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

liz

I am going to modify the suggestion to count backwards from 300 by threes: Three hundred is too low a number. It allows you to get to the bottom.

Count backwards from ten thousand by threes. Difficult enough task that it keeps your brain busy, but boring enough to put you to sleep. And because there is no chance of you getting to zero, it doesn't increase your anxiety about not sleeping because OHMIGOD, I'm nearly out of numbers!!!
Don't count UP, that is also anxiety inducing.

Count slowly. Nine-Thousand...nine-hundred...ninety-seven. Nine-Thousand...nine-hundred...ninety-four.

While you're counting, imagine yourself at the top of a very very very tall spiral staircase. The bottom is off in the murky darkness - you have no idea where the stairs end, but the stairs are wide and shallow and there's no risk of falling.

With every number that you count, take a step down the staircase. The stairs are the path to sleep. You are walking down into sleep while you count.

This was taught to me by a hypnotherapist who works with folks who are undergoing medical procedures that screw with their sleep, and who can't take sleep meds because they screw with the other meds they're taking.

It really works.

Heather

Write down what's bothering you, say the ABC's backwards, and melatonin. Could not recommend it enough! It is for keeping you asleep, not putting you to sleep. I hope this helps :)

Deborah

You might consider talking to your doctor about hormone levels, as these can be a huge sleep dispruptor (i.e. pregnancy, breastfeeding, weaning, postpartum, menopause, even changing birth control pills, etc.) And turning off your brain is a big factor, because it sounds like your anxiety level is part of what keeps you up. So try keeping a journal by your bed with a book light on it (try not to turn on lamps or overheads as light signals the body it's time to wake up) and write down everything, I mean EVERYTHING, from the stupidest most trivial thing in your head to your biggest life question as it goes through your brain. If it goes through your brain more than once, write it down again. Make sure you tell yourself you don't have to deal with any of those items until later, so you don't get worked up over them. Eventually this might help calm the brain hamsters or at least bore you back to sleep. Finally, (this is one of those suggestions that I frickin' hate but does seem to work) focus on relaxing your body one body part at a time. Instead of focusing on your thoughts, you start at the top of your head and focus on tension in your body (notice your forehead, your jaw, your neck, etc,) and breathing deeply and relaxing that one body part. Sometimes tensing and then relaxing that part works too (as in, squint your eyes really hard and then breathe deeply and try to completely relax all eye muscles on the exhale.) This keeps you out of your brain and more focused on your poor tired, tense body. Mostly, good luck. Lack of sleep is so debilitating, and I wish you long and peaceful slumbers!

lynn

wow...I have no advice to give, but sure do know where to look if I need sleep help...prayers to you that you find the answer soon...now, can we pleeeze see the Ezra pounding crab video, thank you .

*~M~*

If you haven't tried this then you should. I cannot tell you the number of my friends (me too!) that this has helped. Great stuff. Peter Gillham's Natural Vitality Natural Calm http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Vitality-Calm-Orange-powder/dp/B000OQ49ZW

Jenny

Sounds like you are suffering from anxiety and stress. You should see a psychiatrist and see if you're a candidate for a daily SSRI or even Xanax for periodic severe anxiety. (The latter can be addictive if taken for a prolonged period, so you might start off with something like Zoloft and see how you feel.) If you're really freaked about DRUGS, what about Benadryl? The anti-histamine properties cause sleepiness and in fact are often prescribed to patients undergoing steroid or chemotherapy treatment to help them sleep and avoid pesky drug interactions. Although not addictive, it's not good to use every night but if you find it gives you some relief and you are still unable to fall and stay asleep on your own, you should see your doctor and ask for help identifying the root of your problem. Sorry you are SO TIRED! That sucks :(

Little Neddie

Hmmm, sounds very similiar to my situation. I didn't sleep (naturally) for about five years before I figured out I have an anxiety disorder. Started Zoloft a couple years ago and haven't taken a sleeping pill since. Also, I'm actally relaxed and happy most of the time which those around me certainly appreciate. See a doctor and consider every possibility. Good luck!

Barbara

Hi Amy,

You've rec'd a lot of really good comments above. I am about 10 years older than you (my kids are 10 and 14) and like you, I also had trouble getting pregnant, too. I was about your age when the waking-up-at-3-a.m. started happening. Before you try anything specific, get a referrel from your ob-gyn to have a hormonal blood panel done by an endocrinologist. This is hormone related and also stress related. Once your bloodwork comes back it'll be clear what you need to do to help yourself get to sleep. No worries...

amy t.

