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

Anna Marie

Ambien CR. I know it's scary, but I have had wake-up-in-the-wee-hours insomnia for years. YEARS. Ambien CR is the only thing I've ever taken that keeps me asleep all night. The other thing I do is keep a book and booklight on my bedside table. When I wake up I grab the book before my mind starts whirling and sometimes I can read myself back to sleep pretty quickly. You have my sympathy-insomnia is a cast-iron bitch.

Amy

So, maybe someone has already written this, but I have found that when I go to bed earlier, I actually sleep better through the night. Forever I was keeping myself up until 11pm or 12 for no reason, and then I started going to bed around 9pm, 10 at the latest, and my sleep was much better at night. No sleep really blows, so I hope you are able to find some relief SOON!

Rachel

Hi there from New Zealand. Your blog is fab and nice to find in the morning (the time difference works well!). My advice is try eating something - sounds weird - but I have a snack of something mild and comforting such as a banana, some weetbix and hot milk, a teaspoon of honey - and I'm back to sleep in no time. This is a "family remedy" for insomnia (grated apple for the unwell is yet another!) and it works for lots of people. Not sure why - but give it a go, you may be surprised. Plus it's drug-free!

mel

Too lazy to read through all of the comments so someone may have suggested this. Have your vitamin D levels checked

Amy

I am an insomniac and have that awful habit of waking up every hour and calculating how much sleep I possibly have left before the kids wake up.

But what sort of helped to shut my mind off is sitting down for half an hour before bed and making a massive to-do list. Really, everything I can think of. So I don't think about it in bed because it's on the list! I wrote the list! It's all good, I will get everything done because IT'S ON THE LIST.

Now actually completing the list...well, whatever.

It helps. Just knowing I somewhat organized everything I need to do reduces my stress level by a lot.

Good luck, not sleeping (especially with kids) is terrible.

TodayWendy

I can totally sympathize. I've been told that this particular type of insomnia can be related to depression, so definitely worth talking to your doctor.

I've tried sleeping pills, and they just make me miserable.

Things that have worked for me: - antihistamines (having a slightly runny nose wakes me up, usually worst in summer - make sure you don't get the non-drowsy ones)
- valerian (super stinky, took at least a month before it started doing anything, now I think it is helping)
- cutting way down on sugar (especially in the evening)
- something boring to distract yourself with (I keep a book of essays by the side of the bed)

Good luck. I know exactly how crappy you're feeling...and it totally sucks.

Amy

Like your first commenter (and possibly others--no time to read them all right now!), I highly recommend acupuncture. In fact, I'm pretty sure I even know what my own acupuncturist would say about waking at 3:00 a.m. like clockwork, and exactly what points he'd work on. But I am for sure not an acupuncturist, so get thee to one. It'll help, I promise--even if it doesn't help the very first time, right off the bat. (Seriously, stick with it for a while. It's changed my life--and my sleeping habits.) And if you have any hesitation about the expense, look for a community acupuncture clinic near you--they operate on a sliding scale, and they're an amazing concept in affordable health care. I can't say enough good things about this movement.

Karem

melatonin?

I had the same problem and it helped me move past it. I me

Rachel

Delurking to comment: I had insomnia and was feeling crazy run-down, with mental fog, problems concentrating, etc. a few years ago; turns out it was a vitamin B12 deficiency (pernicious anemia), which is actually pretty common. A simple blood test can check for it, and it's easily treatable. If you go to the doc, have him/her check it out. Now my insomnia and non-children-related sleep issues are gone.

Brenda Flynn

I had a severe bout of insomnia with some of these hallmarks... I fell asleep FINE. But then I woke up (like an hour later) and couldn't get back to sleep until, like, 7 am. That was rough.

In my case, it was Larium, which is an antimalarial, that did me in. Just think for a moment whether you added or removed anything from your consumption around the time your insomnia started. Maybe it's a supplement or something that shouldn't be a problem?

Hope you get it fixes - that sounds miserable.

Rebecca

I used to wake up at around 3am every morning. I figured out that my air conditioning was rising a few degrees to get everything warmed up by wake-up time. The slight rise in temperature would make me uncomfortable enough to wakeup.

I hope you figure it out

mswas

I second (third? fourth?) melatonin. That's what your body makes naturally when you are sleepy.

Liz

Whenever someone talkes about Ambien I feel inclined to throw in my experiences with Stilnox, which I think is the same thing (zolpidem, right?).

While it did knock me out good and proper and I absolutely stayed that way, it wasn't good sleep, I'd wake up feeling still tired and all hit-by-a-truck-like. So I would say be wary of it. Happily though, it wasn't a long-term thing, just for the day afterwards - so do consider trying it if your doctor thinks it might help, and if you have the same experience as me - at least it's only for one day.

Also - if you do take it, for the love of little green apples LIE DOWN AND GO TO SLEEP STRAIGHT AWAY. Once I got distracted and stayed up, and I hallucinated like whoa.

As for what might help - I know someone who had a similar problem and she found that sleeping on her own in the spare room for a couple of nights was really helpful. She'd gotten herself so worked up about MUST NOT WAKE UP MUST STAY ASLEEP that every tiny little noise that her husband made would wake her up, but it took aaages to figure out what it was. A couple of nights sleeping on her own in a very, very quiet room apparantly did wonders.

I don't comment much, but I've been reading your blog since just before Noah was born and I really enjoy it! Thank you for sharing it with us.

