How I Cured My Chronic Insomnia

by | Feb 20, 2013
Photo by Alyssa L. Miller

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 affected 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?

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247 Responses to “How I Cured My Chronic Insomnia”

  1. I tried to exercise half of hour per day and I found that really help so much. I can sleep earlier than before. Thank you for great tips. I will share this article to my friends. 🙂

  2. Rick says:

    Read your bible specially book of psalms, pray on your knees and ask God to grant you peace and sound sleep in the name of Jesus. Try it!!

  3. Mamabear says:

    My husband has had chronic insomina for about 15 years – I think that it all started when he was treated agressively for what the doctor thought was a kidney infection, which later turned out to the a prostate issue. Treating his insomina has been like peeling an onion – some things have worked well for a while, but must not have addressed the core issue. Here is what we have done:
    melatonin – initally helped, then did not
    caffenium ( homepathic remedy) – this consistently helped me return to sleep after a 2am waking and it helped him alot too
    GABA – this is helping alot; he does not talk and thrash as much on the nights he takes the GABA
    probiotics: beleive it or not, I think this is slowly helping; he takes probiotics and GABA most nights, so I am not sure which is helping more – the GABA helps me more than the probiotics
    CPAP machine: as you can imagine, this is a nuisance to wear; my husband lost 30 pounds and the sleep apnea abaded, so he stopped using it.
    valerian tonic: this smells and tastes awful but seems to work. the trouble is getting into your body.
    FOR ME – I struggle to get quality sleep during my cycle. DIIM has really helped – this is a dirivitive of cruciferous vegetables and it soaks up the extra estrogen in your body. This was a God-send for me.
    I hope this helps someone ~

  4. Megan Plante says:

    Hi Dayra,

    I read your article this morning on your chronic insomnia. I’ve suffered from chronic insomnia since I was a kid. It comes in phases, and the past six weeks is the strongest phase of insomnia I’ve ever had. Even with sleeping pills, I often don’t sleep (I live in Peru, and take Noptic 2 mg (Escipziclona) when I go through a bout of insomnia). I am very sensitive to stress, and have taken myself out of every stressful environment imaginable…I even moved to a different apartment because my roommates stressed me out so much that I stopped sleeping (3 days in a row with no sleep even after taking sleeping pills and having to work the next day is pretty hard to tolerate).

    Here’s my question: I’m a 24 year old female, avid weight-lifter, and **try** as best as possible to maintain a regular sleep/wake schedule, exercise schedule, and work schedule. Sometimes my work schedule gets a little wacky when I have to work in the communities for 12 hours a day, but normally it’s 9-6, then gym time, then I get ready for bed.

    I just don’t know what else I can do, and psychiatric therapy doesn’t really help that much either (been doing that on and off since I was a kid). I just was wondering what your personal perspective is on the problem…I’m desperate…I slept 2 hours last night after taking a sleeping pill and I don’t know what else I can do! On such little sleep, I can’t maintain a regular exercise schedule, then it’s just a downward cycle from there…

    Please respond to me…Thanks!

    • Megan Plante says:

      PS–Sorry for talking in circles…I’m running on 2 hours sleep here…

      My question is how do I maintain a regular exercise schedule when I don’t sleep? Regular exercise requires good sleep so that your muscles recover…No sleep means no lifting, which disrupts my regular exercise schedule…How would you manage that?

    • Darya Rose says:

      I’m not a psychiatrist, but it sounds like anxiety to me. I’d talk with someone who specializes in anxiety, maybe CBT. It’s possible stress reduction practices, possibly with help from anti-anxiety meds, may help more than sleeping pills.

  5. Brian says:

    I’m getting desperate to find a solution to my problem. 3 or 4 times a week I wake up feeling like I haven’t slept. Many times more tired than when I fall asleep. I wake up every 20 to 30 minutes. I seem to dream excessively. I have had 3 sleep studies. The conclusion was that I don’t get enough restorative sleep. No kidding. Then I would get some medication for it. 25mgs of Elavil the last time. After 7 years on it with no benefit and with the doctor’s supervision I weened myself off it. And I’m no better off. There must be a solution. This doesn’t seem to that common a problem. My symptoms specifically. On the bad days it is hard to function. I have had physical exams that reveal nothing. I drink 2 large coffees in the morning. Never anything after 11am. I guess that would be the next thing to try. Ween myself off coffee. Any suggestions. I’m very much against medication.

    • Imovane says:

      Sounds like paradoxical insomnia to me Brian. Hard one to tackle. Have you considered buying a sleep tracker (I have a BASIS Peak, but Fitbit and Jawbone are also meant to be good).
      I found that it was positively reinforcing to see an objective measure of my sleep, unreliant on my own subjective experience of sleep.
      Could be a step forward for you.
      Some good info here

      Good luck

  6. Tom Riddle says:

    The same BS sleep hygiene tips.

  7. Megan Plante says:


    Sleep hygiene: find a routine that works for you every night. I stop looking at my laptop, cell phone, tv (anything with a screen) by 9 pm (9:30 at the latest, only when necessary). I’ve found that the light from the screen gives me really awful tension headaches.

    I have an insomnia journal that I keep handy for when I feel tense before bed. During an insomnia phase, I write in it every night. When I’m sleeping better, I use it as necessary.

    Doing yoga in the mornings has helped me a lot also (sounds cheesy…I’m a weight lifter and never thought yoga would be for me, but it’s pretty awesome). It’s helped me to be more aware of tension in my muscles, poor breathing habits, and how the two are intertwined and cause further stress/tension.

    I think a lot at night. My mind never shuts off. So before I’m ready to lay down for bed, I go ahead and open up my Spotify app on my phone and when I’m ready to sleep, I listen to meditations, relaxing music, etc., to keep myself distracted and not think so much.

    I always keep a sleeping pill within arm’s reach just in case. During a bout of insomnia, I take them every night. When I’m sleeping better, I keep it handy if I need it.

    In the morning when you wake up, open your curtains before turning on your light. The natural day light helps reset your sleep/wake cycle.

