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Husband has terrible insomnia

(77 Posts)
Philippa60 Thu 27-Jul-23 10:16:33

Hi wise Gransnet friends
I wonder if anyone has advice for me?
My DH (aged 71) suffers from really bad insomnia.
He also has (late-diagnosed) ADHD, and suffers from depression and anxiety.
He is on medication only for the depression and I think that medication might be part of the problem, but coming off it is not recommended as he then slips back into bad depression.
Right now he is really troubled by not sleeping (especially as I sleep really well and it must be very frustrating for him).
Our GP gave him a short course of sleeping pills which do help, but without them he simply doesn't sleep.
I have recommended all the usual things to him (he mostly follows my advice but not always!) for example: reduce caffeine, especially in the afternoon/evening, exercise more, less screen time....
Not sure what else to suggest and would love to hear from anyone on here who has any ideas.

eddiecat78 Thu 27-Jul-23 10:30:57

My GP has signed me up to Sleep Station which is a 6-8 week online course to combat insomnia. It is a commercial course that you can buy yourself but some surgeries offer it free on the NHS . It is daunting as the main advice is to go to bed later and get up earlier (put very simply) in the initial stages and I was very sceptical but I'm currently in my third week and have gone from only sleeping an hour or two, to 5 hours last night. If you Google Sleep Station reviews you will see that Trust Pilot has lots of positive reviews for it. Good luck!

Philippa60 Thu 27-Jul-23 10:41:03

Thank you, eddicat78, I will take a look
Pleased to hear it has helped you

crazyH Thu 27-Jul-23 10:44:04

Since my divorce in 2000, I have been on sleep medication- I am probably addicted by now. Even then, I only get about 7 hours sleep. I tried easing myself off it, but just couldn’t 😫

crazyH Thu 27-Jul-23 10:45:10

I’m sorry, that wasn’t much help xx

Philippa60 Thu 27-Jul-23 10:53:30

Sorry to hear that crazyH, my concern is that H will get addicted. But actually the doctor won't prescribe sleeping pills long term so we really need to find another solution

MerylStreep Thu 27-Jul-23 11:00:46

I suffered terrible years ago. I went to a sleep therapist.
The secret is to train the brain to go to sleep: it works.
But, it takes perseverance.

grannyrebel7 Thu 27-Jul-23 11:01:10

Magnesium is supposed to be good.

choughdancer Thu 27-Jul-23 11:02:11

He could try listening to sleep meditations by Jennifer Piercy. They have revolutionised my sleeping (it used to be so hard for me to get to sleep). I have clinical depression too and I can really sympathise with your husband; thoughts can become very negative when you are lying awake desperate to sleep. I use these meditations to go to sleep in the first place, and also if I wake up in the night needing the loo, to get back to sleep quickly.

They are free on the Insight Timer app
The three I find best are Yoga Nidra for Sleep; Healing Darkness for Sleep; Bone Deep Sleep.

Philippa60 Thu 27-Jul-23 11:17:06

choughdancer, thanks

Philippa60 Thu 27-Jul-23 11:17:32

MerylStreep and grannyrebel - thank you!

silverlining48 Thu 27-Jul-23 11:21:20

I h e tried many over the counter options and none worked for me.
My doctor is not keen to prescribe zopiclone ) which is great) but will prescribe phenerghan which I CAn safely take regularly. They work for me.

MadeInYorkshire Thu 27-Jul-23 11:34:41


Since my divorce in 2000, I have been on sleep medication- I am probably addicted by now. Even then, I only get about 7 hours sleep. I tried easing myself off it, but just couldn’t 😫

Oooh - 7 hours, I am so jealous!

I have suffered from insomnia since my health started to nosedive, so since 1998! I have also had depression since that time and have been on medication for that too. However at one point during a particularly bad time (5 hospital admissions in 3 months and 5 surgeries) I could actually sleep for 18 hours a day - I think it was my body saying 'enough is enough'!

Since then, and I really need 7/8 hours to function even a little bit, I've maybe managed 6 - and then my daughter died. At first I couldn't sleep at all, maybe dozed off around 2am and was awake at 5am. I have always taken sleeping pills, so I am very addicted to those, but this period was awful, up all night alone with my thoughts, and not even able to function to the poor level I am usually at. Sleep 'hygiene' doesn't work for me, so it was a doubling of my anti-depressants that finally allowed me to maybe get 5 hours. I was still awake at 5am though up until recently, and the last couple of weeks I have been getting a bit more.

Some of the things my daughter tried was 'sleep balm', Nytol, and CBD, and a lot of people are helped by that (not the stuff that makes you high, although that does work better - when I have been able to have a puff, that has always given me a better night's sleep!) You can buy it in Gummy form, or in an oil you can rub in, and I know a lot of people with Fibromyalgia, arthritis, suffering for the affects of the menopause etc swear by it.

Does he suffer from Restless Legs at all?

There's nothing worse than being unable to sleep!

crazyH Thu 27-Jul-23 11:45:56

So sorry about the loss of your daughter flowers.
I tend to go to bed late (after midnight), take my sleeping tablet , which takes about an hour to work. And strangely, having the TV on, works for me. I watch real-life situations and then go to sleep trying to work out the solutions, if you know what I mean. Very often the TV is on when I wake up to go to the loo.