I so feel your pain. And you're a brave lady to put this entry up, because I got so crabby about people telling me to drink a warm glass of milk that I thought I'd bite the next person who told me to just lie down and try to relax. As if I hadn't thought of that. My insomnia is related to my mood disorder, so it gets worse and better periodically on its own, but I have enough experience with it to understand why Michael Jackson wanted the Propofol. Heh.
That said, my current bedtime routine involves two Benadryl and a melatonin (the extended release kind), AND another melatonin (but the immediate release kind this time) when I inevitably awaken at 4:30 in the morning. I'm not always the most awake person first thing in the morning, but it all wears off pretty quickly.

Oh, and I'm sure someone else has mentioned it, but there are people for whom Ambien/Lunesta/etc. do not work. I am one of them. Being awake on Ambien is SCARY. Eventually I'd sleep, and then the next day I'd check out my blog and find I'd written (and, ugh, published) entries that I didn't recall writing. If you are someone who can lay down, take your prescription sleep aid, and have a nice happy night of sleeping, more power to you... but if you try it and find it doesn't work, you may be in for a night of hell.

Do take an honest screening for depression, too. Sometimes it's just mild enough to screw with your sleep without the more obvious symptoms.

Hope you sleep well soon.

-a

amy t.

Oh, and the notepad by the bed helps too. Anxious types like me might wake up, remember something they need to remember again in the morning, and be awake for the rest of the night worrying that they'll forget that thing they needed to handle in the a.m. I have a big Post-It pad and a pen on my nightstand, and scribbling two words on that pad in the dark has bought me several more hours of sleep on more early morning occasions than I'd care to count.

Meredith

My husband has dealt with this for a long time - usually waking ME up at 3am to tell me he can't sleep! Depression was an issue, but not the only one.

But, what I want to say, for you, is that he found a lot of help with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There's even a book about dealing with sleep issues with CBT. And, warning, it is VERY painful at the beginning.

Basically, you have trained your body to awaken at 3am and stay awake. Now, you have to retrain it to stay asleep. The first thing to do is to decide what hours you ideally would like to sleep. Then, you start from your wakeup time and work backwards. So, at first, you stay up at night until you can't possibly stay awake any longer (do not use the television, computer or food to stay awake). You do this until you can reliably wake up at the time you want to. Then you gradually move your bedtime earlier, keeping your wake up time fixed. This means even on vacations and weekends, keep the same bedtime and wake-up times.

Other tips: do not lie in bed awake. Get up and do something else. Something that will hopefully help your mind calm down and help you get sleepy again - like reading or knitting or folding socks. Get light (sunlight) on your face as soon as possible after you wake up (helps set circadian rhythms). And, lastly, do not nap.

Amy

Six months you say? Wasn't that around the time you guys went to Jamaica? Maybe that messed up your internal clock?

Also, the doc gave me Ambien when I was pregnant because I was having some gnarly, non-pregnancy related, (but apparently not that important) pains about a week before I was due and omg I slept like a fucking baby. Not just any baby, either. Those fake babies that sleep through the night, fourteen hours straight, a week after they're born. Like that. It was awesome.

Also, I'm super scared to take pills as well, and I was even more so when I was knocked up, but it was SO worth it.

Amy

Six months you say? Wasn't that around the time you guys went to Jamaica? Maybe that messed up your internal clock?

Also, the doc gave me Ambien when I was pregnant because I was having some gnarly, non-pregnancy related, (but apparently not that important) pains about a week before I was due and omg I slept like a fucking baby. Not just any baby, either. Those fake babies that sleep through the night, fourteen hours straight, a week after they're born. Like that. It was awesome.

Also, I'm super scared to take pills as well, and I was even more so when I was knocked up, but it was SO worth it.

Amy

P.S. Sorry for the double post.

Liz

Hi Amy: Hope this helps --- all I do is get really creative with visualization just as my head hits the pillow-- I put myself in a very colorful magical place-- climbing high peaks in the Andes---sliding down a 3 mile slide with lemonade ice on either side --- I can stop to have some and then zip on down the slide--- I can put myself in any kind of a world I want to and I do fall asleep easily doing this.....good luck. I'm pulling for you.

Nina

I know you've gotten, um, a lot of comments already, but having went through a year and a half of insomnia (sometimes having trouble falling asleep but mostly having trouble going back to sleep after suddenly awaking in the middle of the freaking night - like you), I went to a therapist in absolute desperation.

