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Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics => Medical Needs and First Aid => Topic started by: PolicePrepper on January 27, 2014, 08:05:56 AM

Title: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: PolicePrepper on January 27, 2014, 08:05:56 AM
This is a thread to share more natural remedies on sleep health.

This stemmed from a conversation in another thread about perceived mental health. Last year I had a horrible time trying to sleep, averaging about 3-4 hours and waking up throughout the night. I went to my doctor who wanted to prescribe me anti-depressants, even though I'm not depressed, because they have sleep health benefits. However, if I went on anti-depressants, I could easily lose my job in law enforcement and lose my rights to own firearms.

Melatonin doesn't work for me, sleep aids leave my groggy, a couple of drinks before bed isn't healthy (though it works), and it seems that no matter how tired I am, my mind races as soon as it hits the pillow. What has helped, a little, is that I reduce my caffeine intake to zero after 2:00pm. That gives me 6-7 hours before I go to bed to be caffeine free. I'm still a light sleeper, and I'll occasionally take a sleep aid on days I don't have to be up early.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: AvenueQ on January 27, 2014, 08:51:59 AM
I also struggled with sleep for a long time, and still do occasionally. I have tried melatonin, trazodone (an anti-depressant), chamomile tea, as well as a host of other techniques.

Melatonin - Can get me to sleep if I'm tired enough, but won't keep me asleep. I rarely use it anymore

Trazodone - Prescription drug, used when I was a teenager. Got me to and kept me asleep well enough, but made me horribly groggy for hours after I woke up. I don't think I refilled the prescription even once.

Here's what I've found has worked the best for me. Most of these things are those stupid tips and tricks you find in magazines or that your doctor may tell you. For me, a lot of them actually work.

Establishing a regular routine - Going to sleep and waking up at about the same time each day, even on weekends, has made a huge difference for me. Work/home life may not make this possible for some, but it's a good goal to strive for.

"Winding down" before bed - Personally, I cannot: play video games, read an intense book, go out to a movie/event, or even socialize with friends for a couple of hours before going to bed. Anything that is mentally stimulating and gets my brain going has to be done during the day or within a few hours after getting home from work. Then I naturally progress to a more calm state, and from there to tired enough to sleep. Took me a long time to figure this one out, and everyone has different "triggers" that will get their brain going.

Warm tea/drinks - This one only works if I'm already kind of tired but need a little extra push. It doesn't even have to be a commonly accepted sleep aid like chamomile. As long as it's warm and doesn't have caffeine, it'll put me into a doze.

Power napping - I didn't believe in this until I got good at it. Napping for 20-30 minutes when the urge hits makes me feel so much better during the day and jumpstarts my brain enough so that I can tire it out long before bed time.

I can't power nap in a bed. It has to be in a place that's moderately comfortable and somewhat horizontal, but just uncomfortable enough to prevent me from dropping into a deep snooze (my recliner sofa is a good option, though I've used the floor to great success as well). It's more of a heavy doze than anything; usually I'm still vaguely aware of noises/activity in my vicinity, but it fades to more of a drone than an interruption. I actually get better results if the TV or radio is on quietly versus if it's totally quiet.

Physical activity during the day - I also didn't believe in this one until I had a physically demanding job for an extended period of time. That was the best year I ever slept. My new position is not nearly as physical, so I try to incorporate more movement at home. Exercising too close to bedtime will have the opposite effect, so I try to do physically demanding chores during the day or soon after getting home from work.

I still wake up 2-3 times each night, and by the time my alarm goes off I'm usually almost fully awake anyway. I do notice that I sleep deeper and longer than I ever did in high school or college and wake up feeling much better. I also believe stress had a major role in my sleep troubles, but minimizing that is so individualized for everyone that I didn't want to get too deep into it. Try to identify your own stressors and see if you can minimize their affect on your brain around bed time. If I've learned anything it's that treating sleep problems is just as much an art as a science. It requires careful self-observation and willingness to try creative solutions.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: David in MN on January 27, 2014, 08:59:48 AM
I want to keep up on this thread as a insomniac/sleepwalker. I agree with most everything stated above and would add that 5-HTP has really helped me.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: CharlesH on January 27, 2014, 09:10:20 AM
AvenueQ's methods have all proven effective for me as well.  I have also had occaisonal success with Benadryl (antihistamine) for keeping me asleep.  It has the same active ingredient as the "PM" part of Tylenol PM i believe.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: fritz_monroe on January 27, 2014, 10:25:11 AM
Watching since I've fought with sleep my entire life.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: AvenueQ on January 27, 2014, 10:54:29 AM
I'd like to further clarify something about power napping: I can't force it. There are many days where I don't nap at all. But if I feel like I'm starting to get sleepy or nod off, I'll find a place to do so. It's not always after I've had a particularly bad night of sleep either. More often than not it happens after a night when I slept just fine. Learning to read your body's signals is a huge part of learning better sleep habits.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: endurance on January 27, 2014, 11:15:00 AM
I've had insomnia most of my life, so here's some tidbits I've learned over time.

First, make sure there's nothing inherently wrong with you that is stupidly obvious.  For me, I have dealt with two separate issues in this regard.  First, I was diagnosed as being hypothyroid while in college due to routine blood work.  They over-medicated the crap out of me with Synthroid, causing me to be hyperthyroid for about eight months.  During that time my mental health deteriorated as I was down to sleeping 1-2 hours a night, every night, for eight friggin' months before my doctor decided to retest me and adjust my Synthroid levels.  So, get some basic blood work down just to make sure it's nothing obvious. 

