Oh Hey What Up?
THRILLING UPDATE: I'm Still Awake

Who Needs Sleep

backfromthebeachomgzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Everywhere I go today, I am stepping over laundry baskets and suitcases. I think they are reproducing, like tribbles. We didn't take that many suitcases to the beach in the first place, did we? So why are there so many damn suitcases now? Suitcases. Suitcases! 

I haven't been sleeping very well. And I think it might be starting to show. 

Going to sleep is no problem. Not even a little bit. Staying asleep, though, is impossible. I wake up every night around 3 a.m., like clockwork, sometimes even shaking myself awake in the middle of a dream for no discernible reason. And while I used to be able to roll over and go back to sleep, more or less, now my brain clicks on within seconds, all "OH CRAP NOT AGAIN I'M AWAKE QUICK DON'T START THINKING ABOUT THAT THING YOU HAVE TO DO OH DAMN IT ALL TO HELL NOW I'M THINKING ABOUT IT."

And then I start involuntarily composing blog entries and columns and emails or maybe just trying to remember if Mel Gibson actually made any movies I'll miss now that he's...well, YOU KNOW. Do I have a topic for Cafemom this week? What about topic number 4,234,209 for AlphaMom? And Jesus, my own blog, has anything remotely funny happened? Should I scan something? Post a video? What's that noise? Oh my God, I have to email her! Did I reply to that thing? Do I have to pee? Do I really have to pee or just maybe a little and it's not worth getting up for because then I won't be able to get back to sleep and what's that noise and oh  I know I'll sing 99 Bottles of Beer On the Wall to myself like this 99 bottles of oh I know I should post that video of Ezra banging on the crabs with a mallet at the restaurant because that was pretty funny 98 bottles of beer on the wall...

And. So on and so forth, for at least a couple hours, Sometimes I'll fall back asleep, about a half hour before I need to get up anyway. Sometimes I'll get up and try to get some work done, though not surprisingly the few things I've managed to produce at that hour have never, ever actually seen the light of the publish button. (Probably because they resembled the paragraph right above this one, only with a lot more typos and EVEN LESS PUNCTUATION IF YOU CAN EVEN IMAGINE THAT IS POSSIBLE.)

Most of the time, I just lay there, trying to shut my head up and go back to sleep, preferably with the least amount of tossing and turning, since I've started waking Jason up a lot during these fits. He's always sympathetic, but also a zero-to-wide-awake sort of sleeper. If I wake him up, he's up for good too, heading into the office at 5 in the morning while I stubbornly stay put because DAMMIT, SLEEP! SLEEP!

(SLEEP: What, you think you can caps-lock your way into a nap or something? I don't think so, hooker.)

Im-so-tired 

Things I've tried: chamomile tea, herbal sleep aids from Whole Foods, different vitamins, Tylenol PM and Unisom, all which seem to be more for the not-a-problem-for-me FALLING asleep, but do nothing for the staying asleep. Our mattress is fantastic and our pillows seem fine. I took long runs at night, then in the morning. No TV before bed. Some TV. Leaving the TV on. Early bedtime, late bedtime. White noise, ear plugs, sleep masks. Covers. No covers. Wine. No wine. Zero caffeine after 2 pm, then 12 pm, then down to ONE MEASLY CUP first thing in the morning which I am sorry, if you take that away from me I will very literally die and then come back to life and kill you too.

This has been going on for six months now. Six months of maybe three or four good hours of sleep a night, and I've always been a girl who needs eight.  And I've hit the wall, and hard. Some days I'm so tired that by lunchtime I literally have nothing left to give anyone -- forget phone calls or big work decisions or taking everyone to the park, I can't even muster up the energy for Facebook, or anything other than standing slackjawed in front of the microwave, wondering why the hell the inside thing isn't doing that...what do you call it...spinning...whirling...thing, only to realize I never hit the Start button. Ah. Yes. That. 

Over vacation I found myself actually reading a magazine ad for Ambien, even though I know I'd be too terrified to ever actually take it. (Continuing down my list of Top All-Time Irrational Fears: 1) Volcanoes, 2) Getting framed and/or wrongfully convicted of murder, 3) ripping my earlobe in half, and 4) getting tricked into ingesting hardcore drugs like meth or oxycontin and getting instantly addicted and living my life in the gutter or in jail with Lindsay Lohan.) 

Still. My kids sleep through the night perfectly and I seem to have completely forgotten how to do it myself. Halp? Plz?

Comments

MamaBirdNYC

Okay, this is odd, but I did some acupuncture for an unrelated issue, specifically infertility. I didn't even tell my acupuncturist about my constant UP AT 4 AM problem which was killing me. But from that day forward (it's been about 3 months) I've been able to sleep through the night. You'll have to believe me when I say I'm not generally a total fruitbat on this stuff. Worth a try, right?

jonniker

I know Ambien is terrifying. I KNOW. Adam has the same problem, though and he's been on Lunesta for a long time -- it helps keep him drowsy enough (and groggy enough) for a solid eight to nine hours. I know! I know!

He had true lifelong insomnia, though -- difficulty falling AND staying asleep.

For me, and this may not be remotely helpful, I found that reducing my anxiety in general was the key. So I went back to therapy for a spell (I'm a CBT person), and I went back on Lexapro. It really, really helped.

But! That's because my problem was anxiety. Which may or may not be yours.

I'm sorry, dude. No sleep is the worst, especially when you don't even have a fucking newborn or anything.

Daisy

Sounds like you've tried it all but perhaps black-out curtains?