Four months of therapy and I started being able to sleep through the night again. I was having MASSIVE anxiety. And the insomnia was fuel to the fire. It was a self-perpetuating horrible cycle. It was hell. I still continued therapy after that because I still had anxiety issues, but the insomnia was the most soul/body-sucking part of it. Insomnia is worse than zombies. (Because it's real!)

There were a lot of reasons why this happened to me that probably have very little in common with your situation (other than the two little boys who kept you up at night and also crazy ass hormones that screwed with your system and also, you know, stress and anxiety), but I just wanted to reach out and say...I know how much this sucks and I'm so so sorry Amy.

I hope you find something that helps you get passed this. Please, do reach out for help. I've heard great things about acupuncture and accupressure and that was one of the things I was thinking about trying when I finally started sleeping well again.

KD

It's funny, I'm reading this post right now because I was too hyper to fall asleep, so I got up and now I'm lying on the couch at 1:32 AM and hoping blogs will lull me to sleep! I feel for you!

KD

It's funny, I'm reading this post right now because I was too hyper to fall asleep, so I got up and now I'm lying on the couch at 1:32 AM and hoping blogs will lull me to sleep! I feel for you!

KD

It's funny, I'm reading this post right now because I was too hyper to fall asleep, so I got up and now I'm lying on the couch at 1:32 AM and hoping blogs will lull me to sleep! I feel for you!

sam

I get up, make a list of what is plaguing me and then I can go back to sleep. Like vomiting bad fish up. I'm not sure why.

sam

I get up, make a list of what is plaguing me and then I can go back to sleep. Like vomiting bad fish up. I'm not sure why.

sam

I get up, make a list of what is plaguing me and then I can go back to sleep. Like vomiting bad fish up. I'm not sure why.

KarenG

I'm skeptical of medications but if it makes you feel any better... when I was on hospitalized bedrest with my 2nd pregnancy, Ambien was served up nightly complete with my choice of one pill or two. Seriously. I think it was a standard medication. Now two was too many for me to function the next day (I know, as if I had anything to do other than sleep) but one was perfect. Had I not taken it I wouldn't have been able to sleep through all the noise the nurses and techs made ALL FRICKIN' NIGHT LONG. I tried to skip it and lost precious hours of sleep. So I took it, PREGNANT, for the six weeks I was there and didn't have a single side effect... other than sleep, blissful sleep. See a doctor - they might be able to help.

charlotte

Um. What's wrong with Ambien? Did I miss some sort of medical scandal? That stuff worked for me like that white dress on Marilyn. Fabulous! Took it for a couple of weeks only and was back on a regular sleep schedule. Highly recommended.

Rachel

Just to clarify my post about the food (banana, weetbix with hot milk, honey etc) - my insomnia remedy is to eat these WHEN you wake up at 3am. Not before bed. Somehow puts me right back to sleep. I know, you'd think it would give you energy, wouldn't you.....but it makes you sleepy, very sleepy......

ladykay

Some great ideas here. Let me echo the concern about depression. Early waking is a classic symptom. (BTW,personally, {{{{Lexapro}}}})

Another idea, this one a little weird. I have a lot of various aches and pains and take a lot of Tylenol. I have found that if I take a dose right before bed I tend to wake up three or four hours later as it is wearing off. I assume it is because said aches and pains are coming back. My guess is that if I don't take it my sleep has adjusted to the achiness. So I avoid it near bedtime unless absolutely necessary. (Plus any doses I can avoid the better, because I take it daily and worry about my liver.)

Even if you are not taking a pain reliever, I suppose it is possible that if you are taking anything to encourage sleep, it could be backfiring on you as it wears off.

Hope you feel better soon!

Dina

I found that after awhile the pills stop working, the homeopathic remedies backfire, and ultimately I needed to figure out someway to get over the insomnia. I used THE INSOMNIAC WORKBOOK by Dr. Stepahnie Silberman (amazon) and I also live near Dr. Silberman, who is a cognitive behavorial therapist, and I went in four very helpful sessions and I would recommend you give her a call (she does phone sessions) or use the book or do both like I did or find a CBT in your area who deals with insomnia. I think it sounds like you have created anxiety around falling back asleep and I think CBT advice and techniques would work well for you. You WILL get through this. Our children's ages are very similiar, so I know how hard this is, however, drugs are not the answer. Ambien and the like, are not meant for everyday use, they were intended for 1-3 a month! You can contact me for any advice, I've tried everything, but the only thing I'd recommend is CBT therapy in some form.

