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Wife’s not sleeping. We need help!

 
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Good morning fellow permies!

My wife has been sleeping bad for years. Particularly bad these last few months. According to her, she knows there are a lot of things she can do to help herself but she’s “too exhausted to try any more”. She crawls out of bed in tears almost every morning. She mopes around for hours because shes so exhausted and frustrated that she doesn’t care to do anything. I cant even talk to her about it most of the time because she’s so irritable and aggressive that conversation is impossible. I like to help and fix things and seeing her this miserable is very hard for me. But whenever I try to give advice she barks at me telling me I dont know how she feels and don’t know what she’s going through. And whenever I dont give advice I feel like I’m useless and not helpful in anyway.

A bit of her background: shes had whiplash twice and doesnt have much curvature in her neck. She’s been to many chiropractors and most dont help with her neck pain. She’s got about 20 different kinds of pillows and swaps them several times a night to try to get comfortable. We’ve spent over $6,000 on beds in the last 5 years or so and whether she sleeps on an ultrasoft, a medium firm or our hard couch, she’s uncomfortable. She usually falls alseep well but wakes up easily, usually in the middle of the night and then tosses and turns for hours trying to get comfortable. She refuses to nap because its “a waste of time” and she doesn’t want to waste her days when she’s already wasted her nights. I get it but cant reason with her because I think she will attack me.

Ive told her that I think all of the following things could help:

Not eating less than 2 hours before bed

Not watching tv or using her phone less than 2 hours before bed

Not smoking cannabis less than 2 hours before bed

Stretching regularly

Cutting inflammatory foods out of her diet completely

Daily meditation

Valerian

Myofacial release

She just says she knows these things can help but doesn’t have the will or energy to change more or try anything new. Shes just trying to survive. To get through the day. She says she wakes up wanting to burn the house down and cant live like this much longer. I dont know what to do or how to handle this. She wants to buy a different bed… again. I feel like her body and mind need help and another new bed or more pillows will not change that. But then I’m the bad guy for “not supporting her” or “not comforting her”. Shes stuck in a rut, wont let me pull her out and we’re both in need of help.

Does anyone have advice for either of us? Either advice for me to deal with her mess or advice for her to get herself out her mess since she wont take my advice. Any help is appreciated!

 
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Brody: I feel for your wife, I'm in that kind of pain too. I do terrible things to my bed to attempt to make it not hurt. BUT what works for me will not be what works for her.

You say that you telling her isn't helping, she sounds like she's depressed (it's called situational depression, means it's VERY reality based reasons to be depressed) as well as lot of other imbalances in the body.  And if you ask us for info, you may have more things to suggest to her, but she still will probably be resistant to the help.

My vote, as someone who has been there (and sometimes still IS there) is she needs professional help, which would leave you with the role of comforting husband. She needs that too.  It rarely works to have a spouse do both.  It just puts you in a bad place too, when she needs comforting, she feels nagged.

I don't know what she will consider useful help, personally I'd say a mix of good chiropractor, naturopath and neurologist.  The body exhaustion and imbalances in her body would be in naturopath territory, a neurologist will probably want to do surgery, that may or may not be best, a chiro can possibly help keep it down to more tolerable. Neck damage is hellish, it's one of the most frustrating pains, as it affects the whole body.

I send you both good wishes....  
 
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As someone who usually does sleep well, but has suffered from bouts of insomnia, as well as back and muscular pain, I feel her.

On a physical level, I find daily yoga shortly before sleep helps a lot. Releasing the muscular tension before lying down helps me fall asleep faster, and I don't wake from the pain so early.

We also have a second "bed" in our room, for when I'm struggling. Changing to a different surface in the middle of the night helps. Our bed is probably a bit soft to be ideal, but switching to my buckwheat hull mattress on the floor does help me resettle during a bad night.

BUT all of these things are hard to face when you are already bone achingly weary.

The solution that worked for me once or twice when it got really bad was to see my doctor and get a short run (7 days) or prescription sleeping pills.  A few nights of really solid sleep really helped me regain the energy needed to face making changes again.

____

On another level, a good friend of mine is a lifelong insomniac. She fought it for years, but ended up simply giving in and is much happier for it. Typically she sleeps for a few hours in the evening, wakes for a bit after midnight. Where she would have used to stay in bed feeling frustrated and angry, she learned to get up and use the time. She did her laundry, household chores, played computer games etc... then went back to bed for a few hours before dawn. She was still tired, but less frustrated and angry. And eventually she also got the hang of having a strategic nap in the afternoon.

Human beings are wildly varied, and some people are simply not suited to sleeping through the night. In our ancestors they would probably have been highly valued. SOMEONE has to feed the fire at 4am to stop the wolves attacking.
 
gardener
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Brody, my heart goes out to both of you. Not getting good rest is so hard, physically and emotionally. I know the feeling of being so tired of being tired all too well. I think Pearl is absolutely right that she needs professional help. Definitely sounds like depression could be at play here and perhaps some other issues. It would be helpful to see if there's something causing the difficulty. A doctor of osteopathy could be helpful (they tend to be less prescription happy), almost certainly a good therapist. I've had the best luck with a therapist that does somatic experiencing which is more focused on the body than traditional talk therapy, but that's such a personal thing.

I know you want to help her and it sounds like you have lots of good ideas, but if she isn't asking for advice, it's unlikely she will be able to hear you. Especially with as much distress as she's clearly in. I wonder if leading by example could be more effective? For example, you said you suggested stretching to her. What if you did a relaxing yoga class (online) before bed time and invited her to join you? Or maybe started drinking a magnesium supplement and talking about how great it makes you feel, maybe offer her some? I know those are both things that help me sleep better, so they're just examples. You could also try offering her a gentle massage before bed, maybe with some lavender oil or something, if you think she'd be open to it. My partner often does that for me, even if it's just massaging my face and scalp, it can send me off to sleep really quickly.

Here's a bedtime yoga class that really helps me, there are many others on this site, most all of them free. The same lady has some other really good bedtime ones if you look. It should be physically accessible for most, no crazy athletic or bendy stuff, just gentle stretching. https://www.doyogawithme.com/content/hatha-yoga-better-sleep

I hope y'all are able to figure out how to get her some good rest!
 
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My advice is to take care of yourself, including taking space if you need it (or giving space if she needs it). Focus on what you can control and how to meet your needs. This is stressful for both of you, so be gentle with yourself and find someone to talk to, whether professionally or just a friend. I won't add any advice for her, because she isn't open to it right now and that's okay. She might just need time to figure this out on her own.
 
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First of all... she is not alone. Not a big comfort, I know, but there is an "epidemic" of sleeping disorders growing the last years. My problems started in the late 90's, when people around me started to use a lot of mobile phone. For me it has been a combination of factors. I still struggle with it, but I can live with it much better that years ago, and functions much better as well.