Amy

Even if you don't end up going w/ prescription sleep aids, maybe at least see a doctor? or a naturopath? (spell check wants me to switch naturopath to naturalist, but I think that wouldn't help quite as much.) Insomnia sucks ass....so sorry.

Charlie

Get a prescription for Ambien, use GOOD earplugs (they're kind of gel-like), and buy a white noise machine (or just download the iPhone app). If all else fails, see a sleep specialist.

Not warm & fuzzy advice, but you're past that now. And don't be afraid of Ambien -- it's the help you need right now.

Gretchen

Do you eat much (or anything) in the evening? I find if I'm not eating quite enough late in the day I wake up in the middle of the night. Don't feel hungry, but I'm awake. Maybe a little snack of cereal or something between dinner and bedtime?

Gretchen

Do you eat much (or anything) in the evening? I find if I'm not eating quite enough late in the day I wake up in the middle of the night. Don't feel hungry, but I'm awake. Maybe a little snack of cereal or something between dinner and bedtime?

Nicole

I've had the same problem, but only for two nights, and I'm already wrecked. Six months is waaaaaaay too long. I second Jonniker's thought that perhaps an SSRI might help. Or acupuncture (or acupressure, if you can't do the needles).

Trish

This may sound dumb, but I worked my way through The Artist's Way At Work and they make you do "morning pages"—three handwritten, free-associating, write-what's-in-your-head pages of whatEVER every morning. I couldn't do mine in the morning because that's when I sleep, so I did them every night before bed. And BAM. Like magic, the gerbils that were waking me up at 3am and spinning in my brain all night STOPPED. Getting everything out of my head before I went to bed actually worked.

Trish

This may sound dumb, but I worked my way through The Artist's Way At Work and they make you do "morning pages"—three handwritten, free-associating, write-what's-in-your-head pages of whatEVER every morning. I couldn't do mine in the morning because that's when I sleep, so I did them every night before bed. And BAM. Like magic, the gerbils that were waking me up at 3am and spinning in my brain all night STOPPED. Getting everything out of my head before I went to bed actually worked.

lindsey

Same problem over here. No ideas for you. Just want to let you know you're in the same, bitchy boat.

Kristabella

This happened to me about 6 years ago. It went on for like a year. It was the WORST YEAR OF MY LIFE. It actually wasn't until this time that I started drinking coffee. Because with three hours a sleep a night, I needed SOMETHING to get me through the day.

Anyway, my problem? I was depressed. I ended up going on anti-depressants and they helped immensely.

Also, this may be too weird, but I also listened to this relaxation tape when I would wake up in the middle of the night. It seemed to help me get back to sleep faster.

Good luck! Hope you turn it around soon since that is the WORST!

a

I have the same problem sometimes (although it's usually 3:30). It seems to come and go and is sometimes related to stress. Perhaps it's age related (but I am older than you, so maybe not). There's nothing I can ever do about it either, so I think I've just pretty much gotten used to being a zombie and living with my 6 hours of sleep (where only 8 would do before). That and Mountain Dew. And 2 hour naps on the weekend when someone else can watch my daughter.

Amanda

On the herbal front, my boyfriend swears by melatonin. During a week where I was having severe sleep deprivation for no discernible reason, I tried it one night and was knocked out, hard and fast. For hoooouuuurrrsss. And I mean a full night's sleep. I figured it would be like any herbal stuff and require some days to kick in, but no. Sleep. Lots of it. I felt so much better. But like any sleep aid, don't take it unless you have a full night's sleep available. And maybe only take half. Just sayin.

So yeah, give that a try. Or not. I don't know. I am pretty sure it worked a miracle on me.

Amy

Maybe the answer is in what you're thinking about when you wake up? Meaning maybe you need to cut back on one of your writing jobs? Or, if that's not possible, have you ever written out a to-do list right before bed? Putting things on paper always helps me feel a lot more clear-headed. If a to-do list is too much, try just doing a brain dump -- you know, write anything down that pops into your head...

Amy

Maybe the answer is in what you're thinking about when you wake up? Meaning maybe you need to cut back on one of your writing jobs? Or, if that's not possible, have you ever written out a to-do list right before bed? Putting things on paper always helps me feel a lot more clear-headed. If a to-do list is too much, try just doing a brain dump -- you know, write anything down that pops into your head...

rkmama

I have nothing but sympathy. As a lifelong insomniac I go through ups and downs and when it's bad, nothing I've tried has worked (I, too am chicken of Ambien- don't people who take that sleepwalk to their lawnmowers and get DUI's for trimming the grass on highway medians? Or something?).
I've even pleaded with my husband to please just whack me on the head with a rubber mallet but he keeps saying no, something about domestic violence or accidental death and BLAH BLAH JUST DO IT, YOU HIPPIE.

Marianne

Man... I'm sorry. I have heard really good things about Ambien. Also, melatonin is supposed to help (and I'm probably spelling all this wrong).

Marianne

Man... I'm sorry. I have heard really good things about Ambien. Also, melatonin is supposed to help (and I'm probably spelling all this wrong).

cjlo

Acupuncture has been helpful to a few people I know. Also, at least 30 minutes of hard core, sweating your butt off exercise was recommended to a family member with insomnia and that helped her. I have also tried moving somewhere else to sleep once awake for a while (couch, guest bed) and making a list of all
the stuff floating around in my head to get it out of my system when I wake up and the brain starts spinning.

Kathryn

Ambien is... okay. The thing is, when on Ambien it's not that you don't wake up in the middle of the night. You might, but you WON'T REMEMBER IT. Seriously. You can wake up, binge on chocolate, force sex on your partner (ahem), fall back asleep, and wake up thinking you slept soundly for nine hours.

