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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Insomnia (AKA: Walking Zombie)

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Author Topic: Insomnia (AKA: Walking Zombie)
Executive Director & Founder
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So, now and then I need to take a turn with health issue angst myself.

It is 2 in the morning. I fell asleep at nine, and woke up an hour ago. If I'm lucky, I'll fall back asleep again, but I don't always.

I have heinous insomnia at times, always have. It's hard for me to fall asleep at all most nights, and other nights I can't stay awake to save my life. Other nights still -- like this one -- I wake up after just a few hours of sleep and can't get myself back to sleep.

I'm not a big one on pill-taking, so sleeping pills would really be the last thing to consider in my case. But already, I stop having any coffee or caffiene by the early afternoon, I get daily exercise, and I work my bum off every day and never nap so I SHOULD be tired and sleepy. When I do sleep, I sleep like a rock -- the house could be on fire and I'd be mumbling for the fireman to just move my bed unto the yard and leave me there while it burnt. But when I can't sleep, I'm wide the heck awake. And it's very. very rare I sleep a full 8 hours.

Anyone tried anything (again, I'm pretty anti-medication for stuff like this, so that's out) herbal or behavioral that's helped?

Maybe I'll go stare at the ceiling now.

Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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yeah, i have occasional insomnia - it used to be a lot worse, but for some reason it's a bit better lately. do you usually eat a late dinner or a bedtime snack? i find that makes it hard for me to stay asleep. also, if the room you're sleeping in is too warm.


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I think one of the worst things is to not be able to sleep when you want to. On the herbal front Valerian Root is good as is Chamomile. Apparently Valerian in it's raw form smells terrible but in pills it doesn't smell at all or taste for that matter. It has a relaxant effect and makes it easier to fall asleep as does Chamomile (tea for example).

On the excercise front, I'm sure you probably know this, but just to cover all the bases, make sure you don't excercise too close to bed, do it in the morning not late at night. I think I heard somewhere that large meals are also bad late at night, but I have no idea whether that has to do with digestion or sleep.

If you do wake up in the middle of the night how about meditation? It calms your body down and makes it easier to go to sleep.

Another thing that I'm not sure about is maybe seeing an allergist or a dietitian. Maybe there is something (other than caffeine) that your body reacts to.

I hope at least some of that is stuff you haven't heard before and that helps to end those sleepless nights.

Posts: 303 | From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I sometimes wished I had insomnia. Maybe then I'd actually get some schoolwork and studying done.

I always think that showering will wake me up, but that only works in the morning. Whenever I take warm evening showers, I want to crawl in bed and go to sleep. Evening showers have a way of relaxing all my muscles. I just feel like a big pile of mush. It's not conducive to studying but works great if you want some sleep.

I like sipping tea too but you've probably already tried that. I love chamomile tea with a touch of honey or spring cherry tea (it's green tea mixed with something else, I have no idea what, now I want to call the bookstore and ask) with no sugar. Drinking tea turns my brain to mush.

So if you ever want to burglarize my house and steal my car, just throw me in the shower with some hot tea and lock the door, I'll never make it out. Or you can just fill the bathtub with hot water and tea leaves... alright, I'm going off on a tangent.

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My friend has really bad insomnia, and often when she sleeps over we end up staying awake the whole night just because she can't get herself to go to sleep. Some things she says helps her when she's at home (and NEEDS to sleep on weekdays) is listening to one of those relaxing tapes, like rainfall or the ocean waves or the rainforest (you can download the music off Napster and put it on a CD if you don't want to go out and buy that) She also uses one of those extendable back massagers... and has those comfort mattresses that you can't help but snooze off on. Another thing that I know she does, (but I dunno if this is just her)is she watches Nick at Night really low....hehe....when it gets boring enough she's usually out. Me--I'm the complete opposite! I wish I could stop sleeping sometimes. Lately I can fall out like a light, and sleep hours on end no matter what time of day it is.

"Live a balanced life - Learn some and think some, and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some."

~~ Robert Fulghum, author ~~

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Executive Director & Founder
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I actually haven't taken Valerian root (the natural herb valium is made from) in years, but I'd forgotten that it had worked well for me in college, so thanks for the reminder. I'll have to nab some again and hope for the best.

Meditating tends to actually make me very alert, almost hyper-alert, but I could try some gentle yoga poses, which I'd also spaced.

And Cookie, I know the tea you're talking about. It's incredible, made by The Republic of Tea, who also, by the by, makes an INCREDIBLE south american mate tea called Mate Latte. mate is great if you want a little caffeiene and a coffee-like taste (but sweeter) but not too much.

