How I Cured My Chronic Insomnia

by | Feb 20, 2013

Photo by Alyssa L. Miller

I don’t use the term chronic insomnia lightly. Have you ever heard of a kid who fakes naps during preschool just to placate the teacher? That was me.

Despite my parents letting me stay up to 9-10pm when I was 8-years old—way later than most of my peers (thank you Dad, you rock!)—I inevitably drove them crazy by waking up at the crack of dawn (literally) on weekends ready to kick off the day.

In high school I averaged maybe 5 hours of sleep a night. Even today I rely on the occasional Ambien to make sure I sleep through a flight or get enough rest the night before an important event.

My insomnia is multifaceted. I have trouble falling asleep because I am very sensitive to light (sometimes I joke that I have invisible eyelids). I’m also very sensitive to sounds and have difficulty getting comfortable.

Once I’m asleep, it’s also way too easy to wake me up. And once I wake up, falling back asleep in less than two hours is nearly impossible. I wake up at any hint of light entering the room, or any abnormal noise.

I’ve tried melatonin, tryptophan, St. John’s wort, camomile, kava kava and antihistamines. Most of them just make me extra miserable because I get groggy and drowsy, but still can’t fall asleep. Ambien has been the only prescription sleep aid that works for me without major side effects, but it is not for everyone and I certainly did not want to rely on it for my day-to-day sleep hygiene.

But with a combination of these techniques, I’ve been able to control my insomniac tendencies and boost my sleep to a solid seven hours a night.

9 Tips To Cure Insomnia

1. Get on a consistent sleeping schedule

This one is probably the most important. The circadian rhythms that control your sleep-wake cycle originate in a part of your brain called the hypothalamus (specifically the suprachiasmatic nucleus, for you neuroscience geeks).

These neurons are sensitive to light and work to sync your biological clock to regular light-dark hours. The more consistent these are, the stronger your body will respond to natural circadian rhythms and the easier it will be to fall asleep when you’re supposed to.

2. No interactive screen time 1 hour before bed

As mentioned above, bright light can impact your circadian rhythms and staring into a computer screen late into the night can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Working and other mental activity can also keep your mind alert and prevent it from relaxing enough to fall asleep.

I am acutely aware of how difficult it is to unplug when you’re a workaholic, but a good night’s sleep does more for my productivity than I could ever achieve in the 12th or 14th hour of my workday, so I’ve learned to disengage well before bedtime.

Though I haven’t had any problems from watching TV or a movie, it’s best to stay away from any devices that require input from you for the last hour before bed. This means you should turn off the computers, smart phones, video games and tablets, no matter how badly you want to level up. Instead, try to quiet your mind by taking a bath, reading a book, having some herbal tea, cleaning up the house, listening to music or practicing meditation.

3. Don’t eat too late

Eating close to bed time, particularly a high-calorie, heavy meal, is associated with poorer sleep quality. I’ve also noticed this in myself, and when I avoid late night eating I get better, more consistent sleep. If you’re hungry, try drinking a glass of water and going to bed on an empty stomach instead. You certainly won’t starve to death.

4. Exercise daily

The best sleep I ever got was when I was marathon training at 5am every weekday before school. I fell asleep like clockwork at 10:30pm every night. It was glorious.

Heavy exercise is certainly a great way to invoke sound sleep, but even moderate activity like walking 10,000 steps each day can make a big difference in sleep quality. If you aren’t sure how much activity you’re getting, a Fitbit pedometer might be a good investment.

5. No caffeine after 1pm

This one was hard for me to believe. I’d been a heavy coffee drinker from a young age, and never thought it effected my sleep one way or another. If I was really tired during finals, coffee never seemed to help much and there were a few times when I fell asleep not too long after having a double espresso.

I’m not sure if I changed or if my sleep cycle was just so messed up that I couldn’t detect relevant differences, but now that I’ve switched to drinking mainly tea I’ve noticed that if I drink any caffeine too late in the day it is harder to fall asleep. I try not to drink coffee after 12pm, but 1pm is sometimes more realistic.

6. Use a white noise machine

My old apartment was just two doors down from a bustling freeway off ramp, and as you can imagine the traffic noise was constant. As someone who is very sensitive to noise, this posed a tremendous problem.

I’ve tried sleeping with ear plugs, but I have small ears and find them very uncomfortable. The solution that works best for me to control noise disturbances is the Sleepmate, a white noise machine that is quiet enough to ignore but drowns out most other ambient noise. This thing is a lifesaver if you’re stuck in a noisy neighborhood.

7. Black out shades or sleep mask

I realized early on that I’m sensitive to even the slightest amount of light in a room, even small ones like a laptop charging light.

