Tuesday, October 8, 2019

TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DREAM

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

"To sleep, perchance to dream" is from Hamlet and actually refers to death and the hope for a dreamlike state without problems. I don't want to die. I want to sleep at night and stay awake during the day, but I thought the quotation worked. Does it? I can't think clearly.

My sleep problems keep getting worse. I couldn't sleep Saturday night. I made myself stay awake on Sunday. I was so sleepy.

So I went to bed about ten o'clock Sunday night, put on my C-PAP, and I lay there hour after hour, wide awake. I took off the C-Pap. Couldn't sleep. I finally decided to get up and read at about 4:30 a.m. Around 10:30 I fell asleep and didn't wake up until about 6 p.m.

So of course, I couldn't sleep last night (Monday). Here I am on Tuesday morning. What do I do?


This sleep thing is causing a serious problem with my work. I've tried all sorts of things that I've read online. Don't sleep during the day. No caffeine after 6 p.m. Get some exercise. Practice good "sleep hygiene," which means having clean sheets and a comfortable bed and pillows, no internet or looking at your phone, use your bed for sleeping--not for reading or watching TV.  You name it and I've probably tried it.

Yes, I have a lot of worries, but I don't think they're keeping me awake. I don't know what's keeping me awake. My doctor knows I have this problem. The last time I saw her she became irritated with me, to put it nicely. She thinks I'm not doing what I should. Now I don't feel like going to see her.

I do have odd work hours. That gets in the way of regular sleep, but even if I'm off work for a while, I can't sleep at night.

After not sleeping for 24 hours or so, I feel pretty uncomfortable about going to work because I have to get home at midnight. What if I can't concentrate at work and screw up something important? What if I fall asleep while I'm driving? How do I stay alert enough to get through work and get home?

I'm a mess.

You probably have suggestions for me. I welcome your ideas, but please forgive me if I'm grouchy. I'm tired.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Update: I appreciate your sympathy and suggestions. You came up with some things that hadn't occurred to me or that I didn't read in all the articles about how to fall asleep. I'm ready to turn off the computer for the night, drink my milk, and read for a while or watch something relaxing on TV. I'm experiencing something right now, however, that really has me thinking. As soon as I looked at the time and thought about bedtime approaching, I felt the anxiety grab me--that clenching in my stomach and the thought that I'll get no sleep. I believe now that my anxiety plays a much bigger role in this problem than I thought it did when I wrote the post this morning.

45 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry, Janie! Having to worry about work must be adding to your stress tremendously. And shift work is the worst, since your body never has time to adjust. Maybe take a bus or cab this one time, if you don't want to miss a day? Sounds like you've tried all the standard remedies. Did you ever go the herbal route? Supplements like Melatonin, Valerian and 5HTP are supposed to help, although, they didn't do me any good. Nyquil also makes a sleep aid and there's an herbal tea called "Sleepy Time", neither of which I've tried. Here's hoping you get some sleep, soon! Don't know what else to suggest...

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    1. I've used Melatonin. It doesn't work for me anymore. I've had Sleepy Time tea--nope. All the medical info about sleep aids such as Nyquil and Benadryl say that they might help for a while, but then they make things worse. I don't know about Valerian and 5HTP, so I'll check on those. Thanks, Debbie.

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  2. I hate sleep issues and have them periodically. I think everyone does. That's too bad about your doctor.
    Normally, I only have caffeine in the morning and I take melatonin. Even so I'm an occasional 4:30 reader too.

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    1. PS Good luck and I hope you sleep well tonight.

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    2. It's a little after noon and I'm struggling to stay awake.

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  3. I once took a class on Milton Erickson's Uncommon Therapy and not sleeping was one of the areas addressed. Falling asleep isn't a conscious effort. The more we worry and "will" ourselves to get to sleep, the more we worry, get frustrated, and fail. Erickson would prescribe the opposite. Force yourself to stay up a full twenty four hours to get back into a more normal sleep cycle- or something to that effect. It's been years since I read his book.

    But I have utilized the basic principle of it. If I don't fell sleepy, I'll get up from bed and do something boring, like ironing. Pretty soon, my mind is calm and I'm ready to sleep. The trouble is when I need to get up early or be alert- like you say, to drive. Then you're in a pickle because I do try to avoid napping. That definitely messes up my night time sleep schedule.