I highly would not recommend taking Ambien if you have trouble falling asleep.

I would, however, recommend 1) eating a light snack before bed 2) getting up and peeing when you wake up at night (really, sometimes your body wakes you up because you need to a) eat b) pee c) it thinks you need to do something) which leads me to 3) make a list of things you finished that day and things you need to do the next day. Put it by your bedside table. If you wake up, go pee and then look at the list. If there's something you need to ad, do it. Do NOT try to accomplish anything on the list. Then lie back down and go back to sleep.

Chlott

My sister had that same problem and she swears by taking extra vitamin B. If she forgets for a day or two she wakes up at 3.30 am again, and then goes back to taking the vitamins and it works.

I know you wrote you'd tried vitamins, but since you didn't specify which ones I thought it could be worth a comment.

I hop you find something that works for you, insomnia sucks!

Amy B

A couple people have already mentioned it, but let me put in one more plug for melatonin (If you haven't already tried it. You mentioned herbal remedies, but melatonin isn't exactly an herb, so...) I can't say for sure it will help you STAY asleep - I just know it did wonders for helping my husband fall asleep. I know that falling asleep and staying asleep are two different problems. But it's worth a shot if you haven't tried it yet. Good luck!!

Karen

This will sound crazy, but when I had that going on...I had to try to think of something blank. Like a clean chalkboard, white sheet, starless sky. When I visualized something blank and calmed myself I passed out again. If I let myself think I would stay awake. I still get up at 3:30 or 4:00 but at least I can eventually get myself back to sleep. You may be far beyond this though and if you get frustrated from it, you will stay up.
Something medicinal or herbal might be the way to go...

Karen

This will sound crazy, but when I had that going on...I had to try to think of something blank. Like a clean chalkboard, white sheet, starless sky. When I visualized something blank and calmed myself I passed out again. If I let myself think I would stay awake. I still get up at 3:30 or 4:00 but at least I can eventually get myself back to sleep. You may be far beyond this though and if you get frustrated from it, you will stay up.
Something medicinal or herbal might be the way to go...

Stacy

So I've never commented before, but now seemed like as good as a time as any. First- I wanna say I LOVE your blog, you crack me up yo. And I'm not even a mom yet, so just imagine how much I'd love it if I were! So rock on you....

The reason I'm posting is because I have this EXACT same problem, and you're typed out mind thinking stuff goes EXACTLY how mine does. I, however, have found nothing that works other than loading up on muscle relaxers prescribed for a back problem. So if you find anything useless, I'd love to hear it.

And if not, I'll still keep reading- ya know, because of the whole "you rock" thiiiing....

Stacy

So I've never commented before, but now seemed like as good as a time as any. First- I wanna say I LOVE your blog, you crack me up yo. And I'm not even a mom yet, so just imagine how much I'd love it if I were! So rock on you....

The reason I'm posting is because I have this EXACT same problem, and you're typed out mind thinking stuff goes EXACTLY how mine does. I, however, have found nothing that works other than loading up on muscle relaxers prescribed for a back problem. So if you find anything useless, I'd love to hear it.

And if not, I'll still keep reading- ya know, because of the whole "you rock" thiiiing....

Lyndsey

I went through a similar time, when my toddler was going through a rough terrible-two period. I would wake up and be so tired but unable to sleep. I would become frustrated and even throw pillows at the wall!! It sounds crazy to me now, but I was just so over-tired I was losing it. To be honest, I didn't do anything about it and it ended up just kinda going away as my son became easier to be around during the day.
But my husband was prescribed ambien due to anxiety and he doesn't take it every night, maybe a couple of times a month and he says it helps him.
Not to pry, but is there something else a little under the surface that's bugging you? Hope you get some zzz's.

Alli

I used to take melatonin, but you build up a tolerance to that stuff FAST. Like, you're not supposed to take it more than 1-2 times a week because your body will render the normal pill dosage ineffective in, like, two weeks.

I second the to-do list - I write one before bed for the next day, and even stupid stuff like "shower" or "do dishes" makes me feel accomplished when I get to cross it off. I also think it's helpful to have separate to-do lists for all of your jobs - I have three jobs, so I have a list for each, plus a list for stuff to do around the home (bills, cleaning, etc.)

I hate to say it, but the best sleep I ever had was when I was in college and lived with a girl who sold weed. A solid 8 hours a night, every time (munchies not included).

Rosie

This is happening to me - but I have a 4 month old - she wakes up, eats, goes back to sleep, and ZING I'm up. I think they like to call it "ruminating," no? My brain thinks 4AM is a VERY good time to think about getting mustard for the BBQ next week at TJ's - when will I go? What about the traffic? What else do I need? Will they have the right one in stock? I mean *really* it's insane. So - I've upped the SSRI, and am trying to do some meditation before bed. Meah - we'll see.

jen

just echoing the above lobbyists for melatonin--it's done the trick for me in the past. never had to take it for more than a couple nights to get things back on track.

i've also heard (not tried, for i am too lazy even to use proper capitalization here) that yoga is a fine sleep aide. there seem to be lots of dvds specifically geared toward relaxation/evening sessions, so maybe if traditional cardio isn't helping, this might.

Dona

Sounds like most of my nights -- but I'm old and it has something to do with menopause.

Also wine.

