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Question
Posted by: Lulu | 2013/08/21

Q.

trouble sleeping -most grateful for your advice

I have been struggling to sleep for about a year now. I have tried all kinds of remedies mostly natural from Chinese acupuncture, herbal remedies, baths, cut out caffeine, certain foods, have regular massages to exercise. I started becoming suicidal because I just would never GET to sleep and would be awake all night long. I would get the odd few hours from time to time otherwise I guess I would have died. Its always the same. I go to bed tired and ‘ready’ to sleep after my routine (bath, hot drink etc) every night I never think that I am not going to sleep because I feel so tired and relaxed. Then if I have not fallen asleep within 30min its all over and all hell breaks loose. Dry mouth so dry I cannot swallow, I start sweating and my mind thinks about all the silliest things possible. I don’t feel anxious or stressed winding down in the evenings. I have a stressful job but who doesn’t? I have a beautiful bedroom, beautiful linen and I wear ear plugs to block out any noise. But THIS is what I want to know: 4 months ago I gave up I surrendered to taking half a tablet of Zopivane. I have always been against drugs but I was so desperate!!! So on half a tablet I manage to fall asleep quiet easily, I wake up a few times in the early hours but Im way more refreshed than not sleeping all night. So last night I went to bed 10pm always the same time I got into bed tired and ready to sleep about 10min later it dawned on me that I had not taken my usual half a tablet. I told myself it wasn’t needed I was so comfortable and ready to sleep…..well an hour later I gave up and took the half tablet. I went back to bed but just could not fall asleep!! So an hour later I was up and took the other half. Still I was awake an hour later!?! So I got up made myself a herbal drink and took another half so that is three times my regular dose…..I could NOT fall asleep. How is that possible!?! I feel so frustrated I am 34. I cant keep doing this. I cant afford in my job not to be at my best. I really feel suicidal. I never had thoughts of ending it all before all of this started. I just cannot do this anymore. I realise that there are other people struggling with way more than me and perhaps take 6 tablets to sleep. Is this where I am headed?? It affects everything. My work, my relationships, my physical and mental wellbeing, eating….everything. I just don’t want to be here anymore.

Expert's Reply

A.

Expert ImageCyberShrink
- 2013/08/21

Hello L,
Firstly, most remedies advertised as "natural" are as natural as a tap-dancing budgie.
Much trouble is caused by us having been led to believe we absolutely HAVE to have nuch more sleep than our body actually needs. We vary widely in how much we genuinely require. Some people manage brilliantly on maybe 4 or 5 hours a night, and the expectation of 8 hours or more is a fairly recent invention, I suspect many people who would sleep fine for as long as they needed,  develop sleep problems because they struffle to sleep for longer than they need.  There is also evidence that in the old days, we went to sleep soon after dark, then woke after a few hours, and sat around by candle-light with conversation, reading, sex, mild activities, whatever, and then later went back to sleep for the rest of the night.
Above all, if you haven't fallen asleep in 30 minutes or so, don't worry about it, because it is that very worry that is then keeping you awake.  That's just what your description sounds like, a brief anxiety attack about being awake. Get up, so your brain doesn't learn to associate your bed with sleeplessness, and sit somewhere comfortable, have a warm milky drink ( better than any herbs and more natural, supplying some handy natural chemicals ) and read a calm book or watch a pleasant but fairly dull movie. Enough to distract you from the temptation  of silly thoughts, but not the sort of thing to arouse or alarm you.
The meds can help you to sleep, but won't force you to sleep when you have already allowed yourself to become highly aroused and alarmed --- if they did, you'd sleep very late the next morning, whereas the modern sleeping med is designed to wear off in a few hours to avoid a morning hangover.
But also, especially as you describe your despair at not sleeping as you expect to, as leading you to thoughts of suicide,  DO please see a good local psychiatrist for a thorough assessment --- there could also be such problems as a Depression or Anxiety Disorder, which might not be showing themselves obviously, maybe covered to a degree by your understandable concerns about sleeping right,  and if either or both are present, proper treatment of them could relieve these disorders and also the sleeping problems --- sleeping difficulties are a prime symptom of both.
You may also consider finding a good local psychologist who can offer proper CBT ( Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy ) which can help you regain both genuine control and a sense of control of these problems.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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user comments
Posted by: L | 2013/08/22

Hi there! Wow know all about not sleeping or sleeping in "installments". Can drive you absolutely nuts. I resolved my problem over a number of weeks like this: I sincerely hope it could help you too. Changed my mattress and pillows. Made sure my room was "dark" - the street/driveway lights should not shine through your curtains. The room should be, if possible, well ventilated. I had a warm bath, got into my jammies, (sometimes meditated a few minutes to clear my mind), warmed a tot of milk, drank it and then took a few drops of Rescue remedy. Got into my warm bed, thought beautiful thoughts like walking in the forest or sitting in the middle of a tulip/rose farm. Other times, I would put on a cd playing just audible instrumental music alternatively meditation type music. I did this for a number of weeks, remembering to go to bed at the same time each night (before 10 otherwise you miss the angel train :):):)) and get up every morning at the same time until I broke the "cycle". If you have not tried it, please do. Who knows, persevere. (a doctor friend of mine gave me this advice – not easy, but persistence sometimes helps. Good luck Sleepy tight! L

Reply to L | 1 comment (hide)
Posted by: Lulu | 2013/08/23

Thanks L. I need to remember and practice relaxation. I get myself in a tizz to easily. You are right about the angel train!! Anything after 10pm makes it worse.