Saskia

Hi,

It's probably stress-related as you are juggling lots right now. I've had it before. I know this is frowned on in the US, but I suggest pot (marijuana).

Nothing strong, you might even be able to get medicinal grade. It won't stop you waking up but if you get up and have a little smoke in the garden it will send you straight off. It works, fast and without side effects AND you won't feel groggy the next day.

And hey, if it doesn't work you could always try posting. You might tap into a whole new wacky niche...

x

Laura

I've had this problem for about 7 months. I was where you are (I got there faster) and went to see a CBT sleep specialist. I now have 1 or 2 "bad" nights a week, and I usually sleep 4-5 hrs those nights. The book Quiet Your Mind & Get to Sleep (Carney and Manber) has most of the techniques we use. It also explains how you've unintentionally conditioned your mind. I highly recommend it.

I'm also taking a low dose of Ambien, and I haven't had any of the scary side effects. Good earplugs and white noise help, too. I had to cutout coffee after 3 and my officemates love watching me chug the last bit at 2:55; and I've had to limit myself to1 glass of wine. The rest of it is easy.

I remember feeling like you do and it was miserable. What you're doing isn't working, so try something else.

*~M~*

Look up Peter Gillham's Natural Calm. It is magnesium. It is natural. you put it in warm water and drink it shortly before you bed. The situation you are in is the same as many people I know. Calms works. It will not be make you groggy but you will sleep through the night. I take it just to get a solid nights sleep when I find I'm waking randomly through the night. You can still hear kids while sleeping too. ;)

Margo

Before you try drugs I highly suggest acupuncture! It works wonders.

Margo

Before you try drugs I highly suggest acupuncture! It works wonders.

christine stephens

You, girl, are stressed. Stress is waking you up at 3am. SOunds obvious. What can you do to alleviate stress? One excellent thing is a 4-letter word: YOGA. I know you don't have time...... but yoga every day helped me, And I used to wake up at 3am just about every gd night.

christine stephens

You, girl, are stressed. Stress is waking you up at 3am. SOunds obvious. What can you do to alleviate stress? One excellent thing is a 4-letter word: YOGA. I know you don't have time...... but yoga every day helped me, And I used to wake up at 3am just about every gd night.

Plano Mom

Way too many comments to see if anyone mentioned this. Mine was hormonal, for a long time Calcium and B12 worked. Then I needed hormone supplements. I always know when I need new ones because I start waking up at 3 am.

Skippy

Hi Amy,

I had the exact same problem for 18 long exhausting months - no problem at all going to sleep, but I'd wake after 3-4 hours and not be able to go back to sleep until 5.30 or 6am. And I'd lie there counting the hours pass, thinking & worrying about not getting enough sleep.

Okay, so here's what worked for me.. my doctor says I developed anxiety about not getting enough sleep which became a self fulfilling prophesy. She prescribed me a tiny dose of an anxiety medication (called Avanza in Australia - not sure it's name in US). It's non addictive, you can't build up a tolerance to it, and doesn't leave you foggy in the morning.

Honestly, from the first day I took this tiny dose, I've slept like a baby. Now, if I wake during the night, I just turn over and go back to sleep like a normal person. It's totally saved my sanity.

Hope that helps :)
Skippy

Samantha

For your problem, there is something better than Ambien -- it's a prescription called Sonata and it is specifically for people who fall asleep okay but wake up in the wee hours of the morning -- it only lasts for a couple of hours, so you won't be groggy in the morning, and I've never had a problem waking up if one of my kids was sick in the night. Sleep=good!!!

Jenn

Have you tried melatonin? I've never tried it myself, but have considered it.. for the same reasons. Last night I had 5 hours to sleep and was up and down at least 3 times... but I've heard it works wonders!

Heather Ben

try the pills out if nothing else has worked. I have taken ambien - they way it is supposed to work is it gets you back into a good sleep routine, then you can stop taking it. i bet you are so stressed out and tired now you just need something to get you over the hump. i tried lunesta but for me it made me way to tired throughout the next day - just find whatever works for you.

you could also try taken a vitamin melatonin. it is supposed to help and it OTC - wasn't enough for me but maybe try it before the other stuff.

a word about if you take ambien the first time. this happened to myself & my husband. it kind of really knocks you out the first time, but after that is fine. you might take 1/2 dose at first - just be prepared to go to sleep fast after that. it seems the more i took it, the more i got used to it. but, as someone that used to take an hour to an hour and a half to fall asleep didn't get home till about 10pm going to night school, i needed to get to sleep fast.

let us know what happens.

you could also try taken a vitiam melatonin. it is supposed to help and it OTC - wasn't enought for me but maybe try it before the other stuff.

a word about if you take ambien the first time. this happened to myself & my husband. it kind of really knocks you out the first time, but after that is fine. you might take 1/2 dose at first - just be prepared to go to sleep fast after that. it seems the more i took it, the more i got used to it. but, as someone that used to take an hour to an hour and a half to fall asleep didn't get home till about 10pm going to night school, i needed to get to sleep fast.

let us know what happens.