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    1. That's interesting: the harder I try to fall asleep, the more difficult it is to fall asleep. I've been awake for a little more than 24 hours now. I struggle to keep my eyes open. I like the idea of doing something boring when I can't sleep. Good suggestions. Thanks, Elizabeth.

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  4. Another thing I used to do when I was a teen and insomnia was a big problem- I would practice holding my breath. Deep breath in, count as long as I could, slow breath out. I used to swim a lot and holding my breath for underwater was something I would always practice. Now, I realize I was doing a bit of mediation and slow breathing. It still works when my mind is racing. Sort of like counting sheep but with a goal. To hold my breath longer each time. (Which may not be wise with a cpap)

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    1. I'm sure it's a good idea, but you're right: it won't work well with a CPAP. So you also had problems with insomnia when you were a teen. I remember my insomnia starting when I was in high school.

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  5. Sleep disorders and anxiety usually go hand in hand, even if you're not staying awake consciously worrying about issues. Treating the underlying anxiety may resolve the sleep disorder. Maybe discuss that with your doctor (or with a new doctor).

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    1. Oh, I'm filled with anxiety, even if I don't know I'm thinking about it when I go to bed. I take an antidepressant and medication to help with the anxiety. My psychiatrist says my medication is appropriate and I need to see a therapist. I have an appointment: first available is Dec. 26th. At least it's this year. I'm also on the list of patients to call when someone can't come in. I wouldn't be surprised if 25 or even 50 people are on the list ahead of me. I don't care about the therapist, though. I've seen several of them and not one has ever helped me. I find that they suggest the same things over and over, and the suggestions are of no use to me. On the rare occasion someone says I should do x and y, and x and y would actually help, there's always a reason that I can't do them--not enough money or whatever. I was so miserable when we left Maryland and moved to Illinois that a psychiatrist said to my husband that the obvious answer was to move back to Maryland. X cried. I explained that we couldn't go back because he'd lost his job in Maryland and it had taken a year for him to find one in Illinois. However, I shouldn't have left Maryland. I should have stayed in my house and kept my job. woulda shoulda coulda

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  6. My only suggestion is no caffeine at all. Some people are very sensitive (not me, but I know such folks) and if this sounds too daunting, try no caffeine after noon, i.e 12:00pm.
    So sorry you are afflicted. It affects everything, as you said.

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    1. I don't drink coffee, but I love Diet Pepsi. I don't think I drink large amounts of it, but I have at least one glass every day. Maybe I should trade my Diet Pepsi for the caffeine-free version. Most restaurants don't have caffeine-free, but I could drink water. It would save me some money, too. Thanks, Mirka. I know I don't drink enough water.

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  7. Insomnia is a very difficult problem to treat and your doctor was a jerk (or jerkess). Can you find another doctor or is that too tough to do? I would demand to talk to a specialist in this field although not sure a sleep specialist is in your area. I had a bad night last night but I can sleep normally. The problem I have is I too get very tired and I am scared in driving. I roll the window down and i start talking to my mom (yes, she is dead). I did this the last time because i was scared and was very close to pulling over but i was working. It sounds stupid now that I didn't pull over. I have been falling asleep at work with my fingers on the mouse waking up to seeing gobblegook written in word. I went for a sleep study and they thought I needed a CPAP but i don't and I can't wear something like that. My number for apnea was ever so slight. I am dizzy too now so I think it is my tooth that needs to be yanked. I know it is infected and the dentist said to have it yanked. I have been putting it off because of insurance is maxed but I have no choice now. When did your insomnia first happen? What events in your life were happening? Have you tried a naturalpath? Are you in menopausal hell like me? You have tried a lot already but, sometimes, there is a trigger but once that trigger leaves the "habit" has formed. How to break it is the key. When my hubby has a tough time to sleep he takes some sleepease stuff and that puts him out...I know because he snores the high heavens

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    1. It was very difficult to get the doctor I have. She's usually nice. If she's pissed off the next time I see her, I'll look into finding a different doctor but it won't be easy to get someone else. I did a sleep study, although I haven't seen a sleep specialist. I didn't know there was such a thing as a sleep specialist. I can Google that. I have sleep apnea, so I use a CPAP. I first had insomnia when I was in high school. The anxiety of being around the nasty people at school probably caused the original insomnia (I was extremely sensitive and self-conscious). When I had my kids, I didn't have insomnia but they woke me up frequently. I was always exhausted. I went through the major part of menopause more than 10 years ago. I take a low dose of estrogen, which stopped the hot flashes. I've never seen a naturalpath. I can also Google that to learn more about it. My job causes me huge anxiety. I'm starting to think that the anxiety is a big part of the problem, even though I think that I'm not thinking about it when I go to bed. It's so deep in me that it's probably causing problems all the time. Thanks, Birgit.