There is no easy answer, it's very individual. It is an increasing problem: a growing number kids in Sweden for instance, are now being given strong sleeping pills, unheard of before.

A lot is about brain chemistry and timing.
Some things that works for me, or have worked:
-avoid wireless, emf, smartphones, or at least restrict as much as possible
-grounding, being in nature and outdoors as much as possible
-sunlight
-for me veganism made things much worse. Eating reasonable quantities of high quality animal foods has helped me. Think paleo and nourishing foods.
-raw foods only in small quantities, i was a fruitarian/raw foodist for some time, and it made things much worse. Think of warming, grounding foods, stews, soups, home cooked foods.
-think adrenals: what is good for the adrenals in general?
-try to "exhaust" the brain, push one self and feel really tired. If I can't sleep in the night, I get up and read, even if I feel totally tired.
-food I avoid in the evening: tomatoes, big meals, anything sweet, too much carbs or any junk food. In the evening I like to slow down.
 
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I feel for your wife.  Chronic pain and everything that comes with it is so crushing to deal with.    Some things I have learned in dealing  with my own struggles with joint damage, trouble sleeping,  and chronic pain struggles is relief is a moving target and it takes lots of little things to manage it to any level.  

Getting professional medical help is worth doing but it usually is a mixed bag if it actually helps.  My best advice is to get copies of any test results, test data if you can get it, and have someone go with her to the appointments to take notes on what the doctor tell her. This helps her not miss anything while she is not feeling well and most likely very frustrated.  Document what meds they have her try and keep notes on the effectiveness and side effects.  This is very helpful along with a good medical history and your own copies of test results when you move up the chain of specialists.  

Some things I have found that help me manage day to day include:

Vitamin D3 supplements on top of being outside.  I take them with vitamin C at the same time.   My joint pain gets worse when my levels are low.  My energy levels are even lower when my vitamin D levels are really low.  

Potassium and magnesium supplements help with my muscle spasms, cramps, and dizziness  

Epsom Salt baths right before bed help calm the pins and needle pain just enough so I can fall asleep for a few hours.

large gel ice packs get me through the day.   I prefer the 11" x 17" size and I have at least 2 cold at any given time.  This way I can stop what I am doing and chill down what hurts for 10 minutes and it helps.

Lists of all the little things I need to do each day so I can reference it in my brain fog and make sure I am not forgetting something.  When I start slipping from my routines I go down hill fast.  

I eat a low inflammatory diet.  I cut out 28 common foods and food additives that gave me some sort of inflammation response, digestive trouble, or hives.  I means it is a royal PITA to try and feed me.  I batch cook and freeze meals in single serving containers so I have heat and eat meals on bad days.   Figuring out what is inflammatory to her will take an elimination diet, time, and she will most likely need you to do the food prep and cooking to even figure it out when she needs to not eat.  

For my crushing fatigue the only thing I have found that helps is Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) supplements along with Resveratrol supplements  The NMN is expensive but it has made a difference in my day to day energy levels.  





 
Lana Weldon
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And of course, any kind of stimulants, including alcohol, cacao or tea, should not be consumed late/in the evening.
 
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I hate to be the "go to the doctor and get pills" guy, but go to the doctor and get the good sleepytime pills (trazadone or the like). It's not something you want to rely on long-term, but it's amazing how big of a difference just a few good nights sleep can make. Once she's made up some of the sleep debt, she'll likely be a lot more willing to make the effort towards physical therapy to deal with her muscular/skeletal issues.  
 
Heather Sharpe
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Brody Ekberg wrote:I like to help and fix things and seeing her this miserable is very hard for me. But whenever I try to give advice she barks at me telling me I dont know how she feels and don’t know what she’s going through. And whenever I dont give advice I feel like I’m useless and not helpful in anyway.


I totally get this temptation. But giving advice is probably only going to make her more upset, as you have seen. And make you feel unappreciated when she doesn't want it. I suspect what she really needs is for you to empathize with her experience. She probably feels really alone and like no one gets it, so feeling with her is one of the most helpful things you can do. "That sounds really hard (insert other feeling words here)." is a great place to start. Be careful to avoid sympathy, which is quite different and not very connecting.

I know it probably feels like this, but try to see past the nail, as it were, to the feelings she's having about it. Helping her feel understood and cared about is probably the most useful thing you can do for her.


If empathy is challenging for you (most of us don't have great models for how to do it, but it's a skill that can be learned), this might be a good practice to try. Also, this guy is just phenomenal for relationship stuff in general. https://www.johnwineland.com/blog/intentional-dialouge-video

The short version is:
Listen. Don't interrupt.
Reflect back what she said "What I heard you say is...."
Ask if you got it "Did I get that correct? Did I miss anything? Is there anything else?"
Offer empathy. "I can see why you would feel...." Try to expand on what she said, drop into her heart, use feeling words.
If applicable, using the magic words, "That makes sense" in response to what she's feeling, even if you don't agree or it doesn't make sense to you can be well, magic.

It sounds like you really want to express care through practical steps to fix it and that makes sense. I think you will find much greater success and harmony if you can just offer her empathy. It's possible once she feels seen, she may be more open to advice and help, but she might not be. And that is okay.



 
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Michael Cox wrote:

On another level, a good friend of mine is a lifelong insomniac. She fought it for years, but ended up simply giving in and is much happier for it. Typically she sleeps for a few hours in the evening, wakes for a bit after midnight. Where she would have used to stay in bed feeling frustrated and angry, she learned to get up and use the time. She did her laundry, household chores, played computer games etc... then went back to bed for a few hours before dawn. She was still tired, but less frustrated and angry. And eventually she also got the hang of having a strategic nap in the afternoon..



This is exactly what I was going to say.

I had insomnia for about 20 years more or less.  I made peace with it.

I never had trouble falling asleep though then I would wake up. So I got up, went to another room then read, watched TV, played on the computer, etc until I was sleepy. Then I went back to bed.

So for 20 years I only got about 4 hours of sleep a night and I functioned at work just fine. I doubt any knew that I had trouble sleeping.

I wish your wife the best and I hope she finds some releif.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Brody: I feel for your wife, I'm in that kind of pain too. I do terrible things to my bed to attempt to make it not hurt. BUT what works for me will not be what works for her.

You say that you telling her isn't helping, she sounds like she's depressed (it's called situational depression, means it's VERY reality based reasons to be depressed) as well as lot of other imbalances in the body.  And if you ask us for info, you may have more things to suggest to her, but she still will probably be resistant to the help.