Heather Ben

oh, forgot to mention - i am probably wierd but sometimes if i can't sleep moving to a different location for a night or two helps. sometimes even if i just put my head at the foot of the bed and my feet at the head of the bed it is enough to do the trick. i don't know - just something different i guess.

freckleonthenose

I just got really, really tired reading this. Not because you're boring - don't worry, you're not - but because I have been on the sleep deprivation train too long myself. And I don't even have kids!

freckleonthenose

I just got really, really tired reading this. Not because you're boring - don't worry, you're not - but because I have been on the sleep deprivation train too long myself. And I don't even have kids!

kate

I have a foolproof sleep aid, but it only works for Catholics. Say the rosary. Works every time. For non-Catholics, if there is a poem/prayer/movie routine that you can rattle off by heart without thinking too much about it, try doing that and keep track on your fingers(without moving them) of how many times you've said it. The trick is to find something that keeps your brain just busy enough that you do not start obsessing, but not busy enough to actually keep you awake.

billie

I frequently have the same problem. A friend suggested I try her remedy, and it really does work! She told me to PRAY. Just pick a simple prayer, (I use an old childhood prayer) and repeat it over and over, concentrating on the words. It blocks all the other thoughts that get you all spun up, and you go back to sleep!

beyond

sounds vaguely stress related. i would recommend reiki therapy, accupuncture, or accupressure. maybe in combination with bach rescue remedy. (and i too would stay away from drugs.) i hope you find your sleep soon!

Keely

I read all the time and don't comment because I'm lazy (and also intimidated). But I feel obliged because I'm in the EXACT same place that you are.

Get your hormone levels checked because this is a menopause symptom. It doesn't have to mean you're IN menopause, just that your hormone levels might be depleted (which can be exacerbated by lack of sleep. Yay for vicious circles!).

My doc put me on a low dose of melatonin (1mg) before bed and a concoction of warm milk, raw honey, and a pinch of nutmeg. The nutmeg is important because it contains triptyphan (sp?) - whatever's in turkey that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner. That's all supposed to put you into the restful deep sleep more quickly, and keep you there.

And so far (it's only been a few days), it's working. Hope that might help.

DeannaBanana

Sleep Calm, made by Weber naturals, available in bulk at C*stco. I used melatonin as well, which helped with the falling asleep but never the staying asleep. The Sleep Calm, or sometimes it is called Super Sleep, gets me a solid 8 hours.

NaechsteHaltestelle

Are you on birth control? I know I had serious sleep issues for a long time before I went off birth control and suddenly everything was back to normal (including my moods, my weight, and my sleep).

schoolofmom

1. The anxiety. If you've got anxiety issues like me, it's usually triggered by early morning wake-ups and all the many memories of your childhood when you couldn't fall asleep and your mom's sleep apnea was making her snore like a...mother and how were you going to make sure that you didn't make a fool of yourself at school tomorrow? etc.

2. TOTALLY agree about the eating healthy/no sleep thing. It's tied in with the anxiety. You've mentioned that you had disordered eating (which means you probably still have food/weight issues, as in, you have emotional stuff going on with them), and that you've recently been focusing on losing weight. Roughness.

3. The other thing that's worked for me is light. Like, I go out at noon and turn my face to full sun for at least 20 minutes. Vitamin D! It's important (also for weight loss)! And then, I turn off every screen around sunset, and every overhead light. This ESPECIALLY includes your phone since it shines light directly into your eyes and really messes with your circadian rhythms. Use a lamp with a dark shade in each room you're in. (Summer's a really great time to do this since sunset isn't till, like, nine.) I know it sounds whackadoo but it worked for me, so I guess if you've tried everything else it might be worth a shot.

katie

1) I've had that, at various points in my life (see #3). What worked for me: a small portable DVD player with the picture turned off and the sound fairly low or through headphones, playing a movie I'd seen a hundred times but didn't hate. Alternate: playing an audiobook of something I've read several times, like Harry Potter. It was engaging enough to distract and silence the crazy brain gerbils, but not enough to keep me awake.

