Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tired, so tired

There's something about years that end in '8' for me. They are not good. Back in 1998 it was a year of break-ups and emotional turmoil played out far from home. This year has been the most challenging in quite some time, for lots of reasons, but key among them is the fact that I just cannot sleep.

God knows, I try.

Every night I go to bed tired, early and ready to give myself the opportunity to actually have a decent night's sleep.

And almost every night I fail.

This has been going on almost all of this year and, quite frankly, I'm really unsure how to proceed. At what point do you say to a doctor, "give me something"?

When it first started I was waking at 2-3am unable to get back to sleep. Now it's worse, I have trouble getting to sleep initially ... because I'm so anxious about what the night is going to be like.

Now, intellectually I realise this is completely insane. I know it's all self perpetuating, etc, etc.

But can I switch off?


First I tried an over-the-counter sleeping tablet from the chemist. Basically an antihistamine. They knock me out alright ... till about 11am the next morning. They work, but the drowsiness is not so great.

Next up, I scaled back to Valerian. This worked for me for a couple of nights. These days I take them as a matter of course, but I usually need something else as well.

A good friend gave me a fantastic melatonin tablet that you can't get in Australia. These are excellent, they make you sleep without the drowsiness the next day. Thing is, I only have four left!

Then there's the prescription sleeping tablets another friend gave me. The ones that start with V. I am too terrified to take these in case I like them too much.

Exercise used to really zonk me, but this weekend we rode our bikes for 3.5hrs while my parents looked after E. You'd reckon I'd crash out after that. No, 3am it was.

Then last night I decided I would just take the Valerian and try a meditation Shaun's mum uses (it was on our computer). As he was downloading it on my MP3 Shaun said, "As if it's going to help you sleep, it won't work".

Seed planted.

Did it help? Of course not, not after he'd suggested it wouldn't (I was so upset that he'd said that - sleep is a loaded topic for me). The meditation did relax me, but it didn't help me sleep.

What to do? What to do?

I wish I knew. I try to do things by the book, no caffeine after 3pm, I'm eating well, I am trying to still my mind at night.

I suspect that is where I fail - on the 'trying' part. It's like there's an epic battle inside my brain every night. The anxiety and the worries creep in via my subconscious, and my conscious mind is there yelling, "Get out", "Don't think that!", "You CAN'T think that you're trying to sleep!"

And so it goes on.

I am a person who NEEDS sleep, who is usually a great sleeper.

Yes, I must remember that: I am usually a good sleeper.

I will break this cycle.

I will sleep again!!


daysgoby said...

I sit here typing this at nearly one am with no idea when I'll be tired enough to go to sleep...it's not fun, is it?

Have you tried a glass of wine and a Gravol? Obviously not a long term solution, but as a stop-gap...

Kim said...

OH DUDE - I so feel your pain. I too am having a period of no sleep - partly due to a child still waking at 12 and 4 but also because of a racing mind.

I have read a LOT about this. And listened to A LOT of experts talk about it - and you nailed it at the end - about how you've actually worked yourself into a state about it and so it becomes a self-perpetuating thing.

Here are some things that have worked for me - sometimes together, sometimes independently.

1) a very simple meditation of 10 deep breaths - with each breath to breath #5, imagine a scene or experience that makes you very happy and calm (for me - floating in the ocean beyond the waves) - with each breath making the scene even more vivid so that by 5 you can almost smell it. Then with breaths 6 to 10 bring yourself out of it.

2) Scheussler mineral salts - the one for insomnia - (I have started taking/using the hayfever ones as well as what you're going through with sleep I am living with hayfever at the mo) and they actually work - you take/chew them about half an hour before you're going to bed

3) Homeopathic drops

5) Don't go to bed and shut your eyes, willing yourself to sleep. Just lie there, eyes open, relax your breathing and don't think about how you need to go to sleep.

6) When/if you wake up during the night get up, do something. Do NOT under any circumstance stay in bed telling yourself you need to go to sleep. Get up, read a magazine, watch some tele. OR proceed to 7)

7) When/if you wake up during the night get up, take any clothes off that you're wearing, and go and sit on the cold bathroom floor.

Seriously, a feeling of weariness returns remarkably quickly during this.

The field of experts on insomnia say that in the vast majority of cases, the insomnia actually comes about after a few sleepless nights and the anxiety about that. That we work ourselves into a state about it and it becomes a self-perpetuating thing.

And go hit Shaun on the back of the head for me and tell him he's not helping.

Do the meditation with any or all of the above - and STOP THINKING ABOUT IT.

GOD I am so opinionated this week aren't I.

Kim said...

OH - the mineral salts - you can get them at most decent sized chemists who have a big range of vitamins etc

Kim said...

So... did the salts help? (don't have your email address to send this to you in a better format)

Kim said...

So... did the salts help? (don't have your email address to send this to you in a better format)