.

Last night as I lay there, watching him sleeping blissfully as he always does, it struck me that it was a bit like a hungry person watching somebody else eat steak and chips, ie torture.

Just whack me with a sledgehammer and be done with it smile

My scan is next week and after that I will definitely go to GP and get some better answers.

MumNWLondon Mon 22-Mar-10 19:41:10

I ended up taking sleeping pills at the end of the pregnancy with DD because I couldn't cope with the lack of sleep at 39 weeks... and my dad, a GP - couldn't see how I would get through a labour without some sleep. My dad said the risks at that point were low and there were more risks to her of me being exhausted.

The natural alternatives probably will not be of any help for a seasoned insomniac - but here they are:

- homeopathy (can buy over counter) or get something more tailored from homeopathist
- bach flower remedy
- hypnosis eg paul mackenna i can make you sleep) or hypnobirthing type hypnosis
- acupuncture (expensive though)
- lavender oil

Of all these the hypnosis for me is best.

BTW when she came, I slept the best I ever have (whilst breastfeeding) - the hormone you make when breastfeeding was better than any sleeping pill and I fell straight asleep the minute I put her down after a feed. However she had to sleep in a different room to me as couldn't sleep with the snuffling baby noises.

MorrisZapp Mon 22-Mar-10 20:28:40

That's really helpful mummw. I await the breastfeeding valium effect with eagerness! That certainly gives me some hope anyway.

Loooopy Mon 22-Mar-10 20:43:08

Hi MorrisZapp

I completely empathise with you, i have always been a terrible sleeper. I have always been a light sleeper, and struggle at the best of times to get to sleep, and then to stay asleep, and the words "lie in" do not exist in my life. I am nearly 7 weeks pregnant now, and have suffered symptoms almost since conception, but having never been pregnant before i didn't put two and two together. But since falling pregnant, i cannot sleep. I have tried milky drinks, i have cut out caffeine (i was already mainly drinking decaff tea but now given up my 2 "real" cups of tea per day, i have tried to wind down and nothing works. Like you i used sleeping tablets, although i only took Nytol as my treat as i didn't want to resort to anything stronger. But i really do not know how to cope with this permanent exhaustion - i go to bed and my eyes are stingy sore and i ache all over, and i wake up in the same state or worse. As you are going to see a midwife before me, i really would appreciate it if you can post on here what she says on the matter as if there is anything that can be taken, i and i am sure many others would love to know what we can take! Until then, i am having occasional afternoon naps as i work from home a fair bit, but this isn't a real solution, but i've tried foregoing the naps, but it still doesn't mean i sleep any better even if i don't nap

why does no one ever talk about these things?! i thought pregnancy was basically MS from about week 5 - 13 and then a few aches when heavily pregnant and then a hellish labour and that's it, and only then would the sleepless nights start! So far, week 7 and still no MS, but already have aches, cramps and sleepless nights...

MorrisZapp Mon 22-Mar-10 21:08:52

Oh bless you looopy. You've really been there.

I can actually get to sleep ok these days, the problem is that no matter how tired or sleep deprived I am, I can't stay asleep.

When I nip to the loo for the inevitable middle of the night visit, that's it. Sleeping window now over. Don't even bother trying to get back to sleep as that route is now denied. I try not to drink much liquid after 8pm and I'm always dying of thirst by bedtime but I have to choose between dehydration and that small window of sleep. I need the sleep.

Like you I have all the symptoms of sleep deprivation, yet what the symptoms do is actually make it harder to fall asleep. That's why the tablets were so good to have. The nytol are good, the valium is simply pure heaven although people give you very worried looks if you say this out loud!!

I will update this thread when I have any fresh advice from MW or GP.

MorrisZapp Mon 22-Mar-10 21:11:13

BTW it isn't actual nytol I take, it's an American OTC tablet called Tylenol PM. The ingredients are the same as you'd get in a nytol plus a paracetomol, but for some reason they work better for me than any other OTC remedy.

I'm the sad git getting people to bring me tablets back from the USA instead of Abercrombie t-shirts smile

Trillian42 Mon 22-Mar-10 21:34:57

I'm another chronic insomniac, and was on prescription sleeping tablets when I got pregnant first (unexpected pregnancy). I obviously cut them out immediately, and had a week of hell where I didn't sleep at all, barring micro-naps. I thought I was going insane with sleep deprivation.

But... my body adapted naturally. It wasn't immediate. It started to take less time to fall asleep, and then I was sleeping for longer periods at a time until I was getting a full night sleep. The pregnancy exhaustion probably helped - I don't think I've ever known such complete exhaustion that arrived around the 10 week mark.