Christina

You'll hate me, I know. My husband had a similar problem, and then cut out all caffeine for two weeks. He sleeps well now and is able to drink a cup of coffee a day and still sleep through the night.

carolyn

this. THIS. this is me. it started last year. i went to the doctor. many tests. nary a result. i even had a sleep study. the verdict: normal, crappy sleep. after i hit post, i'm going to go back and read all of the comments and try them all one by one. because i'm tired of being a walking zombie.

Kate

I have this problem when I have too much going on at work. It really helps to keep a notepad by my bed and write down the "to-do" or great idea that keeps waking me up. If I don't do this, I spend the rest of the night drifting in and out of sleep, paranoid that I will forget whatever huge task I need to do (which, in the light of day, is always doable).

Leandra

I know that someone else already said this, but when that was happening to me, I finally realized that I was depressed. Not "Oh my God I want to die depressed" but just a general malaise depression. I also started a low dose (10mg) of Lexapro and I rarely have problems sleeping now.

I hope you get some sleep soon. There's nothing worse than that drugged out, no-sleep feeling.

Ris

This is going to sound totally wacko but I had the same problem, was at my wit's fucking end, and didn't want to go on The Drugs so...I did hypnotism. Before you run away laughing, let me tell you that I was EXTREMELY skeptical and it worked! It totally worked! One session, $50, and it worked like a charm. I have literally never had the problem again. They gave me a CD to listen to if I need a tune up, but it's been 4 years and I still sleep like a baby, all through the night.

Leandra

I know that someone else already said this, but when that was happening to me, I finally realized that I was depressed. Not "Oh my God I want to die depressed" but just a general malaise depression. I also started a low dose (10mg) of Lexapro and I rarely have problems sleeping now.

I hope you get some sleep soon. There's nothing worse than that drugged out, no-sleep feeling.

crabbyappleseed

So, here's the thing: this is a change for you. Six months ago, you slept just fine. Now you don't. The first thing to do is rule out a physical cause. Once that's all ruled out, think about psychological factors- anxiety, depression, stress, etc.

Ambien might make you sleep, but it's not going to treat the underlying cause. My husband took it for awhile for shift-work sleep disorder, and not only did it not even work for him (I'm pretty sure he would require tranquilizers), it made his skin break out horribly, made him meaner than a wet cat, oh, and also, made him hear voices. Yep. Known side effect. No thank you.

Amy

Maybe you should talk to your doctor and try to figure out what is causing the insomnia. If it's not something you've had trouble with in the past, it's probably a symptom of something else.

Amanda

Count backwards from 300 by 3's.

I saw it on one of those Dr. daytime television shows once and it works like a charm. You have to concentrate just hard enough (and it is just borning enough) that your brain just turns right off.

Jess

Go get a prescription for generic Klonopin. It will change your life. Shuts off the brain. Ambien is no bueno.

Debra

That is exactly what I'm doing now too! I think it's the pregnancy. At least I'm hoping so. Maybe second trimester I can actually sleep a bit. (ha!)
My brother-in-law actually won about three karaoke trophies while on Ambien. Doesn't remember doing it. He thought somebody was stalking him and leaving the trophies in his car.

Anne

I know that insomnia! I've had it! I once had it for nearly two years. Read that again. TWO. YEARS. Eventually what worked for me was heavy evening/bedtime doses of Klonopin. Klonopin is prescribed a lot for anxiety, but as I understand it the actual use is to help with steriod induced insomnia - which was not my problem, but whatever. Klonopin is something like Xanax, but it takes much longer to kick in (an hour plus) and lasts a lot longer (4-8 hours). I'd take one dose about two hours before bed, then another right as I went to bed, and that is the ONLY was I was able to stay asleep. A few months later I stepped the dose down and eliminated it, and while a little taste of insomnia came back for a while, it wasn't like before, and it didn't stick around.
Good luck!

Amanda

Or...boring enough. What does "borning" mean, anyway?

carly

delurking to recommend valerian root. My husband is a terrible sleeper on all fronts. He still has trouble falling asleep easily, but since he started taking valerian, he stays asleep. warning: it smells wretched. Easily found anywhere that sells vitamins, supplements. I think he bought his last bottle at Target.

Jackie

This is probably going to sound crazy, but I have been going through the same thing for months. And I think I recently realized what my problem is: I'm hungry. I had a baby around the same time you had Ezra and I decided a few months back that it was time already to lose the weight. And I did - without anything crazy. Just the normal eating healthier and exercising more (or at all...). But I stopped sleeping through the night. Falling asleep was no problem but staying asleep was terrible. Always around 3 am, just like you. I don't feel hungry, just anxious and nervous about a million and one things (other than food). But my husband suggested that it might be the weight loss, and to humor him I started eating something sort of heavy about an hour before bed (great for the diet, right?). Maybe some cheese or yogurt or a slice of toast and peanut butter. And now I magically sleep through the night again. No more insane worry at 4:15 about whether or not we took out the trash. Just glorious sleep. And the weight hasn't come back either. So give it a try - I really hope it works for you too.

Jackie

This is probably going to sound crazy, but I have been going through the same thing for months. And I think I recently realized what my problem is: I'm hungry. I had a baby around the same time you had Ezra and I decided a few months back that it was time already to lose the weight. And I did - without anything crazy. Just the normal eating healthier and exercising more (or at all...). But I stopped sleeping through the night. Falling asleep was no problem but staying asleep was terrible. Always around 3 am, just like you. I don't feel hungry, just anxious and nervous about a million and one things (other than food). But my husband suggested that it might be the weight loss, and to humor him I started eating something sort of heavy about an hour before bed (great for the diet, right?). Maybe some cheese or yogurt or a slice of toast and peanut butter. And now I magically sleep through the night again. No more insane worry at 4:15 about whether or not we took out the trash. Just glorious sleep. And the weight hasn't come back either. So give it a try - I really hope it works for you too.