Posted by: Anonymous | 2013/08/22

Are you eating enough fat? If you've jumped on the low-fat high carb band wagon, or just naturally eat low fat, try increasing you fat intake by leaving the fat on meat and the skin on chicken, and/or eating lots of avocado and nuts such as macadamias. Add olive or avocado oil to your food. Peanutbutter is also great. Consider taking an Omega 3 supplement (E.g. Vital Omega-3 Concentrate). Vitamin B deficiency can also cause your brain not to be able to "shut down" properly. If your mind feels overly "busy" when you are supposed to sleep, try taking a high dosage vitamin B complex supplement (e.g. Bettaway Mega B) in the morning. I once followed a very low-fat diet (containing less than 3% fat, as prescribed by a dietitian). I progressively slept less and less. After three months on the diet, I couldn't sleep more than about 1 or 2 hours. I was so terribly tired that one day I just couldn't face making a "healthy" very low fat meal, and ended up eating a simple sandwich spread thickly with peanutbutter (which is high in fat). That night I slept almost 5 hours. Tried the same the next day. Sleeping again improved. That's when I decided to ditch the qualified and registered dietitian's advice and started eating normal amounts of fat again... it still works. Whenever I unconsciously starts eating too little fat, I struggle to sleep. These two things worked for me.

Reply to Anonymous | 1 comment (hide)
Posted by: Lulu | 2013/08/23

Thanks for these tips. I also think that eating enough good fat is SO important otherwise your brain doesnt have anything to keep it happy and content at night. I must remember to have a good fat snack before bed like almonds or a tablespoon of macadamia nut butter

Posted by: anonymous | 2013/08/22

Avoid lots of water at night, drink lots of water during the day time. just before going to bed meditate for 5 to 1o mins try not to think nothing ,before u go to sleep. ok nothing ,in your mind, then start with your prayers ,which u know by heartt, & keep repeating it. or , start to do counting as if u teaching counting to a 2 year child, without missing a single nooo.inbetween. try it ,maybe u sleep,& when u sleep u dont know.

Reply to anonymous
Posted by: Japie | 2013/08/22

I envy people who can sleep. I think they are the most blessed people on earth. This is my 49th year on earth, and yet have to experience how it feels like to sleep through the night without waking up. I can’t even imagine how that must feel! My wife however, kiss me goodnight, turn around and fall asleep within seconds. I often ask her, how she does it; and her answer is, she closes her eyes and sleep. Is it really as simple as that? My mind seems to wonder all over the place when I lay down. There is however some nights that a do fall asleep very quickly, but then I wake up within an hour. I also do the routine things before I go to sleep and always go to sleep round about 22H00, but I can’ “train” my brain to relax. So who out there have some good advice for us? Maybe we should get night shift work, and sleep during the day. I rarely sleep on weekends, but when I do, I sleep like a baby! So how does that make sense? Hope we all get a good night’s rest tonight!

Reply to Japie
Posted by: Lulu | 2013/08/22

Thank you all so much for your advice. Cybershrink, I think you hit the nail on the head about having a 'panic attack' about not sleeping....seriously I need to find ways to relax! I am blown away at the detailed response. Even the advice to "take two damn Adcodols and good night!" made me smile, thanks guys

Reply to Lulu
Posted by: Anonymous | 2013/08/22

Take two damned Adcodols and drink lots of water. Good night.

Reply to Anonymous
Posted by: Don | 2013/08/22

I had the same problem a while back. I'm not saying this is the same thing, but its worth checking out. Have your PH balance tested, if your body is too acidic it will effect your kidneys, which in turn will keep you awake. Start off with just buying some over the counter base powder/alkaline powder and drink that 3 times a day to neutralise the acid in your body. Also buy some course salt, you get those 500g bags for about R3 at spar, add this to your bath water, I suggest bathing as soon as you get home from your day, and not just before you go to bed. You want to get rid of all the negative energy from your office and everything and everybody you come into contact with that day, so do that as soon as you get home. Hope that helps Reards Don

Reply to Don
Posted by: Anonymous | 2013/08/22

Obviously there are several things at play here but there are two things that many people don't consider when they are unable to sleep: exercise and staying properly hydrated. I'm not sure of your age or physical state, but if you can incorporate exercise into your day, it could not only assist in improving sleep but also with combating depression and anxiety. The other is: drink enough water throughout the day so that you are hydrated (but avoid large amounts at night that wakes you up to go to the loo!).

Reply to Anonymous

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