My vote, as someone who has been there (and sometimes still IS there) is she needs professional help, which would leave you with the role of comforting husband. She needs that too.  It rarely works to have a spouse do both.  It just puts you in a bad place too, when she needs comforting, she feels nagged.

I don't know what she will consider useful help, personally I'd say a mix of good chiropractor, naturopath and neurologist.  The body exhaustion and imbalances in her body would be in naturopath territory, a neurologist will probably want to do surgery, that may or may not be best, a chiro can possibly help keep it down to more tolerable. Neck damage is hellish, it's one of the most frustrating pains, as it affects the whole body.

I send you both good wishes....  



I think you’re probably right that my role needs to be a comfort to her. Which is tough for us both because I’m bad at that. I do better in uncomfortable situations and so dont value comfort much. But she  needs this from me so I have to figure it out.

She probably needs a different chiropractor because the one shes been seeing doesnt seem to help. She sees a naturalpath regularly for other issues, but should talk to her about these sleep issues as well. We have a very negative experience with a neurologist. She had daily headaches and so we (both of us) sat down with a neurologist. We explained that there must be a reason she has headaches and that we want to find that reason and correct it. We told him we didn’t want pills to numb her. He looked us straight in the eyes and said “I’m a pill guy. I’m going to write the names of 4 prescriptions. They all do the same thing. You pick one. If it doesn’t work we will try a different one.” I swear to you thats what he told us. She was desperate so we played along. Two weeks later, she was suicidal, called the doctor and explained herself. The RECEPTIONIST changed her prescription without consulting the doctor. After that made her suicidal as well, we said we will figure it out without western medicine because this isnt working.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Michael Cox wrote:As someone who usually does sleep well, but has suffered from bouts of insomnia, as well as back and muscular pain, I feel her.

On a physical level, I find daily yoga shortly before sleep helps a lot. Releasing the muscular tension before lying down helps me fall asleep faster, and I don't wake from the pain so early.

We also have a second "bed" in our room, for when I'm struggling. Changing to a different surface in the middle of the night helps. Our bed is probably a bit soft to be ideal, but switching to my buckwheat hull mattress on the floor does help me resettle during a bad night.

BUT all of these things are hard to face when you are already bone achingly weary.

The solution that worked for me once or twice when it got really bad was to see my doctor and get a short run (7 days) or prescription sleeping pills.  A few nights of really solid sleep really helped me regain the energy needed to face making changes again.

____

On another level, a good friend of mine is a lifelong insomniac. She fought it for years, but ended up simply giving in and is much happier for it. Typically she sleeps for a few hours in the evening, wakes for a bit after midnight. Where she would have used to stay in bed feeling frustrated and angry, she learned to get up and use the time. She did her laundry, household chores, played computer games etc... then went back to bed for a few hours before dawn. She was still tired, but less frustrated and angry. And eventually she also got the hang of having a strategic nap in the afternoon.

Human beings are wildly varied, and some people are simply not suited to sleeping through the night. In our ancestors they would probably have been highly valued. SOMEONE has to feed the fire at 4am to stop the wolves attacking.



Neither of us want her to take drugs, but we both would prefer that, at least temporarily, over the current situation. Ive heard sleeping pills are extremely addicting and thats my main worry. Her mom loves them… but like you said, maybe a couple solid nights of sleep would be enough to give her the energy to make necessary changes.

She does change beds and sometimes it helps a bit. She will start out with me and usually end up on the couch or the spare bed. The couch is very firm and hurts her and the spare bed is really soft and messes up her back and hips though. I told her to try the floor and she looks at me like Im insane. And trying to convince her that I would try the floor if I couldnt sleep well doesnt help haha.

I have recommended going with it to her several times and usually am met with “I dont want to” as her response. I told her about how humans used to sleep in segments and that it works well for a lot of lifestyles and individuals and she just doesn’t want to do that. She’s stubborn. I really do think thats a wise way for her to handle this though, I just cant force her to. And I cant join her in that with my current job, so it’s totally on her to try it if she’s going to.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Brody: Yup, I have had equally bad outcomes when I talk to neuros. You'd think there'd be a specialist for this kind of damage, it's very prevalent in this society.

And I have also given up no Western medicine. I see a naturopath and a chiro, both of whom help me a lot.

It's her depression that worries me, that'll keep her holding in a bad pattern. It's HARD HARD HARD to break out of depression long enough to get a toe hold. The naturopath needs to know about this, they have things that may help.  I DON'T recommend anti depressant Western medical pills. Took me YEARS to get off them. I am still damaged from one, and I took the last one in 2011. There are natural ones, don't just guess or try random ones, get the naturopath to help, they all work differently, and the naturo will know more how to choose.  
 
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Hi Brody,

It's so wonderful that so many people want to reach out and help you and your wife. It has restored my faith in humankind..... a little. It breaks our hearts to know that someone is suffering. They have given you lots of great advice and things to try. And any one of them could work!

I have just 2 suggestions that probably won't help but they are worth a try. You see, once upon a time I broke my back. It was pretty horrific. I was in so much pain that I wanted to die every second of every day for about 6 years. I couldn't walk or sit or stand. I won't go into all the details but my muscles became so tight that I couldn't turn my head to the right, I couldn't lift my arms above my shoulders and I couldn't rest my chin on my chest. I could barely move.   My muscles were in a death grip. I found a half a dozen different things that eventually put me on the road to recovery.  I needed them all.

But one of the first things that helped.... I bought an electric massager made by Homemedics. Using it is like getting a massage from a much younger Arnold Schwarzenegger.  On low is was only so helpful but on high it made a big difference. In the beginning, the first few weeks, it hurt a lot and often felt like pins and needles. But it helped too. And a hand therapist explained why that was happening and I should only use it in the beginning for 4-5 minutes until the pins and needles stopped. It really helped to loosen up the muscles so that I could start to move again. It's only like $50 bucks.

And I generally refuse to take any kind of medications too! Especially when they are all made in China now or when the instructions say “Don't stop taking it without your doctors approval”. How scary is that? But I've had intermittent insomnia since I went through menopause 15 years ago. Tried lots of suggestions that didn't work. A few months ago I was walking down an aisle in the grocery store and saw the package of 'Unisome” on the shelf. Thought it was funny. That's been around since I was a kid! You know, when the dinosaurs were still around. Just for the hell of it I tried it. Took one before I went to bed and it seems to be helping! I'll be damned! Not addictive at all!

I hope you find something soon that works. I wish you all the best.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Heather Sharpe wrote:Brody, my heart goes out to both of you. Not getting good rest is so hard, physically and emotionally. I know the feeling of being so tired of being tired all too well. I think Pearl is absolutely right that she needs professional help. Definitely sounds like depression could be at play here and perhaps some other issues. It would be helpful to see if there's something causing the difficulty. A doctor of osteopathy could be helpful (they tend to be less prescription happy), almost certainly a good therapist. I've had the best luck with a therapist that does somatic experiencing which is more focused on the body than traditional talk therapy, but that's such a personal thing.