The bad news is that the insomnia comes back in the 3rd trimester It's different though, you know it has to do with your body expanding/baby kicking/worry etc.

I'd try and be patient, and maybe talk to your GP again before taking anything. I felt like you did, thinking I'd go crazy without a good night's sleep, and I'm so glad I didn't take anything now.

Good luck

MorrisZapp Mon 22-Mar-10 21:44:43

Thanks trillian, that sounds v positive.

I keep thinking - as a comforting strategy - wow, just think how sensitive I'll be to sleeping tablets if I'm off them for over a year!

OMG that first valium when I stop BF. I live for it... however far away it may be. I've pictured it all - I'm going to book into a hotel and everything. Bliss.

MumNWLondon Mon 22-Mar-10 22:06:23

Also - I never ever have any caffiene ever, no tea coffee, coca cola etc. Never drink anything in the evening - drink all day at work though, until 5pm so am not dehydrated. But I always need to go to the loo in the night in pregnancy - whether I fall asleep again depends on the timing - more chance at 3am than if its 5am. Also for me, a hot bath at bedtime seems to help me use toilet again, which again can reduce night time waking.

I have found that much more comfortable with full length body pillow (now 36 weeks), and as I said hypnosis does seem to help a bit.

LOL at hot milky drink suggestion - for me that would make it so much worse as would be waking up to wee.

ThatsNotYours Sat 21-May-11 23:12:32

My GP prescribed me 10mg Temazepam in my 8th month for two weeks. Think it does depend on how far along Junior is development wise. Interestingly, the hospital gave all us ladies awaiting motherhood 10mg Temazepam to help aid sleep. Talk to your GP. Better to get proper advice than take OTC tablets. X

kri5ty Fri 27-May-11 09:25:24

Hi Guys

You make me feel like i am not alone!!

I have ME, and have had insomnia for years, i obviously stopped taking my tablets when i found out i was pregnant (just as i had started getting around 6 hours sleep a night from them)

I had no sleep at all for around 3 weeks straight, started seeing thing all the usual stuff lol, went back to my docs who said there was nothing the could do... surely thats more dangerous to the baby?

I am nt in my second trimester (just) and wondered if there is anyting they can give me now

buttonmoon78 Fri 27-May-11 12:02:56

I don't know how helpful this is as the only insomnia I've ever experienced was in the last trimester with ds as I had chronic spd pain. I was given cocodamol for the day but they gave me dihydrocodeine at night. Would knock me out for hours. So much so that I wouldn't take it if dh was away on business as I was frightened of not waking if there was an emergency with the other dcs!

If the gp says this is an option, make sure you take in conjunction with senekot wink

I normally sleep like the dead so to suddenly not was bad enough. You have my deepest sympathies if life is like that for you all the time.

countrylover Fri 27-May-11 12:17:40

I have suffered with insomnia on and off over the years but when I found out I was pregnant with DS2 it was a shock and as such I couldn't sleep a wink for three nights in a row.

In the end I took Phenergran, an over the counter anti-histamine which is also supposed to help with sickness. It says it's 'not advised to take when pregnant' but at that point I was so desperate and I knew if I didn't get sleep then I would have lost the plot completely. So I weighed up the options and yes, I felt guilty but felt oh so much better for some sleep. I think I took every night for about a week when I was around six weeks pregnant to get me back into a natural sleep pattern. DS2 is now a very happy, healthy and noisy boy!

This is just me, but I would take a couple of nights of your usual anti-histamines. I personally think it's more in the babies interests that you get some proper rest.

Also, as someone who has had insomnia for years and years I found both times I was pregnant I slept better than I usually did, even in the third trimester. So you may well get this bit over with and find you sleep beautifully for the rest of your pregnancy. See, there is hope!

user1483088997 Fri 30-Dec-16 09:35:30

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Fri 30-Dec-16 09:40:50

I had this. 3 hours sleep a night and l just wasn't functioning.

Eventually l was given an older antidepressant called amiyryptiline, lt made me sleep for England and is safe to take on pregnancy.


TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Fri 30-Dec-16 09:43:06


hopsalong Fri 30-Dec-16 11:16:23

You can take first-generation antihistamines when pregnant: in fact, they're some of the safest and most researched drugs out there, and some are used for morning sickness too. In the US Diclegis (doxylamine succinate plus B6) is a category A drug and prescribed v widely for morning sickness. Not sure how easy it is to buy that antihistamine here but they do sell in Europe OTC and in US as Unisom. Piriton also fine (I was advised to take after allergic skin reaction to a wasp sting) or diphenhydramine (in Nytol). Sometimes the dose recommended on the packets is pretty high so I would start with the smallest possible amount as infrequently as possible.

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