The other medical issue I had was leg cramping when I went to bed for about a decade.  We thought it was "RLS" for a while, but in the end, after working with a PT for about four months, I discovered it was a structural back issue causing some sciatic nerve impingement.  I learned a stretch that releases it and I've been able to keep it in check on my own and with occasional massages for over five years now.

Everything I've ever used loses effectiveness with time.  Everything. 

Benedryl is my number one go-to product, but it only works for four or five days in a row at best and if you don't take it early enough, it's a bear to wake up and you will be groggy.  The way I use it now is after I've had a bad night, on the following night.  Sorry to say, but sometimes you've just got to suck it up when you have a bad night and learn to function the best you can on the few hours you get.  Taking anything after 10pm when you need to be up at 6am is a recipe for disaster.  You'll only make your morning worse.  Benedryl has about a 10-12 hour effect for me, so I try to take it before 8pm.  The way I use it is if I suspect I'm not going to sleep (due to previous night or just work stress) and I take one at about 8pm.  If I'm trying to make it through the rest of the work week, the second night I'll take two, the third and fourth night I'll take two, but then I either change drugs or ween myself off with one on the fifth night and nothing the sixth night.

My number two choice is Lunesta.  It works great for me and has less of a hangover than benedryl, but I still need to take it by 9:30pm at the latest, preferably by 9pm.  The one real downside is the nasty metallic aftertaste you get if you eat or drink anything but water after taking it.  It will make watermelon taste like iron filings within 20 minutes of taking it.  I usually save Lunesta for when I'm desperate for sleep and have a full eight or nine hours to commit to sleep.  The problem is that if you take it for 3-4 nights in a row, you're screwed.  At some point you'll have to go off of it and you can expect to be up half the night the first night off, but the next night returns to normal. 

Along the same lines, I've used Ambien, but the original formula didn't get me through the night.  I'd wake up after about five hours.  I never tried the extended release formula, but I suspect it would work well. 

I've used Melatonin and wasn't impressed.  I didn't notice anything.

I used Valerian Root once and the hangover drowsiness the next day was hideous.  I'd like to try it again from a different company or make my own, since it grows great in my garden.  Let's just put it this way, the hangover was so bad that I haven't tried it a second time in over a year that the bottle has been in my medicine cabinet. 

I've tried Tryptophan with uncertain results.  I only used it once, borrowing it from a friend who got it from a compounding pharmacist.  It seems to have worked, but having to get it from a compounding pharmacist or for that matter, even tracking down a compounding pharmacist seemed like too much effort.

Yes, a glass of wine or two in the evening works to get me to sleep, but if I'm really stressed I still wake up at 2-3am and can't get back to sleep. 

Finally, I'm a sucker for a warm bath.  Even if it means getting up a 3am and drawing a bath, soaking for a half hour while reading, and going back to bed, it is a hell of a lot better than feeling bad because I'm tossing and turning and worrying that I'm keeping my spouse awake.

Since joining my local volunteer fire department and being on call pretty much all the time, I've done my best to avoid all of the above as much as possible.  Most of the time I find that I can function quite well on just one bad night; it's when it gets to be three or four in a row that I'm screwed and I stop functioning.  That's when I'll resort to the benedryl or lunesta.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: David in MN on January 27, 2014, 11:53:09 AM
I tried Tylenol PM for a while. But I sleepwalk from time to time and the over the counter stuff seems to increase that. I've woken up in my car, in the backyard, holding a glass under running water for I don't know how long... That stuff is out. Likewise, the prescription stuff scares me. The sleeping mind is not something you want to mess with.

A couple shots of whiskey will help sleep but I will be a little slow the next morning. Fine if I'm writing. Not so good if I'm running a chainsaw, tablesaw, or plunge router.

I grow organic lavender and chamomile to use as teas and shop herbal teas at a place in St. Paul:

http://www.teasource.com/teas/Tisane.html

These help a little. I also do a little hypnosis and meditation work (several free podcasts).

The supplement ritual. 5-HTP is king for my sleep but I'll also take fish oil, ginko biloba, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

Always looking for more ideas!
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: inconel710 on January 27, 2014, 12:25:01 PM
I guess I'm lucky.  Melatonin has worked well for me, especially when I was traveling or on rotating shift work.  I do have a routine for going to bed though - i read for a half hour or so in bed.

There's some research that says we're spending too much time looking at lighted screens and that's messing up sleep for some.  They're too stimulating and keep you awake.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: CharlesH on January 27, 2014, 01:14:55 PM
Excellent post, Endurance, I won't even try to quote because all the information is useful.  I should have mentioned the need to take Benadryl early.  I usually try to take it at 8:30pm for a 5:30am wakeup and even with 9 hours between medicine and wakeup I am groggy.  I have never used it more than 2-3 days in a row but I have no doubt you are right about it losing effectiveness.
 
Wine is another one I have used that I forgot about (maybe because I was drinking at the time ;D).  For it to be a sleep aid, I need more like 3-4 glasses over the course of the evening.  I can use wine when I am watching a movie at home and plan to go to bed thereafter.
 