    While at work, try to escape from your desk (or work environment) to go for a walk during your lunch hour, or even just go outside for a 5 minute break if you don’t have time to go for a walk.

    Dayra was really nice and responded to my desperate comment/emails, and I’ll try to do the same. I hope my suggestions help.

  8. Rayca says:

    I have to say that #6 has made a huge improvement for me. I use a fan, not a white noise machine. Basically same thing. It took me a while to realize how much better I was sleeping and realized I had been using my fan (even in winter, turned away from me) through the night. It’s not perfect. Stress will derail any quality sleep for me but a fan works pretty darn good.

  9. banana moon says:

    There are many books in about insomnia. My favorite is “The effortless sleep method”. It costs only few dollars and it’s very very useful.Clearly written and easy to understand. I now sleep through the night.

  10. Tara says:

    Thanks for the tips. Does anyone have any tips on how to wean off Xanax. I have been using .5 mg xanax at night to help sleep but now am dependent again. I dont want to go cold turkey. Unisom seems to help but I have a big hangover. Unisom you can get over the counter at the drug store. Any opinions?

  11. nancy says:

    I’ve had insomnia in varying degrees for about 15 years, the last 10 it’s become severe and chronic. I’m sure many are helped by sleep hygiene methods but for hard core insomniacs they are of little use. I as a habit practice them but regardless, they are of no effect. For the die-hard insomniac it’s infuriating to have the sleep hygiene methods suggested over and over when you know it just plain doesn’t work. I average about 5 hrs sleep in fits and starts. A few hours here, a few there. The only reason I manage to get 5 is that I normally don’t have to be at work until 9:30 which allows me an extra hour or two. It’s 2:30 a.m. now and despite going to bed at 10:00 I’ve gotten 1 hour sleep so far, will probably doze off for a couple of hours and then be up at 5 again. Needless to say I struggle all day to perform needed tasks and do this in a fog of grogginess. Reading some of the comments from those who’ve tried many methods with no success I feel great empathy. Despite making a person irritable, depressed, confused and in a daze, people who don’t have this problem in its serious form cant appreciate how all that anxiety, frustration, daily grogginess etc… can make your life a life half lived and in some cases a train wreck. I’ve tried numerous medications over the years,some were mildly helpful for periods of time but lost their effects in 6 months to a year. I doubt there’s a magic bullet out there for most of chronic insomniacs (and I repeat, I use all the sleep hygiene stuff) but it would be nice if people didn’t keep recommending me all the herbal and holistic crap. It has no effect whatsoever.

    • Georgina says:

      Nancy, I can emphasize with how you feel because I too am a bad sleeper. I suffer from insomnia on and off myself sometimes not sleeping throughout the night. Of course afterwards, I do catch up.

      I’ve noticed that whenever I can’t sleep my heart rate rises rapidly so I’ve gone on the internet looking at ways to lower my heart rate, and you know what? Whenever my heart rate is lowered I CAN sleep through the night.

      I guess what I’m saying is search around and try to understand the reason why you can’t sleep. There is always a reason, we are not meant to go without sleep. You know your body better than anyone else here, listen to the signs what it’s telling you and try to rectify it – if possible.

      Well I hope that helps?

  12. Vikki says:

    Wow, glad I found this place! It’s 1:27am and I went to bed 3 hours ago. I even caved and took a sleeping pill…nothing!

    Briefly put, I was Miss Energy as a kid but due to home and school problems, I got insomnia problems at about 15 or 16.

    Since then, it’s always been hit or miss, but watching something on TV that I knew and liked would work nearly 100% of the time. That stopped working but I began using Paul McKenna’s I Can Make You Sleep. And he did..on and off for a couple of months.

    For no obvious reason at all, around 10 days ago, it hit again. Mixing my zopiclone with antihistamine works but I prob shouldn’t…that’s for when I am desperate! I’ve slept normally on 2 occasions in 10 days. Others vary between 2am and 6:30am. I feel as though I am losing my mind!!!

    In my case, it feels like my body has forgotten how to sleep. I lie down (lights off, TV off, blackout curtains in place)….and nothing happens. I can lie there for an hour, barely thinking, and nothing. Lately, it’s sort of the same but as though my inner voice is on speed! It’s like being on a fast train and trying to read the billboards as you pass. By the time I can register one thought, I’ve moved on to the next.

    And to make it worse, it’s nothing I can use! Useful lines for a story or a recipe idea…nope. Drivel like ‘did that person mention Bob Saget? Wow, he was so funnyandIwonderwhathe’sdoingnowand maybeIshouldlookhimuponIMDB…ohnoIturnedmyphoneoffokayWHYAMINOTSLEEPING??!!!

    And if I dare tell anyone, I get lots of ‘yeah…I woke up once or twice last night.’ Oh dear, you poor thing. I would LOVE that chance!!

    I am ranting now. Sorry. Going to try using a lightbox tomorrow (today!!) To see if it helps.

    Anyone remember that X-Files with the guy who hadn’t slept in 8 years and had gone mad? I admire his stamina! Wouldn’t take me that long, lol!

    • Georgina says:

      Not many people probably realize this, but wifi can also cause sleep disturbances. I know that it affects me, if I have it on and forget about it, my sleep is really bad. If I turn it off for a few days my sleep starts to return to normal – I tend to sleep more deeply.
      Melatonin can help some people, zinc magnesium and vitamin C are good because generally people with insommnia tend to have low levels of zinc, magnesium and vitamin C. Vitamin b6 helps to convert serotonin to melatonin so that helps as well.
      But anxiety and depression is the major culprit for sleep disturbances and that’s mainly why people get hooked on sleeping medications which can be dangerous at times.

  13. Shelly Ann Jacob says:

    Hi, I want to know what causes an 80+ year old lady to wake up in the night and say she’s hungry. Sometimes, more than once per night.