EmJay

When I get like this it is a sign of depression. I saw a sleep specialist, did a sleep study, she told me it was common indicator of depression especially the 3 am bit. Kind of a chicken and egg thing, bad sleep leads to depression or vice versa. Either way, I use Lunesta when it pops up for a few months. I have not problem dropping it when I decide to do so. I prefer Lunesta to others because my kids don't always sleep so well and it allows be to tend to them and still fall back asleep.

ell.uu

just reading this sends my anxiety into panic mode. I'm a lifelong insomniac. big time. it runs in my family, so we're all sorts of chummy with pharmaceuticals. I've been on prescription sleep aids for going on 10 years now and I cannot foresee a future without them. I've tried them all, in varying dosages and combinations. it helps, but not completely. and it sucks ass. so, you ask who needs sleep? everyone. sleep issues are completely debilitating. I hope you find relief soon.

ahmielyn

Oh, man. I have a laundry list of issues that make it impossible for me to go to sleep or stay asleep. I tried Ambien, and I wasn't going to sleep so much as slipping into a coma for 12 hours a night. I would take it, my whole self would switch off, and then back on in the morning. No dreaming, no sense of time passed, no nothing. Terrifying. And I was a zombie for about 6 hours after that. Lunesta: same thing.

And then. OH THEN. My shrink prescribed the WONDER DRUG OF ALL TIME OMG WE ARE GETTING MARRIED IN THE SPRING. Trazodone is safe, non-narcotic, and non-addictive. It's a very old drug that used to be used as an anti-depressant but is now mostly prescribed as a sleep aid. The morning after the first time I took it I literally wept with relief. I drifted asleep naturally, dreamed all night and didn't wake up, and was refreshed with no junkie hangover in the morning. And if the dog or my baby niece and nephew get up and night and need attention, waking up for that is no problem whatsoever. I'm usually able to go back to sleep after.

It's covered by most insurances for a minimum copay, but even if your insurance doesn't cover it, it's really cheap. Like $13 for a 30-day supply. Obviously you'll need to do your own research and figure out if it's right for you but I highly recommend it. Sorry for the novel!

Cheryl

I swear I'm not a crazy bible-thumping church lady, but when I have this problem, I pray for people. I go through the alphabet and say a prayer. Aunt Annie, Britney, CJ, Danielle, you get the picture. I can't remember ever having to say a prayer for "G"randpa, because I'm usually asleep again by then. It takes a lot of concentration and quite frankly I think I bore myself back to sleep. Love your blog, sorry you're going through this. I know it sucks.

Lori

This happened to me a couple of years ago - first awake once a night, then twice, then pretty much every hour or so. My doctor checked my hemoglobin level and it was very, very low-needing a transfusion low - immediately after, I started sleeping well - 8 hours well. Now I take iron supplements once a day and have no sleeping issues. Bottom line - my advice - talk to your doctor and make sure she/he checks your hemoglobin.

Peachy

What you are describing is "monkey mind", and you can shut your stupid brain up so you can get back to sleep if you learn to meditate - which, I have to warn you, is breathtakingly hard for people with monkey mind! Took me MONTHS to get the hang of just letting that jabbering flow by without me. The good news is, you can teach yourself how to do it without trying by taking a good relaxation yoga class.

PS - I'm short, fat, surly, meat-scarfing and not generally into this namby-pamby white light stretchy yoga crap. But getting sleep tops my list of Things I Will Try Utterly Ridiculous Shit I Mocked For Years For, If It Means I Get Whatever It Is I'm Trying to Get.

Besides, it gets you out of the house, which in my house = closer to wine/margaritas. Just sayin'!

CJ

This happens to me when I'm not managing my depression well. If I don't get enough exercise (and therefore endorphins) then I wake up at 4:15 really worried about....something....and my mind will race until it finds something worthy to worry about. Oh, and it has to be pounding exercise like running or viscous squats or something. None of this pilates crap. What does pilates do for anyone anyway? I still haven't figured that out.

jonniker

I feel compelled after reading these comments to mention that my husband has NEVER sleep-walked (slept-walked? Wha?) on Lunesta. Never! Oh dear, these Ambien comments.

Separately, I forgot to mention hypnotherapy! Yes! I did it while I was pregnant, and once before that with my therapist, who was kind of hippy to that kind of shit, and I'm not a total crackpot about that either, but it was pretty awesome and gave me some great tools to help me relax and fall asleep. And also stay calm in situations that usually got me nervous and jerky.

Beret

You are doing too much (work wise).

I was having terrible sleep issues (JUST as you described...my mind raced from 2am-4am then I'd fall asleep HARD and have to get up at 5 feeling like complete shit.)

I cut back on some responsibilities with work, upped my physical exertion during the day and restricted computer time and voila! I'm sleeping much better now.

Amy B

The most important thing is that your eyebrows look fabulous.

Amy B

The most important thing is that your eyebrows look fabulous.

Emily

Hormones. I would mention this to your doc and ask if it could be a hormonal imbalance (not necessarily woman-related types either...like thyroid, etc.). I often have periods of a few days throuhgout the month where my sleep is awful. But I chart, so I can see what my cycle (sorry!TMI) is doing and pinpoint that as the culprit. But if it's a non-lady hormone, you may want to check, just to be sure.

Lori

I had stress-related insomnia problems a while back, and simply couldn't get my brain to shut off when I woke in the night. What worked for me was to force myself to think about something I found pleasant and relaxing. Designing flower gardens was my favorite. This works for my husband, too.

