Monday, 27 October 2014

Trying to Crack the Insomnia Cycle

Oh to be able to sleep like my cat

I have suffered from sleep related problems all my life.  I used to sleep walk until my early 20's and have suffered from bouts of insomnia all my life.  I would get it for a few weeks or months, then it would settle down again.  For the last 4/5 years it is a permanent problem, made worse in the last year by the start o hot flushes during the night that see me burning up one minute and the next shivering.

Insomnia is hell.  It affects your whole life.  If you have suffered the occasional sleepless night you know how you feel the next day, but you can catch up on your sleep that night.  Insomniacs have that every night, they can never catch up and become more and more exhausted, which in turn can affect their health.  Sleeping tablets are not the solution as they are not to be used long term and when you come off them you are back to square one.

I always wake up several times through the night, sometimes due to the overheating but not always.  Sometimes I can get back to sleep, other times I am wide awake for hours.  I used to be able to go to sleep o.k. but now I find it difficult to get to sleep.  I dread going to bed because I know I will be waking up so this may be the cause.

I have been reading about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT I) which all sounds sensible, I am not sure if it will work for me.  It can help some people, but if you have a sleep disorder it may not cure the problem.  It is worth a go, it can't get any worse!  So over the next two weeks I will be putting a plan in place.  I know there are many of you out there who also suffer so I will let you know what works for me and what doesn't.

So this is the plan I have devised for myself.

1.  Regular wake up time, even at weekends (no lying in)  This is a tough one if you have not slept much during the night, but I will be setting my alarm and making sure I do not fall back to sleep.  Funny how I can sleep when it is time to get up.

2.  Exercise during the day, sitting in an office all day does not make you physically tired.

3.  Use ear plugs, OH snores very loudly and may be waking me up without me realising.

4.  Do not have the bedroom too warm or too many blankets.

5.  The bedroom is only for sleeping, do not watch t.v. etc. which I don't, but have been known to surf the web, check emails on my phone/laptop in bed.

6.  No caffeine for 5 hours before bed.

7.  No 'blue' light for an hour before bed.  Your television, computer and phone give off 'blue' light which can affect your sleep.  I will look into apps you can get but in the mean time they will all be turned off an hour before I go to bed.  No last minute checking messages!

8.  It has also been suggested that a light box in the morning may help, they can be expensive but I will look into this.

9.  This is the controversial one.  Many experts advise having a set bedtime, others say go to bed when you feel tired and not before.  I think this may work better for me, if I go to bed early I either lie there for hours or wake up again within the hour.

Sheer coincidence but after I had written my plan there was a feature on insomnia during Womens Hour.  The tip I got from that is:-

10.  If you wake and cannot get back to sleep, get up and do something that involves using your hands and eyes.  He suggested a jigsaw, something that needs concentration.

You have probably heard the news about the death of three people in the sea near Newquay this weekend.  My heart goes out to their families.  Stay safe everyone.

Chickpea xx

Welcome to Laura, Rainbowchild and Kique Ruiz


  1. You might also be a bit low in Magnesium. It's not uncommon for women and this will make sleeping soundly and for longer more of a challenge. Epsom salts in the bath/ a footbath before bed can help settle the nervous system and relax you. The sulphate in them is also good for the muscular system. Alternatively, you can get Magnesium oil to rub on your feet. It's probably worth a try. Good luck. CT.

  2. I've often thought I'd like to come back as a cat - the ability to just curl up in a patch of sunshine appeals to me no end.
    I'm not a great sleeper either! Not as bad as some, but I can't remember when I last slept through the night. I'm trying an app on my phone - Headspace - which claims to help through meditation.
    Good luck xx

  3. I suffer slightly myself, I crash for the first two hours then I'm awake all night then fall asleep an hour before I have to get up.

    I've heard camping is the best way to sort it out as you fall into a sleep pattern of day and night but it means leaving all electrical items at home as well.

    I couldn't camp, not with my back! I will be watching your updates with interest and the magnesium would be worth a try as CT knows her stuff x

  4. In February I found out I had cancer, the shock of this threw me into early menopause ( I am 46) and I haven't slept properly for ages, I am having night sweats , the doctor put me on sleeping tablets, but you can only take so many a week, they are not working very well anymore, so I have tried Valerian, they didn't work, now I am trying Soya tablets, they are meant to be good for sweats, I am tearing my hair out,I am sleeping for about 3 hours a night before it all starts, the doctor says he can give me something but it is an antidepressent , but I don't want that,I have to be careful what I take as I am taking Tamoxifen hormone therapy as part of my treatment for cancer.

    So I know what you feel like I feel rubbish, and am slowly loosing the will. x

  5. So sorry you are having these terrible sleep issues. I struggle to function if I can't sleep. Reading your other visitors comments it would appear many of us are having sleepless nights and other more serious health problems. I've just got the hot sweats and a few aches and pains, I've nothing to moan about. Hope your new regime will sort things out for you.


  6. Just downloaded useful app with some new ideas. I'm a fellow sufferer and have tried everything: hypnosis tape, yoga breathing etc to no avail. This is called the sleepschool and the main idea is mindfulness and not trying too hard. They advise against getting up which I have always done so might try their way now. Good luck whatever you decide.

  7. I am a fellow sufferer, although not all the time, thankfully. At the moment I wake up very early and remain awake but not quite alert with my head buzzing until it is time to get out of bed. It leaves me grumpy. The beginning of the night is easier, I listen to a podcast, preferably with a deep male voice. This seems to carry me over into a slumber. I am keeping my fingers crossed for your new programme. x

  8. Thank you for your replies and tips everyone. I have been camping and not slept a wink Julee lol. I will try magnesium CT. Interesting to hear about the different apps. People are using

    Simple Living I am so sorry to hear you are going through such a terrible time. I have heard sage is good for night sweats, I will be trying them and let you know how I get on. Stay strong xx

  9. Hi there, I am also a fellow insomniac.

    Now here are my ideas to maybe help you. I was really ill in January and still don't seem 100% my friend is a nutritionist, and she pushed me in the right direction. I now take vitamin d tablets, along with folic acid. Folic acid isn't just for people trying for a baby. and finally to eat jelly. Yes, jelly. not vegetarian stuff you need the amino acids from the gelatin, this can help with muscles and restless legs at night.

    For the menopause sweats what about sage?

  10. Hi Sol, thanks for the advice. I have just bought some sage so will start taking it tonight. May take a while to work though. I'm afraid the jelly is a no go, I have been a vegetarian for nearly 25 years so will give it a miss :)

  11. My husband suffers from sleep problems, and has for all the time I've known him. Your plan sounds like a good one!

  12. From a fellow insomniac ... my husband wakes me up because he twitches violently when in REM sleep. It was only when I stopped being able to get to sleep as well as stay asleep that this became clear.

    In my case the difficulty getting to sleep relates to pain due to my arthritis but I could still try harder to balance out my sleep patterns so I will watch with interest to see how you get on :)

  13. This is so interesting. Firstly, you have my sympathy and I wish you well with this as, having had episodes of insomnia in my life, I know some of how you feel. I think this is an excellent plan - people talk a lot of good "sleep hygiene" which is not having laptops etc in bed, avoiding heavy meals, alcohol and caffiene before bed etc, all of which I'm sure you're doing now. I really struggle to fall asleep if I don't read for 20 minutes or so first. Good luck, I hope you see an improvement. x


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