  14. Clare says:

    I had a traumatic event happen 4 years ago. I also was breastfeeding. Slept pretty good. I stopped breastfeeding and wham the only day I deep sleep is CD 20. Is there a short term use of a medication that helped stabilize your sleep patterns/insomnia – This is torture

  15. Colin says:

    I’ve had on and off again insomnia since I was a kid. It’s all tied up with anxiety, depression, an inability to turn the mind off at night. The past few months I’ve been working on the sleep hygiene front – blackout curtains, a new bed, phones and such put far away from my bed, sleep restriction. They have increased sleep a bit but the anxiety is still sitting there and flares up. I do some mindfulness work (Jon-Kabat Zinn cd’s) and light yoga. A couple of years ago after a traumatic personal event, I went down the path of antidepressant and anti-anxiety pills; what a disaster 🙁 The pills made very little difference but during the weaning off process it turned into a huge bout of rebound insomnia.

    I’ve definitely had anxiety issues since I was 8 or 9 years old so I’m now pretty convinced that they are the driving forces behind everything else. I occassionally use zopiclone for sleep but I’ve used it so often in the last decade that I get maybe one night out of the pill before it stops working

  16. Bob says:

    My wife has an extremely active mind. She has read enough books to fill a town library. She hasn’t been able to “shut down” at night without pills for the 36 years we’ve been married. Without pills, its maybe 2 hrs sleep (max). For quite a few years, the pill regiment she has used fairly successfully is: melatonin (she takes too many but 3 or 5 mg would be best), 1000 mg of l-tryptophan, 25 mg of Doxylamine Succinate, 1 Klonopin (2 mg), and maybe some chamomile tea. After several months or a year, the Klonopin often becomes less effective so she has had to taper off them and then reintroduce them.

    We have recently received a message indirectly from her doctor that renewals of Klonopin will be more difficult (I think the feds may have come up with new laws – imagine that!) That’s all I know right now.

  17. Jazzkat says:

    I’ve got the same lifelong problems as the article author. What works for me are melatonin and, surprisingly, podcasts– paradoxically, the more interesting podcast the better! I think a fascinating podcast topic in a favorite subject area focuses my mind into a relaxed, passive/ receptive mode of listening, which seems to stop my busy mind wandering off into more active thinking/ planning/ worrying modes that keep me awake. Conversely, boring podcasts seem to keep me tossing and turning! I normally take 2 hours to fall asleep, but with an interesting podcast, just 10-30 minutes. My ex had similar sleep issues and found same effect, so it’s not just me. I highly recommend insomniacs try podcasts–there are no drug side effects, it’s free online, plus you may learn neat stuff!

    • Darya Rose says:

      LOL, I hear ya. Nothing used to put me out like Formal Seminar back in grad school. fMRI experiments are pretty zzzz inducing as well. Interestingly, melatonin makes my life a living hell. Glad it works for you though.

      Darya (aka article author)

  18. Teresa Evans says:

    This article blew me away, for the following reasons: 1) I’ve been a subscriber to Summer Tomato for years, but ran across this article in a random internet search. 2) Was searching about insomnia, on behalf of my poor husband, who has suffered from it for a decade or more. 3) Hubby had tried each of the suggestions, until # 9. Which he has since been trying, and been sleeping most of the night. We expect that the more he cements these good habits, the better he’ll sleep.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! (from both of us!:)

  19. Georgina V says:

    When I’m sick, weak or really tired I sleep a lot during the night and day, other times I have difficulty sleeping through the night. I guess it’s just me

  20. Marshall Lorenzo says:

    So… does anyone have any help for when ALL of the above don’t work? Therapy, pills, routine, LITERALLY everything? The only thing I haven’t tried is hypnosis and I’m very skeptical that a hypnotist can convince my crazy brain to believe it and help rid anxiety of sleep. If there is ANYONE who has tried all of the above and no success, please let me know. Because 15 years and counting – I’m at the worst I’ve ever been and it’s making me lose my over-active mind.

    • Michael says:

      You might try Intensive Sleep Retraining (Harris 2012), available as the iPhone app “SleepQ”. It’s different, and purely behavioral conditioning. Use for a while at bedtime following poor nights. Full disclosure: I wrote it. Best to you, Michael

      • Marshall Lorenzo says:

        Thanks Mike, I’ll give it ago – at this point I’ll try anything – thanks – I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Darya Rose says:

      If you haven’t gotten intense about meditation training yet, that can also be really helpful (something I’ve discovered over the past year).

    • Antonia says:

      Did your insomnia get better? Did you find any relief you can share with me? Thanks.

      • majd says:

        Magnesium, Youga, swiming at the pool, meditation, relaxing helped me a lot but you will have to sustain it (except for Magnesium you can let go once you feel better), feel happy

  21. mattser says:


    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 😉

    • Marshall says:

      Did you read this article at all??

    • Dean says:

      I’ve done it all plus EFT, hypnosis, Sleepio and who knows what else. I do well in falling asleep however, staying asleep is another matter. I get up numerous times throughout the night. My physician had me on some pretty nasty prescription medicine for quite a while. I weened myself from that some time ago. I’d rather have the insomnia than suffer with the side effects.

      • Joe Rideout says:

        I have an identical problem.When I awake at four my mind is already in full wandering mode. I always try a challenging activity like two digit by two digit multiplication in my mind. It speeds up my thinking process until I exhaust myself and fall asleep.I have heard that Ritalin has the same effect on hyperactive children. I believe that some of us have so much energy we just want to be on the go.

    • Me says:

      I don’t know how to write a new comment so im just gonna reply to yours 🙂 SORRY
      Basically what used to help me was to think about something imaginary and avoid thinking about real thinking as this may lead to worry or excitement… Both bad for sleeping, i would also listen to audiobooks or ted talks.. Anything to keep my brain bussy from ovethinking every single memory there is. Now unfortunately nothing helps anymore, i sleep around 2 hours a night and it’s been this way for way too long. I am an academic but i can literally feel my brain dying and getting dumb, its scary.. I am able to wait on a green light and cross the street when the red flicks on. I stopped driving, working.. Well i was fired because cashier, who is making lot of mistakes isn’t something acceptable in the work place… And doctors can’t help me either, as they don’t know what’s wrong.