Whatever you do, don't think about the fact that you aren't sleeping.

Chrissy

Amy, I had similar...VERY SIMILAR symptoms a few years ago. My therapist (yes I went back after the sleeping problems started)called these episodes of waking up in the night and thinking about many things.."playing the tape, over and over again" and she suggested Ambien CR (continuous release so it not only GETS you to sleep but keeps you asleep). I was only on it one month and slept like a baby and woke up rested everyday. My anxiety went down considerably (as lack of sleep is prone to aggravate) and it was as if my sleep cycle was "reset." I have not had any sleep problems since. Give or take a few spare nights. I had the anxiety of getting addicted as well but it was never a problem. Good luck and hang in there!

Laura

It's called 'knock out'. I get it from vitacost.com.

Stephanie

I've ripped my earlobe in half. It did suck. Back in the 90's, remember those open hoop type earrings with the little balls on the ends..like for belly button piercings?? Yeah, in my ears. Was getting into my car one day, it hooked onto the top of the window...and I continued to sit down. Earring in lap...blood everywhere.

I hope you get a full nights sleep soon.

April

This totally happened to me and my mom when we started taking Claritin D. I would wake up in the night with my brain ready to conquer the world. I started going to bed around 7PM (because I was young and single and able to do so) and then getting up for the day at 3AM. But once I quit taking it all went back to normal. So weird. But I would backtrack and see if you changed anything at that point in time... see if there is a physical cause like someone else suggested.

April

This totally happened to me and my mom when we started taking Claritin D. I would wake up in the night with my brain ready to conquer the world. I started going to bed around 7PM (because I was young and single and able to do so) and then getting up for the day at 3AM. But once I quit taking it all went back to normal. So weird. But I would backtrack and see if you changed anything at that point in time... see if there is a physical cause like someone else suggested.

April

This totally happened to me and my mom when we started taking Claritin D. I would wake up in the night with my brain ready to conquer the world. I started going to bed around 7PM (because I was young and single and able to do so) and then getting up for the day at 3AM. But once I quit taking it all went back to normal. So weird. But I would backtrack and see if you changed anything at that point in time... see if there is a physical cause like someone else suggested.

Life of a Doctor's Wife

Oh my god Amy that SUCKS. I am sorry you are going through that. Deeply, deeply sorry because I have BEEN THERE. The long hours where you look at the clock every 17 minutes and think, "If I go to sleep RIGHTNOW I will still get six hours of sleep. If I go to sleep right NOW I will still get five hours." Etc. Until your head explodes.

For me it is usually a stress thing. Is there anything out of the ten million things you are doing that you can drop? Even if it's, you know, cooking dinner or laundry? (Both overrated, amiright?)

If not, the only things I have found to be helpful are a) keeping a pad and pen on the nightstand where I make lists of all the things I have to do the next day both BEFORE I go to bed and when I wake up and b) getting out of the bed when I wake up, getting a glass of milk or water, and walking around for a few minutes and then starting over.

Again, so sorry you are going through this. It is ROUGH. Hang in there. I hope you find a solution.

MichelleH

Your thing about being scared of drugs made me laugh because I'm the same way. I took a vicodin for the very first time for a newly acquired monthly migraine that got so bad I couldn't function. And it helped SO MUCH. But I keep telling everybody "I don't even take ibuprofen but I was DYING..." very dramatically so people will understand that I HAD TO and I won't end up in rehab over one vicodin.

I wish I could help with the sleep problem. I get about 4 hours a night tops and I know that miserable feeling of having nothing left to give, like you said. For me, the reason is a toddler screaming for my attention at night, but when he's quiet, I almost don't know how to sleep. I do get overwhelmed with all the responsibilities and things too. What about meditation or something like that? I'm not good at clearing my head the way they say to but one thing that worked for me was something a friend told me. Think to yourself "What is my next thought going to be?" and then think of yourself as the observer waiting for it to happen. And then if thoughts come you are supposed to just observe them and ask yourself again. I think the idea is to see how long you can do it and with practice it will be longer each time. Good luck!!! I know sleep deprivation is pure torture.

Jess

Just another data point on SSRI's being very helpful for sleeping for an anxiety prone person - I slept like a baby on paxil and am slightly disappointed still I had to go off when I got pregnant with my second. I have also been on and off ambien and it worked for me, although if you are having middle of the night issues, make sure you get a prescription for CR as the regular ambien won't touch that. I did find that ambien was not as effective on anxiety-insomnia, as well, so keep that in mind. I did not have any of the crazy side effects you hear about.

Good luck - it's the worst. Hang in there.

Jennie

Sleep. Ahhhh sleep. Whenever my 15 month old has hit a weird sleep rut they blame it on developmental milestones. So I'm going to go with that. Maybe you are hitting your (insert age in months) growth spurt/milestone reaching time. Is there a new skill you've been working on mastering?

I'm sorry you are sleepy, I don't have any real suggestions to help you, just sympathy. Exhaustion is the pits. Hope some of the real suggestions help you stay in dream land past 3 am.

Amy in StL

Wow, I've totally been there. I worked nights for six months during hurricane season one year and could not readjust to working days. I'd fall asleep okay, but my body wanted to be awake before I had enought sleep. I tried OTC sleep meds and I'd hit the bed hard and then wake up around 3am - which meant I could take another one and be out until mid afternoon or I could suffer. I tried herbal stuff. It worked to get me to sleep - again, not a problem to begin with - but I couldn't sleep all night.

