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does anyone here have insomnia?


atlantis63

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and if you do, what has (or hasn't), worked for you.

 

I have it, (and other health issues that keep me awake), just thought I'd post this and see if I could get some tips I may have missed along the way   

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Hi @atlantis63 . Here comes a long answer, lol. I had terrible insomnia for most of my 48 years since early childhood. I only started sleeping better more consistently in the last few months actually. In my case, the insomnia was for a variety of reasons which I'll attempt to enumerate and tell you what, if anything, that helped.

 

I'll start with things that didn't work for me, but of course keep in mind it's only one person's experience. Melatonin would help occasionally, but only in sublingual or gummy form. But, I found it to exacerbate symptoms of depression, so I never could use it consistently. I also had unpleasant psychological side effects from valerian and kava. Chamomile tea had negligible effect, if any, other than to make me have to use the bathroom more at night, lol. Actually, I do think chamomile has a diuretic effect. I also have tried dissociative drugs such as ambien and lunesta which I found only intermittently effective, but ultimately dangerous for me as I had episodes of sleep walking and sleep cooking with sharp knives! I'm probably forgetting several things I've tried to no avail. 

 

My insomnia was partially due to PTSD and anxiety, physical disability concerning chronic pain and tension, and PMS. 

Physical disability. I added a memory foam mattress topper to the bed which helped with pain at points of contact. 

I use loop brand "quiet" earplugs and a sleep mask which has a cushioned rim around the perimeter of the mask so that it's not lying flat on the face and blocks it more light. I also have an oversized body pillow and a fancy weighted blanket by Bearaby which is woven so I don't get too hot sleeping with it. I take magnesium before bed which helps the nervous system as I tend to get twitchy with restless legs. Finally, one of my physicians prescribed me a low dose of muscle relaxant because I hadn't been able to mind over matter certain areas of chronic tension. That was a cherry on top which really helped all the other stuff I'd been doing to be more effective. 

 

PTSD and anxiety. What's helped me the most is spirituality and mindfulness practices over many many years of concerted effort. Yoga nidra is one practice which I highly recommend. It's the yoga of sleep. It's practiced lying on your back and entails affirming an intention which you wish to manifest in your life, and then guided mindful attention to various sensations and locations in the body. Here's one teacher I like & you can find others on youtube. 

 

For anxiety, I also like passionflower tincture. It is a natural sedative. I also practice meditation almost every morning. Any practice settling the mind during wakefulness can also be applied to doing so as you try to fall asleep. Meditating before bed is particularly helpful. 

 

Related to PTSD, I suffered hideous nightmares for most of my life which made me afraid to even fall asleep on top of the already present insomnia, and then highly disturbed when I finally would fall asleep. One important insight I gained from one sleep doctor I saw was that often insomnia (in part) is a behavioral problem. That's good news because it is possible to train new behavior by practicing good sleep hygiene & treating your bedtime like a sacred ritual. It may sound weird, but you can think of putting your body to bed like you would a beloved pet or some other object of reverence. It depersonalizes the experience, making it far less threatening, and an act of loving kindness.

 

After the many years I'd been practicing techniques to still the mind and care better for myself, I finally saw a hypnotherapist a few years ago during a particularly bad PTSD flare up. I was amazed that after that session, I had a dramatic decrease in nightmares. Another cherry on top. 


Finally, PMS. I must say, nothing could touch it. It was brutal. I just wouldn't sleep for a few days every couple weeks. My cycles were rapid, like 2.5 to 3 weeks. So I was perpetually having PMS, or having the period with a lot of pain, or recovering - all on top of chronic disability. I tried different courses of bioidentical hormones, but they either did nothing or made me much worse. I am currently 10 days away from declaring menopause, and it has been delightful (you have to have had no cycle for one year to be in menopause).

 

I'll add one more suggestion. If you find your mind racing at night, besides meditation, it's helpful to do a brain dump in a journal before bedtime. Just write whatever's on your mind to get it out of your head. There's something about the hand eye coordination with writing as opposed to typing which helps you to process thoughts. A journal does not have to be a masterpiece by any means - just start writing anything and you'll find a lot more comes out than you would have suspected. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey @atlantis63, I also have insomnia, (among other sleep-disrupting conditions) and it sucks. I feel for you.

The longest amount of time I went without sleep was 56 hours, and when I was nearing my 57th hour, I started crying uncontrollably because I was so tired. Dealing with insomnia is difficult because it doesn't matter how tired you are, it's still difficult to fall asleep.

 

I used to take sleeping medication but I've found that other things have worked better for me. 