Good old fashion exhaustion is still the best for me.  I don't recall ever having a problem sleeping after a day of baling hay!
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: NCFreedom on January 27, 2014, 01:33:54 PM
I used to use Tylenol PM a few years back, but I haven't used it in a long time.  Then I found an energy drink called Neuro Sonic and they have a few different kind of drinks including Neuro Sleep. The Sleep drink works pretty good. Neuro Sleep has L-theanine, Melatonin, 5-HTP, and Taurine.  Also a sleep supplement called iChill,  it has some B vitamins, Valerian Root, Rose Hips, and Melatonin.  It knocks me out and it always seem like its good sleep. I work 7pm-7am on a 2-2-3 schedule and this helps with the turnaround back to a normal night sleeping time for my days off. 
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: blademan on January 27, 2014, 01:36:30 PM
For the love of God, get a different doctor and have the new one prescribe a sleep study. What a irresponsible quack pushing antidepressants on you to help you sleep. What a dangerous doctor. Seriously, sounds like you have sleep apnea or a related disorder. You would be much happier with a cpap than a bottle of pills. And cut the alcohol before bed until you find out, it only makes things worse. Seriously, get the sleep study done, even if its not apnea they may be able to find out what is going to.
As an apnea sufferer myself, I found that sleeping sitting up like on a couch that allowed me to keep my head tilted back to keep my airway more open.
 Its not a cure but it helped me until i got a machine which I never sleep without. Go get it checked out, sleep is important, you need it. And ditch that pill pusher that obviously works for big pharma and not you. Good luck.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: endurance on January 27, 2014, 01:52:21 PM
...
"Winding down" before bed - Personally, I cannot: play video games, read an intense book, go out to a movie/event, or even socialize with friends for a couple of hours before going to bed. Anything that is mentally stimulating and gets my brain going has to be done during the day or within a few hours after getting home from work. Then I naturally progress to a more calm state, and from there to tired enough to sleep. Took me a long time to figure this one out, and everyone has different "triggers" that will get their brain going....
This is sound advice that I never listened to until I married my current wife.  Actually, I don't listen to the advice so much as I have a wife who goes to bet at a regular hour and I've fallen into her pattern.  It's nice to be in my 40s and have no desire to stay out late on Friday and Saturday night.  The closer I stick to a routine bedtime, the better I do.  I remember my mom telling us as kids that every hour of sleep before midnight was worth three hours after midnight.  I don't know if it's true, but it sure feels that way to me.  It also takes the pressure off to feel like you "HAVE TO GET TO SLEEP" when you can't get to sleep right away.  That pressure in and of itself has caused many a sleepless nights for me in my past.  Now, getting to bed routinely at 9:30-10:00pm makes it a hell of a lot easier to just relax when I have a night where I don't drift off in the first 10-15 minutes.  I know I can still function on 5-6 hours of sleep, so I don't panic like I used to.

... 
Wine is another one I have used that I forgot about (maybe because I was drinking at the time ;D).  For it to be a sleep aid, I need more like 3-4 glasses over the course of the evening.  I can use wine when I am watching a movie at home and plan to go to bed thereafter.
 
Good old fashion exhaustion is still the best for me.  I don't recall ever having a problem sleeping after a day of baling hay!
I suspect your 3-4 is my 1-2 since I'm not much of a drinker at all.  I get a little buzzed on a single glass anymore, where I used to have to drink a six-pack back in my college days.  I love being a cheap drunk. ;D

Regarding exhaustion, this ol' worn out body aches a little too bad if I push too hard, so there's a point of moderation for me.  A 2-3 hour hike, GREAT!  Five hours on the trail, I'm fooked!  And don't make me toss more than a couple pickup loads of hay or I'm going to have sciatica until I get to my masseuse.  A word of advice to you young bucks out there:  Take care of your back.  You'll miss it when it's gone. ;)
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: TexDaddy on January 27, 2014, 05:42:30 PM
I heartily recommend a sleep study with a qualified neurologist. My problem was also sleep apnea, but it can lead to many different diagnoses.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: Cedar on January 27, 2014, 06:13:02 PM
Sleep in the truck so I can sleep? So I am away from a Fred Flintstone type snorer, whom I can hear outside; a child who has a cold/bad dream about a monster and a cat who wants to go outside just as you are sleeping.. or a bad windstorm slamming the house?

I do not have a problem sleeping.. when I am allowed to sleep. But the problem this last week is outside stimulants?? Too many times in a 30 minute span I repeatedly get woken up and then I am wide awake. I could take a Benedril, but I do not want to sleep for a week at a time.

Z got "Breathe Right" strips about two weeks ago which are AWESOME, everyone sleeps and he is not grouchy when he wakes up. I was actually sleepier in ways since he got them, as I remembered what deep sleep was again after a year of not being able to. They worked for a week, but he had to go to a different kind, as they were tearing up the skin on his face, so for a week he has not had any and I have been getting 2-4 hours of sleep a night. I was about to sleep outside tonight with the heavy sleeping bags in the truck, as it is 30F at night, as I was sure there MUST be somewhere on this 100 acres (or the 30,000 acres next door) with at least one of those sleep deprivation things eliminated.. but the UPS man came with the "Breathe Right Sensitive" strips today, so I get to sleep in the house!!!