I know you want to help her and it sounds like you have lots of good ideas, but if she isn't asking for advice, it's unlikely she will be able to hear you. Especially with as much distress as she's clearly in. I wonder if leading by example could be more effective? For example, you said you suggested stretching to her. What if you did a relaxing yoga class (online) before bed time and invited her to join you? Or maybe started drinking a magnesium supplement and talking about how great it makes you feel, maybe offer her some? I know those are both things that help me sleep better, so they're just examples. You could also try offering her a gentle massage before bed, maybe with some lavender oil or something, if you think she'd be open to it. My partner often does that for me, even if it's just massaging my face and scalp, it can send me off to sleep really quickly.

Here's a bedtime yoga class that really helps me, there are many others on this site, most all of them free. The same lady has some other really good bedtime ones if you look. It should be physically accessible for most, no crazy athletic or bendy stuff, just gentle stretching. https://www.doyogawithme.com/content/hatha-yoga-better-sleep

I hope y'all are able to figure out how to get her some good rest!



You’re right, leading by example definitely helps. I used to stretch every morning and evening and she would usually join in the evening, but I’ve gotten too busy during the summer chaos and often don’t stretch now. I should get back into it though, and that will likely motivate her. Same with a formal meditation, not eating late at night and not watching tv before bed. I also used to massage her neck and shoulders almost every night but got away from that for a while too. That would definitely help her. I cant multitask so once we started watching tv i quit massaging her. Otherwise to massage her well, I need to ignore the show. She enjoys tv at night to relax her and knows it can screw with her natural sleep cycle but doesn’t want to change yet.
 
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I've had great luck with herbs and acupuncture/TCM - better than anything, prescription or otc that I've tried. St.John's Wort is incredible for both pain relief and depression - especially the depression that comes with chronic pain. The trick with the acupuncturist is to find one who actually trained in China. Some insurance covers it, at least partially. My husband was hit from the rear, by a semi, about 23yrs ago. His neck and back grew progressively worse, until about 4yrs ago, we found an incredible TCM doctor, who happened to also have come to America to become a western medicine doctor - and quit practicing western medicine, shortly after getting that education, in favor of TCM. Her practice was only 3 miles from us, in the Chicago suburbs. After only one visit with her, John was able to turn his head, to look over his shoulder, and to twist at the waist, too - both are things he hadn't done since before he'd met me.

We then moved to a little town in Central Missouri, and found her American counterpart. A scientist who grew extremely disenchanted with the system, and took a few years to go to China, and learn TCM. She's different from our first - but she's damn good, and we're thrilled. I've had a lot of injuries - some really bad, plus lupus, Ehlers-Danlos(the base of a lot of my injuries), fibromyalgia, asthma, arthritis, and more - and both of these women have worked wonders in my mobility, sleep, and pain.

If you do a bit of research, you may be able to find one near enough to you to make it worth a shot.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Lana Weldon wrote:

A lot is about brain chemistry and timing.
Some things that works for me, or have worked:
-avoid wireless, emf, smartphones, or at least restrict as much as possible
-grounding, being in nature and outdoors as much as possible
-sunlight
-for me veganism made things much worse. Eating reasonable quantities of high quality animal foods has helped me. Think paleo and nourishing foods.
-raw foods only in small quantities, i was a fruitarian/raw foodist for some time, and it made things much worse. Think of warming, grounding foods, stews, soups, home cooked foods.
-think adrenals: what is good for the adrenals in general?
-try to "exhaust" the brain, push one self and feel really tired. If I can't sleep in the night, I get up and read, even if I feel totally tired.
-food I avoid in the evening: tomatoes, big meals, anything sweet, too much carbs or any junk food. In the evening I like to slow down.



I keep trying to get her to spend less time on her phone, especially the last hour or two before bed, but shes not willing to change that yet.

Definitely dont have to worry about her trying veganism, she likes meat too much for that haha. She also doesn’t care for much raw vegetables, so thats not much of an issue. Although we have been eating tomatoes regularly and she does have a slight sensitivity to those.

She was taking an adrenal tonic for a while but I think thats gone now. I should ask her about that later.

She already feels mentally and emotionally exhausted, but continues to watch tv and use her phone before bed. It doesn’t matter how I explain to her that that is elevating her stress levels, she’s not ready to change that yet and so is stuck in a cycle.

And we’ve been so busy lately that we end up eating dinner at 8:00 at night. I hate that, but at least I sleep. She doesn’t mind eating late but then she sleeps like junk. And avoiding sweets or carbs before bed would certainly be wise. Thats one that I can definitely lead by example with.

 
Brody Ekberg
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Kate Muller wrote:I feel for your wife.  Chronic pain and everything that comes with it is so crushing to deal with.    Some things I have learned in dealing  with my own struggles with joint damage, trouble sleeping,  and chronic pain struggles is relief is a moving target and it takes lots of little things to manage it to any level.  

Getting professional medical help is worth doing but it usually is a mixed bag if it actually helps.  My best advice is to get copies of any test results, test data if you can get it, and have someone go with her to the appointments to take notes on what the doctor tell her. This helps her not miss anything while she is not feeling well and most likely very frustrated.  Document what meds they have her try and keep notes on the effectiveness and side effects.  This is very helpful along with a good medical history and your own copies of test results when you move up the chain of specialists.  

Some things I have found that help me manage day to day include:

Vitamin D3 supplements on top of being outside.  I take them with vitamin C at the same time.   My joint pain gets worse when my levels are low.  My energy levels are even lower when my vitamin D levels are really low.  

Potassium and magnesium supplements help with my muscle spasms, cramps, and dizziness  

Epsom Salt baths right before bed help calm the pins and needle pain just enough so I can fall asleep for a few hours.

large gel ice packs get me through the day.   I prefer the 11" x 17" size and I have at least 2 cold at any given time.  This way I can stop what I am doing and chill down what hurts for 10 minutes and it helps.

Lists of all the little things I need to do each day so I can reference it in my brain fog and make sure I am not forgetting something.  When I start slipping from my routines I go down hill fast.  

I eat a low inflammatory diet.  I cut out 28 common foods and food additives that gave me some sort of inflammation response, digestive trouble, or hives.  I means it is a royal PITA to try and feed me.  I batch cook and freeze meals in single serving containers so I have heat and eat meals on bad days.   Figuring out what is inflammatory to her will take an elimination diet, time, and she will most likely need you to do the food prep and cooking to even figure it out when she needs to not eat.  

For my crushing fatigue the only thing I have found that helps is Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) supplements along with Resveratrol supplements  The NMN is expensive but it has made a difference in my day to day energy levels.  