2) One more vote for the notepad by the bed for listmaking. That helped me too.

3) One more vote for the folks pointing out that this is likely just one symptom of your overall stress-level, and will probably continue until you find some way to reduce your load. The times this has happened to me were when I was working a stressful job and after the births of each of my 2 boys.

Janice

I have this exact problem, and have had it for YEARS. I've seen every hour on the clock overnight more often than I care to remember.

Nothing worked for me, including Ambien, Sonata, etc. The one thing that worked was prescription generic Trazodone. I take 1/2 of a 50 mg pill and usually stay asleep all night. It doesn't make me groggy or weird. I still hear my baby wake up at night, and can get up and take care of him without feeling "drugged" at all.

Talk to your Dr. The great thing about being an adult is that if you don't like the meds you are taking, you can either change them or stop them all together!

Good luck!

Allison

Melatonin, my friend. It's the best natural sleep aid there is, and it truly works.

Not to add to the Ambien scare factor, but my cousin's husband tried to commit suicide while on the stuff and had no idea why he was doing it. Totally scary. It doesn't happen to everyone, but that shit is real, yo.

Jenn

OK, this has nothing to do with your sleep issues (which...DUDE... so sorry. It's like life with a newborn... without a newborn), but the craziest, twilight-zone-like thing just happened while I was reading this post...
My daughter is watching a PBS favorite "Martha Speaks", and as I was reading the thought about you singing "99 bottles of beer on the wall...", the character on the cartoon WAS SINGING THE SAME SONG. Seriously. EXACTLY at the same time!!! I was reading it thinking, "oh, that's funny... I'm reading it and my brain is relating it to me in song..." and then I realized that no, in fact, the singing was coming from the TV, not my brain. CRAZY.

anyway, I hope you get some prolonged sleep. I'm coming out of my own newborn-induced-sleep-deprived-fog, so I get it. Wishing you 8 uninterrupted hours... ;)

eva

One more thing that som eof the other 253 commenters may have mentioned is that if you try eating a snack before bed, go for raw almonds - healthy, filling, protein packed goodness.

And see a naturopath - a friend was advised to take some form of tryptophan by her naturopath and it totally helped her sleep.

EB

I read your post yesterday afternoon, and promptly woke up at 4:00am to ponder it and about 4 hundred other things.
This has been happening to me since last September, though I do admit to having whole weeks were I don't remember waking up. Regardless, I still feel completely unrested almost every morning. It is exhausting, and no, I haven't found much help.
Easy to fall asleep, not so easy to stay asleep.
I look forward to the follow-up post. ;>

EB

I read your post yesterday afternoon, and promptly woke up at 4:00am to ponder it and about 4 hundred other things.
This has been happening to me since last September, though I do admit to having whole weeks were I don't remember waking up. Regardless, I still feel completely unrested almost every morning. It is exhausting, and no, I haven't found much help.
Easy to fall asleep, not so easy to stay asleep.
I look forward to the follow-up post. ;>

EB

I read your post yesterday afternoon, and promptly woke up at 4:00am to ponder it and about 4 hundred other things.
This has been happening to me since last September, though I do admit to having whole weeks were I don't remember waking up. Regardless, I still feel completely unrested almost every morning. It is exhausting, and no, I haven't found much help.
Easy to fall asleep, not so easy to stay asleep.
I look forward to the follow-up post. ;>

Mendy

OK, I know this is weird, but after battling a lifetime of insomnia I've found out what works for me. Its a sleep mask. This way when I do wake up, I can't even see the clock. I tried the ear plug things, but I discovered that they gave me even more anxiety because I couldn't hear if someone was sneaking up on me, etc. (Because, you know, that happens ALL THE TIME... whatever brain!)

Amanda

I know this might sound so obvious that it is crazy, but the only thing that will work for me is to repeat over and over and over again (in my head) "go to sleep, go to sleep" If I start to think about other things I have to force myself to only think "go to sleep" I always remember starting it, but I never remember much after that.