Cedar - who is beyond exhausted  :'(
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: PolicePrepper on January 27, 2014, 06:18:48 PM
I bought some breath right strips last year, though I didn't like them....then again they were some specialty kind. I might go ahead and try to buy them again since my wife complains about my snoring.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: Teddy on January 27, 2014, 06:22:03 PM
A few non medical thoughts -

1)Establish a 7 day a week routine. Don't deviate on weekends
2)Black out curtains, no LED clocks, no light of any type in your bedroom during sleep
3)An air cleaner or other white noise generator
4)Monitor food and alcohol intake. Make note of what foods disagree with sleep.
5)Meditate or try yoga. Relax and push out the anxiety that may plague you.
6)Cut back on lights, electronics prior to bed to have a wind down time.
7)Limit the bedroom to sleep and ummm, other bedroom activities  ::) Take your nap on the couch, read a book in the den etc.
8)The other bedroom activity mentioned  above? Do it. A lot.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: Alan Georges on January 27, 2014, 06:25:28 PM
I also do a little hypnosis and meditation work (several free podcasts).
This http://www.amazon.com/Self-Hypnosis-Subliminal-Technology-How--Personal-Empowerment/dp/1401937586/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390871979&sr=8-1&keywords=eldon+taylor
has been an enormous help for me.  Works for when Ineed to sleep for the night, or just need to grab a power nap.  Self-hypnotize, suggest sleep, come out of it, and I'm asleep in minutes.  If I need to just grab a power nap, when I'm under I'll set a wake-up timer in my head for 20 minutes or whatever and it's usually accurate to within a minute.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: Cedar on January 27, 2014, 06:40:59 PM
I might go ahead and try to buy them again since my wife complains about my snoring.

Z got them after I was awake AGAIN about 3 weeks ago.. and my cell phone was right there, so I recorded him and left it next to his pillow for about 10 minutes. I had him listen to it the next morning. He didn't say much. Then the "breathe right" strips ended up coming in the mail a few days later.  ;)

I was talking to a friend yesterday and he said he and his wife were NOT getting along well at all and went to counseling. Then he got some anti-snoring things to deal with his snoring.. and they are getting along wonderfully now. He said, "Do not underestimate the pressure/strain snoring puts on your relationship."

Being sleep deprived, even if you are not realizing you are sleep deprived is a serious matter for mental/physical health as well as the health of a relationship apparently.

Cedar
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: AvenueQ on January 27, 2014, 06:52:43 PM
This is sound advice that I never listened to until I married my current wife.  Actually, I don't listen to the advice so much as I have a wife who goes to bet at a regular hour and I've fallen into her pattern.  It's nice to be in my 40s and have no desire to stay out late on Friday and Saturday night.  The closer I stick to a routine bedtime, the better I do.

So...I'm 24 and regularly go to bed before 9 pm, even on Fridays and Saturdays (but I get up at 4:40 am for work!). My 45 year-old boss at my old job (jokingly) told me I needed to get out more :-[

I've never been a night owl. I was always the first to fall asleep at slumber parties (and consequently the first one to get pranked). I actually had a couple of friends whose parents loved it when I slept over because I would fall asleep so early, so my friends would too (not much fun to stay up late by yourself ;) ).
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: AvenueQ on January 27, 2014, 06:56:58 PM
3)An air cleaner or other white noise generator

Oh, this is a good one that I do too. I sleep with a humidifier on, partially because my nose will bleed in the dry air out here, but also for the white noise. I grew up in a quiet house, so I never slept with any kind of noise until college. The white drone of a fan helped block the louder, inconsistent sounds of the dorm. Now I have a hard time sleeping without it.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: PolicePrepper on January 27, 2014, 08:35:48 PM

7)Limit the bedroom to sleep and ummm, other bedroom activities  ::) Take your nap on the couch, read a book in the den etc.
8)The other bedroom activity mentioned  above? Do it. A lot.

I'm married with a young kid....activities are few and far between, though I do sleep better afterwards lol.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: LizardGurl on January 28, 2014, 08:38:15 AM
I have in the past had terrible insomnia.  I agree with the suggestions of Avenue Q and Teddy.  Getting blackout curtains and removing all sources of LED light made a HUGE difference.  We cover the alarm clock with a towel.

I also find the use of lighting to be helpful.  In the morning I keep lights on to wake me up.  At night, the only lights I have on are dim lights in the room where I am reading.  I discontinue any type of screen activity by 9:00 PM.

At 9:00 I take Melantonin and Natural Calm (magnesium Citrate).  In the morning I take Vitamin D.  I am out by 10:00 PM.  I often don't wake up (even for the bathroom) until my alarm goes off at 5:45.  I do sleep until I wake naturally on holidays and weekends.  I always go to bed at the same time unless I am out somewhere.

If I am stressed about something and wake up thinking about it, I do a yoga type breathing.  When I inhale I think "just" and when I exhale I think "breathe".  This helps to turn off my brain so I can go back to sleep.

Routine, routine, routine is very important.

LG
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: soupbone on January 28, 2014, 05:40:49 PM
As Liz said, avoid LED lights, and also TVs, computer screens and the like. Something as relatively minor as a digital clock on a DVD player will keep me up or fitfully dozing all night. What you may want to try is listening to Loreena McKennitt, a Canadian singer of folk/Celtic/New Age songs. I put her on, turn out the lights and am usually asleep by the fourth song. Try her here: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5LyQkW4Qr6rbFkf8peJxYQ

Good luck.

soupbone
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: Cedar on January 28, 2014, 05:52:29 PM
What you may want to try is listening to Loreena McKennitt, a Canadian singer of folk/Celtic/New Age songs. I put her on, turn out the lights and am usually asleep by the fourth song.

This is what I had to do each night when I worked a really stressful job at the zoo. I was always asleep by the third song. Once someone started to put it into my CD player in the truck on a road trip down to Oregon and I yelled, "OMG NO!".. I was SOOO trained to fall asleep to that CD.

