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Chronic Insomnia

(52 Posts)
Grindos Sun 02-Sep-12 17:58:24

I've had insomnia for about 20 years. I'm talking about 0-3 hours sleep 75% of the time, and about 5 hours on a good night. I've got used to feeling pretty awful most of the time, and I thought when I stopped work, it might get better, but it hasn't really.
I've tried hypnotherapy, osteopathy, CBT etc. and of course sleeping tablets, but the cause has to be in my head, doesn't it? One doctor I saw asked me if I was happy, and I wasn't able to answer yes or no.
Anyone got any tips apart from the usual ones?

JO4 Sun 02-Sep-12 18:10:55

Listening to the World Service on a small personal radio (with earphones) does it for me.

vampirequeen Sun 02-Sep-12 18:11:39

I don't have any answers hunni just sending a hug. My husband suffers like you and nothing seems to work for him either.

I don't see why the cause has to be in your head though. It might be but it's a bit of a cop out by the doctors not to look for anything physical that might be causing it.

JO4 Sun 02-Sep-12 18:20:55

My doc told me not to go to bed too early. I aim for light out at quarter to midnight now. That helps.

And try to get some exercise during the day. Preferably outside.

janeainsworth Sun 02-Sep-12 18:29:24

Has your doctor mentioned that looking at a computer screen late at night is bad.
The light is similar to daylight and so your brain is tricked into thinking it's still daytime and you should be awake.
I think there are some screens you can alter to be less bright, if you really must be on Gransnet at midnight smile
I don't mean to sound unsympathetic, I have occasional sleepless nights and it must be awful to have that all the timeflowers

Grindos Sun 02-Sep-12 18:40:00

Thanks for that JO4 I'll try it. I've used CDs of soft music in the past, but when they end, the machine clicks OFF and wakes me up!

Grindos Sun 02-Sep-12 18:53:00

OMG I've just thought of something. When I was a child/teenager, my Dad didn't sleep well. If I got up in the night to go to the loo, I'd wake him up, he wouldn't be able to get back to sleep, and I' hear all about it the next day. So I'D lie awake at night, needing the loo, but afraid to get up and go. I wonder if that's deep in my subconscious, my mind is a strange creature!

JO4 Sun 02-Sep-12 18:59:19

Music doesn't work for me. It has to be speech. And something quite interesting even though I fall asleep.

Funny thing is Jane, I find if I am on GN till late, I go straight to sleep and get a good night. I find a computer screen tiring.

petallus Sun 02-Sep-12 19:07:10

I do sympathise. I always wake up during the night several times and stay awake for an hour or two sometimes. A few years ago I went through six months of extreme insomnia with maybe four days out of seven only sleeping a couple of hours. I felt really ill most of the time. It was dreadful.

When I retired I relaxed over the situation somewhat because I reasoned, as I lay there exhausted but awake, that at least I didn't have a heavy workload awaiting me the next day.

Plenty of tips on the internet about what and what not to do.

One thing that helped me was that I learned relaxation and then would practice that during the sleepless hours. I have heard that deep relaxation is more restful than sleep.

Of course it takes practice. Can't do it in a few days/weeks.

bikergran Sun 02-Sep-12 19:49:38

if you have worries then perhaps your waking up and then your mind is active..I have started wearing earplugs... thinking that it is noises that wake me up but no it isnt...maybe it has some thing to do with being happy/unhappy like the doc asked you... I think a lot of people do have a lot of worries and once you are awake these worries run round in your mind....then most people will drop off to sleep just prior to getting up time...

absentgrana Sun 02-Sep-12 19:50:24

Take the mind off whatever it is thinking about. Keep randomly saying a simple word over and over in your head – "the, the, the", for example. This is enough to distract the brain from ranging about and keeping you awake.

Grindos Sun 02-Sep-12 19:58:07

I've tried painting the inside of my mind. With an in-breath I paint an upstroke with the brush, with an out-breath I paint a downstroke. Then I dip the brush in the paint and up-stroke again. I do different colours. It's soothing but doesn't put me to sleep, but I can imagine covering up my thoughts with paint.

absentgrana Sun 02-Sep-12 20:03:21

You don't soothe your mind with repeating a word; you blot out what you are already thinking. You cannot think anything and randomly say "the, the, the" or "frog, frog, frog at fairly frequent intervals. Try it and see.

matson Sun 02-Sep-12 20:06:04

i sympathise hunni, like you i have been an insomniac for most of my adult life. it was originally blamed on my nursing anti social hours shifts, but i just think i,m unlucky. i have tried everything and more, but finally about ten years ago stopped fighting with my self over taking sleeping pills! i dont care if they are addictive! so is salt and chocolate!. at least i can get anywhere between 3 to 5 hours sleep a night and that stops me going insane! x

HildaW Sun 02-Sep-12 20:41:24

Grindos, a Doctor asked if you were happy? I can't imagine anyone giving that a sensible answer. I'm not sure anyone has worked out what happiness is anyway.....its the sort of question that would keep anyone up at night. At this stage in my life I'm just pleased when I'm not worrying too much about those closest to me. Honestly, what a daft Doctor!