If you’ve taken care of all the light sources inside your bedroom but are still bothered by light that sneaks in under the door or through the window, consider getting some black out shades or a sleep mask. The shades work great but can be expensive and kind of ugly. If you go with a mask, I find that the cheaper, less cushy ones are the most comfortable. Mine looks a lot like this one for under $2.

8. Don’t drink too much alcohol

Though a small nightcap can often help me relax and fall asleep faster, too much alcohol is proven to disturb sleep and can cause you to wake up early. If you like to party, keep in mind that it may be impacting your life in more negative ways than you think.

9 . Practice mindfulness

Though light, noise and bad habits all play a role in my sleep problems, I’m convinced that at the root of it all is a wandering mind. These other factors just add levels of distraction to my already overstimulated brain.

In our plugged in world, constant interruptions are making it progressively difficult to keep your attention on a single task long enough to get it done. For me, the nightly task that eludes me is sleep.

Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis (e.g. spending a few seconds a day focusing on my breathing or taking the time to eat a bite of food slowly with my eyes closed) gives me the power to truly relax my mind when I’m trying to fall asleep rather than letting it drift to all the things I need to get done the following day.

Mindfulness isn’t easy, but the only way to get better is through practice. Whenever you’re waiting for an elevator, standing in line, walking up stairs, taking a bite of food, take a few seconds to reflect on where you are and how your body feels. Focus on a few breaths, in and out, and get accustomed to letting go of your worries. The longer you can sustain this practice the easier it will be to let go of your problems and get a good night’s sleep.

What helps you sleep better?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
You deserve to feel great, look great and LOVE your body
Let me show you how with my FREE starter kit for getting healthy
and losing weight without dieting.

Where should I send your free information?

151 Responses to “How I Cured My Chronic Insomnia”

  1. mattser says:

    Hi.

    Tips –

    1) cut out coffee altogether. Drink tea but not after 4pm.

    2) don’t over sleep on weekends

    3) do some exercise in the early evening and early in the week (to aid transition to work day week) – in my case swimming

    4) switch off phones/laptops after 9pm.

    After doing all of these I still may wake up to visit bathroom but will go back to sleep before I know it.

    finally if you have a kid in your house that wakes you up (but they still manage 12 hours) … buy a bigger bed and let them sleep in the middle ;-)

  2. tim says:

    I have on the average an hour of sleep a night. I’m 48, extremely ad-hd, ptsd, depression, and stressful social and family life.
    I worry excessively and cannot my brain off. It’s making me crazy.
    I have been on crazy doses of ambien ( 30mg) with soma and Xanax …still no go.
    They simply cannot go any higher. The natural stuff , needless to say doesn’t even make me a little tired.
    Any ideas??

    • Georgina says:

      That depends on what kind of natural stuff you take or have taken, because there is so many different types out there.
      Ordinarily I would suggest 5htp for anxiety, gaba for controlling your thoughts.
      How much you should take is up to how much your body needs, they say always start off with a low dose and then increase it slowly until you find it working for you. And also check with your doctor or on the label of the bottle to see the maximum dosage because you don’t want to overdose, that would do more harm than good.
      5htp works by increasing the serotonin in your body which controls anxiety, depression and sleeplessness.
      At the same time I would also try something like yoga and meditation, maybe even acupuncture. A nice warm bath before going to bed and listen to some soothing relaxing music.

      And I would try to get off those drugs. They are not meant to be taken for the long term and will do more harm than good.

      It’s not an easy but others have been there too and have been able to come off prescription drugs or even harder drugs and have survived.

      Hope that helps?

    • joy says:

      I’m having trouble sleeping too, like going nights with no sleep. Yesterday I had a massage that was specifically for insomnia, it helped so much, i never knew i was so tense. And I slept 12 hours the next night. Also check out Calm Spirits, it is a Chinese herb that is good for you, it detoxes your organs and calms you be restoring normal blood flow. Also you may want to do a sleep study or CBTs.

    • Racquel says:

      Tim, hypnotherapy/hypnosis can work wonders. R

    • Marshall says:

      Hi Tim,

      it sounds like you need hard dosages, either go to the doctor and tell them your life is falling apart and it’s ruining your work, relationship. happiness etc – you need to go to the extreme and give them a 10+ on the ‘help me’ scale to get the doctors to listen to you and prescribe you something heavy duty. If the doctor you see doesn’t listen, see another one. Insomnia has almost no hard and fast cure and doctors are clueless about it. They’ll tell you ‘drugs are not a good option’ or ‘drugs are addictive’, ‘you shouldn’t be taking these’. No sh*t Sherlock, but what DO you recommend doc? Because in my 10+ years of being aware of my insomnia and all the research I’ve done – the only known cure is hardcore psychotherapy (expensive), hard sleep drugs, retirement, or alcoholism.

      None of the options are good. But I feel like you already know that. So, if you ever wanna talk about it or trade tricks and tips that have boosted sleep for atleast a couple hours a week – lemme know.