Cedar
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: archer on January 28, 2014, 06:58:19 PM
Ha! My son listened to Lorena McKennitt during car rides to get him to fall asleep, now it makes him sleepy when I play it.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: D-rock517 on March 04, 2014, 02:23:18 AM
Get a sleep study done. I know they are expensive but it may be worth it. Try taking some magnesium before bed. I actually had to stop taking it because it was working too well.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: Gulo gulo on March 04, 2014, 03:54:34 AM
Idk why but for me having my dog in bed relaxes me like nothing else. Unless he's restless too; can't sleep through claws in the back! My wife hates having him in bed tho. He pushes into her (hence the claws in my back).
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: blademan on March 04, 2014, 04:14:55 AM
I have to agree with myself and the previous commenter in recommending a sleep study, you mentioned that your snoring was disturbing your wife. That's a symptom of sleep apnea. Trust me man, this will change your life. Get the study done. Even if it isn't apnea, it may be something else that you can get treatment for. Seriously, this will help you. Breathe Right strips are truly helpful for only a small amount of people because apnea isnt in the nose its in the throat and mouth. I tried that also and it was useless. Probably why it didn't work for you the first time you tried. Sleep study! Do it!
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: FreeLancer on March 04, 2014, 05:37:07 AM
I went to my doctor who wanted to prescribe me anti-depressants, even though I'm not depressed, because they have sleep health benefits. However, if I went on anti-depressants, I could easily lose my job in law enforcement and lose my rights to own firearms.

I think you may be over stigmatizing this potential treatment for insomnia.  It's likely that the drug your doctor was recommending is a low dose of one of the older anti-depressants, like trazadone or doxepin, and when these are used to treat insomnia, at typically low doses, they are really not acting as an antidepressant. 

For instance, doxepin is frequently prescribed as 100mg three times per day for depression, but only 10-25mg at bedtime when used for insomnia.  Doxepin is one of the most potent antihistamines we know of, which is likely the main mechanism that makes it effective for insomnia, and can also be used to treat severe itching.  Trazodone doesn't have much antihistamine effect, but is also effective for treating insomnia at a much lower dose than that typically required to be effective for depression. 

It would be a fairly straight forward process to defend against any adverse employment action that might arise (and I'm not convinced that would be very likely, anyways) based on the low dosages involved pointing to treatment of insomnia rather than depression.  There's good evidence that these drugs have less side-effect potential and tolerance issues when compared to the newer nonbenzodiazepine drugs (Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta) and certainly much better than any of the benzodiazepines, all of which are over-utilized for insomnia.

I've had insomnia since I was a kid and have tried everything, except benzodiazepines, to try to get my mind to quit churning at night when I need to sleep.  While Ambien works, I do not like the amnesia and weird behavior it will cause if you don't make yourself go straight to bed after you take it, so I have not taken any of those drugs for well over a decade.  I have found that doxepin works the best for me and actually took it regularly for 12 years with no side-effects.  I went off it a few months ago when I semi-retired and didn't have to keep to a rigid schedule anymore and have not had any problems with rebound insomnia, which can be a problem with many of the medications.

I've also snored like hell (even as a skinny little kid), too, and at my wife's insistence finally got a sleep study and was diagnosed with borderline obstructive sleep apnea.  I've been using CPAP for a little over 3 years and have not found it to help my insomnia much (it actually made it worse when I was getting used to the machine) or make a noticeable difference in my energy levels.  But it does make my wife very happy, so I will continue to use it.  The only benefit I see from CPAP is that I seem to be less susceptible to upper respiratory viruses during the winter season and this is probably due to the fact that for the first time in my life I can actually breath through my nose when I lay down.

For people with severe obstructive sleep apnea, CPAP can literally be a lifesaver and makes very dramatic improvements in one's quality of life.  So, if you snore, it's probably worth it to get a sleep study done, even if it does nothing for your insomnia.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: d3nni5 on March 04, 2014, 06:28:18 AM


I didn't read every post here, but did browse through.   Sounds like folks are on the right track with suggesting sleep studies and apnea related issues.    Do you have any allergy issues?   For me, dust mites were getting me, causing all sorts of issues with my sleep.   This will be coupled with the typical "allergy symptoms" like sneezing, runny nose, shortness of breath, etc, etc.... I take a Melatonin and Benadryl before bed every night.   That along w/ my allergy medicine seems to do the trick on that front.

But there is one other thing....STRESS!    Your mind is racing for a reason, trust me, I'm the same way lately.   I sleep, but don't feel rested.   I think about work constantly.   No drug or device is going to get that solved.   You will have to deal w/ the stress factors directly and let your mind as well as body get some needed rest.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: SusanG on March 04, 2014, 11:43:49 AM
Thought I should mention another treatment for sleep apnea for those who can't or won't use a CPAP machine  - a dental appliance worn during sleep:

http://www.aadsm.org/oralappliances.aspx

I looked into these for my husband, who may have sleep apnea but really resists the idea of the CPAP machine; a friend at work had one fitted after she had difficulties sleeping with the CPAP, and loves it.  I asked my dentist about the appliance, and he said it's important to get fitted by a dentist who specializes in them.  The web site above has a "Find a Dentist" link, as well as lots more info about sleep apnea and dental appliances.

Another thought, about using melatonin - apparently people are very different with respect to what dose works for them ... For some people a very low dose (1 mg or less) suffices, others need a higher dose.  It also comes in sublingual tablets for quicker action to help fall asleep, and time release, to help stay asleep.  So, to find an effective dose you may have to try several potencies and/or types (sublingual, time release, regular) to find the right one.  Couple of links:

http://sleepdisorders.about.com/od/sleepdisorderstreatment/a/How-To-Take-Melatonin.htm
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2001/melatonin-1017.html

Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: Black November on March 04, 2014, 12:26:22 PM
Magnesium vitamin supplement pills - I don't remeber the brand, but 2 magnesium pills works like a natural soma.

