NotBlueAtAll

I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

Sleep!

April26

I have lived with insomnia since I was twelve years old. I’m 34 now, so, a long time, chi-ren. I have had some terrible stretches of time where time itself feels heavy and at once out of reach or grasp. I have had some good stretches, too. I have tried all manner of over the counter and natural “remedies” for sleep and I can tell you what works, what kind of does and what absolutely doesn’t.

As a teenager I didn’t mind it so much. I had the delightful distraction of a buzzing social life, boys and pot. School didn’t play that big of a role in my life at the time, believe me. My family was going through some heavy stuff, too, so sleep wasn’t a big deal for me. I would often sneak out at night or sneak boys into my room. My friend at the time lived with us so it was awesome and party times almost always.

Later when the deprivation began to affect my life more directly I started using over the counter sleeping pills like Unisom and such. These worked temporarily, but never left me feeling refreshed or rested at all. It was more of a band aid than a cure. I tried melatonin and used that for years off and on. I know it worked occasionally, but not reliably. You have to already be in the head space of wanting to sleep for it to work, I think and my brain just never worked that way then.

At 16 I asked my MD about it and they insisted using OTC sleep aids stunted my growth. WTF?! It didn’t, my mom & dad aren’t tall people. No worries. They didn’t offer me any prescriptions or solutions or even advice. Whatever. I remember at 19 I was determined to “cure” my insomnia by staying up until I just couldn’t. I ended up staying awake for something like three and a half days/nights, but conversationally I always say four. This was before I even liked coffee, too. It did seem to work at first though. I slept great for the next several weeks before some life things happened and fucked that all up again.

I continued to struggle into my twenties. My mind races and hums and buzzes at night. It’s like that old refrigerator you know you should have looked at or repaired but never manage to call the repair guy about it. Ha! As my life became more stable so did my schedule and then my husband and I bought a new mattress, one of those fancy pillow-top deals. It was nice for awhile.

That mattress wore out far too quickly and the pillow top turned into more of a pancake as you can’t flip the beast. A new career gave me new stresses but we also decided to take the plunge and buy a Tempur Pedic mattress and while I won’t sing praises of perfection about it, it has helped me immensely. Mostly with pain as I would often wake up with stiff/sore hips, no more!

I have never tried a prescription sleep aid and no matter how many times I hear great things about Ambien I hear enough nightmare scenarios to keep me away. I don’t think those things truly help you sleep anyway, but I know for some it makes all the difference in the world. And if something works for you, awesome!

For me the most effective things for me has been:

  • sticking to a schedule (Truly #1 most important)
  • drinking more water, but not much before bed
  • not eating close to bed time
  • no caffeine after 3 pm
  • getting some sun, even if cloudy or rainy, outside for 20 minutes
  • using my bedroom/bed for only sleep and sex
  • only attempting to sleep, or get in bed, when I’m actually ready and wanting to go to sleep so as not to force it

These things, above all else, have helped reliably. When I had the cafe falling asleep was easy because I was so physically exhausted. I would wake up twenty times a night from stress and anxiety, but just crash when I got home. Eventually I woke up less and less and now I do okay sleeping through the night for the most part.

I share all of this after a fabulous night’s sleep. The previous night (when I wrote that “Think think think” post, I barely slept a wink. Writing that post brought up a lot of shit for me. I realized why I get the way I do and when I do. I’m still processing that shit, but feeling so much better. After a lovely meal last night I came home and just passed out! I woke up with bobby pins still in my hair! Even left my clothes in the washer, but luckily my sweetheart of a roommate dried them for me.

Today I feel so refreshed and rested after so much emotional turmoil. I know so many people with sleeping issues. I know many more who are in denial or simply refuse to do anything about their sleeping problems. Can I just urge you to try to do something about it soon? It improves your quality of life! You’re a happier, healthier person! I swear it’s true! Sleep is so vital and necessary. It is the most important part of self-care, I think.

So tell me your sleep stories of woe! Share with me your successes and mishaps! Let’s bond over this supposedly natural state of being and how we can’t manage to get it right…because our modern lives won’t allow for such simple things, right?! Ha-ha!

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7 Comments to

“Sleep!”

  1. On April 26th, 2012 at 11:45 am buttercup Says:

    Exercise seems to help my husband with his bouts of insomnia. I don’t get insomnia as such but I have damage to my left leg that causes it to cramp weirdly so sometimes that wakes me up early or often. No solution there yet, other than water to avoid dehydration and wearing pajama pants to keep it from getting a chill.

  2. On April 26th, 2012 at 12:21 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    Buttercup: oh yes! Exercise is important. I walk a lot. But habe heard that exercise before bed can keep you up, too. Sorry to hear about your leg. Have you tried acupunture? I used it for my back once and it was magic. Going back soon my knees.

  3. On April 26th, 2012 at 8:19 pm Rija Says:

    The thing that has helpes me the most was cutting caffeine out completely. I had a cutoff time, but I still had problems until I cut it out completely. The other thing that has helped is my scrip anti-inflammatory. I was having pain wake me up without consciously knowing it. I still have a bad night now and then and I have a scrip chill pill, but it’s pretty rare nowadays.

  4. On April 26th, 2012 at 10:32 pm Lindsay Says:

    I’ve had insomnia/poor sleep habits for a pretty long time. I find all the things you suggest helpful for me too (with the exception that I like to eat a little something before bed so I don’t wake up mid night/too early with a rumbling tummy.) My problem seems to be that when I get enough sleep to feel awesome (8+ hours) I feel so energetic that I can’t go to bed at that same time the next night, like my circadian rhythm is somehow a little long? Also I find not only quantity but quality is an issue in that I feel like I wake up over and over, sometimes to go to the bathroom, sometimes because of dreams, sometimes beause my boyfriend is getting up, the cat wants to eat etc., and then I don’t feel as rested.

    I think for me what helps the most though is not worrying about it excessively when the insomnia hits. The more i worry, the more wound up I am at night and the less sleep I get. So I accept that my sleep is going to be less than perfect some nights and that I will still survive, and that seems to make the whole process go a little better.

    Wishing you good dreams (in this very late hour here :))!

  5. On April 27th, 2012 at 8:05 am Not Blue at All Says:

    Lindsay: Do you get some sun everyday? I was reading about circadian rhythm issues recently and recall that being such a major factor. That and over exposure to blue or computer monitor type lighting can mess us up! Despite my aversion to the sun, I have been trying to get more exposure and I think it’s helped my sleeping pattern quite a bit.
    Also, I have a friend who gets up a lot in the night. I wake up a lot, but I am a very light sleeper. My friend? Not so much! Turns out he has sleep apnea. Life has improved immensely since he was diagnosed and treated. I know it’s a scary prospect, but certainly worth checking out. :)

  6. On April 27th, 2012 at 12:34 pm sarah Says:

    I’ve dealt with insomnia all my life it seems. My circadian rhythm was out of sync with the rest of the world. I completely avoided sleep aids of any kind because I was, and still am, terrified of becoming dependent on them and not being able to sleep at all without them.

    I haven’t found any solutions, really. I’ve learned to take short power naps (10-15 minutes) when I need to and they help a lot.

  7. On April 28th, 2012 at 10:53 pm blissing Says:

    I’ve been using Sonata, which is a light form of Ambien, to help me fall back asleep when I wake up too soon. It works, but if I don’t set an alarm, it makes me sleep too long. I don’t have any of the issues people have reported from Ambien.

    I think I’m stubborn and like to stay up late because it feels so grown-up and sophisticated. I’m like a kid who doesn’t want to go to bed and miss something.

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