Jessie

I'm sorry you're going through this. I know from experience that it is miserable. I agree with everyone who says a trip to the doctor is in order: it sounds like anxiety to me.

Two things that often help me are: switching locations (guest bed or couch) and/or reading a book. The reading for me takes my brain away from the hamster wheel and more often than not allows me to fall asleep. Only problem there is, you are falling asleep with a light on so you either have to decide to sleep with it on, or deal with turning it off which often undoes all of your good sleepytime work and you have to read some more.

Good luck!

mia

the only thing that helped me sleep through the night again after getting pregnant seven years ago is going off my antidepressants. sad but true.

Beth

You need to see a doctor. You really may need a prescription sleep aid. Lots of people use them. Most of them are non-habit forming. You don't have to worry about becoming a drug addict. I've taken Ambien and Lunesta. Don't let them give you generic, those things are for shit.

beth

I've had this off and on for years now. The other comments are interesting...I'd never thought that depression might lead to insomnia. I also eat something before bedtime and generally find that alcohol disrupts my sleep. The night's after a 90 minute deep tissue massage and hot bath are also a blissful 8 hours...so you should for sure give that a try each and every day ;-)

Another thing that has helped me consistently is something I heard on NPR last Thanksgiving. It is a breathing technique. Most people don't exhale all the way between breaths. So in bed, focus on your breathing and exhale all the way, and count to two, and inhale. Rinse and repeat ad naseum. I've gotten to the point that when I start breathing this way, I can feel the tension drain away from my body, and since you're focused on your breathing, your attention isn't on the other stressors in your life.

Love the blog...

Erin

Wow, this was like reading into my brain for the past 3 months! I actually finally did go see a doctor about my issues staying asleep a few weeks ago. Her biggest piece of advice is to get out of bed when you aren't falling asleep within 30 minutes. Right now you are probably associating your bed with laying their awake, so if you try to break that association by only being in it when you are actually sleeping, that might help. I don't actually follow this advice very well because it is the LAST thing I want to do at 3am, but the times that I have, it really does seem to help. So get up, go to another part of the house and do something boring. I chose reading a book that I don't enjoy. I can usually only make it throug a page or two before going back. You are SUPPOSED to do this as many times as it takes to fall asleep. I do think it would help if I actually was religious about it, but I'm not. I definitely have started just getting up to pee at least when I wake up. That does seem to help me relax. The doc also suggested setting aside 30 minutes to worry. Sounds stupid, but probably a good idea. She said to try to write out a plan for each worry, and then when you start thinking about that in the middle of the night you know you have dealt with that particular issue already.

I was just reading a baby sleep training book that also said it is super common for parents to have issues sleeping through the night long after their babies do, because we are much less adaptable. She pretty much recommended the same crap as the doc did. Now if only I would just buckle down and actually follow the recommendations...

That ended up being a novel. Clearly I spend a lot of time thinking about this issue. Usually around 4am.

kiki

Melatonin - I have had the same, almost identical problem. And 3 mg of Melatonin taken at 10 pm does the trick. I can have no more than 2 cups of coffee before 11 AM and not more than 2 1/2 glasses of wine, period. Or I mess with my success. I keep my room Freezing, preferably 69 or lower, use a white noise machine religiously, and take that dang Melatonin at 10 pm. If I follow all my rules it works. If I screw up, I pay for it. That and I have to keep my husband from waking me up with his snoring (Breathe Right Strips). Try different dosages and brands. Also the Mid-Nite brand is 1.5 mg dissolves in your mouth, supposed to be designed to help you get back too sleep. Good Luck! I feel your pain.

andi

point the first: ambien rocks the catbox. not addictive, very sleepy and wake up with no hangover. i could be their poster child.

point the second: are you getting any exercise? maybe your body needs to be more worn out (don't throw anything, i know you have two kids...i'm just sayin').

point the third: perhaps a good time to wake the husband for Grown Up Time? tee hee..

sorry you feel crappy.

Meegan

It does sound like you need to see a doctor, and I am therefore in agreement with the 115 previous comments. I am not a huge fan of Ambien. I felt quite groggy when I woke. I take Trazadone which works more as an anti-anxiety. And lady, what you are describing is anxiety. So, yeah, talk to someone who knows their shit, has a script and is willing to use it!

Christen

This is going to sound totally whackadoo, but a few years back I saw a hypnotherapist. I KNOW. But? It helped. She also made me a CD I could play if I woke up or had trouble going to sleep. Might not be great if Jason would be bothered, but maybe a visit or two would get you on the right track? I rarely used the CD (which has since been lost in 2 cross-country moves) anyway. Acupuncture is also great for energy issues in general when you're feeling worn down. Helped me kick the 2pm coffee habit. Good luck!!

Christen

This is going to sound totally whackadoo, but a few years back I saw a hypnotherapist. I KNOW. But? It helped. She also made me a CD I could play if I woke up or had trouble going to sleep. Might not be great if Jason would be bothered, but maybe a visit or two would get you on the right track? I rarely used the CD (which has since been lost in 2 cross-country moves) anyway. Acupuncture is also great for energy issues in general when you're feeling worn down. Helped me kick the 2pm coffee habit. Good luck!!

Tina C.

i have the same problem; tylenol pm usually works. they say "light housework" for up to an hour will make you sleepy again and sometimes that works. writing stuff down on a pad next to my bed has worked before. they gave me ambien in the hospital when i went into labor at 32 weeks ... basically i had a baby and imm. went back to sleep. i recommend ambien for you. it seriously works.