      • Milla says:

        I know right!! That must be one of the most frustrating aspects of true insomnia. People give this redundant and useless advice like, “Have a nice bath with essential oils, do this, do that…” And doctors brush it off when the sufferer is on the verge of tears from exhaustion and stressing out about never ever ever EVER being able to get into a deep sleep. Not even a little bit. Not ever.

        My brother is battling severe chronic insomnia at the moment, and it’s really getting him down. He finally found a doctor who was willing to refer him to a neurologist who works at a sleep clinic, so he might be able to go do the overnight study to at least see what happens in his brain at night, although I’m not sure how much that will tell him. Blood tests are all normal. Of course.

        I recently read online that ammonia (which is apparently a by-product of the breakdown of proteins) can build up in the body and eventually overwhelm the blood-brain barrier, causing irritation and metabolic disturbance of the neurons, resulting in severe insomnia. The article suggested lowering protein consumption (perhaps with a vegan diet, juice fast or fully raw vegan cleanse) and taking ornithine, glutamine and arginine, 3 amino acids which supposedly break down and remove ammonia from the body.

        Have you heard anything like that before?

      • Imovane says:

        I’ve tried fasting (5:2) and it totally flipped me out, actually hyped me up to a very uncomfortable level.
        I was drinking large juices of just veggies and staying under the 600 calories mark.
        I kept at it for 6 months to preserve, and found some great benefits (some mental clarity, lost some weight although that’s not great for me, I found it excercised a sense of control on my resource usage and that had a positive psychological effect etc). However on the actual fast days I hardly slept.
        Worth experimenting with if you’re in a stable place, but I’d recommend doing it with caution if your sleep is precarious.
        Some more info here
        http://oursleepdrive.net

        I’d welcome feedback and some of your story Marshall since I think it’s very engaged, informative and articulate.

        Good luck
        I M

    • Colin says:

      Hi Tim, the doctor should be able to help with different medications. I’ve been on and off different prescriptions for the past few years as my symptoms get worse and better. My doctor referred me to a specialist two years ago and we went through a list of medications and dosages for anxiety, depression and insomnia. The dosages ended up rather high so we decided to wean off the majority of it, for the past 18 months I’ve been taking very little (currently low dosages of zopiclone and xanax). I build up tolerances to pills rather quickly so it’s a struggle to find something that will work over the long run.

      Last year, I was enrolled in a stress reduction course based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness clinic. I’m still trying to integrate it into my day-to-day life but the yoga and meditation does help me fall to sleep easier at night. I think part of why it helps is that it builds a pre-bed ritual so I’m more able to fall asleep after completing it. I fell asleep in the middle of a meditation session at the stress reduction program!

      For the past two months, I’ve been doing a daily exercise routine and that has helped burn off some of the anxiety.

      I also suffer from excessive worry problems in the middle of the night. I’ve begun to see some improvements in the past few months – fragile improvement since a bad anxiety day can set off many bad insomnia nights but there is improvement. (I’m 46 and definitely had the anxiety issues as a kid although I didn’t know what it was back then; I have a long history of bad anxiety and stress).

      In my experience, there’s a place for medication along with other techniques. Some nights, only the pills can get me to sleep; other nights I don’t use them at all now.

    • Bob S. says:

      Tim,

      My wife’s mind works overtime a lot like yours! It doesn’t stop. She would be in the same condition as you if she did not take Klonapin (2mg/night). Nothing else helps except maybe soma on rare occasions. Just a word of warning — Klonapin is extremely hard to quit and it must be reduced gradually over months. My wife actually went through the withdrawal bit (with a million withdrawal symptoms) but, once she was off of it, her sleep became as rare as yours! Other pills in her arsenal were worthless. She felt like she was dying (because she was). So after a month, she returned to Klonapin and now sees it as a life saver and also as a pill for life.

      Bob S.

    • di from Oregon says:

      Ambien can effect your memory Tim. Can you get Dr Caroline Leafs book on controlling your toxic thoughts? Called: Who Switched Off My Brain.” It would help you, I’m sure. Google her to get it.

