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October 10, 2010

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead”

How I hate hearing that quote.  I’ve always said that anyone who has ever said that quote has 1.  Never had insomnia or 2.  Is a genetic anomaly and can get by on very little sleep.  Unfortunately, most of us aren’t that lucky.  It is known that humans need somewhere between 6-8 hours of sleep a night, and although I do think this amount varies for each person, I think that lack of sleep has almost been popularized by our fast paced society.

As someone who has personally suffered from insomnia, sometimes short bouts, sometimes long bouts, I know that insomnia can put a damper on one’s life.  Overall well-being is affected, as well as mental clarity, physical energy, diet, motivation to exercise, and mood.

Some other side effects of lack of sleep include:

  • Weight fluctuations
  • Poor diet
  • Depression
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Random aches and pains
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Memory Loss
  • Lack of Attention
  • Immune system deficiency

The list goes on and on!

I’ve found that people don’t like to talk about insomnia very much.  It perplexes me to why people are so embarrassed to talk about it (myself included) and even more so, why people don’t seek help for it.  Things that I’ve tried to alleviate insomnia include:

  • Accupunture
  • Hypnosis
  • Sleep restriction therapy
  • Herbs
  • Acceptance (did not make me feel better!)
  • Elimination of caffeine (I was an even more tired insomniac)
  • Relaxation CDs
  • Lavender baths/warm milk
  • Meditation
  • EFT
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Exercise

What worked?  Well, I believe that a combination of methods worked for me.  I finally found a good naturopath and he put me on a plan that included high quality vitamins to correct any imbalances in my body that were affecting my nervous system and adrenal glands (caused by years of extreme dieting and running, all when I was young and stupid). 🙂 I saw great improvement after about one month and now I am sleeping very well on most nights.  Whether or not you are a believer in alternative medicine/healing, it is what solved the puzzle for me and I am so grateful I finally made the decision to make that appointment. He has been a blessing to my life!

By the way, sleeping pills were not an option for me after a certain point.  They may work very well in the short-term, but can create an addiction that makes the insomnia worse.  They mask the problem, creating a temporary band-aid that can cause a plethora of side effects. If you choose sleeping pills, be cautious and only do so with your doctor’s consent.

If you are suffering from insomnia yet think that nothing will help you (I get this excuse quite a bit from insomniacs I know), well, you aren’t alone.  Millions of people are suffering just as you are.  And if you truly want to sleep again, you can.  Please seek some sort of help!  I’ve read about ten books about the topic, and the one that I feel helped me the most is “Say Goodnight to Insomnia” by Gregg Jacobs.  Also, any book on CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is a good choice for someone suffering from insomnia because of viscious thoughts and beliefs about the disorder.

What also has helped me tremendously is no caffeine after 12pm, night-time rituals (bath, reading, no loud noises, etc), going to bed and waking up around the same time every day (even on weekends and even when you haven’t had a lot of sleep!), a completely dark and quiet room, getting out of bed when you can’t sleep, and no exercise a few hours before bed.  Some people advise laying in bed and “resting”, but I found that drove me even more nuts.  I didn’t want to equate my bed with not sleeping, so now if I can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, I get out of bed and do something else that doesn’t require a lot of energy like reading or stretching.

Oh, and no activities in bed except sleeping and sex! No reading, eating, watching movies, etc.

In some cases, I do feel that insomnia is a learned habit.  This was primarily the case for me, on most occasions.  One night turns into two turns into three, and you start worrying if you ever will sleep again, which creates a vicious cycle of not sleeping for weeks.  If you do happen to have a bad night two of sleep, don’t stress!  Over thinking it can turn into a mess-get on with your day and know that better nights are ahead.

There is hope! Stay strong and find your answer.  Don’t suffer needlessly.

Let me know if you have any questions.  I’m not a doctor, but as a personal sufferer from insomnia, I can offer my insight and more advice on what worked well for me.  I could go on and on about this subject, but I’ll leave it at this (for now).

Sweet dreams!


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Christine Laschuk permalink
    February 10, 2011 11:44 pm

    I to suffer from insomnia….. I could relate to the whole “sleeping pill” experience. It’s a never ending cycle that just leads to more sleeping pills (bigger doses). I think insomnia in women is pretty common. I find that exercise and routine for a regular bed time works best for me. My husband teases me about my “bed-time” but I really do not function on less than 8 hours sleep.

    Thanks for the article!

    • February 11, 2011 2:06 am

      Thanks for the reply! 🙂 I agree-women tend to suffer from insomnia more than men. It’s good to know that we aren’t alone and there are things we can do to help. Regular routines are crucial I’m glad you have found that for yourself as well. Please let me know if you have any other questions regarding this topic. Although I don’t suffer from it as much anymore, I’ve done a lot of research on it.

  2. April 15, 2011 1:54 am

    I haven’t been sleeping well for the last few months. I will have to try some of these out to see if they help me.

    • April 16, 2011 4:36 pm

      I sincerely hope something help. Staying in a consistent routine all days of the week is imperative, although very hard to do.

    • January 8, 2012 8:03 pm

      It’s an ongoing battle for many. Hang in there, I understand what it feels like.

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