Laura

I have the same problem, fine falling asleep but them awake sometime between 1 and 3am. I don't like taking pills if I can avoid it and I find the only thing that helps is having a little snack as soon as I wake up during the night- a half piece of bread with butter or half cup of orange juice. And most of the time I can get back to sleep within a half hour. With no snack I'm usually up for the rest of the night (or until 6:30, just in time for the kid to wake up at 7). Seem to remember reading somewhere? that middle of the night waking can have to do with low blood sugar. May not work for you but worth a try!

lisa marie

As much as it seems to be happening to everyone (me, too!!), you'd think maybe it's in the air!

Attitudinal: Yeah, please check on the anxiety/depression thing. It will grind.you.down.

Physical: What's your thermostat set at? I'm already taking about all the heavy-duty psych meds a body can handle. I was waking up every single night at (no lie) 3:14 a.m. I dropped the thermostat from 74 to 69, and I now sleep like a charm.

Lauren

Ambien made me hallucinate. I'm just sayin'. My dad is a psychiatrist, and he and my mom take Rozerem - which they like. Doesn't do a thing for me. What ended up working for me? Half of a 10mg Ambien pill. No hallucinations, hello sleep. I promise, promise, promise that sleep meds can be a totally temporary thing with no addictions or side effects if you take them the right way.

marlena

Have 2 kids, youngest almost a year and now am suddenly getting fits of insomnia as well. Mine happens at bedtime (used to be too tired to have issues falling asleep but i guess my brain hates me now). Things that have not worked for me: exercise, caffeine holidays, sleep drugs (took sort of accidentally due to poison ivy anti-itch drug also have sleepy side fx), wine/no wine. Things that appear to work: meditate. Seriously, sitting for 5-10 minutes before bed, quiet place, letting myself zone out, watching the thoughts pass, whatever. I don't have a chant or anything fancy but I think just letting my brain relax for a short time, allows me to get into a good spot for sleeping. You can do it in the middle of the night - I have done that too if i wake up. I guess full time job, 2 little kids, house to take care of, etc. can sometimes make you insane with that little ball of anxiety in your chest that won't go away. I scoff at myself but the meditating thing appears to work. And nothing else is working so why the hell not? And no you cannot take away my coffee or you will die.

Dawn K.

First-I also would recommend at least looking into melatonin. I used to take it during a depressive episode and it really helped. Though you'll want to do some research; as other commenter's said you can build up a resistance, and in some people it can make depression worse.

Second-Possible mild depression or anxiety, as already mentioned before.

Third-You've made comments in a few of the places you write about your current wieght loss/get healthy goal. Could it be related to that...a nutrient deficiency manifesting itself? I know I have to watch my iron intake as I'm borderline anemic, which can really affect my energy level.

Fourth-Do you have a history of thyroid imbalances in your family? Or any other non-life threatening but quirky disorders/diseases? I think an appointment with a doctor could be helpful to start a checklist of possible causes and to then rule out items on said list.

chellebelle

Well, I can't tell you why, but for me, the only thing that works when I wake up and can't go back to sleep (and it's a regular thing for me) is to get out of bed and go lay on the couch. Don't know why the new venue works, but I'll be tossing and turning in my perfectly quiet, comfortable and dark bedroom and when I go out and lay on the couch in the living room with the porch light shining in my eyes and the itchy afghan my mother-in-law knitted, BOOM, I'm asleep every time. No drugs, no angst (except for hubby's, who thinks I hate him).

Lori

This sounds like me a year ago. I tried EVERYTHING. Prescriptions out the yin-yang. I'm serious--I was prescribed everything from Ambien to Seroquel to Trazodone. Nothing--and I mean NOTHING--worked for me until I started taking melatonin. Just melatonin, but 9mg rather than the 3mg regular dose. My doctor recommended it, and my mother-in-law's naturopath approved the dosage. On the rare occasion that I wake up and can't get back to sleep, I just take another 3mg and I'm usually back to sleep within 10 minutes.

Plus, melatonin is cheap, and if you're taking too much, your brain will have freaky dreams and you can reduce the dose.

I couldn't believe it either, but it worked for me. Good luck!

Skip

Worst! I had a problem like that after my first baby, started when he was around 3 or 4 months old. I was having a lot of anxiety during this time (hello post partum anxiety!) and this was the capper. All of it eventually went away and in the meantime i tried a ton of things that didn't really do much. Two years later I started going to an acupuncturist for some fertility related issues and they suggested getting my thyroid tested. Turns out it was slightly over the normal limit. Thyroid problem symptoms can include increased anxiety, insomnia, weight gain (or loss), fertility issues, plus a whole lot of other things that usually look like general depression or anxiety type things. Lots and lots of people have thyroid problems w/o even knowing it. I'd make an appt w/ your doctor and have it checked out, especially if this is not a normal thing for you, ie history of insomnia or anxiety.

Deedee

They say that if you are unable to sleep you should get out of bed? Over the years I have had brief spells of waking up and being wide awake and unable to get back to sleep. I get up, pee, have a drink of water, turn the light on and pick up a magazine or book to read. Most times within 20 minutes or so I get drowsy, return to bed and fall asleep. My Dad had great results with Melatonin. He did not need to take it very often, usually after 2 or 3 days he was back on track sleeping OK.