    • Ruxi says:

      Hello, Tim!
      (please excuse my poor Google-Translate-English)
      Your short story broke my heart. I am an insomniac too, I am also depressed – it seems to be a vicious circle here. My liver is worse day after day… I open every single day my computer and read hundreds of advice and opinions. Nothing worked yet.
      But I am writing to you because I recently read about EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques. My advice is to read on internet what you find, to download the free e-book (I think I’m not allowed to mention the author here) and to find a practitioner in your town.
      They say is also very good for PTSD.
      It seems to be a kind of stupid thing, but you have nothing to lose if you try. If I wasn’t so desperate, I would not have tried it.
      I didn’t cure my insomnia (probably because I didn’t find the root yet), but it works for me concerning headaches, allergies, cravings, sore throat, etc.
      I wish you all the best and hope to read here if something good happened to you.
      Fingers crossed,
      Ruxi

    • Angela M Jones says:

      You may look into detoxing from heavy metals. If you have any amalgams in your mouth, are a vaccinated person, consume food product in the US, or even use aluminum products (foil, deoderant, etc) you probably also have a certain amount of heavy metal poisoning. The problem is these metals- primarily mercury and aluminum cross the blood brain barrier with extensive uptake in the hypothalamus, thus dysregulating your circadian rhythm. It might sound crazy but really look into it. I had serious problems and had been on a gammit of meds. It wasn’t until I had 9 amalgam fillings removed (which I became severely toxic afterwards and lost a year of my life) that I saw this for myself, even as an RN. I still have problems sleeping, but not like I did. I also used to not dream or at least not much… now I dream all the time. If you’ve exhausted options, its worth checking into. Trust me (as I am sure you know), insomnia will make you crazy.

    • David says:

      I’m a pretty bad insomniac, and I’ve found that the right type of exercise helps. As a man, I’ve learned that running won’t cut it. I need my mind engaged and I have to exert some sort of aggression to level my testosterone. Since I’m dormant at a computer all day my competitive nature in a physical sense is desperate for activity. A punching bag has helped me a lot. I can get made at all the frustrations of my day (including insomnia) in a nonviolent way and after I’m done I feel a huge relief. It carrys into my sleep. When someone tells me I need to exercise for my insomnia I get a little annoyed because while exercise is never a bad thing- for me-it’s extremely important that I get the right kind of exercise. Running never seems to shut my mind off enough. I learned this from a therapist. She believes it’s very important for men to hit things and compete. I hope this helps some.

    • Gio says:

      Hey have you ever tried using Maca root. It sound to me like you have a serious hormone and neurotransmitter imbalance or defiency. Try gelatinized maca root powder. It stimulated the pituitary gland. Very good for restoring hormone to natural balance. Also practice meditation and mindful living.

      • Imovane says:

        Anyone prone to hyperarousal and hyper vigilance : be very careful with Maca.
        Just look on line for common aide effects of it and you’ll see it commonly throws peoples sleep badly since its essentially a stimulant.

        If you do suspect a high adrenal response, maybe try out Ashwagandh which is supposed to be more calming and result in better sleep. The other options are the common magnesium and vitamin C.

        Good luck
        I M

  3. Brian says:

    My problem and I think I’m finally realizing after many years and test is that I have a very fine tremor – more of a vibration that is preventing me from getting into restorative sleep. If you know what I’m referring to I’d love to hear from you. And any possible cures or treatments.:::

    • Lee says:

      hi Brian.. I would be looking at a magnesium deficiency for that symptom.
      Actually, I’d recommend everyone here have a hair mineral analysis to determine your mineral status plus if any toxic/heavy metals present. It has to be a hair mineral test, not a blood test as blood is not a true picture of what is happening in your body over the long term. Hope this helps.

  4. Dave says:

    You’ve simply regurgitated the advice on every other lame insomnia forum. I live on probably 1 hour/night. Nothing helps except a cuddle but they’re just too hard to get when you’re driven crazy with insomnia. Vicious cycle!

  5. Marshall says:

    You’re just repeating the same stuff everyone who really hasn’t had chronic insomnia says. Please, unless you have a specific medication or a referral to a successful psychoanalyst, please refrain from suggesting things like “clock watching”. If I hear one more person suggest yoga or tea, I’m gonna lose it.

    • Marshall says:

      Hey all,

      I started a website for people who have chronic insomnia, where people can share their stories, hardships, tips and tricks, about dealing with insomnia. I have a hard time finding others who have the same level of insomnia as me, and whenever I find stories of people having the same specific issues and feelings about it, it makes me feel better, if only ever so slightly.

      Anyway, share it round if you like, i’d love to get some fantastic content on there to help people like us.

      http://sleeplessinthebattle.tumblr.com/

  6. Claude Borel says:

    I’ve had insomnnia for all my life and it worked for me.

    I’m sorry it did nothing for you.

