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« CRAPtastrophe follow-up: Number Two | Main | What's wrong with US medical care? »

March 10, 2009

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Mrs Marcos

I've read so many scary things about Ambien. Have you tried Benedryl? <--hey look, unsolicited assvice from the internets! :)

You still have awesome hair, even if you're tired!

Nancy

Have you tried cutting out caffeine and adding in some exercise? That, and 20-30 minutes of reading in bed works pretty well for me.

It's so frustrating to not sleep well - especially when the kiddos are sleeping well!

Sally

Have you tried going to bed earlier? That seems to help me. If I stay up past a certain time I get a second wind. Then I'm over-tired and it's harder to sleep well. Putting babies to bed earlier works, so maybe it works for adults too.

Alison

When I have a lot on my mind, I can't sleep no matter how tired I am. It sounds like you've got your book on your mind 24/7 and that's probably the culprit. There isn't anything wrong with that, but if you're constantly thinking about it, it's hard for your brain to shut down.

Alias Mother

Oh, dear heavens. I could have written this at 4:15 this morning, which is when I gave up trying to get back to sleep after doing Sleep Lite for two hours.

I'm doing what you are doing, cutting back on caffeine in particular. Caffeine consumption tends to creep up on me. I'm also going to be upping the exercise. Okay, getting exercise AT ALL.

If that doesn't work, I'm going to follow to model of my insomniac coworker. Try to get back to sleep for 1/2 hour, then just get up and do something. Go back to bed when/if you get tired. If you aren't going to sleep, you might as well be productive, right?

 rachel

I finally figured out that when I'm really tired, I will fixate on the slightest noise (eg. the breathing of the person next to me - he doesn't even have to be snoring) and THAT will keep my brain from shutting off. Earplugs help tremendously.

Amber

I'm sorry you're having trouble sleeping. It's the pits. Artificial white noise doesn't help me at all. It just annoys me because it's artificial. Wind and especially rain, however, are awesome things for me to concentrate on that help me fall asleep. Of course, the requirement is that it's windy or rainy enough to hear it. Those and Rachael's breathing. Sabrina is a silent sleeper, so she's no help at all! Try the rain.

Deb

This might seem like weird advice, but I hav a hard time sleeping without some music or something. It's like it keeps that "busy" part of my brain occupied so I don't think about every damn thing all night long. I put something mellow on really low and have in on an automatic timer to turn off in one hour. If I wake in the night, I turn it back on and fall asleep within minutes. If I don't turn it on, I lie there for hours obsessing over "how many hours I have left in the night".

Even weirder, I sometimes play Old Time Radio stories to fall asleep to (Dragnet, Gunsmoke, etc). I am out before I find out who the bad guy is.

Yeah, and avoid caffeine after noon, no excercise within 3 hours of bedtime, and maybe a warm bath one hour before sleeping.

Lesley

There are options other than sleeping pills... when I had a long bout of insomnia, I was put on a very low dose of an anti-depressant called Elavil. It's not a sleeping pill in the usual sense, but it somehow "resets" the body clock if you take it a few hours before bedtime.

I definitely think going to the doctor is a good idea, but don't just ask for sleeping pills. They may have another solution.

Sue

I'm still stuck on this: "I try to avoid napping."

Oh Lord, how I would love to be in a position where I actually had to TRY TO AVOID NAPPING. Like, "man, I wasn't going to nap today, but there were just so many great opportunities, I finally caved in."

(This is me, being jealous.)

cindy w

The thing that I've just discovered that I've been using for the past couple of weeks: melatonin supplements. I know, if it comes from the herbal section, it can't possibly do anything worthwhile, right? But I swear it works. I'm convinced that having a baby (and the months & months of interrupted sleep that accompanies it) has fried my brain chemistry. Your body is supposed to make melatonin on its own to help you sleep, and I don't think mine does. So I take a melatonin supplement every night, it helps me switch my brain to its "off" setting, and I don't have a hangover the next day. Perfect.

Nothing wrong with Ambien, either. Just keep trying everything until you find something that works.

Clara

Things that have helped me: 1) reading in bed; 2) ceasing all electronic activities [interneting, computering, etc] about an hour before bed; 3) a mug of warm milk with honey; and, the most important piece of the puzzle, 4) a sleep mask. Sleep masks are amazing.

If you do decide to go with Ambien, often times cutting a pill in half still gives the necessary push into sleep.

Good luck!

dcfullest

Benedryl worked better for me than Ambien. I take one about 1 hour before I want to go to sleep.

taylor k

hi! i have been on ambien before.... and let me tell you that knocked me on my ass for about a week and NOT the way i had hoped it would. I don't really remember the week following the one pill i took. I couldn't drive, I couldnt talk, and I couldn't walk straight. This was before I had a baby so i don't know how it would have affected me with him, but i can say i haven't taken it again.