She has had allergy, food sensitivity, hormone level and a few other tests done over the years, but Im not sure if her current doctor has looked all that over. Also, I know what you mean about being a pain in the ass to follow. The poor girl isn’t supposed to even eat apples, strawberries or peaches. I mean, cutting dairy and gluten out is plenty difficult but then not being able to eat delicious fruits and sweets is a real bummer. She could definitely follow those guidelines more strictly though. We eat dairy and gluten free for the most part and usually avoid processed and inflammatory foods. But one lax day will cause immediate effects that last at least several days.

She also has vitamin D and C supplements from the beginning of the covid cluster, but I’m not sure if shes been taking them regularly. I should check.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Lana Weldon wrote:And of course, any kind of stimulants, including alcohol, cacao or tea, should not be consumed late/in the evening.



Shes good about that. But her doctor has gotten her into powdered ketones that have quite a bit of caffeine in them and she drinks those in the evening sometimes. The directions actually advise to consume in morning and evening which boggles my mind. Im a little skeptical about their effects even without consuming them in the evenings. But without caffeine, I dont think she would move. She’s pretty reliant on it right now, and that’s a slippery slope!
 
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Nick Williams wrote:I hate to be the "go to the doctor and get pills" guy, but go to the doctor and get the good sleepytime pills (trazadone or the like). It's not something you want to rely on long-term, but it's amazing how big of a difference just a few good nights sleep can make. Once she's made up some of the sleep debt, she'll likely be a lot more willing to make the effort towards physical therapy to deal with her muscular/skeletal issues.  



We have both considered that for her. Our concerns are

1. Her mom LOVES sleeping pills. She’s pretty reliant on them and actually has her husband keep track of them for her so she doesn’t abuse them too much. She sleeps like a zombie though and can lay around bed all day. Not something me or my wife want her to be doing.
2. My wife is so desperate that shes worried she will get addicted to anything that helps her, whether that’s something to help her sleep or a stimulant to keep her going during the day.

If we could get a very limited supply and we both are convinced she has the willpower to control herself then we would give them a try. Just to get her a couple solid nights sleep to then be able to handle this on her own.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Anne Miller wrote:

Michael Cox wrote:

On another level, a good friend of mine is a lifelong insomniac. She fought it for years, but ended up simply giving in and is much happier for it. Typically she sleeps for a few hours in the evening, wakes for a bit after midnight. Where she would have used to stay in bed feeling frustrated and angry, she learned to get up and use the time. She did her laundry, household chores, played computer games etc... then went back to bed for a few hours before dawn. She was still tired, but less frustrated and angry. And eventually she also got the hang of having a strategic nap in the afternoon..



This is exactly what I was going to say.

I had insomnia for about 20 years more or less.  I made peace with it.

I never had trouble falling asleep though then I would wake up. So I got up, went to another room then read, watched TV, played on the computer, etc until I was sleepy. Then I went back to bed.

So for 20 years I only got about 4 hours of sleep a night and I functioned at work just fine. I doubt any knew that I had trouble sleeping.

I wish your wife the best and I hope she finds some releif.



I wish I could convince her to give this a try, especially now that she isn’t working. She could totally pull off a long nap every day that she doesn’t sleep well at night. Its just her attitude that prevents it. She WANTS to sleep well at night. She DOESNT WANT to take naps. She thinks that things shouldnt be that way. I have a hard time dealing with wants and not wants without being very blunt, but being very blunt turns the conversation ugly fast with her. Ive even told her that, if I didn’t work a full time day job, I would love to give segmented sleep a try. But, I sleep good at night and work all day so this isnt an option for me. And I explain to her the human history of segmented sleeping and she doesn’t want to hear it.
 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Brody: Yup, I have had equally bad outcomes when I talk to neuros. You'd think there'd be a specialist for this kind of damage, it's very prevalent in this society.

And I have also given up no Western medicine. I see a naturopath and a chiro, both of whom help me a lot.

It's her depression that worries me, that'll keep her holding in a bad pattern. It's HARD HARD HARD to break out of depression long enough to get a toe hold. The naturopath needs to know about this, they have things that may help.  I DON'T recommend anti depressant Western medical pills. Took me YEARS to get off them. I am still damaged from one, and I took the last one in 2011. There are natural ones, don't just guess or try random ones, get the naturopath to help, they all work differently, and the naturo will know more how to choose.  



Its a bad cycle because her sleeplessness makes her depressed, but the depression fuels sleeplessness. She has to shove a fork into one of them to break the cycle, as far as I can tell.

And I have a hard time relating. I was very depressed when I was 17-20 years old. Contemplated suicide a handful of times and then realized that, since I had no good reason to believe that would help me, and knew for certain that it wouldn’t help anyone else, so I made a promise to myself and God that regardless of what happened in this life, I wouldnt end it myself. This ended up being a huge confidence boost for me and made me much more emotionally strong, much more faithful and much less worried about what happens in life. So, I look back at suicidal depression as a weakness that is relatively easy to overcome by making a few commitments and attitude adjustments. She doesn’t feel the same way though, my reasoning definitely doesn’t help.

Im pretty confident that if she spent less time with the phone and tv, stretched more, got more physical exercise, and took her vitamin D supplements that her depression would lift at least somewhat. But she says she doesn’t have the energy to do those things. Maybe thats where sleeping pills for a couple nights would be the boost she needs.
 
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Brody, I feel for you and your wife. I've had that pain-insomnia and there is nothing like it, it colors your world and makes everything look just absolutely impossible.

I can totally see where your wife is coming from in terms of worrying about not wanting to get reliant on sleeping pills. I'm the same way with pain, I come from a family of people with substance abuse problems. But Nick does have a good point- if she can get a night of sleep out of it then maybe she will be able to see straight and figure out how to move forward. She's got you for support and they don't necessarily have to be addictive. She can try one and see how it goes. If there is something that offers a chance to make things slightly better, it's worth a shot, just like all the other good ideas people are throwing out here, and there are plenty of much more addictive things people use every day.

As for the rest, I agree- you are her support, that is what she needs from you, rather than you being the problem solver or the developer of new medical strategies (much as you want to fix things as soon as possible). She's an adult, can make her own choices, and you can support her in how she implements them. If she wants you to help her figure out how to rework her schedule if she wants to try a new sleep arrangment, or wants you to help her sort out finding a new doctor, then great, but in the meantime it's 'how can I make her day easier'. It's hard to see the people we love suffering but they have to make the change.

