intractable insomnia

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by nonsqtr, May 20, 2005.

  1. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    I'd like to bounce a question off y'all. I'm having real trouble sleeping these days. I'm getting one hour at a time, or at most an hour and a half (for a grand total of maybe three hours a night, at most), and it doesn't seem like "real" sleep, it's more like a "waking dream" - I'm aware of pretty much everything that happens while I nod. It's pretty bad, when I'm "awake" I'm lethargic and hazy, like I can't concentrate on details very well. My doctor wants to give me Ambien, but I hate drugs, especially psy-meds, and I'm looking for alternatives. It's not like I'm crazy or anything, it's just that I'm so tired most of the time that I can't really engage my brain to its full capacity. It's very difficult to describe, mainly it's the latter aspect that's causing me some concern. I'm entirely certain that if I could get a "normal" night's sleep, like maybe six hours or so, everything would be fine.

    Have any of you experienced anything like this? If so, what did you do? I've already tried warm milk, chamomile tea, L-tryptophan and the like, and it doesn't seem to work.

    I'm not sure exactly how this came about, only that it started happening after some rather convoluted surgery (but nothing brain-related, just mainly gut-related stuff, like pancreas and kidney and so on). I really don't want to take Ambien or barbiturates or anything like that, that would be strictly a last resort. But I'm running out of thoughts and options. Anyone? Thanks. :)
  2. Ericman197


    Feb 23, 2004
    I checked with my mom (neurologist). She also suggests you take the Ambien. You don't have to take it long term; you just need to regulate your sleep cycles. You're at a much higher risk of trouble in your current state than you ever will be on Ambien.

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member

    What about some benadryl before you want to get to sleep?.
  4. Toasted


    May 26, 2003
    Leeds, UK
    I'm not sure how your surgery would affect any of these ideas but:

    - Make sure that you're physically tired before going to bed. I used to have trouble sleeping but now I visit the gym for an hour every other day, do lots of walking, get lots of 'fresh' city air. Now my sleeping problems are limited to the fact that i cant get enough!

    - Mentally dissociate from your day. If you lie in bed thinking about what you did today / tomorrow / next week, or how the world is great/ horrible / unjust / unfair then you'll never go to sleep, and when you do you'll just dream. I have real problems sleeping if I sit in front of the Internet all day and then jump right into bed. To counter this I have a big pile of bass player mags / bubblegum books that I can pickup, read for 15 minutes to dissociate and then go to sleep fine.

    - I had problems sleeping when I was spending 8 hours a day on the Internet, forums / messenger etc, and leaving the house for maybe one or two hours. I think that whilst you're on the net / sitting at a desk you're passing time, but your body just isn’t working, and neither is your mind (maybe this doesn’t apply to you - considering some of your posts in the lounge!!). I’ve found that I’m sleeping much better at the moment now I’m revising for end of year exams (big ones) and due to complete mental exhaustion I can sleep fine. I also feel like I’ve ‘slept’ the next morning and my head is much clearer.

    - When you are actually sleeping, keep it regular. I know it sound stupid, but have a regular bedtime, and a regular getting up time. I’m currently going to bed at about 1am, and getting up at about 8am.

    I feel great at the moment; I can certainly tell you it’s better than not sleeping. Work at it – IMO I’d be very reluctant to turn to drugs.
  5. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Grapefruit! :D

    I just got my first decent night's sleep tonight, in maybe several weeks. I actually got about four hours in a row, and I feel much better this morning. :)

    The only thing I can think of that I did "different" yesterday, is to eat two grapefruits. Maybe that has something to do with it, maybe not. Maybe it's just that whatever this thing is has run its natural course.

    Maybe now I have a testable hypothesis though. :D:D:D

    It's pretty scary when something like this happens, one wonders whether it's some kind of brain disease, or whether it has something to do with nutrition or whatever, and also whether there's any reasonably non-destructive way to address it.

    Thanks for the input. I'll probably hold off on the Ambien for another few days, it's nice to know it's an option, but by the same token a lot of those newfangled drugs take a pretty significant toll on the internal organs, and after the surgery I'm not entirely sure whether my gut is in good enough shape to metabolize that stuff.