Good luck!

tasterspoon

Oh, you poor thing. THIS, not volcanoes or earlobes or gateway drugs, but insomnia itself, is my lifelong dread. Six months is WAY too long to suffer. (And my heart goes out to Jason, too – my husband scratches himself in his sleep. He is peacefully unaware of it, but it is bizarrely loud at four in the morning, wakes me up and drives me insane.)
It seems like you’ve tried everything I would try, except (and I’m sure you’ve considered this), that all the trying turns it into a Thing, which is inherently counterproductive when the point is to relax and let go. When I’ve had periods of wakeful nights, I do my best to blow them off as just one of those things that will pass…and they eventually do. But six months, man. Can you nap? I know you’re not really supposed to when you’re trying to get on track, but at this point, sleep is sleep.
You do have a lot of disparate things on your plate – multiple paying jobs, a couple of non-paying gigs that are foundations for the paying ones, being mom to a couple kids who require your intense involvement, all the stuff with your dad...although you in fact seem to manage everything fine (and well) you can’t keep all those balls in the air in your head. I second the recommendations for extreme organization/lots of lists so that it’s not all rolling around in your head. My mom doesn’t have that much going on, but she carries a tiny notebook with her at all times so she never has to remember a thing and I always think it seems very calming.
FWIW I have two friends who have gone in for sleep studies and I haven’t been that impressed. Both said it was the worst night of sleep in their life (one said his next night at home was the BEST sleep of his life because he was so tired), and the institutes were quick to diagnose both with sleep apnea, which may be true for one, but doubtful for the other, it just seems like their go to diagnosis when someone is restless.

tasterspoon

I had another thought - take any measures necessary to get rid of the mice. They may not be the only thing, but their skittering may actually be waking you up, so they're one more thing to eliminate. The time for appeasement is over.

Beth

I hate Mel to the point where I've been reading reporting and reaction posts on his assholery all day, I am becoming OBSESSED with the breathtaking depths of his douchiness, but I can't give up BraveHeart. I just can't, if only b/c of the Irishman and Robert the Bruce.

But I've already bought it, so it's not as if watching the copy I have is going to net Mel any more money than he already got from me. And that's my excuse, I guess, for now.

Beth

Um, also, more on topic -- second the melatonin recommendation. No reason to get into the Ambien stuff right away if melatonin might help. I like it because it works (for me) as well as things like Tylenol PM, but I don't feel like I went several drunken rounds with Mel Gibson the next day.

Candy

Try just plain ole Benadryl, no Tylenol or Advil. That's the sleepy part in it anyway.

I am a long-suffering insomniac, and whenever i've had that kind of OMG I FORGOT TO DO XXXXX I find it's best to just get up, make a list so I don't have to think about it until morning, and then try sleeping again. It does help.

Good luck, I feel your pain.

va

I don't know if you're still checking comments or not and this is a simple idea but it works for me (and I didn't see it mentioned in your list of 'things-I-already-tried'). I keep a good book by the bed and a book light. Reading gets my mind off of all the chatter in my head and the book light keeps the light low enough that I don't get fully awake (and doesn't wake up my husband). Usually a few pages are enough to get the chatter stopped and me back to sleep.

andrea

This will sound so very grandmotherly [and I'm not] but try chamomile tea. I had the same problem, perhaps not quite as long or bad as your sleeplessness but I swear the tea worked.

It's cheap and not a prescription drug!

Amy

I like Tylenol PM myself. Not sure what the possible addictive traits might be, but I've used it every so often for a few years and have had no ill effects...except for some really wacked dreams during a TPM-induced sleep. And sweats. That's it.

The other night I decided screw it, got up out of bed, cleaned the white board in our office, and did a brain dump. It was hilarious, actually, and included a _drawing_ in addition to lists. I think it was 1) list of things to do 2) color scheme/decor ideas for office I was currently on the floor of and 3) a drawing/schematic of a possible barn/shop we could build to house impossibly large boat + DH's new tractor baby + cattle. And other stuff.

DH actually laughed when he saw it the next day. Sad.

Amy

I like Tylenol PM myself. Not sure what the possible addictive traits might be, but I've used it every so often for a few years and have had no ill effects...except for some really wacked dreams during a TPM-induced sleep. And sweats. That's it.

The other night I decided screw it, got up out of bed, cleaned the white board in our office, and did a brain dump. It was hilarious, actually, and included a _drawing_ in addition to lists. I think it was 1) list of things to do 2) color scheme/decor ideas for office I was currently on the floor of and 3) a drawing/schematic of a possible barn/shop we could build to house impossibly large boat + DH's new tractor baby + cattle. And other stuff.

DH actually laughed when he saw it the next day. Sad.

Issa

You have the coolest commenters ever. I ask this question and get told to do yoga at night. Uh huh.

I take Lunista off and on. Gives me nightmares at times, which sucks. But still, I sleep better with it than without. My problem is falling asleep. It can take hours. Then again, I've always had this problem.

