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Diet and sleep aids for insomnia

 
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Just an update (I was reminded of this thread 'cos I was awarded an apple for a post in it recently. Yay! And thanks.)

My overnight sleep study proved I do have sleep apnea and require a CPAP machine. So, for the past month I've had that. I call it my 'facehugger,' which indicates my opinion of it (Alien movies reference.) It's OK, my wife is happy since I no longer snore and I breathe normally. I still need my O2 concentrator. That irritated me as I thought the facehugger meant I'd no longer need it. Sads....
 
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Don't know if you've found relief, Yet what helps me get DEEP sleep is not eating 4 hours or longer before going to bed.

I get vivid dreams when I do so.  It also depends on the meal if it is a piece of fruit maybe even 3 hours might be enough.
 
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Wow. You guys have been through some real hell with this insomnia stuff. My heart goes out to everyone and I hope that each one is finding solutions from all of the great information that's been shared here. I just wanted to share some thoughts regarding my (short) journey with insomnia, in case I can possibly help anyone.

I was always that person who could fall asleep anytime, anywhere, no matter what the noise or light or activity that was going on. At night I would just lay there and think myself to sleep, only very rarely did I need any help falling asleep once I decided to do so.

Fastforward to last year, of course corona/quarantine hit and turned us upside down, then we had a serious drama happen with our business partner; my husband, D, fell gravely ill, and then my mom died. I was thrown into the role of businesswoman/manager, caretaker, and grieving the sudden loss of my mom who I had had unresolved issues with. I was working all day, plus taking care of the kids with minimal help from D (who was trying his best!), and still taking care of the property and animals as needed. In spite of being exhausted in every way by bedtime, I desperately needed my alone time then to process and grieve and just be a person. There was so much stress that I could get deeply drowsy by reading or watching youtube videos, but then when I laid down I would start thinking again and be wide awake again in 5 seconds. This would happen many times during the night, so that I would only be able to fall asleep by 3 or 4 am--then D would wake up sick, and need me, and I wouldn't get back to sleep until 5 or 6. It was an exhausting cycle, but I eventually found some solutions that worked for me:

--get a routine. For me that meant putting the kids to bed the same way every night, feeding the doggies, turning off lights around the house, making sure D had everything he would need for the night, then settling in to journal or read or watch something. I would try to get in bed around the same time always, but after I was there I really avoided checking the time--it made me feel like I was on a countdown, until a cut-off time when I "had" to be asleep. Stressful.
--everybody knows caffeine screws up sleep patterns, but I also found that warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, or even hot peppers, would give me a stimulant "jolt" that would keep my heart pounding and my nerves jittery for hours. I also learned to never eat chocolate close to bedtime; it doesn't keep me from falling asleep, but can give me horrible itches and vivid nightmares once I fall asleep--not very restful!
--I never try to sleep hungry. Even if it makes me gain a little weight, I eat a snack right before bedtime or ideally a substantial meal 2-3 hours before I want to sleep.
--on the days when I get plenty of sun and fresh air and moderate exercise of some kind, I sleep sooo much more easily than other days. Easier said than done, though.
--from what I understand, grounding is super important for sleep quality. So every night when I was actually ready to fall asleep, I would walk outside barefoot for a few minutes, look up at the stars, listen to the night noises, and smoke half an herbal cigarette. I make the cigarettes myself, sometimes they had CBD (legal here) sometimes not, but for me that was absolutely essential to relaxing me enough to get to sleep. Since I smoked so little of it I never saw any influence on my REM/stage 4 sleep, just relaxed my muscles and slowed my brain down a bit. I would go back in and immediately get in bed, and 99% of the time I would go to sleep almost immediately. I think getting a little chilled from being outside really helped--made the bed seem that much cozier.
--As soon as my husband was well enough and his needs weren't medical emergencies anymore, we had a talk and I asked him straight-out to not awaken me except in cases of absolute emergency. He is an early-morning insomniac, and would sometimes just want company. It seemed a bit cruel since he would be lonely for hours and not feeling his best, but in order for me to ever be a functional human being I needed to sleep uninterrupted. Fortunately he respected and understood as he always does and that helped so much. For me, 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep is worth 12 hours with interruptions.

I know all of these suggestions are pretty lame, and show that my "insomnia" isn't nearly what some of you have suffered through. I feel like such a sissy after actually writing this out! But for me they are things that made a huge difference and maybe something will click for somebody.

D was sick because he was poisoned with rat poison and pharmaceutical drugs by our business partner. Not pretty. Almost killed him, and definitely gave him awful insomnia for a long time among many other symptoms. All sympathy to you guys who have been jacked around by prescription drugs and doctors suggestions. I know sometimes it helps and is the only solution, but sometimes it's just hellish.