Clare

Wow. If all the people who think they sound crazy or who promise they’re not crackpot actually are, your blog is being read by mostly mad people. Or mostly by mad people. Whatever. There seem to be lots of good suggestions to try pre resorting to drugs. Not judging. Just hear you on the scared to take the heavy medication front. So, to join the hordes of the crazies, and to add weight to trying suggestions already given, have a small snack shortly before going to bed. A turkey and lettuce sandwich (both soporiphics) on whole wheat bread. Or some oatmeal (for melatonin) with a banana (melatonin, serotonin and magnesium – a previous poster mentioned it and was completely right) and a teaspoon of honey are all meant to do the job. When I’ve had trouble sleeping (and like you it’s the waking up, instantly alert at stupid o’clock) I’ve found that the before bed ritual of making, eating and enjoying this stuff, and the feeling that I’m doing something about the waking up, helps. Then when I DID wake up, I remember that I’ve done something about it, shouldn’t be awake and it’s helped me go back to sleep. Alternatively – and I like plan B – ship the kids off and spend a night away with your bloke just to break the cycle. Might be decent side effects with this one as well. Breast of duck.

Stephanie

There are many non-addicting and not-nearly-as-scary-as-Ambien options out there. Lunesta, melatonin (over the counter), Trazadone, Restoril...that are all non-addicting, not controlled substances. Please talk to your doctor about some options...from a night shift physician assistant that has "shift sleep disorder" = can't turn my brain off when I'm not working...there is help out there, and you likely won't have to use it forever! Good luck.

Amy

That is classic signs of anxiety. I had it too. Didn't necessarily feel like an anxious/worrying person, but at night... my brain wouldn't turn off. Exactly like you described. Anti-anxiety meds did the trick. 6-12 months then you can stop them again. Miracle workers those things!!

G.G.R

Definetly get a good acupuncturist! So, so good. Him: "Do you have a lot of níghtmares?" Me: "HOW did you know?!" One needle in mah toe, and I slept like a baby.

Have you tried reading? I have so much running through my mind at night that I often have anxiety attacks, sometimes full on panic attacks, so I can't get rest. But if I get my eyes tired by reading and focus just on the book I can fall asleep.

But it's hard to give really good advice because I don't know what exactly is bothering you - but maybe try to take a few moments maybe if you take a pre-bed shower or just sitting on your bed to RELAX, LADY! Maybe find a meditation video on youtube or just sit and breathe with yourself for a while. And remember everything will be okay! Everything always works out!

G.G.R

Definetly get a good acupuncturist! So, so good. Him: "Do you have a lot of níghtmares?" Me: "HOW did you know?!" One needle in mah toe, and I slept like a baby.

Have you tried reading? I have so much running through my mind at night that I often have anxiety attacks, sometimes full on panic attacks, so I can't get rest. But if I get my eyes tired by reading and focus just on the book I can fall asleep.

But it's hard to give really good advice because I don't know what exactly is bothering you - but maybe try to take a few moments maybe if you take a pre-bed shower or just sitting on your bed to RELAX, LADY! Maybe find a meditation video on youtube or just sit and breathe with yourself for a while. And remember everything will be okay! Everything always works out!

Tracy

Melatonin or catnip tea.

BF

Melatonin. It is naturally produced by your body anyway - try taking a booster.

Judi

There's a meditation device I use when I can't sleep. Lay on your back, get comfortable and then... don't move a muscle for as long as you can. That's it. It's actually harder than it sounds BUT it forces you to shut off your brain and concentrate on the task. All you can do is lay and breath. That's it- no picturing yellow glowing balls over your head or focusing on your breathing (which always makes me feel like I CAN'T breath). Just one simple task.

Gets me to sleep every time. :) Good luck!

Sherri

I am at work and I can't read every response, so I apologize if this has been said. I've been through the insomnia thing for years...exactly like yours. Here is what I have learned...get your vitamin D checked. Most women are low and in some it can affect sleep. Melatonin not only doesn't help u stay asleep, and u build tolerance fast...it can also interact with some medications and can actually affect the way your body's sleep cycle works. Like, you stop making your own melatonin because you're ingesting it. Benadryl and Tylenol PM may knock you out, but you never get to REM sleep so you don't feel refreshed when you wake. Ambien is in the same family as Klonopin, Valium, etc and while it may work for some (and the extended release may work for you), they all have the danger of addiction AND if it's still the same as it was, Ambien is REALLY EXPENSIVE. Your doctor can prescribe a medication like Trazodone that is an SSRI but also causes drowsiness. For a lot of people that works. For ME though....I got a prescription to Buspar, which is a non-addictive anti-anxiety drug that causes drowsiness. I take it at bedtime. The anti-anxiety part helps me to keep from waking up with those running thoughts, and the drowsy part helps me fall asleep and stay asleep. I don't even feel it, and I take a very low dose. I haven't had that problem in the 18 months since I started...and I realized I hadn't really been getting quality sleep on any of the other meds. Hoep that helps. Take it from someone who's lived it...it gets better!

Oh, and Buspar...not an antidepressant either. It's pretty mild, so you won't accidentally suddenly start shooting heroin.

Cinthia

I don't think I've ever posted commented, but I thought this was worth delurking for (that sounds odd).

I have literally tried everything in terms of sleep aids (I went through the list on Wikipedia). You name it, I've probably tried it, both herbal/over-the-counter and prescription.