  7. Natasha says:

    I have horrible insomnia for a year. It started from health related stress and since that time I started waking up after 3 hours. I started trying medication and nothing worked until I was put on 300 mg Seroquel. I slept with it for several months but started tapering too fast since I was scared if this med. I stopped last September and tried sleeping with supplements. I was getting 2 hours of sleep and after 2 months could not take it and started Trazodone. I am still using Trazodone and I add Ativan when Trazodone does not work. With all these I am still getting 5.5 -6 hrs of sleep. Sometimes less. I am 46 and use to be very active. Now I have bad anxiety all day long and think about my sleep all the time. I am also dizzy during the day and my hands stated trembling. I am loosing hope that things can change and I am just wasting my life. I don’t enjoy anything and always scared. If you can give me some hope, I would appreciate it. I did tried everything natural, acupuncture, etc. I would love to talk to someone in similar situation… I just don’t know how to go on…

    • Nicole says:

      Natasha I’m in the same exact situation you are in. I sleep around 6 hours a night on seraquel but it doesn’t give me restorative sleep. I wake up around 4 or 5am. I’m always dizzy and in a kind asleep state. Like sudden movements make me jump. Such as someone talking to me or the dog barking. Have you found anything that helps you with this at all?? I’ve been looking everywhere for someone else in a similar predicament.

      • Natasha says:

        Hi Nicole,
        I haven’t found much help. The frustrating part is that I don’t feel drowsy and I cannot nap. I also feel dizzy during the day and my hands tremble. I tried Paxil because my Dr kept suggesting it, but I stopped after 2 weeks. My goal was always to get off meds and I will be happy even if I sleep as little as 4-5 hours but naturally. How much Seroquel do you take and how long you had your insomnia? What started it? What have you tried besides Seroquel?

    • Colin says:

      Hi Natasha, this sounds a lot like me. I’ve had many bouts of insomnia along with depression and anxiety (a trio of troubles). My doctor had taken me down many medications – mostly for sleep we did trazadone, zopiclone, remeron (my weight ballooned on this). Also anti-anxiety and anti-depressant pills. I ended up on a combo of seroquel and clonazepam with varying dosages between 2012 and 2013. I may have slept a bit better on the combo but it’s so hard to say – in those days I didn’t really track my sleep much and reported back that even the higher dosages weren’t doing much. So we worked out a tapering down over a number of months. I had the exact same reaction that you did – my sleep completely deteriorated down to 2 hours a night (I was waking up at 3AM and going to work since I couldn’t sleep anymore). I finally hit rock bottom and started to get what the doctors believe were a couple silent migraine incidents in early 2014 – the combo of work stress, life stress and lack of sleep took their toll.

      I’ve spent the last year trying to rebuild my sleep. From a medication side, I take zopiclone at times and I still have a Xanax prescription in case anxiety gets out of control. I’m a bit scared of getting back into the heavier prescription drugs; although for the anxiety I probably need something.

      I’ve tried to do all the sleep hygiene prescriptions: blackout curtains, a new bed, fixed sleep times, phone stays far away from my bed, spending a half hour writing before bed to get the thoughts out of my head. I took a mindfulness based stress reduction clinic program offered by a local hospital; adding those elements (yoga daily in the mornings, some meditation if I get home from a rough day) has helped. None of these has been a perfect solution but I track my sleep with my fitbit and last June to this June has been a large improvement although it’s not perfect. The anxiety side of it does seem to set it all off.

      I wish I had a better answer, if you’d like to discuss it more, please let me know. I’m trying to put together my own summary of the past couple years and comparing then and now.

      Colin

      • Natasha says:

        Hi Colin,
        thanks for reply. Can you tell me a little more about how you tried “to rebuild” your sleep? I also have high anxiety and I am obsessed about about sleep during the day. I know that’s my main problem and I need to do something about that. What helped you the most with your anxiety?

    • Colin says:

      Hi Natasha, I’m trying to put together in my head what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. Overall, there’s a few broad things that have seemed to improve conditions a bit I’ve been working with a psychologist for a few years to help understand why I feel anxious and what I can do about it. Mind Over Mood is a good book to help with generating replacement thoughts for the anxious thoughts – I’m not very good at this!( I’m still stuck in a very anxiety-prone state of mind but I’ve been like that for a long time). I’m trying to do a nightly journal to clear away some of my thoughts that run through my head at night and I keep a separate running log recording what occurs to cause daily anxiety. I still take half a xanax if the stress/anxiety gets overwhelming; almost always at work. The journalling does seem to help get me to sleep – I had tried it in the past with little success but for some reason I’m getting better results this time. I’m also writing much more before bed than I’ve ever done in the past.

      Overall with the sleep, I’ve made many of the changes outlined in the article above. One item that I found somewhere else had to do with vitamin D levels so I started to take 1000 IU per day a few months ago; on my last doctor’s visit, I had the official test and was still low so I’ve upped it to 3000 IU per day in the morning. That may have contributed to better sleep. I haven’t had another test done to see where I fall now.

      I did find that taking a mindfulness based stress reduction program also helped. It’s yoga and meditation program based on Jon-Kabat Zinn’s program that he runs down in Boston. The one I did was through a local hospital; 3 hour sessions once a week for 6 weeks. I’ve revisited the material earlier this year and have tried to incorporate some of it back into my day to day life. I do the yoga program before going to work in the mornings. I’m less into the meditation – but on bad anxiety days I’ll try to play one of the mp3’s after getting home and spend some time calming down.