 

I raise my legs to help with restless leg syndrome, and I don't sleep with a pillow. (Odd advice, I know, but sleeping without a pillow has helped me a good amount reducing pressure on my head. (I get really bad migraines.)) Instead I sleep without anything under my head.

 

I'd suggest trying to stretch before bed, and drink a calming cup of tea. (Just chose one without caffeine.) 

 

Try slow breathing practices when you are in bed.

 

I'm sorry my advice is not the best, I am also trying to figure it out. 

 

(This is a bit of an odd suggestion, but if you find yourself unable to sleep, think about a task that needs done, but you don't want to do. For me it would be homework. I've found that my laziness can sometimes help me feel more tired)

 

 

 

 

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On 9/11/2023 at 11:11 AM, Vidanjali said:

PTSD and anxiety. What's helped me the most is spirituality and mindfulness practices over many many years of concerted effort. Yoga nidra is one practice which I highly recommend. It's the yoga of sleep. It's practiced lying on your back and entails affirming an intention which you wish to manifest in your life, and then guided mindful attention to various sensations and locations in the body. Here's one teacher I like & you can find others on youtube. 

 

Related to PTSD, I suffered hideous nightmares for most of my life which made me afraid to even fall asleep on top of the already present insomnia, and then highly disturbed when I finally would fall asleep. One important insight I gained from one sleep doctor I saw was that often insomnia (in part) is a behavioral problem. That's good news because it is possible to train new behavior by practicing good sleep hygiene & treating your bedtime like a sacred ritual. It may sound weird, but you can think of putting your body to bed like you would a beloved pet or some other object of reverence. It depersonalizes the experience, making it far less threatening, and an act of loving kindness.

Yoga Nidra has helped me a lot as well! I wish I would have known about it earlier. 

 

I used to do EMDR Therapy for my PTSD. Although I wasn't able to continue it, it drastically improved my sleep. I used to get such bad nightmares that I flat-out refused to sleep because I didn't want the stress. Having done that for years it definitely aggravated my insomnia, but working through some things has helped a lot. 

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19 hours ago, Jet McCartney said:

Yoga Nidra has helped me a lot as well! I wish I would have known about it earlier. 

 

That's awesome! I was blessed to have learned of yoga nidra in my early 30s & I really feel it's helped to save my life. I was introduced to an excellent yoga teacher who began holding occasional workshops. I attended her very first one. I hadn't heard of sankalpa at the time (I have since gained greater insight through the teachings of my guru & reflection/meditation). For anyone reading this not familiar, sankalpa is like a seed of intention which is buried in one's consciousness & in yoga nidra a sankalpa is stated and planted deliberately and directed to grow. The yoga teacher had some suggested sankalpas prepared on little slips of paper which we could choose from. I selected one at random which read "goodness, beauty & grace flow into my life". That sounded like a good one & I continued to practice with that sankalpa for years. There were many days when I was suffering so intensely from mental illness that I'd practice 3 times a day just to keep some semblance of balance. And gradually, with effort, that seed sprouted and manifested. It was a wonder and a miracle to me. 

 

I would sometimes wish I'd encountered things and people which have helped me to grow earlier than I had. But, then I also wonder if I would have been in a right state to have accepted and benefitted from them and then realize what a tragedy it would have been if I did encounter such things and eschewed them out of ignorance - or worse, came away with the impression that they were not for me; a deeper impression of hopelessness. 

 

19 hours ago, Jet McCartney said:

I used to do EMDR Therapy for my PTSD. Although I wasn't able to continue it, it drastically improved my sleep.

 

EMDR is quite a fascinating technique.

I tried EMDR on two occasions with two different therapists. The first time, I was too symptomatic and couldn't tolerate it. That was over 20 years ago. The second time was an unusual circumstance. It was about 7 years ago. I was seeing yet another sex therapist to try to "fix" my "broken" self for the sake of my marriage. That is, I did not yet understand myself as trans and asexual and I hated myself as I believed I was a failure in love and life. That EMDR session was very challenging. I was struggling to come up with some mental block I could work on, thinking I might have a breakthrough and be able to be an exemplary wife. We worked on a trauma I encountered early in my relationship with my husband, and I did wind up feeling like I'd done battle with and vanquished a good deal of stress about it. But, it wasn't the magic key to me becoming a perfect wife. Go figure, lol. 

 

19 hours ago, Jet McCartney said:

I used to get such bad nightmares that I flat-out refused to sleep because I didn't want the stress. Having done that for years it definitely aggravated my insomnia, but working through some things has helped a lot. 

 

Yes, I get that. That's part of the behavioral slippery slope - sleep becoming a fearful thing.

 

I'm glad for you that you've worked through what you have, Jet. I can definitely relate to how troubling it can be and likewise what an elixir peaceful sleep is. 

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