I still strugle with the no-sleep thing on a regular basis. i just try to avoid caffine entirly (not even one in the morning... its hard, but after 2 days of headaches you'll be fine) and keep super active during the day. I know you are active with your two kiddos, but whatever extra energy you can burn - do it!

oh, and wild sex right before bedtime helps. ;)

love the blog!

Elise

I experienced this when I finally had my babies out of my bed for a few months (before another one came into being). What helps me the most is a bedtime routine. I have to stop all creative activities a couple hours before bed. I only do calming things the two hours before it's time to sleep. This sounds boring, and I guess it is, in a way. It gives my brain a chance to unwind and process the busy day so I don't do it lying awake in my bed. Also, I cannot have one drop of caffeine at all, ever (very sad). I try to exercise in the morning to wake myself up. Protein smoothie and good nutrition are vital, too. Good luck!

Sarah

Okay, unsolicited ass-vice here, but if you're going to the doctor anyway, have him check your thyroid out and your glucocorticoid levels. High/abnormal levels of either can cause night wakings and insomnia.

Odds are, you're perfectly fine and normal:)But if you're going to the doctor anyway... it might be nice to rule those things out.

Sara

I wouldn't comment if I didn't absolutely know what worked for me, a chronic nearly life-long insomniac: exercise. I didn't really want it to be true, I tried controlling several other variables and finally admitted that yes, exercise each day is the only thing that helps me sleep at night. I'm still not a great sleeper, but at least I'm not wide awake at 2am and up for the day at 5:45 anymore.

Leanne

How about a little homeopathy? No side effects, not habit forming, and cheap! I use Hyland's Calms Forte when I can't sleep (also when I get stress-related chest pains). I'm in Canada, but the label says it's made in the USA so I'm hopeful that it's available where you are as well.

Good luck!

Kris

Hey Amanda!

I have too bits of ad(ass?)vice for you to try.
1) Lorazepam, .5 mg. I have a prescription of this since my health freak out last summer and I continue to use it as a sleep aid when I need it. I find that once I'm asleep it helps me stay asleep. It's out of your system within 6 hours and it's not like some of the heavy duty sleep drugs out there.
2) A therapist recently gave me this idea and I'm planning on trying it out tonight. The idea is to turn off all the lights and play an audiobook. She said that something about forcing your brain to focus on one thing (the book/CD) and the darkness just flips some sleep switch and that she's found it highly effective herself and with many patients.

Good luck. Sleep is important!

Serror

Ambien is a wonder drug for occasional use, but I would be hesistant to take it every night. I take it when I absolutely have to get some sleep and I sleep really deeply when I take it. It doesn't have the same groggy factor that Benadryl has in the morning, I wake up so refreshed!

But I would also try what others have suggested above. I have had great experiences with Melatonin and using it to readjust my sleep schedule, it is the same thing your brain releases to tell your body you are tired. I also have used the Hylands Calms Forte sucessfully, it is gentle but also works!

And the evil exercise. Really helps on the sleep front.

Christa

"Electronic activities" - nicely put. I am surprised nobody mentioned TV! I have made the experience that my sleep is way sounder when I cut that out. These vivid pictures live on in your brain, and if/when they mingle with the plot of your book - OMG! I know that might be a hard thing to do, but try it. Of course exercise (let's put it differently: FRESH AIR and a little bit of walking etc. - e.g. gardening?) could also help tremendously.

Teri

Okay...here is the plug for Ambien...TAKE IT if you can get it! I suggest Ambien CR as it will help you get to sleep and keep you there until morning. I have tried everything mentioned above at one point or another in the many years that I have had problems sleeping and Ambien is the one thing that truly saved me. I don't take it every night...only nights that I can tell that falling asleep is going to be an issue. After many years of this problem, I know when I need it. On the nights that I don't take it before I lay down and find that I am struggling for more than 15 minutes...I take it and it works quick enough that I don't miss out on my very precious sleep.

Good Luck!

jacque

i am a fan of ambien. ultimately it is your choice as to what you do about your problem sleeping. what do YOU really want to do? then do it.
ps. i totally dig your blog. don't always agree with you but totally dig you!

Alison

Some friends recommended I try melatonin. DOES. NOT. MESH. with my body. It was like I took LSD or something - strangest dreams I've EVER had in my entire life. Tried it three nights and was more tired than before. My mom uses Ambien and loves it. I'm starting to think I should give it a try.

amanda

Ambien ROCKS. I love it. I used to get a 10 mg, and split it in half to make my prescription last longer (and 5 mg was plenty for me). I felt FANTASTIC in the morning.

I've been using Melatonin (3mg) from the health food store and it works just as well as Ambien for me. I don't have any weird dreams like other people report. Although it might be a bonus if you do. You know, inspiration for your book!

I used to use Benadryl also. This made me very dehydrated (since it's really an antihistamine), and I've been told the potency wears off with extended use.

Exercise is, of course, good too. I exercise every day, but like you I just can't turn off my brain.

Good luck! Keep us posted.

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