      Another area I’ve worked on is general health. I’ve gone from 165 pounds to about 140 over the past year. I’m only 5’5″ so the weight loss has done me some good. There may be a correlation between the weight loss and the sleep improvements especially over the past three or four months.

      I still take zopiclone some nights to help get me initially to sleep.

      The anxieties are still troubling to me; I don’t want to be back on the high dose medications but I seem to need something for the emergencies. I also have social anxiety which I’m trying to work on by doing exposures to situations I would normally stay clear of; but working on this raises the general anxiety and panic; it’s a delicate balancing act.

      Hoping you can find some answers also. I’m not exactly where I want to be but I think I’ve improved over where I was a year or two ago.

      • This reminds me of the try-cyclic antidepressant my sleep doc once got me to try. It left me extremely skittish and jumpy.
        The good news was – it did sedate me fairly well. The bad news was the electrical storm zap-jitters that would hit my brain whenever a shock or unexpected noise occurred. And this was followed by the obligatory cold wash of clammy dread which would seep down from my head through my veins.

        I persisted with it for 6 months, until the dizziness, irrational anxiety, poor depth perception and aforementioned brain zaps ; became too much for me. Somehow I managed to go cold turkey off this – without any severe ramifications.

        I have tried Seroquel. Without very legitimate reasons, strong enough to stop me from being able to speak. Also scary hallucinations at night. This med is one step down from lithium, and should only be used for extreme dissociative disorders and schizophrenia. It’s a comatose sledge hammer not appropriate for insomnia. If you do not suffer from these relevant conditions; I would be seeking a second opinion immediately.
        Colin; you’re clearly well versed in this subject matter and have gone through a large portion of the journey.
        Natasha and Nicole; please please read the posts on the first page of this
        http://oursleepdrive.net/

        Also have a read of the first few paragraphs of the About Me section. It’s an article in a Health mag which I featured in. it will give you assurance that you are not alone, read through some of my low points.
        If there is anything I can do, advice or solace or explain something from the web site for your specific questions; please do not hesitate to contact me directly
        Marcus.mitford@gmail.com
        You really are not alone, the suffering is great, but I promise you can endure and you can eventually recover.

        (also; for all of us with intractable chronic insomnia – I wonder how long it will be before we face the ultimate last resort of a full month of extreme sleep restriction? I’m preparing for it. I’d be happy to do it as a group with anyone considering it. For support and solace, and sanity. I’ve done a 6 hour 2 week restriction before with compromised results. Looks like I’m facing a full month at 4.5 hours as a starting place)

        http://thesavvyinsomniac.com/sleep-restriction-up-close-and-personal/

    • Nicole says:

      Natasha,

      I’ve been on 200MG Seroquel for about a week now. But I have also been taking 7.5 Temazapam and 1.3 Melatonin just to get to sleep and it doesn’t always work. Plus I feel super out of it most of the day and very forgetful. I am the same as you anxiety makes me shake I think though. This started almost three months ago for me. How about for you? It is mostly a mental thing I think for me. I just need to be okay with the amount of sleep I am getting and try to focus on other things during the day and hopefully it will improve. Let me know if you find anything that works for you. I haven’t been able to fall asleep without meds as of yet but I hope to sometime soon. But I think the best thing to do is practice mindfulness and to not think about it during the day at all but to focus on life in general. The trouble I have is putting too much pressure on sleeping. Have you been able to fall asleep without medication? Seroquel works though for most people so you might want to check that out with your doctor. Nicole

  8. Claude Borel says:

    Hi Darya,

    Can you please delete my comment about the 12 rules above?

