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Broken Dreamer
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Any of you get severe insomnia from time to time while holding a job?

Most days I am fine. If I get a night with only 3-4 hours of sleep, it's tough but I can plow through. But every once in a while that will happen 2 or 3 nights in a row though, and I'm absolute toast. As hard as that is, I can usually get by - except if it falls on the one day a week I have to work from 9:30am til 8 at night.

I work for a small business so it's important that I don't leave unless absolutely necessary. But I have gotten to the point where I am so sleep deprived, stressed out and desperate to collapse that I have left early on my one long work day. Insomnia might not be a "real illness" but after a couple exhausting nights of it, it does feel like the flu, without the aches - however since I'm not contagious or puking I don't think the boss especially appreciates this. I am the type of person who used to never be out sick, who is considered reliable... but I have probably left my long work night early 4 times in the past year. (anywhere from 1-2 hours, and it's usually busy time, so I don't take time off lightly - it takes a lot for me to ask)

I'm supposed to avoid stimulants to keep me going - because then I'd have yet another restless night, at a time my body can afford it least. I have done a sleep study (when of course I slept almost fine) and been monitored and I do have more doctor appointments lined up. But in the meantime - how do you get by? Is there anyone else out there like me, who HAS to go to work? I wish there was some support group in my area so that I wouldn't feel so alone in this. It's debilitating! Never had a problem with insomnia til this past year.
 

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Animal Addict
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I am a shift worker, and my days/nights are so screwy, my body doesn't know if it should be sleeping or not!! Debilitating insomnia was also a key factor in my Lyme disease, so I have been there. I do not have even a hint of an option to call out.

Some people try Benedryl (it just winds me up more) or Tylenol PM (also winds me up more). I would suggest melatonin if you haven't already tried it.

Sleepless nights stink.
 

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Yes in 2000 I had a severe sleep disorder and ended up missing 3 months of work total that year. I'd go days with no sleep and it hurts physically not to mention your brain is toast, you make mistakes and I couldn't remember anything. I remember laying on the floor under my desk on breaks and at lunch. It was a long, long journey to get my sleep health back in order.

Here are some things I tried though. I used Cal-Max powdered calcium-mag-D, no sugar, vitamins, what little exercise I could get though I had no energy for much other than walking. I completely changed my diet but I also had other health issues too. I dont' know what finally got things turned around for sure, but I got healthy overall so I guess it doesn't matter. I cut all junk food, of course all chocolate, I only had juice (watered down) in the morning. Didn't even drink de-caf coffee and tea because there's a trace amount of caffeine in there. I just stuck with room temp water most of the day.

I did a 2 day sleep study and had the wrist band for a week. NOne of the pills they gave me worked and I got so sick of tests, hospitals, and Drs after 2 years, that I just went my own way and stopped taking all medication.

In the evening I'd drink warm milk (you can also put a little tumeric in there too for a yummy flavor that sorts of reminds me of a vanilla cocoa). I used an essential oil blend for sleep on my temples and base of my neck too.

I think the number one thing I did though that finally broke it was meditation and deep breathing right before bed. I'd take a warm bath with oils and relax. Then get out, do deep breathing for a while and meditation. Then in bed, when I closed my eyes, I created "my perfect place" in my imagination with more deep breathing. All thoughts that came up would fly out of my head (in my imagination) as if on a piece of paper and be whisked behind a thick steel door. There was a rolling hill side I sat on with a creek and beautiful tree; and every night the image became more and more clear and I was able more and more to keep thoughts out of my head when I was trying to sleep. After about 2 months of this I could finally lay down, close my eyes and go to sleep within a few minutes.

Another thing you can do to keep from thinking in bed so you can sleep, is try to hear your heart beat. Play with your breathing till you can hear it. Really listen and focus on trying to hear it, that will help keep thoughts from circulating in the brain.

My sleep disorder didn't only keep my from sleeping though, it kept me from being awake too. I went from days and days with no sleep, then sometimes days with little sleep, then days where I couldn't wake up. Sometimes I"d fall asleep around 5-6am and then there was no getting me out of bed. The house could have burned down around me and I wouldn't have moved. Then I developed sleep paralysis, which is a nightmare - literally. The worst was a 13 hour period where I went in and out of paralysis.

If you want to know more about the type of deep breathing I did, please PM me.

