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Horrible insomnia - so miserable

(9 Posts)
bean612 Tue 30-Nov-10 17:33:38

I have a DD who is about to turn two, and who has gradually, over the course of her life, turned from an appalling sleeper to a reasonably good one. Meaning that except when she is ill/away from home/having a random blip, she will generally sleep through from about 7.45 to about 5.30-6.00 (yes I know, 5.30 - but believe me, it's taken a long time to get that far!)

The trouble is, after 2 years of broken nights, I no longer know how to sleep. DH and I take it in turn to be 'on duty' if DD does wake up, and on the nights that I'm 'off duty', I tend to sleep ok. But when I'm on, I sleep badly/lightly, with the slightest noise waking me up (we live on a street which is a main route away from the tube, so there are often people talking/laughing/shouting late at night, especially at the weekend). And once I'm awake... that's it. This morning I woke about 3.00 and lay awake till 5.25 when DD woke for the day.

It's a miserable existence, and I don't know what to do about it. I know what it is - anxiety about being woken - ironically, since DD generally stays asleep. Has anyone suffered and found a way out of it that doesn't involve medication? The mild solutions like hot baths, milky drinks etc don't help I'm afraid. Usually I can get to sleep fine, it's just staying that way till morning. Sorry for rambling...

InmaculadaConcepcion Tue 30-Nov-10 19:35:40

I've totally been there, bean, and suffer from bouts of insomnia for the exact same reasons you outline. Huge sympathy, it's AWFUL lying there awake and feeling increasingly stressed about not getting back to sleep.

Some suggestions:

Ditch the milky drinks and try chamomile tea or valerian tea instead. Avoid caffeine from early afternoon onwards.

A drop of lavender oil on your pillow may help - it's an essential oil that has a good reputation for relaxation.

If you can afford it, it's worth looking into a course of hypnotherapy to get some relaxation techniques working for you.

Wear ear-plugs (or just one) when you're on duty. You'll still hear your DD, but they should muffle noises from the street. (This may or may not work - especially if you become anxious that you might not hear your DD...but it's worth a try)

Try and locate which part of you tends to tense up when you're feeling anxious, then work on relaxing that part of your body. With me, it's my jaw. Once that's relaxed, it's easier for the rest of my body - and mind - to follow.

HTH smile

Iwasthefourthwiseman Tue 30-Nov-10 23:14:38

I'm a really anxious sleeper & had a horrific pregnancy due to insomnia. I even had sleeping tablets it was so bad. These are the ways I find to manage:

Listen to mindless audio books on iPod, I listen to Harry potter

Earphones in to block out noise (you get used to them, no less comfy than ear plugs)

Eye mask

Lavender on pillow

Rescue remedy night time spray

Dr Stuarts valerian tea

And I discovered that going to bed later rather than earlier stopped me waking up at 3am

I know you want to avoid medication but sometime a short course of sleeping tablets will rejuvenate you and help you break the cycle.

Really sympathise as I get in a real tizz about sleep or lack thereof. As you can tell I've tried lots of strategies

catinthehat2 Tue 30-Nov-10 23:24:27

No caffeine at all except one cup of whatever at breakfast from now on.

Keep your feet & extremities warm, wear socks if necessary. You can't stay asleep if you get cold.

Go to bed and get up at exactly the same time, weekdays & weekends.

Train yourself to get up instantly when you are awake on the alarm - bed has to mean sleep basically.

No tv in bedroom. Book or mag, that is all.

Have a watch by your bed certainly, but no visible clock so you can't wake yourself up enough to say "Oh dear it's 3.17,4.17,5.17 etc etc"

Get 3 days of sleeping tabs from doctor, emphasise they are for emergency use only and you will treat them like plutonium and will not get addicted.

Use the tabs, follow the instructions above and kick start yourself into kipland.

Good luck.

<all sounds bossy, it's only becasue it's in point format - meant to be encouraging>

nameymcnamechange Tue 30-Nov-10 23:37:45

My GP prescribed temazepam for me and a quick course of those got me back on track (I only ever took about 15 of them).