One other thing that I would suggest is looking into a traditional chinese medicine diagnosis. After some research, I found that my racing thoughts were connecting to having a liver imbalance--so I found some foods to balance that out, and it really helped. It's the same imbalance that will make you obsess over thoughts or make you have a song "stuck in your head" or make you tend towards angry outbursts and impatience. Of course sleeplessness makes the imbalance worse soo...another catch-22 as several people have already mentioned. I am guessing that acupuncture would help as well, if you could get a consultation with a tcm practitioner first and figure out what your imbalance/syndrome might be. I am a HUGE fan of acupuncture, it truly does work, it healed me of a massive back injury and was the one thing that helped D with the depression that he had coming out of his illness.

That's all I've got! Love and best of luck to all you insomniacs!!
 
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Have you tried medical cannabis.  For many people a strong indica with induce sleep every time without negative side effects.  And didn't Illinois just legalize cannabis for medical and recreational?  For me however, it does not work and actually makes me stay awake even more.   My recommendation is to take a CBD supplement to help counteract any possible undesirable negative side effects of the THC.  The other thing I found with medical cannabis after having weaned myself off psych. meds. which upset my natural brain chemistry and thyroid from it's normal levels is that cannabis dials up the metabolism a bit, thus stimulate the hunger response, but this also excentuates the homeostasis and puts a stronger emphasis on the metabolism.  The induces the biological and physiological response to go back into balance.  I believe that although cannabis didn't help with my particular insomnia it did help me recover from the detrimental effects of using allopathic psych. meds..  Good luck.  3 rules to follow for me worked well.  Sleep, diet, exercise.  Keep refining and adjusting for an optimum health response and slow improvement is likely.
 
Paul Sofranko
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Marie Abell wrote:
I know all of these suggestions are pretty lame, and show that my "insomnia" isn't nearly what some of you have suffered through. I feel like such a sissy after actually writing this out! But for me they are things that made a huge difference and maybe something will click for somebody.


Not lame at all. If you were motivated enough to reply to this thread, then your personal connection is important and what you said matters; and as you said, it may help someone sometime.  
 
Paul Sofranko
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[quote=Jon Hanzen]Have you tried medical cannabis.  [/quote]

No, if it was me you were asking.  It is legal in NY, including the growing of it (!!) but I'm hesitant. I do have quite a lot of physical pain (arthritis, bursitis and Restless Leg Syndrome, which although isn't technically painful, is very distressing and my Rx meds aren't helping much) and if I'm not mistaken cannabis may help with that. I may work up the courage and ask my physician about it the I see him in September.
 
Marie Abell
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Paul Sofranko wrote:
Not lame at all. If you were motivated enough to reply to this thread, then your personal connection is important and what you said matters; and as you said, it may help someone sometime.  



Thanks for this! Made me feel good.

I would second the suggestion about medical cannabis. And while you're waiting for your appt in September, there are various other herbs that are great for relaxation and pain relief. Horehound really helped me with pain relief, and I found both mint and lavender (separately) to be relaxing. I have heard that motherwort is used as a substitute for cannabis in parts of China, but I've never personally used it so can't recommend it. So many great things to smoke, maybe I'll make a separate thread about it sometime.

Cheers!
 
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Some Good News!!

Thanks everyone for your support and I of course sympathize with your own struggles.

When I started this thread, I was having a particularly bad week or so of insomnia.  As I stated previously, I have had some pretty disastrous insomnia since 2006, but shortly after I posted here, things actually started turning better.  My insomnia had been so bad for so long that I actually did not believe that my insomnia was improving—I had been given false hope before.  Make no mistake, I still have insomnia, but I have better control over my insomnia than I have at any time since it started 15 years ago.

Part of the change started several years ago after I let my sleep doc go.  My new doc treated my insomnia much more aggressively, but also added a new dimension—we attacked the morning fatigue with a couple of “wake-up” Meds.  These are not hard-core stimulants, and I had previously used them earlier but only on mornings after really bad nights.  The difference was that the new doc wanted me to take these every morning to reinforce a wake-up time so that I would become wide awake in the morning and then get tired by evening.  This approach did work well, but the real magic took some years to materialize.

Starting in about 2019ish this dual approach actually made my night time Meds work better.  I still take my night time Meds but I can count on them working.  Better still, I am in the process of reducing one of my two night time sleep Meds.  A couple of nights I went to bed really tired and actually forgot to take my night time Meds yet slept just fine anyways.  Though this is not a regular event, just a couple of years ago sleeping without meds would have been impossible for me.  My goal now is to slowly wean myself off first one med completely and then the other.

I wish I could point to a specific event, but it may have just been a sort of “healing” from getting regular sleep for a long time.  I don’t actually know why my sleep is improving, but I am certainly happy that it is.

I thought I would add this as a little update as this thread has taken on a life of its own.  Again, thanks to everyone for your support and I certainly appreciate your own struggles.

Eric
 
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