A last PS- I heartily second the acupuncture suggestion. I had it for a knee injury and then for anxiety and it was literally life changing. I hope you can find one around to try.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Debbie Ann wrote:Hi Brody,

It's so wonderful that so many people want to reach out and help you and your wife. It has restored my faith in humankind..... a little. It breaks our hearts to know that someone is suffering. They have given you lots of great advice and things to try. And any one of them could work!

I have just 2 suggestions that probably won't help but they are worth a try. You see, once upon a time I broke my back. It was pretty horrific. I was in so much pain that I wanted to die every second of every day for about 6 years. I couldn't walk or sit or stand. I won't go into all the details but my muscles became so tight that I couldn't turn my head to the right, I couldn't lift my arms above my shoulders and I couldn't rest my chin on my chest. I could barely move.   My muscles were in a death grip. I found a half a dozen different things that eventually put me on the road to recovery.  I needed them all.

But one of the first things that helped.... I bought an electric massager made by Homemedics. Using it is like getting a massage from a much younger Arnold Schwarzenegger.  On low is was only so helpful but on high it made a big difference. In the beginning, the first few weeks, it hurt a lot and often felt like pins and needles. But it helped too. And a hand therapist explained why that was happening and I should only use it in the beginning for 4-5 minutes until the pins and needles stopped. It really helped to loosen up the muscles so that I could start to move again. It's only like $50 bucks.

And I generally refuse to take any kind of medications too! Especially when they are all made in China now or when the instructions say “Don't stop taking it without your doctors approval”. How scary is that? But I've had intermittent insomnia since I went through menopause 15 years ago. Tried lots of suggestions that didn't work. A few months ago I was walking down an aisle in the grocery store and saw the package of 'Unisome” on the shelf. Thought it was funny. That's been around since I was a kid! You know, when the dinosaurs were still around. Just for the hell of it I tried it. Took one before I went to bed and it seems to be helping! I'll be damned! Not addictive at all!

I hope you find something soon that works. I wish you all the best.



I agree, I’m very thankful for the quick and in depth responses from everyone. This has been a big relief, at least for me. I’ll probably read some of this to her once shes more open and receptive to incoming information.

I need to tell her your story for motivation purposes alone. I mean, if you can make it through that then she should definitely get some hope and confidence from your story. At least I hope so!

We do have a massage gun and it is very helpful. I should offer to use it on her more frequently. Now that its dark early and I’m not bringing home baskets of mushrooms to clean every day, i will have more time inside in the evenings to massage her or stretch with her.

And I havent heard of Unisom before. Ill look into it. We also have valerian root that she hasn’t tried yet. She thinks the pain is the reason she isnt sleeping and wants to focus on the pain. My thoughts are, if she was sleeping hard enough she wouldn’t notice the pain.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Carla Burke wrote:I've had great luck with herbs and acupuncture/TCM - better than anything, prescription or otc that I've tried. St.John's Wort is incredible for both pain relief and depression - especially the depression that comes with chronic pain. The trick with the acupuncturist is to find one who actually trained in China. Some insurance covers it, at least partially. My husband was hit from the rear, by a semi, about 23yrs ago. His neck and back grew progressively worse, until about 4yrs ago, we found an incredible TCM doctor, who happened to also have come to America to become a western medicine doctor - and quit practicing western medicine, shortly after getting that education, in favor of TCM. Her practice was only 3 miles from us, in the Chicago suburbs. After only one visit with her, John was able to turn his head, to look over his shoulder, and to twist at the waist, too - both are things he hadn't done since before he'd met me.

We then moved to a little town in Central Missouri, and found her American counterpart. A scientist who grew extremely disenchanted with the system, and took a few years to go to China, and learn TCM. She's different from our first - but she's damn good, and we're thrilled. I've had a lot of injuries - some really bad, plus lupus, Ehlers-Danlos(the base of a lot of my injuries), fibromyalgia, asthma, arthritis, and more - and both of these women have worked wonders in my mobility, sleep, and pain.

If you do a bit of research, you may be able to find one near enough to you to make it worth a shot.



Very interesting! Now I’m bummed that I didn’t harvest any St Johns Wort this summer. I did several years ago but I sleep fine and am not depressed so I never used any. And my wife just wasnt really interested in anything herbal at the time so she didn’t use any either. I tossed it and haven’t picked more since, although it’s probably wise to keep some on hand always anyway.

My wife has looked into acupuncture before and expressed some interest but I’m not sure what really came of that. I know she hasn’t tried it yet. She has tried acupressure before and that helped at least somewhat. It’s similar to acupuncture in the process and goals, but different in the lack of needles and different placement of the pressure. From my understanding, acupuncture is like the “it works but we cant prove any of this” eastern technique where acupressure is the “it may or may not work but we think we can prove things” western technique. Same basic idea though.

I think there is a place about an hour from here that does acupuncture and also has a floatation tank. I dont know if they trained in China, but it’s probably the closest thing we have around here.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Tereza Okava wrote:Brody, I feel for you and your wife. I've had that pain-insomnia and there is nothing like it, it colors your world and makes everything look just absolutely impossible.

I can totally see where your wife is coming from in terms of worrying about not wanting to get reliant on sleeping pills. I'm the same way with pain, I come from a family of people with substance abuse problems. But Nick does have a good point- if she can get a night of sleep out of it then maybe she will be able to see straight and figure out how to move forward. She's got you for support and they don't necessarily have to be addictive. She can try one and see how it goes. If there is something that offers a chance to make things slightly better, it's worth a shot, just like all the other good ideas people are throwing out here, and there are plenty of much more addictive things people use every day.

As for the rest, I agree- you are her support, that is what she needs from you, rather than you being the problem solver or the developer of new medical strategies (much as you want to fix things as soon as possible). She's an adult, can make her own choices, and you can support her in how she implements them. If she wants you to help her figure out how to rework her schedule if she wants to try a new sleep arrangment, or wants you to help her sort out finding a new doctor, then great, but in the meantime it's 'how can I make her day easier'. It's hard to see the people we love suffering but they have to make the change.

A last PS- I heartily second the acupuncture suggestion. I had it for a knee injury and then for anxiety and it was literally life changing. I hope you can find one around to try.



Well, I was already aware of most of the suggestions in this thread. I might make a short list of things worth getting back into or looking into further for when she is more receptive, but other than that, I will take the advice to stop trying to help and fix the situation and instead just try to comfort her and make things easier for her. It will be a good learning experience for me too since Im not exactly the source of comfort shes looking for most of the time. She will say “ I just wish my mom was here to hole me and tell me it will be ok.” My thoughts are “what the hell good is that. Get up and make it ok, what are you waiting for. This comfort only prolongs your suffering.” But that tough love, drill sergeant attitude backfires very hard with her. I definitely need to work on my comforting skills. I should also probably work on figuring out why being comforted is even a good thing!
 