Ailidh Thu 27-Jul-23 12:12:03

I developed not so much insomnia as insomnophobia (my term) after chemo ten years ago. I was petrified of not being able to get to sleep, which meant I didn't get to sleep. To me at the time it meant I was irretrievably broken, and my mental health nosedived badly.

Against all the published advice, what works for me is to have the television on very low: enough to have to listen to hear it but not so loud as to be disturbing. I have a DVD of Frasier that I put on every night. Same four episodes,round and round.

Sometimes I wake up in the morning, and have no recollection of it ending.
Sometimes I think I haven't got to sleep at all but I come to and it's, say, halfway through episode two and that reassures me enough that I Can doze off after all, and that can be enough for me to just turn over and carry on sleeping.

Something to distract me from lying there worrying about not sleeping (I have no other worries) is all it takes.

Jane43 Thu 27-Jul-23 12:17:48

I have had sleeping problems on and off since the menopause. The only thing that has worked for me is two Magnesium-L-Threonate 2000mg capsules 90 minutes before sleep. The recommended dosage is two capsules twice a day but two before bed time works for me most nights. Before taking the magnesium I would take an antihistamine (non-drowsy) at bed time after several sleepless nights; it did work but I felt as if I had a hangover the next day.

Georgesgran Thu 27-Jul-23 12:28:40

I think 7 hours is good by any standard. I’m a night owl, so it’s 2am before I’m ready for bed and up by 7am - 5 hours. It’s normal for me. In the old days, I’d try and go to bed earlier, but then wake at 3am and end up going downstairs and doing bits and bobs.
My BF who has health anxiety often goes to bed at 8pm and is panic stricken that she lies awake half the night. I’ve tried to explain that she’s had her sleep by 3am, but it’s another excuse for her to race off to her GP.
Is there anything that your DH could do when he’s unable to sleep? Go downstairs, make a drink, perhaps do a jigsaw or crossword, or just read?
Personally, I think there’s a lot of emphasis put on ‘having 8 hours’ but it’s a fact that we don’t need as much sleep as we get older (unless battling illness) and I’m sure there’s a lot of afternoon naps going on too.

sodapop Thu 27-Jul-23 12:39:01

Seven hours sleep crazyH that's a miracle, can't remember when I had that amount of sleep in one go.
I agree with Georgesgran too much emphasis on having 8 hours sleep. I don't sleep well but have tried to stop stressing about it. I generally wake around 3 or 4am and then read or do a crossword until I feel sleepy again. Often I don't get back to sleep but then try to have a nap inthe afternoon. I am currently taking melatonin tabs at night but not sure they are helping.

aggie Thu 27-Jul-23 12:44:28

I find fresh air and a walk during the day leads to better sleep , if I don’t get out my sleep is poor

Carenza123 Thu 27-Jul-23 12:57:41

My husband suffers a lot from sleep deprivation.I think it is an inherited condition as his father and aunt suffered from insomnia. My husband is on lots of medication (Mirtazapine to help with sleep). He is unable to sleep for any length of time but this results in him dozing most of the day. It has affected his concentration so much that I felt it necessary to take over most of the driving. He also gets restless legs which he takes a tablet each evening of calcium & magnesium and also a quinine tablet. To date, nothing seems to work and often wakes me up in the night to apply anti-inflammatory gel to his legs. Hence two people with disturbed sleep!

Gillycats Thu 27-Jul-23 12:58:41

MIY I’m so sorry for your terrible loss.

I had terrible insomnia for years. Eventually the combination at bedtime of Sertraline (antidepressant) and Trazadone (sleeping tablet) helped. I’ve been on them for 9 years. I have ADHD, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis amongst other things so I have a wired brain and chronic pain and fatigue. Because they help I’m not coming off them anytime soon (I’m not addicted, I don’t suffer with addictions).
What I would add is that it’s the psychological side that needs helping first and foremost. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is really useful, counselling, visualisation and most importantly, meditation too. Exercise in some form daily is a must - walking in a park is good! It’s all about training the brain as best you can.

Philippa60 Thu 27-Jul-23 13:30:59

Thank you all for the wonderful support and comments.

MadeInYorkshire Thu 27-Jul-23 15:15:54


So sorry about the loss of your daughter flowers.
I tend to go to bed late (after midnight), take my sleeping tablet , which takes about an hour to work. And strangely, having the TV on, works for me. I watch real-life situations and then go to sleep trying to work out the solutions, if you know what I mean. Very often the TV is on when I wake up to go to the loo.

Thank you - actually I am the same, I NEED the tv (streaming on my laptop actually) to be on, in fact it is on all night! Trying to concentrate on it sends me off far more easily, as long as I've nothing on my mind. My issue is more waking up in the night as I need the loo, then it takes me a long time to get back to sleep, and always DING 4.45am usually, I am awake again, although that's a sign of clinical depression ....

Floradora9 Thu 27-Jul-23 21:43:50

I listen to audio books so no light coming from the player . If I wake in the night or far too early in the morning I continue listening . I set a sleep timer on the player for 40 mins when I go to bed so I know I will not loose too much of the book but stick to things like biographies not mysteries.

Oreo Thu 27-Jul-23 21:48:22

They say reading in bed helps to drop off to sleep or leaving the radio playing quietly in the room.