      • Shozab says:

        Sleep in the open…like on the roof in a garden and avoid sleeping in the day time it will all be good in no time….and most importantly take a break from work

    • Alan says:

      I solved my insomnia finally after 2 years. take two capsules of magnesium/calcium/D3 and 2 capsules of tart cherry(for natural melantonin) around 830-930pm. Dont look at clock during sleep from 10:30pm to 6:00am.

      • Ttt says:

        Are you sure? I have been suffering badly. I tried different sleep medications proscribed by different physicians but non of them worked. I feel you are right.They should have prescribed me what you took.

  22. 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.

      • Uche says:

        Hi joy, nice to hear u get rid of ur sleeping problem with the Chinese herbal tea, pls can u let me knw the name of the tea

    • 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

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

        Good luck
        I M

      • David says:

        I have had recurrent chroinic insomnia, which can then lead to anxiety over time, for 5 years now. I have never tried 5htp which sounds promising but as I live in Thailand I dont know anywhere that sells it. I am open to all sorts of suggestions here as I find my episodes of insomnia very debilitating.

      • Moderni says:

        I have had this struggle for 10+ years, but it got chronic before a layoff in 2009 and subsequent home short sale in 2012. I have had a few months of normalcy since, but it’s back with a vengeance. I rarely get to sleep before daybreak now, and have to double dose PMs around 5am just to get at least a nap before daybreak. Yet, the body will NOT act like a thing has happened, and the insomnia is still going strong the next night. Finally, after maybe 2-3 all nighters, I will get sleepy enough and will crash by 1am… for one night. Then it starts all over again.

        PM tablets work for maybe two or three doses and then I’m immune. I know what Michael Jackson dealt with and wished I had my own doctor to dose me with Propofol. At some point I will mentally crash and burn, and it’s getting there. I work at home, for myself which is good and bad, but far too many productive hours are wasted walking around like a zombie.

      • Hey all,

        So after about a year I ended up putting together a site, which is intended to be a resource where people can share their horror stories with chronic insomnia, plus other resources. The intention is it’s supposed to be for CHRONIC insomniacs, no bullshit – just the real deal of people who REALLY suffer

        – Marshall (

    • 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:


      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,

      • C Korte says:

        I take Ambien, too – a light dose, as I only weight about 110 lbs, max. I want off it, though, as it DOES alter the brain. Permanently. :/ NOT something I like at all.

        EFT, strangely enough, DOES work amazingly well (this is not “spiritual stuff”, btw!). I feel stupid doing it, but it WORKS, especially for anxiety attacks, phobias, PTSD, depression, racing thoughts, etc. I never thought of using it for my insomnia, though! Now I have to go try that. 😀
        A lot of what goes on in our brains – esp. with PTSD, toxic thoughts, fear, anxiety, etc. – can be called “stuck on stupid”, as far as our neuronal and nerve-path reactions go: much like a computer’s programming ending up in an “endless loop” when the programming is bad.
        Our physical nervous system reacts inappropriately during anxiety attacks, PTSD flashbacks, and the other problems mentioned above, resulting in a literal “round-robin” of neuronal activity. This activity goes in endless cycles much like a merry-go-round that won’t stop, rather than the nerve responses having a NORMAL, specific beginning and – most importantly – an ending!
        EFT apparently brings that “stuck on stupid” to a halt, as long as you find the ROOT of what is causing the endless cycles. It has been highly effective in stopping PTSD and phobias, but can take several sessions, depending on the “root” of the problem. Treating PTSD is usually (but not always, as in the case of long-standing abuse) quick to yield to EFT treatment, and best of all – you can do it for yourself, if you must. This is NOT such a hot idea to do by yourself if you’re a victim of abuse, but if you were traumatized in some other way, it is often highly effective, such as for combat trauma.
        Another effective treatment for the “stuck on stupid” response is using acupuncture, as it also assists the nervous system’s inappropriate cycling to go back to normal. You have to stick with either treatment, though. Don’t give it up too soon. You probably didn’t get this way overnight, and you won’t cure yourself that fast, either.
        I’m still working on my own insomnia, so I sure don’t have all the answers! As I said, it never occurred to me to use EFT for my insomnia, though. Guess what I’ll be doing tonight before bed. 🙂 I wish everyone good fortune in finding things that work safely for you all.
        Sleep well!

    • 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.

      • krystle says:

        Where did you go to do the heavy metal detox? I’m sure we are in different states but I guess what I’m trying to ask is that a type of d detox that is usually done anywhere detoxing is done?

      • Donna B. says:

        Yes, Angela. Heavy metals or any other toxicities can cause insomnia. For other toxicities, if you have normal kidney function, 6 cups of epsom salt in a bath that you soak in for an hour, 2 – 3 times a week, can be helpful but don’t expect to sleep after the first bath. It takes time for your body to detoxify. This also has magnesium in it, and most people find it relaxing.

    • 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

    • Take iron supplements i swear they work anemia causes insomnia let me no how you get on. Kerry x

    • Robert G says:

      Dear Tim, I’m very happy to have found this “blog” and really sorry this is not a solution to your problem; in fact it’s a sympathy note because I don’t even get one hour/night! I have a long history of insomnia which began when I was 40, with no real worries at all, and got progressively worse over the next 25 years, such that over the past 5 I don’t remember even having actually “woken up”! I am doctor/hospital averse but initially tried the usual BS – music, diet management, exercise, meditation; finally went to a specialist who recommended melatonin (completely useless) and also tried most of the conventional medications. Only Zolpidem/Ambien seemed to work, a very little, but I’m concerned about getting hooked, and no GP would prescribe it anyway, despite my history. So all I do is get into bed, close my eyes and “rest”……. and get up the next morning feeling like shit more or less, and struggle through the day; not much fun for those around me (a reducing number now that I’m retired)! So maybe I’ve proven it IS possible to live without sleep, yet I’m still in pretty good physical condition. In fact of course, I have learned to “manage” this condition quite well; I go for a swim if I can, and that helps (the colder the water the better…?) and one thing which I found in the last 5 years which seems to “work” is working out at the gym, more specifically SWEATING (why on earth?), but as you know too well, it’s there all the time and some days it’s so bad there’s nothing to be done but wait for bed-time! Actually I’m pretty lucky and life is not so bad, but I’m certain that If I could get 4 hours of sleep a night, my quality of life and of those around me would be transformed…. dramatically, enormously. As I’m sure it would for you and all of us who know what it is. So why hasn’t somebody found an answer to this?! Best wishes…..

