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Anxiety about sleep

Damien

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Hello everyone,

I've been struggling a lot with sleep since late March. My wife and I had our second child, and also a lot of little life stressors that just started piling up. I think all of this started by anxiety up, and that fuelled the insomnia.

It started with me not being able to sleep at all some nights. I would even sometimes go two nights in a row, and then struggle again on the third night. The first month it happened, I would sometimes just resort to alcohol to put me to sleep, but I'd always wake up after a few hours unrested and more anxious.

I'm 41 years old, have OCD (mainly wash hands too much) and previously had a similar issue in 2014 right after getting married and moving in with my wife. It seems that major life changes might be the root of my anxiety.

I stopped the alcohol in April, and was just using melatonin, Tylenor cold (drowsy) and sometimes medical marijuana when I was struggling to sleep. They didn't always work, but sometimes they did help to get me a little bit of sleep to function.

In May, I went about 2 weeks of sleeping really well (7-8 hours) and then the sleeplessness started up again. In June, I've used melatonin most nights, and I've been able to get good sleep about 17 days this month. The rest of the days, I've struggled to get a couple of hours, or I've resorted to one of the things above to get some sleep.

I have two young children, and it really is hard to get through the day after a poor night of sleep. I think more than the exhaustion, my anxiety about the upcoming night is the worst part of this. Right now, I worry about being able to sleep, and I worry I will not be able to sleep unless I take something (even melatonin). I know some people says melatonin doesn't even work, and perhaps it's just the idea that I think I'm taking something that relieves some of my anxiety.

In 2014, I ended up going on benzos (Ativan) and that just made everything worse. They stopped working after a month, and I kept needing more and more. My anxiety about sleep was just so high, and nothing seemed to be working. I tried trazodone, serequel, etc... After about 8 months of struggling with trying to get off pills and sleep on my own, I finally was able to. It took almost a year to get back to restful sleep.

But here I am, no pills to stress about, and aside from parenting, everything else in our lives is pretty relaxed, yet I'm struggling so much to fall asleep at night, and then dealing with anxiety about sleep all day long after a bad night.

I feel like I'm alone here.

Please help!
 

triceps

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Hi Damien. Boy, you've got a catch-22 thing going, being unable to sleep and having terrible anxiety worrying about the next time you try to sleep. I've only had severe insomnia one time when I was going through withdrawals weaning off Xanax. It's hard to believe that serequel didn't knock you out. Trazedone (150mg) was helpful for me at that time. One thing I know for sure is that the short-term gain of the alcohol is not worth the increased anxiety caused by it the next day. Are you able to take naps or somehow shake up your schedule as to when you try to sleep? Naps are of great benefit to me but I'm retired and have the luxury of a completely flexible schedule.
Sir, all I can do is wish you the very best and hope that this bout of insomnia will end soon for you as it has in the past.
 

ManaClash

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I feel your struggle man I too suffer from Anxiety and Sleep disorders. I have such a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep at night. I dread the night's because I know everyone will be sound asleep and I'll be wide awake just laying in my bed thinking about stuff. I've tried everything too I'm currently taking benzodiazepines and antidepressants but like you said after awhile you need more and more to sleep. I use to take melatonin also which never did much and I use to drink ,smoke weed and eat edbilbes to try and put me to sleep. Not much has helped really. I wanna try some full spectrum CBD tincture for sleep I've heard alot of people have had great success using it but it's not cheap.

I wish I could be more helpful and give you an answer because it sucks running on no sleep and it makes my Anxiety 100x worse. Just know your not alone and hang in there.
 

Damien

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I feel your struggle man I too suffer from Anxiety and Sleep disorders. I have such a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep at night. I dread the night's because I know everyone will be sound asleep and I'll be wide awake just laying in my bed thinking about stuff. I've tried everything too I'm currently taking benzodiazepines and antidepressants but like you said after awhile you need more and more to sleep. I use to take melatonin also which never did much and I use to drink ,smoke weed and eat edbilbes to try and put me to sleep. Not much has helped really. I wanna try some full spectrum CBD tincture for sleep I've heard alot of people have had great success using it but it's not cheap.

I wish I could be more helpful and give you an answer because it sucks running on no sleep and it makes my Anxiety 100x worse. Just know your not alone and hang in there.
Thank you both for your reply.

I've always been a night owl, and probably because that's the time when I'm just so exhausted and fall asleep. Normally I would sleep at around 3-4am, and wake up around 10.

After my battle with insomnia/anxiety and sleeping pills in 2014, I got back to my sleep. Again, I was going to bed late, bit I slept every night.

Now if I have a bad night, there is so much anxiety that a daytime nap is impossible. Just too much cortisol going through me.