I am wondering if trytofan actually works. That's what is in a turkey right? Must Google this. Anyway, the thing that has worked (this week) is I started taking my crazy meds at night instead of the morning. Side effect? Could make you drowsy. Works wonders. ha. Don't think any of this is helpful...I'll stop rambling now.

kari weber

I am starting to feel left out for not having sleep issues. Seems like it is all the rage these days! (Note: totally kidding!) My sleep issues are directly related to a 14 1/2 month old who wakes often.

Jen

I am a lifelong insomniac. Tried everything. I 2nd someone's suggestion above for generic Klonopin (clonazapam). It has changed my life. It will definitely shut off your mind and take away the anxiety regarding getting back to sleep. (and help with any other anxiety you may or may not be dealing with)

Donna

I've heard taking calcium supplements at bedtime will help keep you asleep and have had some success with that. Also, I've gone thru stages of this and have chalked it up to hormone fluctuations (but mine was not nearly as bad as yours) since it eventually went away (pretty much) on its own. I'd go to a sleep specialist if something doesn't give in the next week or two. Sounds like you've tried almost everything. Also, I'd try the acupuncture your peeps have suggested here. I tried it for back pain and it helped and made me come home and sleep like the dead. So delicious!

mousehouse

Oh man. I am right there with you at 3 a.m., worrying about things that seem ridiculous by light of day. I've had this pattern of insomnia, though, since my early 20s. Definitely depression/anxiety-related for me. I slept best for the 5 years I was on Xanax XR daily. But then pregnancy, nursing, etc., and now my doc won't prescribe it for me.

Trazodone did not work for me--I started having withdrawal symptoms the morning after taking it. Ambien, I'm too afraid to take. Melatonin, yeah, I take on 3mg pill each night. I consider it most likely a placebo. I also take 1 or 2 benedryl pills a night before bed. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I like all of the commenters who recommend a to-do list at bedside. I'm going to try that.

Also, my therapist recommends strict "sleep hygiene": no exercising at night; no heavy eating within 2 hours of bedtime; no alcohol at night (ha!); no reading or tv-watching in bed (only sex and sleep in bed), so if you wake at 2 a.m., go read in the living room; set a definite bedtime for yourself each night and try to stick to it. And I'm sure there are other things I've forgotten. When I remember to follow the above, I do sleep better, it's true. It also makes life royally un-fun.

But so does not sleeping.

In solidarity, though... it will make me feel better at 2 a.m. to know I'm not alone in tossing and turning.

mousehouse

Oh, and I forgot to mention that my own 20-month-old toddler is suddenly not sleeping well himself. He used to babble happily in his crib for 30 minutes or so after I put him down and before he dozed off to sleep. Now he screams bloody murder as soon as he sees the crib and cries out for "Mommy!" for, hmm, tonight ONE HOUR before falling asleep. He's been then waking up 3-4 times at night with similar screaming fits. This is, needless to say, not helping me sleep too well. He's aborting his nap during the day, too, so neither of us is getting any daytime rest.

Just putting this down in the hope that someone else knows what this sudden toddler sleep regression could be. He's not sick, is relatively cheerful during the day (given he's getting zilch sleep). Could it be molars? Separation axiety? Or an invisible needle sticking up in his mattress?

Anyway, just when I thought my sleep couldn't get worse...

Sally

You might try cutting down on coffee during the day if you haven't already. Caffeine can really rev up the anxiety even if your body is used to it.

Katrina

Insomnia is so sucky. Melatonin helped me fall asleep within 30 minutes of taking it, but after 5 hours, I was up and wide awake. The thing that helped me stay asleep was a calcium/magnesium supplement. It was recommended to me by a doctor and it worked very well.

Laura

Think it is a common problem of the super-mommy (esp those with young kids). It must be hormonal or something. The only thing that gets me back asleep is listening to my ipod - especially podcasts. Really boring ones help to! LOL! that way I can't think about all the crap I have to do, but can focus on the soothing voices in my head! LOL!

adequatemom

Sounds like stress - maybe an anti-anxiety pill before bed? (Sorry if this isn't even remotely helpful. Mostly I want you to know that I empathize and I'm sorry this is happening to you!)

Sharon

3 days later and I am STILL laughing about the karaoke comment. I love your readers.

I'm an insomniac and I take ambien. If you combine it with a benedryl, its possible that you and your husband will have 'the best sex ever' and you won't remember it. Maybe. I'm just sayin...

lanned

When I was doing this my doctor prescribed trazadone. It helped me lots.

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