      • mary says:

        Hi Robert- I just read your comment about literally not sleeping at all and just getting into bed and resting. I am having this exact problem. In 2008 I stopped sleeping for a month, I went on Clonazepam for anxiety and eventually started sleeping again for 4 hrs a night, that is the way it has been for 11 years. Then, 5 weeks ago I stopped sleeping again. I get so worried about dying from no sleep. I read other people’s comments who say they never get any sleep and then they admit they “only” get 4 hrs- I would love to have 4 hrs of sleep again. You are the only person I have found who goes months with no sleep. I do everything the experts say. I sleep in a cool dark room, I don’t drink alcohol, only 2 cups of tea in the morning, I walk at least an hour every day. I do have a very busy mind and have now just started seeing a therapist for CBT and mindfulness. Do you have any reassuring advice for me to help me worry less? I hope you are coping well!- Thank-you.~

    • Me says:

      I have an idea, it’s a bit extreme but here it goes: go to Thailand or Tibet and spend at least a month in a monk monastry:learn how to meditate, and without any disfractions stay alone with your own mind…. It is an extreme solution but it’s also the only one you haven’t tried yet 🙂 and also trow away all the drugs… Find the root of your pain, don’t just ignore it and numb it with drugs.. Never works, you’ll end up needing more drugs

    • Ashley says:

      I’m so sorry to hear. I am having a similar issue. Try a longer-acting benzodiazepine such as Klonopin or Valium. I take Klonopin and it knocks me out eventually, and I am able to sleep 8 hours on it

    • helena says:

      try an antihistamine, as doxylamine or dypenhydramine…..just a thought, i am the same, also on ambien but in some periods the only thing that can knock me out is dipenhydramine

      • Kate R says:

        I used to depend heavily on antihistamines helping me out when I just HAD to get some sleep. And then they started giving me Restless Legs Syndrome! Boo. I’ve been reading up on chronic insomnia and the current thinking is that hyperarousal is the cause of it. Reducing cortisol (among other things) is suggested as a possible remedy. I just read that anti-depressants can do this, also low dose benzodiazepine during the daytime. Haven’t tried this. Will ask my doctor.

    • matthew canoyer says:

      lunesta or black seed oil(gelcaps because pure liquid can irritate your throat) is the only 2 things that can turn my racing mind off….i have tried gaba,java java ,ambien,5-http,passionflower,melatonin,valerian root,etc etc its all garbage

    • jfish says:

      amitriptyline. there’s a hangover the next day, but you can really max out the dose to suit your needs. sorry to hear that btw.

    • CJ says:

      I’ve tried all sorts of prescription medicines too. They didn’t work for me in the end. What I found has helped me is a multi-pronged approach of supplements I suggest below. You can read NCBI abstracts if you want to find evidence of their effectiveness.

      I take 3 grams of glycine and 4.5 grams of l-tryptophan before going to bed. For some reason l-tryptophan works better than 5 htp, to which it’s a precursor.

      If I wake up in the middle of the night(or morning), and I usually do, then I take about 25% of my daily allowance of potassium(be careful though because you can O.D. on potassium) and a gram of Magnesium Oxide (it’s cheap, you can find it everywhere, and seems to work the best). I’ll repeat my doses of glycine and l-tryptophan also if I really want to make sure to go to sleep.

      I don’t take the magnesium before going to bed because while it gives you more concentrated sleep you also sleep more hours if you don’t take it. Think of it as being good for getting those last couple hours you need to round things out.

      It can take up to an hour for the supplments to kick in. Make sure you’re room isn’t too hot. It takes some trial and error to get the temp just right sometimes. I use an electric blanket which has a temperature setting on it. Of course the standard blackout curtains are a good idea. I live with noisy people and animals so I need to wear earplugs sometimes. I also try to lie on my back so I’m not crushing my arm but if your head is tilted to high you might obstruct your breathing so don’t use more than one pillow unless you really need it to be comfortable. Don’t put so many blankets on your bed that you bake either. Don’t drink lots of liquid before going to bed. Also, avoid stressful conversations (and people) in the evening. You can save them for the morning.

      If you find yourself sleeping well again then don’t get cocky and start consuming lots of caffeine to get a buzz and be productive. I made this mistake last week and paid for it with 3 days really low quality sleep. Also, ingesting lots of supplements may give you diarrhea for a time until your body adjusts. You’ll notice this especially with the magnesium. In addition, you may have a slight hangover from glycine and l-tryptophan but it’s a heck of a lot better than that feeling of having not slept.

      If something starts to work you can try to wean yourself off of it. Also another great supplement I tried was PharmaGaba. But it’s expensive and probably doesn’t work as well as the other recommended supplements. It will make you feel really good and relaxed though. Note that PharmaGaba is not the same thing as regular old Gaba, because it seems to be able to pass the blood brain barrier(or at least that’s what they say).

      Anyway good luck!

    • Cheryl says:

      I realize your post is few yrs old but I have EXACT symptoms as you. As in tried everything nothing touches it. Just curious if you EVER found any relief. Thank you!

    • Mona says:

      I’ve had the same problem. I feel so lightheaded and can’t think clearly anymore. How do you function on no sleep? I’m usually very moody.

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

    • fro says:

      I agree, those tips are completely useless and repeated all over the net..

