Sleeping through the night

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    Jul 15, 2012 3:21 PM GMT
    So I tend not to have any problems getting to sleep, my problem is maintaining sleep through the night. My average sleep time is about 6 hours, which I know is well under what it should be.

    My normal pattern is to go to bed, sleep 3-4 hours, wake up and toss for anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Fall back to sleep for a little while and wake up again either when it's time to get up or just before.

    The problems that I'm having now are twofold. Firstly, I'm sapped of energy really quickly through the day, which means that I'm in no mood to socialise much on weekends and secondly, one of my goals at the moment is to build up a lot more at the gym and I think this is being hampered only by my minimal amounts of sleep. Beyond this obviously it's not healthy to maintain this sort of sleep deficit long term.

    I've tried melatonin and stronger drugs before and they're great for putting me to sleep in the first place, but more often than not I'll wake up again after a few hours. I've been trying out 5-HTP for the last month or so but that doesn't seem to imrpove anything. I'm fairly confident that it's some sort of generalised anxiety that's waking me up and keeping me awake; this hasn't been professionally diagnosed and I've never taken anything for it.

    Does anybody else suffer similar problems and if so, is there relief? Does psychotherapy work? I'd prefer not to form a dependancy on drugs like Alprazolam.
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    Jul 15, 2012 4:27 PM GMT
    This depends on why you are waking up.

    I finally shelled over 1200 for a memory foam bed. Made a lot of difference. If your bed sucks, it's hard to sleep well.

    If you have anxiety you can see a doctor who can put up on an anti-depressant. Unfortunately, SSRI have some side effects. Stuff like Zanax will kick you down, but, docs consider it addictive. For me (I have a Zanax script) Zanax is a miracle drug. I take 1/4 tab and it's like...ahhhhhhhhh. A bottle Zanax has lasted me over a year because I just do a 1/4 tab at a time, and I don't do it every day.

    You can do CBT for your anxiety, but, it'll take some time.

    There are tons of articles written on this stuff.

    It can be frustrating.
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    Jul 15, 2012 4:31 PM GMT
    I'm not sure if there really is any effective solution. But then I am not a specialist. I suffer from insominia on occasion and seem to dream heavy... that is when I finally do get to sleep. I think my disorder is due to some things I have to deal with in my life that have thrown off my internal clock. Plus I am a deep thinker with a huge imagination that too many times works against me. For me, the best way to get back on track to sleeping through the night, is to eat balanced meals daily, and burn yourself out by the evening. Then take a hot shower at night. No sugar, no caffine after 5 PM. And avoid reading or doing anything that works the mind for concentration at night. Also caffine free chamomile tea is good for calming my body. What also helps me is playing an acoustic guitar on my ipod speaker, on a continuous loop at very low volume. Problem with me though is being consistent about it. Life is full of uncertainty and the less control you have over your circumstances the more challenging it is to find a solution. If you get some professional advice assessing your situation, I hope you can share it. icon_smile.gif
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    Jul 15, 2012 4:34 PM GMT
    I had the same problem. I was a terrible insomniac for months and it was very frustrating. For me the symptoms were same - I could fall asleep, but I couldn't stay asleep. I might catch 2-3 hours if I were lucky. Much of it was psychological stress, but also I was over-training at the gym, and my pre-workout supplements were not helping things (lots of caffeine in them). So I did a clean sweep:

    1) stopped all supplements for a month.
    2) structured my gym time to be more focused and less frequent (e.g. 3-4 times a week, two opposing muscle groups per workout done only once a week so that the muscle group got a full week to recover)
    3) went to acupuncture for sleep therapy - it helped! i wondered if i could fall into a deep sleep on a hard table under a foil blanket with pins stuck in me, why couldn't i sleep at home in 500 threadcount sheets on a pillow-top Sealy posturpedic?!
    4) took melatonin - extra strength, slow release tablets. they keep you at a steady state, you're not groggy in the morning, and no chemical dependency. you can get these at Shoppers Drug Mart or at any health food / supplement store.
    5) most importantly i realised that the unconscious stress from work and from the fast-approaching anniversary of my dad's funeral were causing a lot of sleep problems. sometimes just acknowledging those stressors is enough to get rid of them. write them down in a list or journal, think of ways to address each problem, get the problems out of your head and into a more productive place, so you're not thinking about all these things in the quiet of night.
    6) ritualise your lights out. turn everything off 30mins before bed time (tv, cell phone, computer, ipad, etc). this is your quiet time. brush your teeth, wash your face, take your melatonin, read a real book, turn the lights off, and then focus on your breathing: long, slow and deep.

    now i'm back on track. good luck!
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    Jul 15, 2012 4:54 PM GMT
    OP..Basic question..How is your bed..??..Is it comfy??..Changing my bed solved all the problems you listed...i went thru this reform a few years ago..nothing worked ...till i changed my bed..
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    Jul 15, 2012 5:03 PM GMT
    I wake up pretty frequently. Not always, but very often once a night, usually very early morning (2:30-6:30).
    I go make a protein shake or something similar and healthy, and then fall back to a really restful sleep.