I have one word for you:

Ambien.

I'm not still taking it. I took it for about a week and my body suddenly remembered why it liked 8 hours of sleep and how to do that. You can NOT drink with Ambien - that's when people get weird side effects - which is why I can't fathom staying on it. But a girlfriend I worked with totally took pity on zombie me and pratically herded me to the doctor's office to ask for some meds.

You can't go on being a zombie, it's really not hot. Suck it up and see a doctor. Seriously.

Fabs

I've been the same way for a couple of years now. I have been to the naturopath because I don't want to go on any prescription stuff. Nothing has helped so far-melatonin, herbal supplements, no caffeine, no alcohol, snacking before bed, exercising, etc. I feel like I never get into deep sleep because I always have thoughts in my mind about things that have happened, things that are going to happen, etc. The worst are the songs that get stuck in my head that I can't get out. I also tried imagining a blank space or sweeping the thoughts out of my head, but that doesn't work either. Looking at the other comments, I think I might try writing down all my thoughts or maybe try acupuncture? You are not alone Amy, I hope you find something that works for you. Keep us posted, obviously there are alot of us out there that have sleep issues!

Emily

Seconding meditation - or meditation-like techniques. I have recurring problems with early morning wake-ups (my own, not the bub's anymore THANK GOD) and focusing all of my attention on my breath has been really useful in stopping the flow of thoughts that kept me up. Breath meditations are basically just paying very close attention to the feeling of breathing in, and the feeling of breathing out. Over and over. When your mind drifts, try to move it nonjudgmentally back to your breathing.

claudia wade

Of course you aren't old enough for menopause or peri-menopause, but sleep issues such as you're having sometimes start with menopause. Could you have a hormone imbalance of some kind that is mimicking menopause? maybe check that out....

Amanda

Magnesium, dude! Try it. You are probably magnesium deficient. Helps your body with its melatonin. I take one magnesium every night before bed and I sleep all night.

atpanda

I can't pretend to know what's going on in your whole life, but I'll share my experience and maybe it'll apply. Maybe not.

When my mom was really sick (for 2 years) I'd wake up at exactly the same time every night. It wasn't like I was even thinking about her specifically, in fact in my head I was thinking "I'm proud of myself for being so strong about this!", but the timeline matched.

I continued having the problem after she died, and then *gasp* I went to therapy. I was not able to deal with my dad (who has his own problems) on top of losing my mom, and I needed to just talk it out. And talking it out w/ a stranger was different then talking it out with my husband or friends. The therapist was a moron, but for an hour twice a week I got to just vent about anything and everything on my mind. Old stuff, new stuff, sad stuff, good stuff... (that came off very Dr. Seuss!). Point being... after a few short weeks I was actually sleeping. I still have bouts of not sleeping, but they're much shorter then they used to be and I know what causes it. Brain on overdrive.

I think we underestimate how much our emotions and just plain dealing with life can affect us physically.

christine

I used to have the exactly the same problem, I think it is hormonal. I found that if I drank a glass of orange juice(or a juice box) right when I woke up I could fall back to sleep about 20 mins. later. You can also try sleeping with a heating pad on your lower back. I started taking Zyrtec at night(it made me to tired during the day) for my allergies and now I have been sleeping right through. Good luck!

wordnerd

I don't really have a lot to offer here, other than to say I'd take the gutter over sharing a cell with Lindsey Lohan.

Just sayin'...

wordnerd

OH, wait. P.S. Hubby tried Ambien and his body (and insomnia) laughed at it. He got on Restoril (generic = Temazepan) and it's made all the difference in the world. And it's cheeeappp!

Elizabeth

Yep, me too, although I'm better now - most nights. What helped me the most was learning to meditate, then when I'd wake up at night I'd write down those things I'd need to remember then lie down and meditate. Even if I didn't go back to sleep, I felt better. And, well, okay, the OTHER thing that helped me the most was getting my hormones balanced.

Susan

Oh Amy,I feel for you. I've had sleep issues all my life and go through cycles like this a couple times a year (though mine normally only last a few weeks). I'm also afraid of Ambien, but I will take a couple of Benadryl.
What I find helps me the most is to turn on my little book light (so I don't wake my husband) and read for a while. It just helps me to stop thinking about all that stuff and eventually I can fall back asleep.
Choose your books carefully though -- mindless love stories or classics you already know are good (Gone With the Wind is one I've read about 10 times); murder mysteries are not.

kristin

I couldn't sleep for three months after September 11 - I just kept hearing "Osama Bin Laden" in my head all night long (I know, strange, especially since I was living in mid-Missouri at the time). I, too, was dealing with depression (for a long, long time, just severely underdiagnosed). I took one Prozac and immediately passed out. Nine years later and I still sleep like a champ. SSRIs aren't magic or anything - they just help you remain relaxed and calm enough to deal with all the worries and stresses in your life. Maybe you, like so many of us, are serotonin-deficient, too.

eva

Neither meditating nor visualizing floral gardens to design would do anything except stress me out! I've liekd reading all the suggestions though, and want to throw in a vote for acupuncture. I don't really believe in it....but both times that I've had it? Slept deeply through the night and felt very balanced, mood-wise.

My other suggestion would be to take on less. Good luck with that one. Finding an hour every few weeks for acupuncture may be more realistic:)

LauraL

Nothing new to recommend, just seconding (or is it now 113th-ing?) to go to a doctor first to rule out anything physical. And skip Ambien if at all possible. And I'm really, really sorry; this sucks moose balls.

marcoda

The previous poster's idea about three free thought pages sounds good. Also, I've had the same problem and was diagnosed with depression. Doc put me on Wellbutrin and I have a therapy appointment next month. I've only been on the pills 1.5 weeks so it's hard to say if they're working. Honestly, I'm looking forward to the therapy more.