    • Kate R says:

      It’s pretty infuriating, isn’t it, to read the same lame advice which does not help chronic insomnia. And we can already be kind of cranky! Try reading up on insomnia due to hyperarousal – I’m finding helpful info there.

  25. 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.

      • West Chen says:

        Hi Marshall,

        I just shared your website in FB. I am interested in anything that is about insomnia, especially chronic one. My insomnia is due to work stress. shift work, long hour work, urgent task, 24 hour standby…kill the sleep for the past nightssss. Glad to add in a favourite of your blog. Keep it up, thanks again!

    • Shannon says:

      My first menory in life is also screaming in my crib with no end. It infuriated my mother who did noting to help. I’ve been an insomniac ever since. Right now I take 20 mg ambien, 2 clonazepam, four zquill, four benadryl. This helped for the last three years. I burn through meds very quickly w my metabolism and have genes that process all types of sedatives very quickly. I have three kids and a military husband. I cannot function on the one hour of sllep I get nightly after all the meds. I just recently started to have rls as well. I’ve done sleep therapy and follow all the healthy sleeping habits sleep drs recommend. Nothing works. No tea works. Also, the laws are changing with benzos like clonazepam. The drs are no longer supposed to give you medication for sleep and anxiety here in the US. I’ve been weening off the clonaz for about four months. I was at four per night and xanax as a back up to ad to my arsenal, but I’ve seen my last legal bottle this month. Of course my anxiety has been rising as my meds have been shrinking. Anxious people don’t sleep. Some very stupid people in our govt are making por decisions that will even further our problems. I’d sell my soul for 8 hours a night, but truth be told, in my natural state, my body stays awake for seven days before I collapse and I too start the cycle again. It makes you feel insane. All of my kids are super light sleepers. Melatonin works for them on the rate occasion they need it, but I fear they all take after me. And I also understood why Michael Jacson died. It’s heart breaking, but in all truth, I’d totally di prpophol to sleep if someone would give it to me. I am completely losing my mind. I’ve had this sleep disorder for 45 years. I believe it will be the death of me.

  26. Claude Borel says:

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

    I’m sorry it did nothing for you.

  27. 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.


      • 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

        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
        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)

    • Nicole says:


      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

      • Natasha says:

        Hi Nicole,
        I have this insomnia for 1 year and 3 months. I stopped Seroquel after 3 months and tried to sleep naturally – I was getting 2 hours of sleep. I started Trazodone and sometimes add Ativan. I use to be able to fall asleep without meds before for 1 hour but now cannot. I’ve met with a new psychiatrist today and she instructed me to do type of sleep restriction: take my meds at 11, go to bed at 11.30, get out of bed at 5am. If I wake up I have to sit in a chair until I can sleep again. I am not sure if this works. I do have high anxiety during the day and it has been very difficult. When my insomnia started, I never could imagine that I will be suffering for so long and so profoundly. I still want to have a hope…

  28. 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

  29. Imovane says:

    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.

        Feel free to collaborate or feed in your insights


    • krystle says:

      Hey can you explain to me what is “T low” especially when you’ve mentioned it in the sentence of Sheva guy hit “T low “.

    • krystle says:

      Hey can you explain to me what is “T low” especially when you’ve mentioned that bright light only helps in the sentence of when you’ve hit “T low “.

    • Cici says:

      Hi, I can’t believe what you wrote, it gives me so much hope…how would you take the supplements? Thank you so much!

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

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

  31. 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’

      • 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

        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.


      • Tanya says:

        Yeah it is grim 😛 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?

      • Colin says:

        Hi Tanya, I currently have a short-term prescription for low dose Xanax. It’s good for stopping or slowing down anxiety attacks. I build up tolerances very quickly so I try to only use half a pill or one pill (0.25 mg) once a day when the anxiety gets really bad – doctor has said I could use it up to three times a day but I limit myself to once a day. I had been on it (and stronger pills) in the past so I’m trying to keep the dosages very low.

        I also carry around a small book and track my anxiety levels very subjective but it gives me a sense of the up and downs of a day. I also record when I take a pill and the results of taking it.


      • David L says:

        Excellent comments Marshall.
        After two years of regularly not sleeping at all, and trying everything suggested online, I think that simply accepting this s**t is and seeing it in a different way is the only way to some sort of normal life.
        What I hate most is the unpredictability and randomness of the insomnia. Recently I went 6 weeks without a nil sleep night. Then the damn thing came back.
        I am convinced that there has to be a physical cause for it, because I am not under stress, other than stress worrying about sleep.
        Thanks for your great comments.

    • 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.

        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.


  32. Hi, very good info on treatment of insomnia. I love the idea of putting white noise in the bedroom. It actually helps for me and those I recommended to do so.

  33. Skeptical Chronic Insomniac says:

    if you can cure insomnia without sustaining an addiction to ambien that would be a miracle. Until then your method is useless.

  34. Louise says:

    I always advise not to take any kind of sleeping pills to help you sleep, they actually don’t help because they don’t let you get the real sleep that you need. I have suffered myself for many years with insomnia, and I always use natural ways to help, getting plenty of exercise, and really pushing it when I sleep badly one night, so i’m physically exhausted the next night. I also really believe in CBT for insomnia. For me, the reason I can’t sleep is because of my racing mind, and I find that training my brain to think about something else, or to switch my thought to the opposite of what it is thinking, it really helps. Like instead of “I’m not gong to be able to sleep tonight”, I switch it to “I’m going to get a really good night’s sleep tonight”.
    Give it a try. It really does work.

    • Marshall says:

      Hi Louise,

      This may work for shot-term insomnia – but for chronic insomnia the opposite is true. The solution is not to convince yourself you’ll sleep – instead you should be saying “I will most likely not get a good nights sleep – and that’s okay”. If you’re even worse, I’d suggest losing the ‘most likely’ and just go with. “I will not sleep. I have insomnia. And that’s okay. You’ll get through it.”