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I didn't see this suggested yet, and you mentioned watching something in the evenings. Swap out whatever you're watching for a couple Bob Ross episodes. The painter with the 'fro has an incredibly soothing voice.
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote: It will be a good learning experience for me too since Im not exactly the source of comfort shes looking for most of the time..... I definitely need to work on my comforting skills.


I think the fact that you're here talking about it is an excellent indicator that you're on the right path! Comfort/empathy is a valuable skill, one of the ones that reminds us that we are all human-- in the end we only really have each other. I really liked what Heather had to say up in the thread, and I hope you find some things that work for both of you.
 
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Anne Miller wrote:I had insomnia for about 20 years more or less.  I made peace with it.

I never had trouble falling asleep though then I would wake up. So I got up, went to another room then read, watched TV, played on the computer, etc until I was sleepy. Then I went back to bed.

So for 20 years I only got about 4 hours of sleep a night and I functioned at work just fine. I doubt any knew that I had trouble sleeping.

I wish your wife the best and I hope she finds some relief.



Brody Ekberg wrote: "She WANTS to sleep well at night. She DOESNT WANT to take naps. She thinks that things shouldnt be that way. I have a hard time dealing with wants and not wants without being very blunt, but being very blunt turns the conversation ugly fast with her. Ive even told her that, if I didn’t work a full time day job, I would love to give segmented sleep a try. But, I sleep good at night and work all day so this isnt an option for me. And I explain to her the human history of segmented sleeping and she doesn’t want to hear it.



Brody, I will have to agree with your wife.

I feel that taking naps replaces the sleep that she would get that night, not the sleep that she lost the night before.

If she is in pain then that adds a degree that I did not have. Pain has never disrupted my sleep.

I found things that help my pain.  My pain is from a skating accident when our daughter was just learning to skate so that was a long time ago.

I injured my knee and if it had happened today I feel that doctors would advise knee surgery.  back then they stitch up the wound in an emergency room and sent me home with no advice.  Even back then, though I might have decided against surgery.

After having dealt with knee pain for many years, I am amazed that after a few simple things, I no longer have knee pain.

I also feel to make things happen a person must have a positive attitude.  I am a big self-help person.  I look for ways to help myself.

I read books, try things I read about and find what works for me.

I don't go to doctors, chiropractors, or even take prescription meds unless I feel that they must be taken.

I take a medication for high blood pressure only because I know that is what is related to heart attacks.

I finally broke down and let the doctor prescribed a medicine for gout.  I no longer take gout medicine and have not had an attack. There was a simple solution to this problem.

I am sure that all that I have said does not help your situation or your wife's . The point I am trying to make is that this is something a person must work out for themselves.

Seeing a mental health professional, of the right kind, might help your wife deal with her pain and sleeplessness.  Sometimes just talking to someone makes a person feel better.

 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:Very interesting! Now I’m bummed that I didn’t harvest any St Johns Wort this summer. I did several years ago but I sleep fine and am not depressed so I never used any. And my wife just wasnt really interested in anything herbal at the time so she didn’t use any either. I tossed it and haven’t picked more since, although it’s probably wise to keep some on hand always anyway.

My wife has looked into acupuncture before and expressed some interest but I’m not sure what really came of that. I know she hasn’t tried it yet. She has tried acupressure before and that helped at least somewhat. It’s similar to acupuncture in the process and goals, but different in the lack of needles and different placement of the pressure. From my understanding, acupuncture is like the “it works but we cant prove any of this” eastern technique where acupressure is the “it may or may not work but we think we can prove things” western technique. Same basic idea though.

I think there is a place about an hour from here that does acupuncture and also has a floatation tank. I dont know if they trained in China, but it’s probably the closest thing we have around here.



Acupressure did help us, to a degree. But, acupuncture was substantially better - and far less painful - for both of us. If she'll drink herbal tea, or even try the capsules, you might be able to get her to take the St John's Wort, and it's not expensive to buy. I make herbal teas, all the time, and just keep them in the fridge. Capsules would probably be the easiest way, if she doesn't like the tea.
As far as the phone and other devices, many of them now come with a 'blue-blocker' setting, that drastically cuts the blue light emissions, allowing your body to more easily follow its normal circadian rhythms. I have mine set on both my phone and tablet, and there was a noticeable change for the better.
 
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Surprised no one has brought up melatonin yet.  There is an ick factor because it was originally obtained from cow brains, but within the last 20 years or it has been found in most plants and animals; in humans 99% is made outside the pineal gland.  It is an antioxidant, immune system regulator, anti-cancer agent, and yes, regulator of sleep cycles.  Fascinating history here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6481276/

That article is from 2019;  since then it has come under fire for being a possible cheap covid drug.  So I would not look for any objective information from Google,  Wikipedia, or teaching hospitals.  Look for earlier articles, or current sites that assert early covid can be treated in many ways.

Levels decrease with age so supplementation for immune health makes sense.  A big dose can give gut-wrenching symptoms for days, so start small, 0.3mg and work up to 3 or 5 mg.  FLCCC protocol has 6-12mg for hospitalized covid patients.  Some ICUs give much more than that.  There seems to be no established toxic dose.

I take anywhere from 3 to 25 mg when I need to sleep but don't feel drowsy.  If nothing else it calms my thinking and stops tossing and turning.  The higher dose is for when you want colorful dreams :)
 
Brody Ekberg
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K Kaba wrote:I didn't see this suggested yet, and you mentioned watching something in the evenings. Swap out whatever you're watching for a couple Bob Ross episodes. The painter with the 'fro has an incredibly soothing voice.



Its the tv itself that is the issue. The bright light disrupts the brain’s natural sleep cycles. My wife likes tv and I despise it, but the only times I actually sit down in the living room is in the evenings to stretch a bit and wind down before bed. She likes to take that opportunity to enjoy a show together, which is understandable. But I think the tv itself is one of the factors that might cause her to wake up easily in the middle of the night. The nice natural cycles get a wrench shoved into them from all the bright unnatural light.
 
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Anne Miller wrote:
Brody, I will have to agree with your wife.

I feel that taking naps replaces the sleep that she would get that night, not the sleep that she lost the night before.

If she is in pain then that adds a degree that I did not have. Pain has never disrupted my sleep.

I found things that help my pain.  My pain is from a skating accident when our daughter was just learning to skate so that was a long time ago.

I injured my knee and if it had happened today I feel that doctors would advise knee surgery.  back then they stitch up the wound in an emergency room and sent me home with no advice.  Even back then, though I might have decided against surgery.

After having dealt with knee pain for many years, I am amazed that after a few simple things, I no longer have knee pain.

I also feel to make things happen a person must have a positive attitude.  I am a big self-help person.  I look for ways to help myself.

I read books, try things I read about and find what works for me.