They say if you lay down and can't sleep after a time you should get up and try again later. I didn't find that worked for me. If I layed down and couldn't fall asleep, at least I had a 40/60 chance of eventually falling asleep. If I got up, and did anything other than go to the bathroom, then there was no sleep for me that night. I tried getting up and reading for an hour and then go back to bed like they recommend and that only wired me up too much.
 

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I struggled with crippling insomnia for several years, before recently being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I can completely relate with your feeling of not wanting to flake out of committments you've made and with the frustration of feeling sick without looking sick. My whole life I have been a very active, can-do type person, so coming to terms with my illness has been hard. What has worked for me with the insomnia is a combination of prescription medication, reduction in overall stress level, healthy eating and planning out my activities during the day very intentionally. Learning to say "no" has been the hardest part of the whole process for me. Good luck. When you suffer from insomnia long enough, your health really begins to decline. Our bodies need restorative sleep to mend the little aches and pains and daily stresses. I knew I was getting somewhere with the sleep problems when I finally began to dream again. Sometimes insomnia is just insomnia, other times it's a symptom of an underlying ailment.
 

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I've done the meditation and that has worked best for me. I've got a meditation CD I listen to when I crawl into bed. Works for my husband too.
 

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Broken Dreamer
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Becca when I wake up at 3-4am (every night) I do take one benedryl. When I first had problems I made the mistake of following the directions and taking 2 right when I went to bed, then 2 when I'd wake up at night - and then wonder why I couldn't wake up even if I ended up getting a good amount of sleep! I was probably doped up a good month before being alerted to the fact that too much benedryl was half my problem!

WOW Sparticle that sounds like quite the ordeal, much worse than my case - I'm glad to hear you got better! I do some of the things you mentioned - vitamins, exercise, warm milk, hot baths, avoiding stimulants and sugar (in the afternoon at least). Will work on the meditation - I've heard other people say that that was what's helped them most. My hang up is waking up and then worrying about having to go to work - have to learn to push out those thoughts.

Farmergirl, yep I wish more people understood how bad insomnia feels like the flu. Stress may contribute to insomnia but insomnia itself causes stress, too and just makes everything worse.

Shelleydar, may I ask what mediation cd you have? I have an ambient cd that's relaxing but there are no voices on it, do you use some kind of "guided imagery" cd?
 

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Every once in a while I have several days in a row that I just can't sleep and like you, after more than one, my work days are very difficult. I take doxylamine succinate (Kroger's brand) and it works like a charm. I can't take it much past 8 pm or waking up the next day is a real problem and in fact, I usually take less than 1/2 tablet and it does the trick. When I first got it several years ago, I took a whole one, which is something I'll never do again!!!

I looked it up online and it's actually more sedating than many prescription medications, even though it's just an antihistamine (it's the sedating ingredient in Nyquil and Unisome).
 

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Something else I forgot to mention because I don't do it now, don't need to. Try not to watch TV or listen to anything but the most calming of music about an hour before you go to bed. It's best just to read in the evening. An hour before bed should be you gearing down, lower lights, lower sound, low stimulation, getting thoughts worries out of your head etc.

really try to avoid stimulants period even in the day time. You would be surprised after a few days of none at all how much easier it is to fall to sleep.
 

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I'm supposed to avoid stimulants to keep me going - because then I'd have yet another restless night, at a time my body can afford it least. I have done a sleep study (when of course I slept almost fine) and been monitored and I do have more doctor appointments lined up. But in the meantime - how do you get by? Is there anyone else out there like me, who HAS to go to work? I wish there was some support group in my area so that I wouldn't feel so alone in this. It's debilitating! Never had a problem with insomnia til this past year.
If this is new, I'd look at what other changes have occurred in the last year. Benadryl works for a while but not usually long term. Have you tried Melatonin? It's OTC and can help you sleep.

There are several meds that your doctor can prescribe. Some are meds that make you sleep and some are meds that allow your sleeping hormones to better work.
 