      It’s about letting go or learning to let go. To let go of the idea that 8 hours is the magic number. It’s not. You have to go way back and do the groundwork to train your thoughts (yes CBT and other methods unfortunately) but it won’t always be a success story – this is something that you have to carry with you – and a cocktail of drugs is fine – if it works for you. Use them to help yourself undo the long-term damage – you may never truly leave the drugs behind – but that’s okay. Doctors always say “you shouldn’t be using the pills – it makes it worse” but they’re wrong – for some of us, the drugs are the only choice between some sleep, and ZERO sleep. Figure out what works best for you, and commit to turning your life around through longterm improvements – whatever they are – you may not know what is causing it now, but if you keep digging, you’ll find out. (For me, I think it’s overall health, but still searching).

      Also – I’m trying to build a little community here at, I want it to be a collection of stories from chronic insomniacs, so that at the very least – you don’t feel alone.

  35. Melissa says:

    Hi, I had been given b12 shot wout my levels being checked which were fine. I have been wired and heart rate went through roof, worst have had insomnia last 2 n half months. Has this happened to anyone else? Prior was great sleeper 10 hrs nite. If got up right back to sleep. Can a jolt of energy change brain n sleep wake cycle permanently? Or can the side effects still dissipate?thanks Melissa

    • Marios says:

      Before i was a sound sleeper. Used to sleep with no problem for more than 8 hours without any problem. Recently (the last 3 months) since i started working in a new company after almost 3 years unemployed. This change caused me stress so i some days i can not sleep AT ALL or only 2 -4 hours of sleep.
      My problem is falling asleep.
      I went to a doctor and gave me antidepressant and sleeping pill. Though the sleeping pill is only for 10 days. Does any of you know any medication i can order from the net that makes you fall asleep but with out any side effects.
      I do not need pill to keep you sleep because if i sleep i stay sleep because if i wake up in the middle of the night i fall back to sleep.
      Thanks and BR

  36. West Chen says:

    stick to a consistent sleep schedule – that is one of the crucial …also the toughest one I think. a date or activity may just mess up everything. or especially a urgent task – for e.g., to complete a report before today ends…will force one to change the schedule.

  37. Marios says:

    Does anyone knows any medication that helps just fall asleep. That does not have any sever site effect and addiction.

  38. jeffery craft says:

    ive had chronic insomnia for the last 3-4 years. it got worse after my breakdown which led to a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder bipolar type its a schizophrenia spectrum disorder the easiest way to explain it is you have the symptoms of schizophrenia and a mood disorder but not enough of either one to be diagnosed with one of them alone. anyways i thought my sleeping pattern was all right but when we found a medicine cobination that worked for me i noticed i can be mentally wide awake and not fall asleep if i did try to sleep i would get maybe 3 hours a night. which is not good because sleep depreivation in my case causes me to have intense episodes of psychosis. they usually dont last longer than a few hours and it takes a few days to recover and feel “normal” again. i tried everything i cut out caffein and very sugary drinks ive switched to decaf tea. ive tried reading, meditating. going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time every night. melatonin which made my legs kick just as im about to fall asleep and caused a light psychosis. valerian root sleepytime tea. exersize ive tried dioxipin,remron,trazadone none of these adressed my problwm i sleep pretty well once i had fallen asleep most of the time my major problem is falling asleep my mind is just too active at night to sleep. reading didnt help much either. the only thing that has helped has been ambien it actually makes me sleepy as opposed to dizzy like the trazadone is i even bought a new matress. its the weirdest thing i didnt have much problem going to sleep before like i would be out like a light at about 2-3 am. now i stayed up til i got tired and had been awake for 27 hours befre i had the psychotic episode so i wont do that again.

  39. Majd says:


    I have been suffering from all three types of insomnia (falling asleep, staying asleep and waking up very early) for more than a year now. Yayy!!!What can I say.

    To be frank. The falling asleep and staying asleep is improving, as it is nowadays taking me 30min to fall asleep and rarely do I wake up once during the night but if i do, falling back asleep is difficult. Thank God. Previously, I would go to bed at 11.00pm, not sleep until about 1.30am, wake up 4 to 5 times during the night then wake up early at around 5.30am instead of 7.00am.

    Nowadays I go to bed at 11.00pm. I can’t sleep earlier because If i do, trust me, I would stay awake. The main problem I have is early morning insomnia. I am waking up 4.30 to 5.30am instead of 7.00am, which leaves me with roughly 4 to 5 hours of sleep at night. And the best part is I can’t fall back to sleep. This includes the weekends. I am also suffering from hyonic jerks.

    I never drank alcohol (I’m a Muslim). I exercise 5 times a week (2 days of endurance full body workout, 3 classes of brazillian jujitsu). I sometimes jog. I’m finished with all my exercises 3 hours before bed. I don’t smoke. I stopped coffee and only drink green tea once at 8.00am at work. I’m not sensitive to light.

    I tried drinking chamomile, anees tea even warm milk to keep me calm. I also take magnesium pills (500mg) a day for 4 days now to see if it will help.

    SO yea I almost tried everything here but no luck.

    Last night I fell asleep quickly but woke up 2 hours later to find myself not able to sleep. I went to sit in the living room for a while then went back to sleep. Ended up waking up twice with difficulties falling back asleep and, as usual, waking up 5.30AM. This has been happening for two days now and I am thinking “Great, back to all three types of insomnia!”

    I get easily irritated nowadays because of lack of sleep. I like (not love) my job but hate my colleagues because they love to irritate me. I’m always having migraines and painkillers are no longer working. Can’t concentrate anymore and started to get depressed. I’m only 26 (turning 27 next month) and my blood pressure is around 141/90. Great!

    I know the root of my problem. It is from lack of friends. No body likes me despite I am a good person. Not appreciating the things I have. Also, me focusing on my two failed attempt with women in the past, not that i suck with women, but because I didn’t play it well. One, I gave her the impression that I was not interested and so she left. The other left me for another guy because he proposed to her and I am not ready for marriage. Moreover, the dating app badoo made me feel more miserable about myself because every girl ignored me (worst application ever for a guy, I do not recommend it).