    I'm going to eat another grapefruit sometime this evening. :D

    And, will definitely keep you posted. :)

    Thanks folks. :cool:
  6. another idea would be to check on your diet. i remember reading about insomnia trying to find a cure for myself, sorry no links.

    basically it said that you need to eat at reguler times everyday, keep routine things at the same time of the day.
    tiring yourself out at night is also a must as stated.
    try listening to some relaxation methods as well - yknow, the kind with water flowing in the background and some guy telling you to breathe etc.... :)

  7. I'd be careful driving and operating heavy machinery under the influence of grapefruit for a while.

    But seriously, if you're taking other meds, antibiotics, pain due to the surgery, DO NOT take them with grapefruit. I've read that grapefruit (and juice) makes your body absorb many (not all) medications much more quickly, so much so that it screws up the dosage big time. Doesn't happen with oranges or other fruit juices. So separate the grapefruit with the other meds.

  8. Ericman197


    Feb 23, 2004
    Grapefruit causes more catastrophic drug interactions than most prescriptions. That said, it depends upon what you're taking. My grandfather cannot eat grapefruit despite there being no warning to the contrary on his prescription bottles.
  9. Only


    Sep 8, 2002
    Warrensburg, MO
    I would avoid Ambien like the plague. Here's what it does:
    You know if you can click or not.

    Ambien is not recommended unless you sleep alone in a padded room.
  10. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    Try taking some melatonin. You can buy it anywhere that has a vitamin section. I take it every now and again when I can't sleep, and it doesn't make you feel groggy in the morning.
  11. Phil Mastro

    Phil Mastro

    Nov 18, 2004
    That stuff knocks me out cold. Especially the extra strength "night time" model.
  12. eric234

    eric234 Guest

    Mar 11, 2005
    hey i have insomnia to but for me what i do is put on my headphones on turn on my mp3 player and listen to a comedy album like larry the cable guy or mitch sounds weird but it worksn at least for me

  13. +1

    There are some very good herbal remedies available on the market. Also, don't use your bed for anything other than sleeping and that other thing....

    If you like to read, do it on the couch or somewhere else. your mind should relate the bed to sleeping.
  14. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Benadryl, and melatonin. Excellent. Thanks folks. :)

    I got three more hours sleep today, and it was "good" sleep, so maybe there's some dietary influence after all.

    I'm more or less off drugs right now - for a while after the surgery they made me take geocillin, which is a nasty and very powerful antibiotic (turns your p*ss orange, that kind of thing), but stopped taking that about a week ago or maybe a little more, and perhaps it's even possible that had some nervous system side effects, who knows.

    As long as things are moving in the right direction, I'm a happy camper. Just gotta slog through it...

    Thanks again for your input! :)
  15. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I've had minor but significant sleep issues for years. They've been fairly under control lately. For me, I've found that exercise helps a bit, avoiding caffeine in the evening is crucial, and avoiding alcohol near bedtime is helpful.

    I think the most helpful thing is that I've somehow developed a more reliable "internal alarm clock" that pushes me out of bed in the mornings. By not fighting it or ignoring it, I have managed to keep a somewhat more regular sleep schedule. Of course, I go on a wildly different schedule from the workweek to the weekend gigs. That means that the internal alarm clock throws me out of bed around 8 even if I didn't get to bed until 6. Strangely, I'm better off running on those two hours of sleep than I am risking throwing off my sleep schedule and internal alarm.

    As for drugs:
    Benadryl (diphenhydramine): Bad, bad stuff. Take enough to knock you out and you will feel groggy, fuzzy and sleepy the next morning.
    Melatonin: This has worked for me but seems to lose effectiveness over time. Time-release formulas worked better for me.
    Ambien: Someone gave me one to try, and I got the most solid, full night's sleep I've had in years. I woke up refreshed and not the least bit groggy. I don't know what the potential side effects are, but I felt particularly clear headed the next morning for having gotten such a good night's sleep. If my insomnia ever gets particularly bad again, I will not hesitate to ask my doctor for Ambien, unless I read some trustworthy evidence that the stuff is bad news.

    Good luck to you, Brian. Hope ya get some zzzzzs.
  16. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Thanks SD - I filled my Ambien prescription this morning. I might take "one", just to see if it helps. I dislike the whole concept of sleep medication though. On the other hand, insomina really sucks. People make jokes about it and all that, but if you have it, the reality will get in your face real fast. Fortunately, things seem to be moving in the right direction. I'm going back home this afternoon, and my g/f is returning from overseas next week, so maybe some physical exhaustion might be in order. :D Thanks for the input! :)