I don't go to doctors, chiropractors, or even take prescription meds unless I feel that they must be taken.

I take a medication for high blood pressure only because I know that is what is related to heart attacks.

I finally broke down and let the doctor prescribed a medicine for gout.  I no longer take gout medicine and have not had an attack. There was a simple solution to this problem.

I am sure that all that I have said does not help your situation or your wife's . The point I am trying to make is that this is something a person must work out for themselves.

Seeing a mental health professional, of the right kind, might help your wife deal with her pain and sleeplessness.  Sometimes just talking to someone makes a person feel better.



I told her she has my full support if she wants to see a therapist or different professional. And I think we have some of those services covered through my employer. I do think that if I can get better at listening and comforting her with trying to help, fix or give advice, that that may be something else that will help her in this struggle.
 
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Carla Burke wrote:
Acupressure did help us, to a degree. But, acupuncture was substantially better - and far less painful - for both of us. If she'll drink herbal tea, or even try the capsules, you might be able to get her to take the St John's Wort, and it's not expensive to buy. I make herbal teas, all the time, and just keep them in the fridge. Capsules would probably be the easiest way, if she doesn't like the tea.
As far as the phone and other devices, many of them now come with a 'blue-blocker' setting, that drastically cuts the blue light emissions, allowing your body to more easily follow its normal circadian rhythms. I have mine set on both my phone and tablet, and there was a noticeable change for the better.



Ill look for some st johns wort next time we’re at the co-op, I’m sure they have some. And I haven’t heard of the blue light blocker. Id hate to enable the late night phone use, but shes slow to make changes, and if this helps in the mean time then it will definitely be worthwhile!
 
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Fred Phillips wrote:Surprised no one has brought up melatonin yet.  There is an ick factor because it was originally obtained from cow brains, but within the last 20 years or it has been found in most plants and animals; in humans 99% is made outside the pineal gland.  It is an antioxidant, immune system regulator, anti-cancer agent, and yes, regulator of sleep cycles.  Fascinating history here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6481276/

That article is from 2019;  since then it has come under fire for being a possible cheap covid drug.  So I would not look for any objective information from Google,  Wikipedia, or teaching hospitals.  Look for earlier articles, or current sites that assert early covid can be treated in many ways.

Levels decrease with age so supplementation for immune health makes sense.  A big dose can give gut-wrenching symptoms for days, so start small, 0.3mg and work up to 3 or 5 mg.  FLCCC protocol has 6-12mg for hospitalized covid patients.  Some ICUs give much more than that.  There seems to be no established toxic dose.

I take anywhere from 3 to 25 mg when I need to sleep but don't feel drowsy.  If nothing else it calms my thinking and stops tossing and turning.  The higher dose is for when you want colorful dreams :)



Thanks for the reminder. I’m pretty sure we have a bottle of melatonin supplements right alongside the valerian supplements that have never been opened. Maybe if I just leave them on the counter it will motivate her without me having to make any verbal suggestions.
 
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most phones, you look at settings > display and then choose whatever options they offer (mine has "blue light blocker", others say "night light"). And my phone is, uh, not up to date, let's say, so unless you're using a flip phone you probably can enable it.
 
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Heather Sharpe wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote:I like to help and fix things and seeing her this miserable is very hard for me. But whenever I try to give advice she barks at me telling me I dont know how she feels and don’t know what she’s going through. And whenever I dont give advice I feel like I’m useless and not helpful in anyway.


I totally get this temptation. But giving advice is probably only going to make her more upset, as you have seen. And make you feel unappreciated when she doesn't want it. I suspect what she really needs is for you to empathize with her experience. She probably feels really alone and like no one gets it, so feeling with her is one of the most helpful things you can do. "That sounds really hard (insert other feeling words here)." is a great place to start. Be careful to avoid sympathy, which is quite different and not very connecting.

I know it probably feels like this, but try to see past the nail, as it were, to the feelings she's having about it. Helping her feel understood and cared about is probably the most useful thing you can do for her.


If empathy is challenging for you (most of us don't have great models for how to do it, but it's a skill that can be learned), this might be a good practice to try. Also, this guy is just phenomenal for relationship stuff in general. https://www.johnwineland.com/blog/intentional-dialouge-video

The short version is:
Listen. Don't interrupt.
Reflect back what she said "What I heard you say is...."
Ask if you got it "Did I get that correct? Did I miss anything? Is there anything else?"
Offer empathy. "I can see why you would feel...." Try to expand on what she said, drop into her heart, use feeling words.
If applicable, using the magic words, "That makes sense" in response to what she's feeling, even if you don't agree or it doesn't make sense to you can be well, magic.

It sounds like you really want to express care through practical steps to fix it and that makes sense. I think you will find much greater success and harmony if you can just offer her empathy. It's possible once she feels seen, she may be more open to advice and help, but she might not be. And that is okay.





I just watched that little video and laughed because of how accurately it portrays me trying to have a conversation with wife about these issues. Its like we’re on two completely different pages. And I feel like ignoring the nail is obviously the least helpful, most complicated and unnecessary way about the ordeal. But clearly, blaming the nail isn’t working either so maybe its time I try the approach that seems so absurd!
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:
Its the tv itself that is the issue. The bright light disrupts the brain’s natural sleep cycles. My wife likes tv and I despise it, but the only times I actually sit down in the living room is in the evenings to stretch a bit and wind down before bed. She likes to take that opportunity to enjoy a show together, which is understandable. But I think the tv itself is one of the factors that might cause her to wake up easily in the middle of the night. The nice natural cycles get a wrench shoved into them from all the bright unnatural light.



That might have something to do with her sleep interruptions.

One year I took a group of girls to drill team camp and slept on the couch.  I fell asleep watching TV every night and from then on I had to watch TV before bed in order to fall asleep.  I have fallen asleep to many Law and Order episodes over the years.

 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:I just watched that little video and laughed because of how accurately it portrays me trying to have a conversation with wife about these issues. Its like we’re on two completely different pages. And I feel like ignoring the nail is obviously the least helpful, most complicated and unnecessary way about the ordeal. But clearly, blaming the nail isn’t working either so maybe its time I try the approach that seems so absurd!


As someone who has wasted a massive amount of time and energy trying to be "efficient" at convincing my partner what she needs to do, hurting her and our relationship in the process, I can tell you that the practice described by John Wineland can be extremely helpful, no matter how contrived it might feel at first. I feel the same way as you do about the video with the nail, but also see that putting empathy first can actually make things happen in a much more efficient way. I don't think you need to "ignore the nail" at all, but what can help is realizing that someone needs to trust you before they are willing to hear what you have to say, let alone pull a nail out their head. Feeling heard and understood through practicing empathy is the most effective way to build that trust.
 
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