Lemon Balm Medicinal Tea - You can grow it, or buy it, but it is much stronger than chamomile tea
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: Spadalach on March 04, 2014, 05:52:29 PM
What has helped, a little, is that I reduce my caffeine intake to zero after 2:00pm. That gives me 6-7 hours before I go to bed to be caffeine free.

I used to drink coffee throughout the day -- 8 or 9 cups was no big deal.  It was so routine that I didn't notice any real effect to it unless I skipped it -- then I'd get headaches for sure.  A few months ago my wife and I made some big dietary changes, one of which was replacing regular coffee with decaf or green tea (and that just 1 cup in the morning).  There was an adjustment period, but now I don't notice any less energy in the morning, so I don't really miss it.

But here's the big thing I DO notice.  Every once in a while I will have a couple cups of regular when I'm up particularly early.  Now, after 2 cups, I can feel it down to my fingertips -- a shaky shivery jittery feeling and a sort of hyper nervousness in my core.  That long story's all to say that caffeine is powerful stuff and if it affects me that much now that I'm aware of it happening, how much was it really doing to me back when I was drinking it all day?

So it might help your sleep to cut the caffeine back even further, maybe to 10:00, or maybe try cutting it out altogether (which will suck for 2 weeks, but might be worth trying).

Some other supplements to consider are L-Tyrosine and GABA.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: chickchoc on March 05, 2014, 09:40:32 AM
I tried the Neuro Sleep drink and found it somewhat effective, but I got better results with taking a couple of magnesium supplements daily, then polishing off a Neuro Sleep while reading in bed.  Works for me.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: RitaRose1945 on March 08, 2014, 07:39:19 AM
Taking 400-500mg of magnesium right before I try to sleep is a huge help to me.  If I forget, it takes longer to fall asleep and I will most likely wake up after about 4 hours.

Any kind of alcohol will make me sleep like crap, so that's out for me.

I have used 5-HTP for other things, but I can't take it in the evening because it makes me dream so vividly that it wakes me up.  Not bad dreams, just Technicolor THX Spielberg production dreams.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: jaseemtp on March 08, 2014, 12:12:55 PM
As some one who is a shift worker I have played hell with the sleep for the 16 years I have been a paramedic.  Some things that I have found that work is
1. benadryl about an hour before bed time. 
2. Stop taking naps during the day.
3. Increase my physical activity from 3 days a week to dang near every day.
4.  Some special attention from the wife also helps. ;D

I would have to say that the best thing was to stop taking naps during the day.  I work 24 hour shifts, 24 on 48 off.  We sleep when ever we can at work because you just never know what the night will be like.  But on my days off I would be all out of whack.  So now I just try to not take the much desired day time nap and if I do I try to limit it to just 30 minutes.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: Perfesser on March 08, 2014, 12:38:15 PM
Audiobooks- helps my brain "turn off".
Melatonin 1 hr before sleep and a blackened room in daytime helps when I work nights.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: urwhatueat on March 08, 2014, 06:23:27 PM
Teddy covered the basics of “Sleep Hygiene”… block out light and noise, no TV in the bedroom, ect

For people who carry a lot of stress. It can be helpful to put it down.  Literally put the activities of the day down on paper so that they are out of your head.  Some find writing in a journal for 10 minutes before bed to help them sleep.  I will occasionally do this but not on paper.  I imagine a chalk board on which I write the bullet points of the day.  Then I imagine erasing the board and go to sleep.

It is helpful to have a set ritual every night for the 10-15 minutes before going to bed.  Something like:
•   Let the dog out and put him to bed
•   Brush teeth
•   Get a glass of water
•   Touch the horn of the magical unicorn that farts gold coins
•   Turn out the light
•   Flip your pillow over
•   Sleep

There are actions we subconsciously perform when we are tired or when we are sleeping.  Performing them consciously can lead us to sleep. 
•   Making the motions and sounds of a big yawn
•   “Fighting” to close your eyes… as if you are so tired it is hard to keep them open
•   Rapid Eye Movements behind closed eyes.  Your eyes dart left and right quickly when you dream.  Doing this as you are falling asleep can lead to sleep and dreaming.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: TexDaddy on March 09, 2014, 12:19:34 PM
Audiobooks- helps my brain "turn off"...
Bedtime stories work for me.

I use the Nero Wolfe mysteries.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: RootStrike on March 27, 2014, 11:53:59 AM
These are great, informative posts on this thread. I'd like to chime in as well, as I seem to have more troubles with sleep compared to back in school.

1. Regular routine.
I have been starting this, it is HARD because I usually have to get up at 05:30 and it is dark and cold. In the past I used to stay up very late, watch a movie, type on forums (ha!) , etc... I have read several books about sleep, including "Sleep, It Does a Family Good", "Power Sleep", and others. When your body is used to "awake time" and "sleep time" I am noticing it helps. Otherwise, it's like you are traveling to a different time zone.

2. Sleep environment.
My wife tends to be a restless sleeper; sometimes a random arm or leg is on me, or she talks in her sleep, or once she yanked my pillow away. Then the dog likes to sleep in the bed, and she will walk around or squish into you - disaster for a light sleeper. I have changed to sleeping separately on work days, and it has helped.

Along with bed comfort, I echo the advice about DARK, quiet (use a fan, Dohm sound machine, etc. to drown out noise), cover any led's or clocks, etc. Also be sure you are cool but not too cold. In the hot summer, I can't sleep well upstairs when it's hot.