    I need it to be deleted

    Thank you

    Claude Borel

  9. Imovane says:

    Hello.
    We’ve all heard about sleep hygine, and I agree that if you develop it and refine it, then it can help. For instance; now we’ve all read the experimental results on iPhone, tablets and laptop blue light causing sleep onset issues if used late at night. Some of you will also have read about the ‘cooling cap’ study, where a cooled frontal lobe for an hour proceeding sleep results in quicker onset and deeper sleep. This is pretty straight forward science ; your body reaches ‘T low’ or lowest temperature – at its deepest relaxed point of sleep.
    I’ve been waiting for these studies to hot commercial application, and now there is an Android app that restricts blue light, but no commercially available cooling cap. Easiest fix = have a hot bath an hour and a half before bed, then allow your temperature to naturally drop. Also you can use a cooling gel eye mask – left in the fridge and then worn on the forehead for 30 mins before bed. Sure it looks stupid, but if you combine it with other pre sleep habits it will tune down the insomnia spikes.
    Clearly Mindfulness is the other core component, but it needs time and patience, and will be much more effective if you combine it with your other tactics.
    Bright light for 30 mins as soon as you wake up – although never do this if you’ve had a bad sleep. It only has a positive reinforcing effect if you’ve hit T low prior but in proximity to the bright light.
    Next let’s talk the lazy options, but who can blame us for wanting a quick fix when we’re suffering and can’t imagine life months ahead, let alone the years that habitual training requires.
    Phenibut is a very good nootropic that isn’t widely known. Developed in Russia and available from supplement stores on line. Extreme care must be used if you commonly use benzodiazepines or Z class (imovane, ambien), since it utilises the same GABA receptors in your brain (although this is an agonist, benzos are anxiolytic). Correct the science on that if you know it more accurately. Don’t use in combination with benzos, since it has the potential to slow respiration to a fatal level.
    L Tryptophan is synergistic with melatonin, it processes into 5HTP. You can take either, combine with melatonin supplements to increase the effect.
    L Glycine is a non-essential amino acid protein that the body stimulates during sleep, you can get that on line also.
    Combine these and you’ll have a fairly natural – and legally bought cocktail that will work to get you into a quick and stable sleep.

    There’s a lot of hype around Modafinil for daytime alertness and wakefulness, it has a very long half life so never take it unless it’s first thing in the morning – and don’t bother trying to sleep until it wears off after 15 hours. Supposedly it does trigger sleep when it wears off, for me it’s playing with fire since it peaks my over thinking consciousness – such that even if it does wear off, I’m in an anxious place so it makes it hard to believe I could get sleepy, and so it has a psychosomatic cycle.

    I’ve been reading a lot about neuroscience and neurotransmitters, seems to me that excessive mental chatter is likely due to a shortage of inhibitory neurotransmitters, potentially just an overly chatty right brain hemisphere. I’m fairly sure that as neurosci develops – it will show extreme insomnia as a neurophysiology reality, just like the old metaphor or a particular wiring of the brain. At least that would allow us sufferes to plaintively state it’s a physical condition / not something imagined which we should just get over.

    • imovmitford1 says:

      Has anyone had experience with sleep monitors? Specifically I’m deciding whether to go with Basis Peak or Beddit/Missfit.
      I’m interested to try it, but clearly the big hope here is that the quantified self movement plus Big Data will do a few things for us. 1. Take our personal data and feed it to a sleep specialist (who gives a shit) who can use this to make more accurate diagnosis and suggestions for treatment and sleep strategy. For instance if they noted you have a particular pattern they could recommend a tailored meditation and medication (perhaps slow release or opposite instant release).
      2. That the accumulation of such a huge population of sleep issue sufferers data could form an unprecedented library and offer more insight into patterns and revelations, which could feed back into point 1 to benefit each of us.
      3. That the huge proportion of people with sleep issues would create a normalising recognition of the issue, which may lead to social awareness, further funding for research (basically if companies are clearly aware of the market for treatments then they’ll do more R&D), and also a social/employment/relationship appreciation for the condition – so others won’t alienate us and compound our suffering.

      Does anyone think this is vaguely possible or even probable?

      Hope springs eternal

      • Colin says:

        Hi, I’m currently only using a fitbit flex set to sensitive mode. The data leaves much to be desired but I find if I use it as a rough grading tool it can help. It mostly tells me what I already know about how the night went but it helps me to realize that there are some good nights mixed in with the bad. It also shows me some improvement from last June when I bought the device (I’ve done alot of work on the sleep hygiene aspect in the past year).

        I had high hopes for the Withings Aura when it was announced but the early reviews last fall were not that great. Might check out their site again and see if there’s been improvements. There does seem to be an upswing in companies adding sleep tracking to their devices – I have a few other products that I’ve checked out online; none seem to be quite right yet. I have the same hope as you that as more data is collected some solutions can be custom-tailored to the person.

        There’s also a new class starting on Coursera this week on sleep – it discusses some of the latest research into the biology and sleep disorders.

      • Hi Colin; have a quick look at the Tech and Gadgets section here. Only fledgling at the moment.
        http://oursleepdrive.net/

        Feel free to collaborate or feed in your insights

        regards
        I.M

  10. Here’s another good blog/rescource for people who have more serious sleep issues

    http://Oursleepdrive.net

    I’ll link it to this blog, it’s very helpful.

  11. Tanya says:

    I have chronic insomnia, I usually get like 1-2 hours of sleep a night. I too have tried a lot of things. lots of medication, over the counter stuff like melatonin does not work at all. If meds do help they have to be pretty heavy stuff. Natural things like chamomile, a warm glass of milk, a bath, reading. they don’t work either. I feel like I’m at my whits end, I need to find a heavy sleeping medication!! I have tried seroquil, ativan, magnesium, none of them worked so far…i know my route cause of insomnia but it’s something thats not curable…soo does anyone know a good strong medication for extreme chronic insomnia? thanks.