Currently I take Ambien. It works well for me and I don't feel groggy the next day. If you take medicine the way it is prescribed, you should be fine. Just because some person had a problem with it doesn't mean you will. Chances are, they were taking it incorrectly.

Aside from meds, three things that help me with sleep are: meditational podcasts, the Ambiance app my husband bought me, and writing stuff down in a little pre-sleep journal. I write down all the things I'm currently worried about or need to do the next day, and feel a sense of peace knowing that they will be there for me to fret over when I wake up. Oddly enough, it does help.

Not getting enough sleep really messes with a person's mental and physical help. I encourage you to talk to a doctor and get the relief you need.

KT

When I have trouble with a racing mind keeping me up I start a mental game of doing lists in my head. This helps block out the intrusive thoughts of your real life things and isn't interesting enough to keep you awake. My typical ones are things like naming all the states in alphabetical order, trying to list a country for almost every letter of the alphabet, or listing celebrities who have alliterative names in alphabetical order (Alan Alda, Bill Bixby, Charlie Chaplin, etc). That last one can be absorbing if you try and list all of them for a given letter. I know it sounds stupid but it has worked well for me. Also, turn your clock around so you can't see the time and DON'T look when you wake up. Good luck!

Angie

Try a gravol 20 minutes before bed. Lets me fall back asleep quickly if (when) I wake up and doesn't give you a hangover. It's a little constipating, though, so up your fibre a bit. Wishing you a nice, long peaceful sleep....

Angie

Try a gravol 20 minutes before bed. Lets me fall back asleep quickly if (when) I wake up and doesn't give you a hangover. It's a little constipating, though, so up your fibre a bit. Wishing you a nice, long peaceful sleep....

MommiePie

Holy Crap you are getting a lot of advice here! I was just going to suggest the notepad by the bed thing. Write down what's on your mind so you sort of "erase" it from your mental to-do list. Also, maybe try a new way of organizing your work/time/deadlines during the day so you don't have to worry about remembering if you still need to do it/come up with it/etc. Then again, maybe you are just overscheduled. Good luck. I will think about you when I'm up at 1:30 to pee (5 mos pregnant will do that to you!)

Dacia

Trish mentioned something that has worked for me as well: doing a brain-dump 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."

Hope you get some restful sleep soon.

AmandaG

I second/third/fourth the mind dump idea. Do it either before bedtime or when you wake up and write down all the crap that's in your head.
Usually when I wake up in the middle of the night but can't get back to sleep (or can't fall asleep) I start thinking about sex and that usually works. Sounds kind of funny when I read back that thinking about sex puts me to sleep, but it works for me!
Or, I wake up and read a book for a bit and then fall asleep on the couch. Sometimes a change of location is all that's needed.
Good luck!

Heather

No brilliant suggestions, just my deepest sympathies.

Angela

Please consider having a sleep study done. There are actually a lot of things that can go wrong with sleep, and a lot of them are fixable. My husband was having this and it turned out he had sleep apnea. I was a bit surprised as I'd not noticed him really being a snorer, and I have had sleep apnea for years and never had the waking up in the middle of the night, can't shut my brain off kind of symptoms. But he had it too, and now that he's treating it (with cpap) he sleeps AWESOME! I do by the way. And cpap isn't that bad actually. Sleep is a wonderful, blissfull thing. (that I miss sooo much now that I have newborn twins. *weep*)

La Rêveuse

I had Very Similar Symptoms which led to years of uncontrollable migraines (including a 3-month long ONE). My neurologist said I have "Chronic Low Seratonin". I've used Ambien when needed (didn't become addicted), and other things. Mostly, I learned to listen to my body and follow its schedule. Luckily, my kids' schedules are similar. (Phew.) But getting help was the first step. You (obviously) can't do it yourself.

Seriously. Get help, Amy. You know you need it. *Pushes Amy*

Cristin

Sound like my good old friend ANXIETY. Most docs are very reluctant to prescribe Ambien. It will f your shit up and you WILL sleep, but you might also have unexplained Amazon purchases from 2am like I did. I seriously recommend like .25 mg of Xanax. It's probably enough to keep you asleep but not make you a zombie in the morning.
I also had the hangover effect from Ambien. DO NOT RECOMMEND.

Carrie

Yes, this! This is totally me. I have an almost-4-year-old and and almost-1-year-old and having 2 kids is kicking my ass way more than I ever thought it would. And on top of that, now I can't sleep! Totally sucks. Recently went back on an anti-depressant and it might actually be making it worse. Hope you get it figured out soon!

Crazy Mo

This is my first time reading your blog (my friend sent me the link). I'll admit, I laughed, but I know it's not funny. I, too, have insomnia -- chronic insomnia. Difficulty falling asleep AND staying asleep. I tried everything, as you did. My husband finally handed me a piece of paper with a phone number for a sleep clinic he heard advertised on the radio. Although this clinic has patients who are there to test for apnea and other 'normal' sleep issues, they also partner with pharmacuetical companies to test drugs. At the end of my rope (and no longer hanging on), I signed up. I'm going through my third trial now. The first drug I tried was awesome! I fell asleep within 15 minutes, stayed asleep all night and woke up, refreshed and energized at 5:30 every morning, ready to take on the world. It drove my husband nuts. But the drug company merged with another and they shelved the drug. Crap! This new drug doesn't really do it for me *sigh*, but I'm in the program until the end of September. All of this is to tell you that the right drug will have no side effects, and you will sleep. I don't like to take drugs either, but it's far more important to get sleep and be a functioning human being. Best of luck to you (and I'll keep reading your blog!)