Ear plugs help too, as does quiet/calm music sometimes (as the posts above mentioned)

3. Transition to bedtime.

I have noticed you NEED 'wind down' time. Turn down the lights (bright light impairs melatonin secretion). Use a program like F.lux for computer screens (it changes color temp to reddish), as blue wavelength light also stops melatonin production.

Reading a little or just focusing on breathing a bit; Dimmer lights help, and also just sitting on the floor to breathe and stretch, +/- some relaxing music. For some, taking a bath/shower at night helps (my grandma does that, she said).

4. Exercise.
I always can add some more exercise. I forget that I can simply walk some more too in addition to weights/cardio/kung fu work. Be careful about not working out hard too close to bed, you won't sleep well. Exercise also helps to 'de-stress' the pressure of the day.

5. Decreasing caffeine / not drinking too late:
Dr. James Maas, author of "Power Sleep" recommends to have no caffeine after 6 p.m. Everyone is different, your body will metabolize it faster or slower, etc. For me, I have stopped drinking coffee or pop at least 4 hrs. before bed and it has helped me. I bet a longer span would work even better.

6. Meds/supplements/etc.

Okay, this could be big alone, but here's what I've tried.

a. No prescription meds yet. I know things can be addicting and I'm trying to avoid that. But I have talked to co-workers and relatives who were helped very much by once in a while use of a benzodiazepine (Xanax, Ativan, etc.) or Ambien/Lunesta, etc.

b. Hormones: lowered testosterone can impair sleep, mood, fat burning, etc. and is a possibility. Same goes with estrogen & progesterone, imbalances can make you either tired or wired. Blood work can be a way to check this.

c. Melatonin: I have tried many variants. I have read that your body typically makes 0.3 mg naturally. Melatonin can make me really hung over, so I only take sparingly. Some companies make 1 mg SL tabs to dissolve on your tongue. I just found one called "MidNite" that is 1.5 mg melatonin quick-dissolve tab. I can use 1/2 to 1 tab. I have noticed less AM hangover. Melatonin is best to only 'reset' schedules vs. taking it every single night.

Of note, tart cherry juice contains a decent amount of melatonin naturally...

d. Minerals: I am sensitive to Magnesium, via trial and error. It is relaxing to blood vessels, the CNS, heart, etc. If I take more than 150 mg of MgCitrate or MgGlycinate I will be hung over. The opposer, so to say, is Calcium. Too much calcium late in the day will make your heart beat stronger and amp you up more, so for me I take a small dose only at breakfast and lunch.

If you are Mg-deficient, though, perhaps 300 mg or more could help, often dramatically. You have to see what you need. Under the "magnesium" section is a supplement called ZMA. 2 caps of that knock me out, but I feel like a zombie the next day.

e. Benadryl (diphenhydramine): some co-workers take this, 50 mg, but I only tried once; my mouth and eyes had all the moisture sucked out, and I was HUNG OVER in the morning. Not for me. Doxylamine is another OTC sedative  (Unisom), I haven't tried it.

f. Chamomile caps/tea: I found capsules at Vitacost's website (450 mg). It is a calming agent, you can also get it in tea form and also the "sleepy time tea" to help wind down. I try 1-2 caps in evening sometimes.

g. Valerian: I try this on and off. It is a sedative compound, and is believed to also affect GABA receptors in your brain. It smells TERRIBLE (stinky feet?) but it has helped me sleep PRN. I like Nature's Way Valerian standardized (0.8% valerenic acid), the purple bottle top, 1-2 caps about an hour before bed. The stink is worth it to sleep.

h. L-Theanine: this stimulates alpha waves, to make you calm. It made me feel snowed. For sleep I'd actually want delta waves. But in many examples, calming is a good way to wind down to sleep.

i. GABA: I have tried 250 - 500 mg 30-60 minutes before bed. If you read about GABA, supposedly it doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier. But if you take too much, it will mellow you out and it made for some morning fog over time. FYI, usually benzos (Xanax, Ativan, etc.) work on enhancing your brain's GABA actions to calm your mind. I had to stop using it because it made me "too mellow" all day and I felt like blah.

j. 5-HTP: a precursor to serotonin. I tried a couple times, woke up with a big headache and fog. Gong...

Good grief. Reading all that could be a sleep inducer...

As you can see, sleep is part mental, part physical, part nutritional, part hormonal, part habitual.

SUMMARY: my favorite helps I am using currently:
1. At least 1 hr. time to wind down at night, dimmer lights, decrease noise. Stretch, breathe, pray.
2. Quiet, dark, cool , undisturbed sleep environment sleeping alone.
3. Supplements: Mg Citrate +/- Valerian cap (or 2 Valerian if racing mind) or else I'll try 1-2 Chamomile caps. If I've stayed up too late over the weekend, I may change to or add MidNite tab, 1/2 - 1 tab.

4. In the morning, get into bright light (to stop melatonin secretion), take Tyrosine 500 mg and Vit.B12 500 mcg, and some coffee or pop.

** NOTE: If you try different things, be sure to keep a log book, with dates; record how you slept, fell asleep, woke up, etc. That way it is easier to remember 'what works for you'.  Also - I HIGHLY recommend the 2 sleep books I mentioned above, so you can learn more about how to sleep better. Many apologies for the long post.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: RitaRose1945 on March 27, 2014, 07:31:26 PM
...cover any led's or clocks, etc.

That would keep me up all night.  One of my quirks is that I MUST know what time it is or I go nuts.