Nowadays if I'm having trouble I take Natrasleep herbal tablets. I have tried every herbal sleeping pill known to man and, believe me, those babies are the best on the market.

bean612 Thu 02-Dec-10 13:48:35

Sorry for posting and then disappearing off the map! The last couple of days have been a bit frantic. Thank you so much for all the suggestions and support.

I really hate camomile tea - sadly, as I know it would probably help. But valerian tea - now that's something I hadn't thought of (didn't know you could get it as tea, it always makes me think of Shakespeare and sleeping drafts, but then...) And Natrasleep - will look out for those. I have tried herbal sleeping tablets in the past, but not those I don't think (hopefully not, as they didn't work at all!)

I did get a bad bout of insomnia a while ago and got some sleeping tabs from the GP - she agreed I needed to break the cycle. I only took them once as I was breastfeeding and felt a bit guilty about passing drugs through the milk etc, but I think actually just knowing I had them and that I could take them if I needed to, helped hugely.

Catinthehat2 - alarm? Ha! [hollow laugh] DD is my alarm clock - a tiny hyperactive monkey repeating "Mummy! Mummy!" at 3-second intervals. No caffeine after lunch though - I know, you're so right. Trouble is, when you're so knackered by even 3pm... Hmm, I will try.

I definitely DON'T look at the clock - DH always does and I keep telling him off about it - if he is awake in the night, how is knowing that it's 3am going to help? All it does is panic him that he's possibly only got another 2 hours before DD wakes for the day. Numpty. One earplug is good, though - I do sometimes do that, and I think it helps. Psychologically as much as anything. I think I'm getting quite earplug dependent though - always wear them stuffed right in on "off-duty" nights, like I have to completely shut out the world.

Finally - audiobooks on iPod - genius! Wiseman, that is such a good idea. I know you are supposed to get up or turn the light on and read or do something distracting, but I can never bear the idea of it, it makes it feel like I'm getting up for the day. And especially at the moment when it is FREEZING outside the bedcovers. But the thought of lying in the dark with soothing words in your ear, now that sounds like a brilliant compromise.

One other thing a RL life friend suggested is meditation. Has anyone ever tried? I have thought of it before but never pursused it. I will look into it, but would love to know if it has worked for anyone?

katiecubs Thu 02-Dec-10 17:44:54

Hi bean, i have this too :-( horrible - stupidly it has got worse since DS started sleeping better, like i can't remeber how to sleep. When i wake up i panic and then become so awake i can't get back to sleep.

After a horrible night with only a couple of hours i went to the doc who prescribed anti anxiety meds (same as anti di's) and sleeping pills for the short term. Hated the thought of sleeping pills but the anti d's are really helping me not to stress about sleep which in turn helps me to sleep better - for me the anxiety was the deep seated issue though where it all stemmed from.

Like others have said other things that have helped is not having a clock in the room, rescue remedy, nytols, kalms (just for the placebo i think)and waking up OH when i do - he tells me to stay calm, breathe and knowing that he is there helps me drift back off.

Hope we both get it sorted soon x

catinthehat2 Thu 02-Dec-10 18:10:00

interesting that DH is awake too.
Is he subtly disturbing you and also suffering fropm insomnia?
Can't you both tackle it together?

bean612 Sat 04-Dec-10 14:43:36

Sorry you're suffering too, katiecubs. Like you, I'm pretty sure it all stems from anxiety - in my case, anxiety about what will happen if/when DD wakes. Until very recently - i.e. about 2-3 weeks ago, if she woke in the night it could take hours to get her back to sleep. Pacing the room in despair while DD raged, having spent 2 hours trying every possible thing under the sun to soothe her and get her back to sleep, was not uncommon.

But now, finally, finally (even if it's just a phase, at least it's a good one for once!) if she does wake up, a kiss and a stroke and some reassuring words seem to be enough, and she'll let me leave the room and go back to sleep on her own. But it's taken 2 years to get to this stage, and my mind is not yet convinced that we won't soon be back to the bad old days. So that's why I can't sleep, I think. Catinthehat2, it's the same for DH, that's why he's not sleeping either, we're both gently traumatised. Plus he's always been a bit of an insomniac anyway. Sigh.

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