Thanks for the suggestions, folks.

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Okay, I don't know if anyone has seen the episode of Dharma and Greg when Dharma was putting all of their troubles in a "bubble" and blowing it away? Okay anywho, when i am totally stressed out and I can't sleep, i draw a circle in the air and pretend to write my troubles in it. Then I blow it out the window. Or I get my journal out and write. I've found that it REALLY helps me to just get everything on paper and out of my mind. The I can sleep easy. Good Luck!
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I know exactly how you feel. i also have insomnia, and some nights I stay up tossing and turning, my record for how long it took me to fall asleep was 8 hours, but at slepovers, i am always the first to crash, usually around 9:00. Whenever i wake up in the middle of the night (usually around 4 or 5 times a week) I can never ever fall back asleep. I've tried all these natural remedies because i don't like taking pills and they make me feel groggy, but nothing works.
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Awwww! My sympathies--that must be just awful. Sleeping problems always affect the rest of my life in a pretty big way.

I've never had really bad insomnia though. My little brother, who's now in his mid-teens (wow!) started having BIG insomnia problems when he reached adolescence. He lies in bed for hours and hours every night... he's tried hot showers and warm milk and benedryl and meditation and lots of exercise and nothing's worked. It's gone on for years, but has been getting drastically worse in the past few months. I don't usually like doctors much, but lately I've been telling my mom to get my bro to a sleep specialist, 'cause it's just ruining his life. Not getting enough sleep is, of course, REALLY unhealthy.

I hope the valerian root helps--let us know, eh? I can just offer the usual suggestions. Music is helpful for getting me to sleep if it's music that I'm familiar with--probably because it gives my mind something that it naturally focuses on, but doesn't have to work very hard at. Heh, counting sheep--that hasn't worked for me since I was little. If possible, you could try cutting caffeine out of your diet entirely for a short while and see if that helps any (you're not big on pill taking but you drink coffee? ). You already exercise (maybe try exercising at a different time of day?), I assume you eat well... warm showers are nice, so are massages. Some warm soup or a warm drink or really anything warm, maybe extra blankets (I read somewhere that body temperature is directly correlated with average length of sleep). Sex helps sometimes (I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned). Proper lighting (or lack thereof), a good mattress, good pillows, something or someone to cuddle. In the summer, a small fan blowing over the bed is really nice (anyone remember that Calvin & Hobbes strip?). Having a bedtime ritual, even a short one, that you do every day can be really helpful too. Any sort of small ritual would ideally be a way of telling your body what to expect, like, "Cue the seratonin! Relax those muscles, get those brainwaves down..."

On the other end of things, if at all possible, don't wake up suddenly or to an alarm clock--being woken by sunshine through an eastern window is ideal, but not always practical. Your body will naturally want to wake up *right after* REM sleep, if I recall correctly, and if you wake up at a different stage of the sleep cycle, you feel tired and lousy no matter how many hours you've had. A waking-up ritual is helpful too, if there's time for one (mine is pretty much just doing my fertility checks--BBT, saliva, cervical--and then brushing my teeth and getting dressed, although if there's time, I write in my dream journal).

Surprisingly little culturally comparative research has been done on sleeping patterns, but some studies suggest that it's very usual to wake up in the middle of the night, or even every few hours. It's also most usual to sleep with other people, and the prevalence of sleeping alone in our culture has always been a little upsetting to me.

[This message has been edited by Eclipse (edited 01-28-2001).]

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Sorry Miz S, but I'm a druggie here. It's called Imovane, and it makes me write strange things in my diary. The problem is that it makes you hung over the next day.

My menstrual diary
Updated as often as my uterus

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Hello 3 in the morning! I have the same problem. I also sleep walk. Scared my 'rents half to death when I went down a flight of stairs one night. Didn't fall, but I guess it could have been bad. Anyway, my trick? St. John's Wort. It's mostly known for helping depression, but I find it also calms me and I don't sleep walk or have problems sleeping when I'm taking it. Just a suggestion.

-Edited for spelling and/or grammar mistakes- (Hope I got everything)

"Always shoot for the moon because even if you miss you'll land among the stars." -Unknown

[This message has been edited by CrazyGirl (edited 02-23-2001).]

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Oh Heather, I can relate...used to have terrible insomnia, big time insomnia, actually, which was mostly connected to my depression though.