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  8. I agree with Mirka. Try eliminating caffeine, which (gasp!) includes chocolate. Yeah, I know. That sucks. Big time. But, if it works, it's totally worth it. A glass of milk about an hour before bed helps me, too. Good luck!

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    1. You and Mirka have me pretty well convinced that caffeine has to go. Although I love chocolate, especially dark chocolate, I don't eat it very often these days. I'm sure that's a good thing. I almost always drink a glass of milk during the evening so that's a good start.

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  9. There is a reason so many cultures use sleep deprivation as torture. It is.
    Good luck. I do hope you escape the torturers grasp soon.
    The other (mostly) human inhabitant of this house often sleeps for ten hours at a stretch. And is asleep before his head hits the pillow when he turns the light out. I am consumed with jealousy.

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    1. I'm so sleepy now (I've been awake about 26 hours) that I can't even imagine how awful sleep deprivation can be when it's used as torture. Penelope sleeps with me. She doesn't keep me awake. She's wonderfully quiet and snuggly. X went back and forth between sleeping for hours and keeping me awake with his snoring, and being up and down, restless because of mania. The mania was horrible. He woke me up constantly, but it's more than 10 years since I had to put up with that. Habits and anxieties become ingrained in us, though. Those years of dealing with his snoring or mania are probably still part of me.

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  10. A couple of years ago I stayed at a Crown Plaza and by the bed they had this wonderful little sleep kit. In it was a pillow spray called Temple Spa Sleep Spray. When I got home I bought a bottle. I thought it was insanely expensive but I got it anyway. When I have a restless night now I spray the pillows with it, and then I sleep like a baby. It has a lavender base and is extremely calming.

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    1. I've seen lavender spray to use on pillows. I don't know if it would help, but it seems worth trying.

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  11. A lot of understanding and suggestions here, wish I could add something but thankfully I have never had trouble sleeping.

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    1. I'm glad for you, Jo-Anne, because I'm sick of this.

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  12. Oh no. That doesn't sound good at all. Somehow your circadian rhythm got mixed up. Mixing up your internal clock of day time and night time. And driving when tired is a big no-no. I have sleep problems too, and losing too much sleep results in my chronic conditions flaring up. Perhaps see another doctor about this? Certain medications can also mess with your sleep. I take a really hot shower before bed, and it really helps me, even if I don't fall asleep right away. I'm really worried for you Janie. I hope you get to sleep again soon, and that your body gets back into a good sleep routine again.

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    1. Don't worry, my sweet Murees. I have lots of good suggestions and I'm already planning changes. I'm grateful that it's a little cooler now so Franklin and I have started to go walking, which we can't do usually from the end of May until sometime in September. The exercise perks me up. The medications I take are supposed to help me sleep. When I was a newspaper reporter and drove my daughter to and from prep school, I had a terrible time staying awake while I was driving. So far I haven't had problems with driving home at night, but it concerns me. I always hook up my GPS even though I don't need it because it help to keep me alert.

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  13. I wish I had something to offer, but I do not. I wonder if you ever will find a good solution.

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    1. I don't know if I'll solve the problem, but I'm certainly going to try. I don't think it can get much worse.

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  14. That sounds horrendous, Janie. I rarely have trouble sleeping so I feel like I shouldn't even comment and say that, it's like rubbing salt in a wound, but I wanted to mention what does work for me the odd time when I can't sleep. Two things. First, I have my happy place to go to that relaxes me - thinking about a craft I want to work on or trying to think of a new variation on an old craft - the idea is to get engrossed in thinking about or planning something pleasant. The second thing is if I wake up and can't get back to sleep and I'm thinking how awful I'll feel the next day, I tell myself that lying there resting is at least helping my body more than being up and around. I just try to sink into the "resting" experience.

    I feel for you. My daughter has quite high anxiety and chronic health issues, and it's all made so much worse by her insomnia. Hers started before she was even out of elementary school. Good luck; there are some good suggestions to follow up on in the comments.