    However, in the end, I know that every women would love to hang around with me (from my experience in college). I also learned that badoo was one sick application because women use it to boost their self esteem. However, i still get depressed because of lack of friends. I know a lot of you would comment that I go get a girl but I am scarred to approach girls in the streets. When I was in college, it was easy for me. But streets/malls sound like a big challenge. Especially, where I work now, which is Dubai (I’m not from Dubai BTW), Arab girls are beautiful but will NEVER talk to a stranger. Westerns and Europeans who come to work in Dubai become so materialized that they no longer care about handsome gentlemen with a great personality and humor (that’s me – not a nice weak guy) but care about rich people. Moreover, it is not like the states and surope. If the girl complaints, you can get jailed or even deported!

    In conclusion, I followed every advice for insomnia on almost every website I found but not much luck. I know the root of my insomnia is depression (not chronic) but I am keeping my self positive that I have overcome the falling asleep and staying asleep part. Eventhough, I am having those two problems again for the past two days. As for women, I have gave myself the impression that I can do it (And believe me I can do it EASILY) but it is not fault not taking the approach. I put women as no longer my problem. I need to focus on staying positive. For my work coulleages, I am just completely ignoring them to make them just give up. I will try practicing yoga to see if it helps.

    Wish me luck.

    Moreover, I would like to add that in the past, I got past my insomnia by being positive. Nowadays, I think my problem has crossed the line that I might be needed to do something more.

    Advice me guys. I am a lonely guy and depressed (even though if you meet me, you will find me a cheerful person).

    My advice for everyone: Don’t make the small problems any bigger. Relax and just enjoy your life.

    • Darya Rose says:

      Hi Majd,

      I’m sorry for your dilemma, and I agree it is likely from depression. Have you considered talk therapy or CBT? It can often lead to great results.


      • Majd says:

        Actually, it got cured on it’s own. How? Don’t ask. Moreover, my communication with women is excellent. They actually love me but guy friends are still not that good but I don’t care. But this all happened before my improved communication with women.

  40. Lori says:

    It was very interesting reading these suggestions. I too have severe, chronic insomnia and have had it for YEARS! I am the mother of four young children so I was getting up every 1.5 to 2 hours for one of them and now I can’t sleep more than that even if given the opportunity. If I manage to fall asleep, I usually wake up in 20-30 minutes and then am up for hours or all night. I did a sleep study two years ago and was diagnosed with sleep apnea (isn’t that the trend now?) but I don’t even believe that diagnosis because I slept a total of 54 minutes the entire night, 5 minutes here, 4 minutes there. I may have sleep apnea but obviously falling asleep and the anxiety are issues that need to be fixed before sleep apnea. I’ve tried a limited number of anti-depressant/anti-anxiety drugs with no success, but I have often been pregnant or breast-feeding over the last nine years so don’t try the hard stuff. Tea and herbs haven’t worked. Now taking Plexus which is supposed to stabilize blood sugars and eliminate metal contamination, etc. It is not working either. I drink a few glasses of wine before bed to help fall asleep but of course I don’t stay asleep…always feel like I am just “resting” but still hyper vigilant….never in a deep sleep. And I have an 11-month old who guarantees a wakeup call 2-3 times a night. Like many of you, I haven’t found doctors to be helpful at all. I haven’t tried hypnosis or accupuncture, mostly just because I don’t have time for many doctors appointments. I use the eye mask and white noise and ear plugs but it doesn’t stop my brain from running. I love some of the suggestions I am hearing on this thread and I’m going to check out some of the resources..

  41. Gems says:

    Very simple article and I really like it. I also follow some step in my daily life. So I think it is very useful. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  42. Greg P. says:

    Thank you for this article! I know it already sounds like spam (just saying thank you) but like many other people, I am going completely crazy with my inability to sleep. I have an appointment with a sleep clinic next month. But I will be starting with your advice immediately!

  43. Charlotte says:

    Try taking vitamin d every morning…and get your level checked!! Many insomnia a have low d levels.

  44. Alex Mastin says:

    Yep – number 5 – no caffeine after 1pm is a good one that is very common.

    I used to have similar issues and I finally narrowed it down to caffeine consumption after midday.

    Im sure you know already, but caffeine has a 5-6 hour half life. meaning if you drink a standard coffee at 1pm (lets say its 240mg of caffeine) you’ll have 120mg of caffeine in your system at 7pm, and around 60mg STILL in your system at 1am!

    it varies from person to person, but you can sleep OK with 50mg or less in your system.

    There is a really cool app – I think its called Caffeine zone – that lets you input your bed time and then you enter the type of coffee you are drinking and when – it will spit out a neat looking chart and tell you if its too late in the day to drink coffee!

  45. sleep mask says:

    Not only the article but comments are also helpful. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  46. Owens says:

    I take 1 teaspoon of honey every night before sleeping, it helps a bit but not successfully so I am still looking for better solution, thanks for any suggestion.

    • jackiebrogan says:

      I suffer with insomnia and the best cure is to read all the comments above and you will sleep for a week …… truth is there is no cure and doctors will not prescribe sleeping pills.

      • 100% agree – there is no cure and doctors don’t know shit about it. There are some solutions to help deal with it. I’m actually building a site at the moment to collect peoples stories with insomnia – the one thing that did help me was just realizing that there are other people who have it as bad as I do. Like… 5-10 years + chronic insomnia. It’s not finished but I’m still trying to get more stories in it – so please feel free to submit a story!

        – Marshall

  47. Nathan says:

    Sound meditation works better than sleeping tablets for it’s safe and anyone can practice it, details are available on [link removed].

  48. Ethan says:

    Chronic disease can be managed by doing meditation including insomnia; to know more about it, go on [link removed].

  49. Jasminy says:

    Meditation teaches us to focus only on the present awareness, that’s to avoid any depression and insomnia problem. This link will show more about that [link removed].

  50. Nathan says:

    Hello everyone here, I really am struggling from insomnia but I don’t want to go on pill so is there anything else I can deal with?

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