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Momma, Goatherder etc....
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I have worked nights/12 hour/8hour/16hour and now 24hour shifts in emergency service and I found that I sometimes needed a cue to fall asleep. I used to use a movie one I knew inside and out, as soon as I got home and ready for bed it went in the player and after a while my body knew that it was sleep time when that movie started. Sometimes I made it for half an hour sometimes didn't make it through the opening credits. It had to be something I had seen a lot but it worked and I used that for a couple years. I could see programming your mind the same way to some music, or meditation, or even using a repetitive phrase. The question I would have is what is the trigger for your insomnia, is there something in common with every time you have had a "spell" of them, I have also had a good amount of luck journaling right before I go to bed that way I can make certain my mind doesn't have something its hanging onto before I try to fall asleep. I have tried medication but hate that groggy feeling and when I am at work well it would be bad to show up on an emergency without being able to shake that, my poor patients.
Do you have a routine at night? Even on the night you do your long shift? I know there is a lot of advice but I have always found their is a pattern even if we don't see it, your body has a trigger the trick is to find out what it is.
Good luck - Thea
 

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Wow-you guys have mostly all been worse off than me. I was going to suggest magnesium b/4 bed...that helped me. And the tea called 'calm'.
My problem was waking at 3 am & not being able to go back to sleep. Benadryl kept me foggy til about noon if I took it at 3 am. :(
Sleep is soooo important-especially if you aren't getting any!

Patty
 

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My occasional sleep problem sounds very like yours. For several years now, I take half a small 300 MCG Melatonin tablet and gently drift off within 10 to 20 minutes. I don't have any left over effect, and my alarm or a possum rattling the cat's dish on the porch wakes me. For those rare times when I load up on late coffee, I take a whole tablet and sleep sound. Check it out, it's natural, just that our body produces less as we age and prevents our sleeping like a child...Glen
 

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I'll second (fourth? fifth?) the melatonin. I've had serious insomnia issues in the past. The doctors tried every medication under the sun. Most of them had the exact opposite of the intended effect, and I wouldn't sleep at all. The only one that worked left me half-asleep until dinner time even at low doses. Finally after giving up on doctors and deciding to take a more natural approach with everything I tried melatonin out of desperation. Two 300-mcg tablets work like a charm. I take the melatonin right before sleep and am usually asleep in less than half an hour. That's much better than the 2-6 hours it takes without it. However, for one week about every two months I take a break from it when that dose isn't as effective. My body resets, and I sleep like a dream again when I take it the following week. Oh, and I don't have that drugged feeling in the morning.
 

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I had insomnia something fierce during perimenopause. What worked for me was: when I was having estrogen surges, 3/4 mg of melatonin at bedtime along with early in the morning I would do b complex, calcium, and magnesium.

When estrogen went too low we added in (eventually substituted) prempro. But if it just to help you sleep, 1/8 of a pill at bedtime might be enough. I thought my doc was nuts, but it is. And when your body settles down, that amount is easy to wean off of.
 

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I had a terrible time with melatonin - vivid, upsetting dreams and sleeping but waking up exhausted. The antihistamine approach (doxyalmine) works much better as long as I take a very small dose and not too late in the evening.
 

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I have found that a couple diphenhydramine (antihistamine--I use Wal-Mart brand) taken at about 8:30 pm works like a charm. No grogginess in the am and an extra bonus of no nasal congestion. Helps me go to sleep and then keeps me there past 3 am, which was my normal wake up with the menopause insomnia.
 

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I've done the meditation and that has worked best for me. I've got a meditation CD I listen to when I crawl into bed. Works for my husband too.
Ditto on the meditation. I wake up in the night with anexiety and use TM regularily, to relax and go back to sleep.

It's not just for hippies! ;)
 

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I don't necessarily have insomnia but I have very severe issues with sleep walking. Thus I wake up exhausted alot, because instead of sleeping like I think I am doing, I am walking around all night. What I did was pack a simple easy fast lunch, eat it quickly at lunch time and climb into my car and nap for the rest of my lunch hour. I climbed right into the back seat and had a portable alarm clock and a blanket. An hour nap really helped. Now I work until 1:30, so I don't have to worry about it any more.
 

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Good luck. I'm lucky in that if I get up at 3 am one day (3-4 hours early) I go to sleep pretty well the next night. Benadryl does help me if I fear a sleepless night but if I take 2 (50 mg) the night before I am pretty toasted the next day.

I'm on a fairly good schedule now but when I worked locums I would always be Excited about it the night before and the one day I am working all month I am short on sleep the ngiht before!
 

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I have found that a couple diphenhydramine (antihistamine--I use Wal-Mart brand) taken at about 8:30 pm works like a charm. No grogginess in the am and an extra bonus of no nasal congestion. Helps me go to sleep and then keeps me there past 3 am, which was my normal wake up with the menopause insomnia.
Don't know much about that menopause stuff,just try to keep my distance LOL,but I do know a good deal when I see one.http://www.samsclub.com/shopping/navigate.do?dest=5&item=412707 :D Eddie
 
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