My doctor referred me to some stress councelling sessions where I was given a relaxation CD (which I was sceptical about but was good) and lots of advise about winding down and keeping the negative thoughts at bay.
I have re-trained myself to sleep well and touch wood am a lot better. Lots of little changes that have taken a couple of years to master.
No electronics in bedroom, and no tv just before bed. Regular hours for bed and waking up.The best mattress I can afford. Reading a not too exciting book tires the eyes. I could go on but its boring me even. My main trick if I wake is to just gently say my own little mantra 'don't think', 'don't think'............... and I do get back to sleep.

jeni Sun 02-Sep-12 21:01:39

I don't sleep! I just accept it. I plan around it!
Very unusually I slept for 6 hours last night.
I can only put it down to the mental exhaustion of trying to entertain 14 month old DGDD
I can't do it physically as I'm disabled!

bikergran Sun 02-Sep-12 21:45:50

absentgrana that does work for me when I am first going to sleep..I used the word "the" it's when I wake back up it doesn't seem to work then.......
ar least "gransnet" is 24/7 (not sure who else may be hanging around in here then)! goodnight all..........."the"..........."the"............."the"........."the"....Z ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz............

Humbertbear Sun 02-Sep-12 21:46:25

My sister says that yoga has helped her to sleep. I use story tapes or the world Service myself. However I went through a phase of not being able to sleep at all and just used to sit up watching DVDs. Being a bad sleeper seems to run in the family. My son exists on little sleep and so does his older daughter. My mother eats porridge at 4.00 am and then goes back to bed. My friend phones the phone-in on LBC radio. There are more people awake during the night than you realise. I think the worst thing you can do is great stressed out about it

janeainsworth Sun 02-Sep-12 21:56:52
Apparently it was normal in the past to have two blocks of sleep, and do various things in between the hours of sleep.

Anagram Sun 02-Sep-12 22:07:54

I sleep badly as well. The 'the' mantra does work sometimes, but other times doesn't and I just lie there for two or three hours at a time. I know some advise you to get up and make a cup of tea, read for a while etc., but I'm too tired to get out of bed!
It's always worse when I know I really 'need' a good night's sleep for a busy day at work or an important meeting etc. I just accept it now, and hope for the best...

Nanadogsbody Sun 02-Sep-12 23:20:12

grindos if you've had insomnia for 20 years I doubt you'll find a a cure now unless you understand what is keeping you awake.

Can I suggest you accept the wakeful time and use it to try to work this out. You've given one possible explanation, but what other thoughts are there that you want to paint over?

Grossi Mon 03-Sep-12 09:37:36

Another poor sleeper here. I have a beginners' Italian course on my MP3 player. It is in very short bits, perhaps two or three minutes each and I find it works even better than the World Service.

I do find the earplugs get uncomfortable though.

Sadly my Italian isn't improving very fast, but I am getting more sleep hmm

JO4 Mon 03-Sep-12 10:21:21

For night time use you really need the flatter kind of earplugs like these

Not the ones with an elongated ear bud.

Anagram Mon 03-Sep-12 10:39:24

I wonder why they couldn't think of a descriptive word for 'red'? hmm

I might get some of those - thanks jingl.

granjura Mon 03-Sep-12 13:17:31

I used to sleep like a log - but then I was blasted with so many problems in the family all at the same time - sandwiched between two generations - and with my parents health failing and not coping, living 1000m away + health problems of my own and my OH- trying to sell our house in UK which kept falling through, etc, etc. I tried herbal tablets, but they didn't work, so my doctor, seeing I was going under, prescribed sleeping pills.

I didn't want to take them - but finally gave in, as I realised I just couldn't function and cope with the various situations I was confronted with.

I am now in the process of weaning myself of them, as the problems above have mostly gone away - and it is not easy, but I am slowly winning. I now take only half of the smaller dose, combined with a hops/valerian tablet taken an hour before bedtime- and it is working quite well. Aiming to go to quarter, and none before Christmas. I am following the advice given to all with sleeping problems - keep the bedroom for sleep- no TV, no reading, and have my own comfy bed next to OH- keep the room totally dark, and a few lavender drops on the pillow + window opened (it is totally quiet here thank goodness).