Crazy Mo

This is my first time reading your blog (my friend sent me the link). I'll admit, I laughed, but I know it's not funny. I, too, have insomnia -- chronic insomnia. Difficulty falling asleep AND staying asleep. I tried everything, as you did. My husband finally handed me a piece of paper with a phone number for a sleep clinic he heard advertised on the radio. Although this clinic has patients who are there to test for apnea and other 'normal' sleep issues, they also partner with pharmacuetical companies to test drugs. At the end of my rope (and no longer hanging on), I signed up. I'm going through my third trial now. The first drug I tried was awesome! I fell asleep within 15 minutes, stayed asleep all night and woke up, refreshed and energized at 5:30 every morning, ready to take on the world. It drove my husband nuts. But the drug company merged with another and they shelved the drug. Crap! This new drug doesn't really do it for me *sigh*, but I'm in the program until the end of September. All of this is to tell you that the right drug will have no side effects, and you will sleep. I don't like to take drugs either, but it's far more important to get sleep and be a functioning human being. Best of luck to you (and I'll keep reading your blog!)

Suzy Q

Ambien's not terrifying; it's HELPFUL. I get a good 8-9 hours with no hangover when I take it, which I don't do every night. I'm glad I got it.

MarthaB

Hi. I have sleep issues...restless legs, not falling asleep, waking and not going back to sleep. I found out about taking Magnesium. Every night I take either a powder kind that mixes in water or a capsule. It has been a miracle for me. I do still wake up, but fall back to sleep much easier. I occasionally take melatonin, but as someone else said, you have to only use it once in awhile. Your body gets used to the amount. Good luck!

MarthaB

Hi. I have sleep issues...restless legs, not falling asleep, waking and not going back to sleep. I found out about taking Magnesium. Every night I take either a powder kind that mixes in water or a capsule. It has been a miracle for me. I do still wake up, but fall back to sleep much easier. I occasionally take melatonin, but as someone else said, you have to only use it once in awhile. Your body gets used to the amount. Good luck!

Swistle

I've been more and more often waking in the middle of the night (it is almost always 3:30) and not being able to get back to sleep (or falling asleep half an hour before getting-up time). Sometimes I just get up, make a pot of coffee, and start the day, but usually I WANT to sleep VERY BADLY and REALLY DON'T WANT to be awake. Sometimes I can get to sleep if I go lie down in our nice comfy recliner, but usually not. I don't know WHAT the heck.

E's Mommy

I've gotten to the point where I can't have any caffeine at all, even in the morning, or I can't sleep. You said it would kill you to give up your morning cup of coffee, but could you try it for a day or a weekend when Jason could take care of the boys and you could just be a zombie to see if that's it? It totally sucks not to be able to drink any caffeine after I have a night where I don't get much sleep, but it's much better than the months of not sleeping before I realized I needed to just quit. Also, is there anything else you've added to your diet during that time? I found out after about 2 months of thinking I was losing my mind that I can't have splenda more than just once in awhile. Obviously that's something that most people tolerate just fine but I switched soda brands and started having panic attacks and other weird stuff out of nowhere. They didn't start the same day I started with the soda, but drinking it every day totally screwed me up. It all went away as soon as I quit drinking the soda. Have you switched brands or started eating or drinking anything new, even if it's not something that causes insomnia in other people? Good luck, I hope you find a way to get some sleep soon!

happy

Go get yourself some Ambien. Seriously. Go. I've taken it (under direction of an MD) for almost three years now, it's not addicting. Don't believe that bullshit hysteria.

k

Forgive me if this is already suggested in one or more of the bazillion comments you have, but I just read that tart cherry juice may be a natural treatment for insomnia. I'm sure the Googles can help you find some information. Best of luck.

Rachel

take 2 ibuprofen - wait 20 minutes

Debbie

I take Lunesta every night; without it I can't sleep. I literally am aware every time I turn over or move all night long. But that doesn't help if you are sleeping fine till 3 am. A few years ago, when I was planning my daughter's wedding, building a house, and chairing a conference for 600 people, I was prescribed this sleeping pill called Sonata. It works for 4 hours. If you have trouble falling asleep you can take one. If you wake up in the middle of the night you can take one. If you have problems doing both, you can take 2 four hours apart. That might help you get through a rough time if you had some of these.

I totally empathasize with you, cause I need my sleep.

Danielle

I highly recommend getting your thyroid checked. Twice. Seriously.

Go to a fabulous endocrinologist, ask them to run the following labs: T3, T4, and TSH. (NOT just TSH!! Must run ALL three..). Then, go back a month later for the same bloodwork, for comparison. It is amazing how many people have hyper or hypo thyroidism, and it can only be detected by comparing your own levels of thyroid hormones for a baseline.

Will gladly recommend Dr in NoVA, if you are interested.

Hope you feel better soon!

@tiffany

What usually prevents me from getting back to sleep is that horrible anxiety that I'm not GOING to sleep, but I HAVE to sleep because OMG IT IS TIME TO SLEEP NOW. What helps me get back to sleep is usually some variation of the basic yoga breathing exercise where you lie on your back, imagine that you're floating, and concentrating on relaxing each part of your body. When I'm really stressed out, I imagine that said floating is happening in a pool at some tropical resort where the sun is shining on me but I'm neither hot nor worried about sunburn. But the point is, holding that peaceful and relaxing image in my head, and calmly reaching for it again if my brain just will not SHUT UP ALREADY, really helps. It takes practice, but I find that it works for me fairly quickly now.