2 things helped me pretty well:

a) a Tea made from Valerion Root extract, hop and melissa (balm) (is that the correct word??) - best to have a large large cup about an hour before you go to bed. Or if you're looking for a general tone done 3 cups throughout the day.

b) Putting my alarm clock away from my bed. When I woke up..usually about 2:26 am or whatever, I would get a little obsessed about the time....Putting pressure on my with stuff like "If you don't sleep now, you'll get 3 hours sleep max" or whatnot. So my therapist told me to put that clock far far away from the bed and not check for time when I wake up at night. And he also told me to use the time at night - with reading, putering, what not, something that wouldn't make me more alert. I usually only turned one small light on because more light makes me (obviously) more alert. I usually had another cup of my magic tea and after 20 minutes of reading or whatever, I'd get tired again and sleep almost instantly. Helped me really well and in the last 2 months or so, I've only had one case of nasty insomnia really.

Anyway. Hope you got some sleep, Miz S. Maybe it's just extra bad at the mo because you had so much work lately...

*sending sleep-allthrough-the-night energy you way*

"I am capable of, but sometimes not interested in making myself happy."

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Taking a warm shower helps (but only if it's right before you sleep). It's something about going from a warm into a colder environment that makes you drowsy.

And most importantly I think it's to stay calm. I know that when I get insomnia, and I've been trying to fall asleep for more than 2 hours then I tend to get very emotional and start crying and stuff. Trust me that doesn't help. So just try and stay as calm as possible I guess.

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A tea of hops and valerian definitely worked on me, leaving me sort of floppy and sleepy and strangrly happy. Can't recall why I was given the stuff, but I know something really stressful had just happened, and this was enough to almost completely put me out. Melissa, BTW, is usually called lemon balm, at least in N America, and it's incredibly easy to grow, sort of like cat nip. Camomile's good all around, but I don't think it's as strong as the others. And if I recall right, a cool room and warm bed are the best combination, though it does make getting up harder.
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I have terrible insomnia at times. I'll go to bed at 10:30 or 11 and I won't fall asleep until 2, or sometimes I'll slip in and out of sleep without realizing it, or I won't go to sleep at all. This year it only happens 4 or 5 times a month, but last year it was WAY worse. It happened every day and I missed alot of school because I was so tired in the morning. I went to the doctor about it, but the pills he suggested had many irritating/scary side-effects.

What I try to do is:
1. Drink warm milk (which doesn't always work, and tastes pretty nasty).

2. Try to relax and think of calm thoughts. I find that meditation often helps.

3. Counting. Honestly. Not sheep, but just counting in my head helps me get my mind off of whatever is keeping it busy.

And like Alaska said, keeping your alarm clock away from the bed helps too. If I'm still awake when the clock says 1:30, I'll sit and think about it forever. It's best just to not look at it.

Come check out what's goin on in Lucky's mind!
"Dream as if you'll live forever, live as though you'll die today."

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Lady Moonlight
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If none of the "cures" work, like Alaska says, you can always use the time. There was a really interesting article in Smithsonian magazine a couple of months ago (December issue, I think) about a guy who studies what night was like before electricity and what he's discovered. One of the things that struck me is that according to him, people in those days often didn't sleep solidly through the night. They'd sleep for a while, then wake up, talk, look at the stars, even visit their neighbors, and then go back and sleep for the rest of the night.

Some research indicates that sleeping for long stretches is not really how humans are built anyway. Unfortunately, it's how our societal schedule is structured these days, which makes it a bit rough if you don't conform to the norm. However, diversity is one of the things we're all about here, right? And non-standard sleep patterns aren't really any odder than "non-standard" sexual preferences, body types, etc.

So I guess the important thing is, do you feel like you're getting enough sleep? Do you feel healthy and reasonably rested? If not, the answer may be curing your insomnia, but it might also be finding a sleep pattern that works better for you.

[This message has been edited by Lady Moonlight (edited 02-22-2001).]

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Thanks for the vocab help, Milke.
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momma cat
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Looking up jetlag online might pop up a few ideas you haven't tried yet. Do you eat meals at standard times? That's suppose to help, and so is getting UV light during the day and not at night. Every light single light in my dorm is flourescent, so I bought some Christmas lights to make things less stark. But one neat side effect is it's really easy to fall asleep with all the lights off except my Christmas lights. Might have something to do with happy childhood memories. Also, one strand on the other side of my room from my bed is dim enough that me and my roomate can easily fall asleep, but bright enough that I can get up and move about the room without turning on any other lights. I love them

You can also buy melatonin supplements. They're suppose to make you fall asleep easily without feeling like your on drugs.
Good luck all!

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