    • Marshall says:

      I hear you – I haven’t tried Imovane yet – but apparently it’ll knock you out. I’ve been using over the counter pills ‘Sleep Eze’, but a dosage of 300mg instead of 25mg, the main ingredient is Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride, I built a tolerance over the years, obviously, but have peaked at 6 of the extra strength pills (50mg each totalling 300mg). I mean, there’s still the odd night where my brain overpowers the drug but…. it fights the battle pretty hard.

      The other thing that’s come to light over the past year was figuring out ways to manipulate your brain, or outsmarting it. My brain is constantly finding reasons to keep me awake, with 6 thoughts at once, so I’d try and jump-start a dream or a fantasy that involves world building, to distract from the thoughts.

      The other big revelation was simply accepting my insomnia – instead of saying ‘here we go! Another night of no sleep’. Id say to myself ‘Listen. You have insomnia – it’s a thing in your life, there’s nothing you can do’, it’s crazy – but the thought of ‘I can’t fix this’ would relax my brain a little bit, and hopefully the insomnia tendrils would loosen their grip for a bit.

      It’s all about letting go. Letting go of the idea that you can control the situation, letting go of the idea that ‘I don’t deserve this – why am I the one who has this’.

      And if it’s a REALLY bad: vodka. It sounds terrible, but if its a choice between a hangover or zero sleep – I’ll choose the hangover if I have to. (I often reccommend that to doctors just to see their reaction – when they get butthurt about it I say “Oh okay – well what would you recommend then?”… every time, they just shrug and say “I don’t know but I wouldn’t do that”. One guy did admit to me that for the most part – doctors are well under qualified in the sleep disorder department.)

      I’m rambling. Anyway – good luck – if you find a good drug – let me know. And if you feel like sharing your bad nights or your good nights (even if it’s only one a year), i’m trying to start a tumblr where chronic insomniacs can dish the dirt on the REAL insomnia – without recommending bullshit like ‘yoga’ or ‘tea’ http://sleeplessinthebattle.tumblr.com

      • Imovane says:

        I love your perspective on all of this Marshall. It’s been inspiring for me and had direct influence over my slowly improving sleep.

        Tanya; that sounds grim. I’ve been there many a time. Is it by chance winter where you are? I always get to the ‘I can’t endure this’ (and feelings of veering irrecoverably into sleep-dep psychosis) in winter.

        The good news is that you haven’t actually broken yourself, although you’re suffering – it definitely can improve.
        Similar to Marshalls sage blog, I have one here
        http://oursleepdrive.net/

        Head to the herbal meds and Nootropics section. A careful foray into Phenibut (very careful if you use benzos or Z class, such as my names sake Imovane) should have a powerful effect. Please read the warnings comments/threads.

        And vodka. Yes. I’m afraid so. They key here (ONLY if you’re really at your last resort) is to keep the bottle next to the bed. Alcohol will knock you out (vodka preferred since it has no pure sugar which can override sleep) for around 4 hours. It then releases cortisol – which wakes you up and is actually a direct impact on stress and anxiety. How to deal with that when you have no other option; 1 shot before sleep, and another shot when your body springs awake 3 or 4 hours later.

        Ugly habit and clearly unhealthy, but as Marshall says – compared to a fortnight on zero sleep, I have a constant stock for emergencies. The sheer fact that you know you have a fall back option, may have feed back effects on your psychological burden of the I word (I also prefer not to utter the word insomnia too often, since it seems to be a self fulfilling prophecy).

        Good luck, everything will be okay. Stay strong.

        I.M

      • Tanya says:

        Yeah it is grim :P No its not winter here, its actually summer. Yeah I sometimes get a case of the blues in winter. Has anyone tried Xanax? Does it seem to work?

    • Georgina says:

      Have you tried Niacin? Yes a simple B vitamin which according to one doctor acts as a benzodiazepine in your brain depending on the dosage you take. As with everything start off with a low dosage otherwise you will get the extreme Niacin flush which will go away but can be quite uncomfortable and may put you off it. Niacin can also be good for depression, for arthritic pain and even for schizophrenia.

      • Niacin is a mild stimulant. Avoid taking it at night.

        However; read a bit about Picamilon.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picamilon.

        GABA agonist which also metabolises into a small amount of niacin. The GABA effect dominates the mild stimulant and will help you sleep well.
        Again; tread carefully if your GABA receptors are already over used from benzos. Best to take a very small dose to begin with and experiment carefully to find your own correct dose.

        Regards
        I.M

What do you think?

XHTML: You can use these basic html tags such as <a>, <b> and <i>.

Want a picture next to your comment? Click here to register your email address for a Gravatar you can use on most websites.