    And a note about pissy doctors - there's nothing much worse than having an impatient or condescending doctor or arrogant doctor - it's the antithesis of empathetic behavior. Before switching, though, if you have the same experience again, try saying calmly to her how her behavior appears and how it makes you feel. She may not realize it, and although it may not change your decision to go elsewhere, she may need to hear it in order to be a better doctor to others who come after you. And who knows - maybe she is a big enough person to accept the feedback and try to do better with you.

    Good luck, my dear.

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    1. I'm so sorry for your daughter. That's an excellent suggestion about dealing with the doctor.

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  15. Oh My Goodness Janie I could have written this letter. Except you left out the recurring infection that keeps me running to the bathroom every hour or less.
    I hope the spray helps I will have to look that up. I also hope you can get some rest soon.

    I see one doctor tomorrow and my regular doctor in January, The first appointment they could get me. I am ready to scream in other places besides the shower. I need medical help. I never sleep either.
    parsnip

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    1. I'm so sorry, parsnip. The infection alone would keep you from getting a decent night's rest.

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  16. I suggest whichever of these two is more fun:
    1) Do a hardcore zumba and cardio workout for 2 solid hours
    2) Get naughty with WDW

    Love ya.

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    1. I don't have to think very long to make that choice.

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  17. Oh, do I feel for you! I've never been a good sleeper and have had similar problems at times. I don't honestly have a solution. I know something that compounded the problem as time went on was my anxiety about sleeping. I would dread going to bed at night. And, yeah, sleeping for a good part of the day -- making up for the sleep I missed, although the sleep was wonderful, just made things worse the next night. I hope you get through this soon. I know good exercise earlier in the day did tend to help. It WILL pass.

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    1. Thanks, Mitchell. I slept well last night after being awake for more than 24 hours.

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  18. Hi Janie - I do feel for you ... as anxiety seems to be the non-key for a good sleep ... take care and do what you can to relax ...cheers Hilary

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    1. I slept last night, Hilary. I don't know about tonight.

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  19. I first had trouble sleeping in junior high. When I went through insomnia hell during menopause--looking back, I wondered if hormones could have been part of the problem in my life. My aunt had terrible insomnia during menopause and they put her on hormone replacement and she was able to sleep again.

    I take melatonin, as you know, but I still have occasional nights where I am awake till dawn for no apparent reason. I often think that maybe there is something bothering me that I am trying to ignore and NOT think about (like my health issues since June, for example). If it is squirrel-brain I make sure I have no TV or internet, put on relaxing music, dim the lights, slow my breathing down, and try to focus my thoughts on something happy I am looking forward to--like planning how to reorganize my studio or visualize how I want to make some cards.

    There are sleep specialists if nothing is working. Or a counselor/therapist might help--if you get a decent one. The lack of sleep causes anxiety-->anxiety cause lack of sleep. It's a vicious circle that I have had to break many times in my life. *hugs*

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  20. I fought this battle and lost a long time ago. I raised the white flag, got a prescription, and have been taking it for 30 years. Yes, benzos at bedtime for 30 years. The doctor said this might be a problem when I get older, and I said, "Well, you gotta die of something." Pry those benzos out of my cold, dead, hands, because I can't stand insomnia, and they work.

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    1. I take an antidepressant and anti-anxiety meds. I don't think they work anymore.

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  21. It seems you've tried all of the things. Yoga? Might be nice right before bed - simultaneously tiring and relaxing.

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  22. Sorry I am late seeing this post. Wish I had some advice, but I have my own messed up circadian rhythm issues. I just gave in to my sleep cycle and do the best I can with it.

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  23. Yes, that last thing you wrote is what I was thinking, that you were already stressed out about not being able to sleep before you even got into bed. My son had trouble sleeping as a child...We would go through the same routine, brush teeth, bedtime story a kiss goodnight. It would take over an hour before he would slerp, often longer. I looked in on him omce, he had his eyes tightly closed and he said he was trying very hard to sleep...no no I told him, I took one of his dolls( the Raggedy Andy) and showed him how to let his body relax and just sink into the bed. After thst, no more sleep problems! Wished I had noticed his scrunched up eyes sooner! I am sick and on steroids, it is now about 530 am and I have been awake since 3am!






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  24. This would make a great chapter in a book.

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