    Especially if you're exercising a lot it may just be that your body's hungry.
    Just one possibility, but worth trying.

    Another possibility: it may not be that you "sleep too little", but that your body just has a preferred hour of waking. What happens if you go to bed 2 hours earlier?
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    Jul 15, 2012 5:13 PM GMT
    +1 on TempurPedic memory foam mattresses.

    They make pillows with a shape that offers extra neck support. I was having problems with my neck muscles getting fatigued with a regular pillow, leading to grinding my teeth. Not sure if that's contributing to insomnia though.

    When I need to change sleeping hours, I just do extra cardio. icon_cool.gif

    Ultimately, I haven't had a TV in the bedroom in years because I had a bad habit of watching things that woke my brain up before trying to sleep. I can't work late, come home, and expect to fall asleep until about three hours of unwinding have passed.
  • txman8439

    Posts: 4

    Jul 15, 2012 5:17 PM GMT
    I had the same problem and tried a lot of different things.

    Look into cortisol and the stress level in your life. I've been having a lot of stress and my cortisol was high causing insomnia and waking up at 3am.

    Rhodalia is a herb that helps control cortisol and it makes me fall asleep about 1 hr after taking it. Been on it for a couple months now and it's the only thing I found that works for me.

    Here is a link.
  • LJay

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    Jul 15, 2012 6:09 PM GMT
    Apnea is worth lookin into , but be sure your insurance covers the testing. It is expensive.

    Last night was the first night in memory that I have not gotten up in the middle of the night. I took 600 MG of ibuprofen about 20 minutes before I went to bed. Do not drink if you are going to try this.
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    Jul 15, 2012 6:10 PM GMT
    What happens when you wake up during the night? Are you breathing fast? Is your heart racing? These can be signs of sleep apnea, which can be dangerous if left untreated.

    I'm obviously not a medical expert, but I've had years of experience with insomnia. I'm not sure if anxiety is your problem if you aren't having trouble falling asleep. There are time released sleep aids that may help. You may also want to take a sleep test, which your doctor can order. This will detect any physical sleep problems such as apnea.

    Also look up the term "sleep hygiene." You can read about how to make your sleep area more comfortable and less distracting. You may have something disturbing your sleep and not even realize it. Making sure you have a comfortable bed is also a good idea. Make sure your pillows are comfortable and that you're not too hot or cold.
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    Jul 15, 2012 6:19 PM GMT
    I think kingmo's approach (above) is really smart. Sleeping issues often have complex causes... anywhere from stress and anxiety to diet and lifestyle, and should be approached from a holistic standpoint. If there's one thing you do, try the slow-release melatonin. Been taking it ever since I was young and works like a charm.
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    Jul 15, 2012 6:30 PM GMT
    I don't think it's anxiety. Research says it is depression that causes early morning wakenings. Anxiety keeps one from falling asleep,but it's depression which would cause the waking early. I know it doesn't really make sense. Just what the research says. As a PhD psychologist, I would try everything suggested, if all else fails, your primary care physician could prescribe a low dose anti depressant (zoloft, Paxill, efexor)
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    Jul 15, 2012 6:55 PM GMT
    Are you drinking alcohol? Alcohol will make you drowsy at first, but it messes with your sleep cycle and may wake you up earlier.
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    Jul 15, 2012 7:43 PM GMT
    My bed is a couple of years old and is a "firm" I was sleeping somewhat like you are, so on a whim I went out and bought a memory foam mattress pad. It really made a difference. It's not very thick, and seem cool enough. $100.00 for a queen at J.C. Pennys.icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jul 15, 2012 10:12 PM GMT
    I've slept in a lot of hotels when i'm out of town working. Now i ask for their softest mattress possible. The hard mattresses may be ok for someone over 200lbs but with me i'm tossing and turning all night in fact i'm lucky to get 3 hours sleep. I'll be sleeping on my side and my arm goes to sleep. The other thing i do before retiring is to have a shower. For some reason when you're feeling all clean it's easy to doze off. Oh and i guess i forgot one item.... sex before bed can help though it can sometimes be a rarity.

    I'm in agreement with everyone else about the mattress.... hope that helps.
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    Jul 15, 2012 11:56 PM GMT
    Thanks everyone; I'm going to go and see a doctor and see if there's something else that they can diagnose and recommend. Stress and anxiety are a big part of that, I know that, so I'm going to try to destress a bit as well.

    The mattress isn't the issue, but I know what you all mean; I'd be getting less sleep than I am at the moment if my mattress sucked.
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    Jul 16, 2012 12:18 AM GMT
    I do take melatonin but find magnesium very effective.
    I take one 300 mg magnesium/300 mg calcium and sometimes two tablets and that helps me at least get a solid 5-6 hours sleep.
    Apparently magnesium needs a balance with calcium, so they are usually sold in combo tablets