I have noticed you NEED 'wind down' time. Turn down the lights (bright light impairs melatonin secretion). Use a program like F.lux for computer screens (it changes color temp to reddish), as blue wavelength light also stops melatonin production.

Definitely agree with this one.  Jay knows I go upstairs about an hour before I plan on being asleep, and I spend the time reading.  Makes a huge difference.

5. Decreasing caffeine / not drinking too late:[/b]
Dr. James Maas, author of "Power Sleep" recommends to have no caffeine after 6 p.m. Everyone is different, your body will metabolize it faster or slower, etc. For me, I have stopped drinking coffee or pop at least 4 hrs. before bed and it has helped me. I bet a longer span would work even better.

Me too.  I can't have any caffeine after about noon or maybe 2:00.  But I'm fairly sensitive to it.  For some reason, I seem to become less sensitive with age, though.  Odd.

The other thing I've noticed is that a lot of people take their multivitamin before they go to bed, not knowing they're amping up their system right before they try to go to sleep.  I take any supplements (except magnesium) with my lunch.  That way I'm taking them with some fat (so the fat soluble ones work better) but not disrupting my sleep.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: RootStrike on March 30, 2014, 11:33:30 AM
That [covering the clock display] would keep me up all night.  One of my quirks is that I MUST know what time it is or I go nuts.

Ha ha, I tell my wife about covering the clock display, she says, "Oh, that doesn't help/won't affect me..." Then she proceeds to tell me, in detail, how long she hasn't been sleeping or what time she woke up. So her mind obsesses over the time.

I just always set at least 2 alarms so if I miss the first one I have a backup. Not looking at the clock makes me less stressed.

But I have other quirks too of course...

I should have added that getting a massage is also a great way to wind down and sleep - but I'm not sure most people (me either) have a masseuse around...
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: RitaRose1945 on March 30, 2014, 05:41:59 PM
I should have added that getting a massage is also a great way to wind down and sleep - but I'm not sure most people (me either) have a masseuse around...

When Jay and I went on our first date (eHarmony) he told me that he had two things going for him - he was really good at giving massages and he had a credit line at the local jeweler.  I never really cared about the credit line, but he's one of very few men that can actually give an amazing massage with expecting... um, a reward.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: westloveyou on September 10, 2019, 03:43:28 AM
I also struggled with sleep for a long time, and still do occasionally. I have tried melatonin, trazodone (an anti-depressant), chamomile tea, as well as a host of other techniques.

Melatonin - Can get me to sleep if I'm tired enough, but won't keep me asleep. I rarely use it anymore

Trazodone - Prescription drug, used when I was a teenager. Got me to and kept me asleep well enough, but made me horribly groggy for hours after I woke up. I don't think I refilled the prescription even once.

Here's what I've found has worked the best for me. Most of these things are those stupid tips and tricks you find in magazines or that your doctor may tell you. For me, a lot of them actually work.

Establishing a regular routine - Going to sleep and waking up at about the same time each day, even on weekends, has made a huge difference for me. Work/home life may not make this possible for some, but it's a good goal to strive for.

"Winding down" before bed - Personally, I cannot: play video games, read an intense book, go out to a movie/event, or even socialize with friends for a couple of hours before going to bed. Anything that is mentally stimulating and gets my brain going has to be done during the day or within a few hours after getting home from work. Then I naturally progress to a more calm state, and from there to tired enough to sleep. Took me a long time to figure this one out, and everyone has different "triggers" that will get their brain going.

Warm tea/drinks (https://www.umiteasets.com/teapot-warmers.html) - This one only works if I'm already kind of tired but need a little extra push. It doesn't even have to be a commonly accepted sleep aid like chamomile. As long as it's warm and doesn't have caffeine, it'll put me into a doze.

Power napping - I didn't believe in this until I got good at it. Napping for 20-30 minutes when the urge hits makes me feel so much better during the day and jumpstarts my brain enough so that I can tire it out long before bed time.

I can't power nap in a bed. It has to be in a place that's moderately comfortable and somewhat horizontal, but just uncomfortable enough to prevent me from dropping into a deep snooze (my recliner sofa is a good option, though I've used the floor to great success as well). It's more of a heavy doze than anything; usually I'm still vaguely aware of noises/activity in my vicinity, but it fades to more of a drone than an interruption. I actually get better results if the TV or radio is on quietly versus if it's totally quiet.

Physical activity during the day - I also didn't believe in this one until I had a physically demanding job for an extended period of time. That was the best year I ever slept. My new position is not nearly as physical, so I try to incorporate more movement at home. Exercising too close to bedtime will have the opposite effect, so I try to do physically demanding chores during the day or soon after getting home from work.

I still wake up 2-3 times each night, and by the time my alarm goes off I'm usually almost fully awake anyway. I do notice that I sleep deeper and longer than I ever did in high school or college and wake up feeling much better. I also believe stress had a major role in my sleep troubles, but minimizing that is so individualized for everyone that I didn't want to get too deep into it. Try to identify your own stressors and see if you can minimize their affect on your brain around bed time. If I've learned anything it's that treating sleep problems is just as much an art as a science. It requires careful self-observation and willingness to try creative solutions.

Yes, these are good tips i will try, i always get up very early, only sleep for 3-4 hours every night, and can not sleep again then. I think this will be a improve my problems, will try.
Title: Re: Sleep Help Thread
Post by: Gamer on September 12, 2019, 07:28:54 PM
Just a thought but if anybody sleeps with a radiator on, try turning it off, as personally I sleep much better in a cold bedroom..:)