Brandi

wowzers! that's a lot of comments! a lot of good ideas here for you to look into. you should have mentioned this months ago Amy! we could have had you sleeping again by now! lol! i sympathize hon. i have a form of narcolepsy that made me so sleepy i could barely function for like two years before i got diagnosed and then it took months to find meds that help. but now that this is all worked out i feel great. i have my life back and that is no exaggeration. so best of luck to you!

Mariana Perri

Sounds to me like you are in dire need of therapy, girl... some YOU time to get all this I-CANNOT-FAIL feeling out of your head! It is no wonder you are feeling like this... who wouldn't when you have to face STUPID health insurance IDIOTS who just CANNOT understand the importance every little success of a child to a caring mother!
You are right about the drugs... you won't SLEEP with them, you'll just be closing your eyes and not being able to open them... these meds usually mess up your entire REM sleep pattern!
You need to be able to sleep, rest, dream of flowers and pretty things...
therapy, girl! "I am drowning and not it's time to care for me" time!!!!

Amanda B.

I do that too. My time to wake is 4am, which stinks. I started taking a full dose of Benadryl and eventually moved over to Advil PM - which lasts longer than Tylenol PM - and doesn't have the drugged feeling side effects of Benadryl. I took Ambien when I was pregnant. I could only sleep three hours a night and had a toddler at the time. I couldn't stop crying because I was exhausted. Had a prescription for 10 ambien, cut them in half and made them last 40 days until he was born. Lord help you sleep tonight.

kris

I go through spells like this but never for that long at a time. 6 months would kill me! I read if I can't fall back to sleep. Like if I am still awake after 15 minutes. I whip out a book I keep on my night stand (the same book that I have already read more than once and it's not heavy reading) and read until I feel like I'm falling asleep. My sister has it more like you and she really hasn't found anything that works. And my Mom is the same way but her back to sleep trigger is TV. She goes and lays on the couch and eventually falls back to sleep and just stays there. (fun when we visit with the boys and they wake her at the ass crack of dawn..NOT).

Lindsey

Don't walk, but run to the next pharmacy and get yourself some Ambien. It's non-narcotic and it works. I was scared too at first, but it feels no different than taking a Unisom, only it actually works.

Seriously, best decision I've ever made.

Autumn

I didn't read through all the comments above so forgive me if I'm repeating a previous commenter. I have trouble both falling asleep and staying asleep and your paragraph of chaotic thought patterns is exactly why. I can totally empathize. I also share your fear of drugs. I hate to take anything that isn't absolutely necessary and I have a very low tolerance for prescription meds. That said, Lunesta worked WONDERS for me. It didn't knock me out or anything it just *eased* me into sleep and then kept me there. I think it's a good one to try.

Amber

Melatonin works wonders. Try it! It is safe to use daily and helps you to sleep soundly but wake up feeling refreshed.

Amber

Melatonin works wonders. Try it! It is safe to use daily and helps you to sleep soundly but wake up feeling refreshed.

Lola

Same damn problem. Only it's 2AM like clockwork. Glen Miller on my ipod helps. No, I'm not 80. But for some reason, it soothes me. Old soul perhaps. Best of luck for sweet dreams in your future.

halloweenlover

Hee hee, the first thing I thought of was that movie Paranormal Activity. Did you see it? She wakes up at 3am every night because there is a demon in their house and traditionally 3am is the "devil's hour" if you watch all the kooky horror movies.

Wait, maybe I shouldn't be telling you this. Is this going to be another thing to keep you up at night?

Sympathies from me, though, that really really stinks.

Amy

Really like your blog! I've never commented before, but I have this problem too. Before you try drugs, I'd try getting a set of comfy earbuds and listening to a boring podcast at low volume in one ear. My top picks are "In Our Time" on the BBC and "All In the Mind" and "Dr. Karl" from ABC. You can literally bore yourself back to sleep! Good luck in any event.

Amy

Really like your blog! I've never commented before, but I have this problem too. Before you try drugs, I'd try getting a set of comfy earbuds and listening to a boring podcast at low volume in one ear. My top picks are "In Our Time" on the BBC and "All In the Mind" and "Dr. Karl" from ABC. You can literally bore yourself back to sleep! Good luck in any event.

Leah

I am a straight, married woman and not a creepy stalker, but your upper lip is truly adorable (Ezra's too).

traberlee

have you tried melatonin? my husband and I use it. It's helped a lot. It doesn't actually make me sleepy but when I'm ready to sleep, I pass out.

Kimm

Benadryl. You can take 2, or 1 and a half. Also eating before bed might work, I'm going to try that myself tonight!

Karishma

to the doctor with thee! this could so easily be a relatively easy-to-deal-with hormonal type issue.... maybe some extra melatonin will help, but it could also be something thyroid-related. a blood test might give some good hints on if it's just an odd glitch in your sleep patterns, or something that might need some treatment.

liz

some others already mentioned it, but really...Lunesta was sent to me from the gods. It is perfect and amazing and although it helps me stay asleep I was also able to (successfully and safely) drive my dog to the e-vet in the middle of the night after taking it.

seriously. Lunesta.

liz

some others already mentioned it, but really...Lunesta was sent to me from the gods. It is perfect and amazing and although it helps me stay asleep I was also able to (successfully and safely) drive my dog to the e-vet in the middle of the night after taking it.

seriously. Lunesta.