Good luck!

marcoda

The previous poster's idea about three free thought pages sounds good. Also, I've had the same problem and was diagnosed with depression. Doc put me on Wellbutrin and I have a therapy appointment next month. I've only been on the pills 1.5 weeks so it's hard to say if they're working. Honestly, I'm looking forward to the therapy more.

Good luck!

Taaalia

Acupuncture! For reals! I went in for hellish menstrual cramps without really mentioning sleeplessness and voila -- I went from getting a restless 4/5 hours a night to something like 8 hours with no random, weird waking up. Also, community acupuncture is very, very veerrrryy affordable!

Amber McN

Lifetime insomniac here. I'm a trouble-falling-asleep person. I've used Ambien for 10 years. Now, trouble-STAYING-asleep people should take Ambien CR... this will help you stay asleep for 8 hours and will not help too much with the falling asleep part and you won't get as much of the 'WTF happened last night' stuff.
When I take my sleep pill I normally get a lot of stuff done around the house because my brain is shut off and I don't think of things like: 'but I don't WANT to scrub the tub' I just see the tub and start scrubbing. HOWEVAH - I can't watch my shows after pill time because I'll forget what happened.
Before Ambien and while pregnant I would have to read for about 1-2 hours before I could start to fall alseep and I would have to put all my "parts" alseep by willing everything to relax from my toes to my head. Some of the time I'd fall alseep by the time I got to my tummy.
Might not hurt to try Ambien CR... at least until you get your sleep legs back.

atpanda

Please tell me that the title of this post is a nod to the BNL?

Wendy

As both a therapist AND an anxiety sufferer, I would say that from both professional and personal experience, your problem is more anxiety-related. The intrusive thought cycles and the ability to FALL asleep. I would also suggest maybe considering anxiety as the root problem and the insomnia as a symptom, and work away at the anxiety. Lexapro and CBT (as Joniker suggested) are a good combo. Good luck.

Shannon

I have taken Ambien for several years. If I get 3-4 hours steady even on Ambien it is a miracle. I am not a sleeper anymore and it does show. It affects all aspects of life.

Try ambien. Take a 5 mg and cut it in half. Or try Lunesta, which I found didn't help me at all. Only the ambien will give me a solid 4 hours, sometimes more. I don't take it everynight, but my tolerance is up and now, don't let my Dr. see this, I usually end up taking TWO of the 12.5 extended release and will get good sleep.

No sense..no sense....pass the coffee, Amy.

The Tutugirl

I'm with Jonna...that sounds exactly like anxiety. Except instead of a general med, I usually take a Xanax when I wake up or stay up all freaked out. It helps with the root of your being awake instead of just trying to make you really sleepy.

Laura in LA

Me and all my girlfriends keep a tablet and pen by the bed. If we wake up in the middle of the night thinking of 500 things that need to be done, we jot them down, the roll back over. Somehow, knowing that they are on an actual list that will be there in the morning helps us to know that we wont forget & will get things done (ha!). This may not be enough for the insomnia you are fighting...but worth a shot to quiet down the brain!

Laura in LA

Me and all my girlfriends keep a tablet and pen by the bed. If we wake up in the middle of the night thinking of 500 things that need to be done, we jot them down, the roll back over. Somehow, knowing that they are on an actual list that will be there in the morning helps us to know that we wont forget & will get things done (ha!). This may not be enough for the insomnia you are fighting...but worth a shot to quiet down the brain!

Jen L.

I'm gonna jump on the NO AMBIEN bandwagon. I have two relatives who have had not-good-at-all experiences with it, so I don't recommend it. I usually knock myself out with Benadryl, but it makes me stoopid for 3 days afterward. My husband has had a good experience with occasional melatonin. I had bitchin' insomnia in grad school. I watched a lot of VH1. I now know more than any person should about Meatloaf.

Kristina

Accupuncture and melatonin tablets are the only thing that have worked for me and my painfully awful and oppressive insomnia. I'm also in the can't stay asleep category (though I also have the can't fall asleep problem), but seriously, accupuncture is the bomb with your mom. The first time I did it, I slept for 12 hours that night. It was heaven. Accupuncture can be expensive, but I think your sanity is probably worth giving it a shot.

PomJob

Running? Really? Have you always been a runner? Also, my RD coworkers say there's sound science behind warm milk helping induce sleep.

Julie

It's so funny you had this post today! I just had dinner with a friend of mine who had been having the exact same problem...falling asleep just fine and then up for hours in the middle of the night. Her doc gave her Ambien which worked great, but then he wanted to wean her off of it (probably to avoid those famous nasty side effects). She did some more research, and found that after you eliminate common sleep problems like sleep apnea, etc., that a huge number of people are actually waking up because of some kind of pain they don't even realize they had. The recommendations she found said that as soon as you wake up, try to see if any part of your body hurts. She found her lower back hurt! (Probably from picking up munchkins all day). She went to see a doctor and found that her mattress was old and saggy and made her back curve at night. They couldn't get an expensive new mattress at this point...but she started sleeping on her side with a pillow betweeen her knees and it has worked wonders!! She's been sleeping every night since then.
Hope you find something that helps!!!

Rosie

"My brother-in-law actually won about three karaoke trophies while on Ambien. Doesn't remember doing it. He thought somebody was stalking him and leaving the trophies in his car." Comment of the day.

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