Valerie

I have struggled with insomnia for about 7 years. I tried the prescription route for a bit but wasn't happy with the side effects.

I recently tried Valerian root (which you might have tried, I dunno). It's been wonderful. It takes a few days for it to take effect, but I haven't had a fitful night of sleep since.

Best of luck to you -- I know how frustrating it is!

Rebecca

Embrace Carbs
Insomniacs take note: Starchy carbs can help you drift into a peaceful slumber. Carbs with a high glycemic index, such as steamed rice, a baked potato or whole wheat toasted English muffin, may hasten sleep by quickly raising your blood sugar. Research also suggests that starchy carbs eaten before bedtime may also raise blood levels of tryptophan, an amino acid, and the neurotransmitter serotonin, sleep aids. With your mind and belly at rest, you'll be able to quit tossing and wake up refreshed for the next morning.

Came from this article: http://www.aolhealth.com/2009/11/05/healthy-midnight-snacks/?icid=main|aim|dl3|link3|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aolhealth.com%2F2009%2F11%2F05%2Fhealthy-midnight-snacks%2F

Meg

I had issues sleeping a few years back, and it turned out that my thyroid levels were off. Specifically, I was hyperthyroid. You might want to see a doctor about the issue at this point.

Robbie Butler

Melatonin and thyroid meds cured my 10 year bout with insomnia. Worth a try?

Robbie Butler

Melatonin and thyroid meds cured my 10 year bout with insomnia. Worth a try?

MamaO

Stop taking the multivit for a week and see what happens. Also, after having 2 kids you should have your Thyroid check.

MamaO

really the B vits, while good for the waist line.. not so good for the sleepy time.

mrs. q.

Go to the doc. Have them check your thyroid and vitamin d levels. Sometimes there are REAL MEDICAL REASONS for not being able to sleep. Other than MY BRAIN WON'T SHUT THE HELL UP.

Alia

Exercise. It's the only thing that works for me. If you can actually make yourself do a good cardio workout I bet that would do it, but I am too unmotivated and need to take a class where someone is watching me and will make me feel bad if I slack too obviously. Yoga has worked really well for me in the past.

Malody

Here's what helped my boyfriend and me when we started getting into the habit of waking up in the middle of the night with our minds racing.

Step 1: Get a notepad and a pen.
Step 2: Place these items strategically on your nightstand
Step 3: When you wake up and start panicking about calling so and so, finishing a project, or picking up cat food (which, shit, I totally forgot to do today), WRITE IT DOWN.
Step 4: Fall back asleep.

This worked for us because a lot of the mind racing and anxiety was caused by the firm belief that we were going to forget something important if we didn't keep thinking about it. Hence, writing it down. Paper doesn't forget!

TJ

I suffered from insomnia for years -- the best advice I ever got - NEVER be in bed but to sleep -- don't watch TV in bed, don't read in bed, only SLEEP. Basically, you have to re-teach your body that bed = sleep. Also, when you wake up, the "thinking too much" can be a problem -- when you wake up, instead of thinking about anything, start counting, doing alphabet, soemthing so you don't start thinking about something and keeping your self awake. If you can't stop yourself from thinking, GET OUT OF BED, cause, you're not sleeping,and the bed is only for sleeping. Once you get all your "thoughts" out, or are so tired you'll pass out, go back to bed. Good luck!

TJ

I suffered from insomnia for years -- the best advice I ever got - NEVER be in bed but to sleep -- don't watch TV in bed, don't read in bed, only SLEEP. Basically, you have to re-teach your body that bed = sleep. Also, when you wake up, the "thinking too much" can be a problem -- when you wake up, instead of thinking about anything, start counting, doing alphabet, soemthing so you don't start thinking about something and keeping your self awake. If you can't stop yourself from thinking, GET OUT OF BED, cause, you're not sleeping,and the bed is only for sleeping. Once you get all your "thoughts" out, or are so tired you'll pass out, go back to bed. Good luck!

TJ

I suffered from insomnia for years -- the best advice I ever got - NEVER be in bed but to sleep -- don't watch TV in bed, don't read in bed, only SLEEP. Basically, you have to re-teach your body that bed = sleep. Also, when you wake up, the "thinking too much" can be a problem -- when you wake up, instead of thinking about anything, start counting, doing alphabet, soemthing so you don't start thinking about something and keeping your self awake. If you can't stop yourself from thinking, GET OUT OF BED, cause, you're not sleeping,and the bed is only for sleeping. Once you get all your "thoughts" out, or are so tired you'll pass out, go back to bed. Good luck!

Sarah

I would also like to recommend looking into taking magnesium!

Abby

I'm another long-time lurker, delurking long enough to say that I've been there too. I tried a number of sleep aids, including melatonin; they all helped me FALL asleep, but nothing helped me STAY asleep. In the end, it seemed to come down to some low-grade depression and anxiety issues; I was prescribed a combination of Lexapro and Klonopin (sp?), and I don't really know which one did the trick, but I started sleeping again almost immediately. (And, for whatever it's worth, I'm no longer on the Klonopin, and I still manage to sleep just fine.)

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