In May, I have two weeks where I slept without using anything, and felt great. This past month, I have several days of sleep without using aids, and even over the last two weeks, I slept pretty much every day only using melatonin some nights, and a few nights not taking anything.

I just feel so frustrated when I try to fall asleep and I realize it's not going to happen. It's like if I miss that first opportunity, the night is done for me. I might get lucky and eventually sleep for 1-2 hours early in the morning, but getting a restful sleep is out of the question.

It seems that I struggle sleeping about 30-40% of the nights each month since March.

My anxiety about sleep is there every night, but it's much more manageable when I've had a couple good sleeps. Right now though, I'm in my worrying loop where I feel like I'm never going to sleep again.

Does this end???

What can I do to help myself?
 

ManaClash

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Ahh the good old worry loop I feel it daily. The catch 22 is you'll never fall asleep or get good sleep if your constraining on it. I could give you the same generic answer that doctors have told me over the year's. Limit your naps, exercise more don't eat before going to bed wake up at the same time everyday take a hot bath. I've had some form of insomnia my entire lige even as a child I couldn't go to sleep at night and would fall asleep in class. It's just gotten worse as my anxiety has gotten worse. What about going back to the doctors and try some other type of meds? You could try CBD my friend swears by it I've never tried it. I have to take benzo to sleep now and I wouldn't reccomend to anyone.
 

ManaClash

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Also anyway it's environmental ? I mean could you sleep somewhere else different bed a couch or a hotel? I use to turn the tv on and try and fall asleep that way to keep my mind of trying to sleep. Like all night I would be thinking is it going to happen am I falling asleep or about to.
 

Damien

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Also anyway it's environmental ? I mean could you sleep somewhere else different bed a couch or a hotel? I use to turn the tv on and try and fall asleep that way to keep my mind of trying to sleep. Like all night I would be thinking is it going to happen am I falling asleep or about to.
Environment is definitely an issue. My 4 year old has night terrors every night, and this occasionally will happen right as I'm getting myself ready for sleep as it did last night.

But my wife has been amazingly supportive, and most nights she will wake up and put.our son back to bed while I try to get some sleep.

I've done some talk therapy, and all the therapists say I have to do CBT and accept the sleepless nights. I guess the saying goes "when the resistance is gone, so are the demons".

It's just hard when you're trying to go to sleep after a night or two where you either have barely slept, or haven't slept at all.

I sometimes get so frustrated that my mind goes to a dark place and I think I'd rather be dead. I know this shouldn't be in my mind, especially with two beautiful children, but my anxiety sometimes gets the better of me :(
 

Joetaylor

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Hi Damien. I too have been struggling with insomnia now for a few weeks so you are not alone. I suffer from GAD, OCD, and panic disorder. I’m also a hypochondriac so I automatically think it’s something medical. Even went to the ER and doctors office a few times trying to come up with a reason this is happening. After a clean bill of health from multiple doctors I started back on Lexapro to help my anxiety. Doctors are just chalking my situation up to anxiety and major stress. It makes since as leading up to this episode I’ve had a job change, money problems and relationship issues. I also have a young kid as well so I have that parenting stress too. I seem to go almost two days sometimes with no sleep. It’s so frustrating and for really scary that I’ll never sleep again. Or sometimes I think my mind won’t let me sleep bc I’m gonna die in my sleep or something. I’m so exhausted but it’s almost as I’m drifting to sleep my body wakes me up. A feeling like adrenaline starting in my chest and coursing down my arms. Even my lower legs will feel shakey. All this has made me develop a serious fear of sleeping and I get so stressed when everyone in my house is sleeping and I can’t. It’s a battle. Anyways, I was apprehensive to start taking Quetiapine as my psychiatrist prescribed me a few days ago to help me sleep. I really didn’t wanna go that route bc scared of possible side effects, but after not sleeping much again for a couple days Im at my wits end so I’m gonna try it tonight. Hoping for good results bc I know if I can get sleep I’ll be fine the next Day. I’ve always been a night owl too and would run on about 6 hours and never had a problem. But I’ve never had complete sleepless nights till recently. Just wanted to share what I’m going through since our stories sound similar. Hope you start sleeping soon bud.
 

Damien

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Joe, I'm sorry to hear you are going through this. Last night I took some cannabis capsules (small does of THC and CBD). It got me relaxed and I drifted off for a minute as I was meditating on my couch. Went to my bed and nothing. Tried to relax, but the tired feeling was gone. After about an hour, I went and took 3mg of melatonin. Fell asleep about half hour later, and woke up 5 hours later feeling anxious. Tried to go back to sleep, but couldn't.

I need to tackle this anxiety. I know that when I get a few nights of good sleep, the anxiety goes down and I'm able to get to sleep easier.

The problem is, a bad night tends to put me back in the anxious loop again.

I've relied on melatonin a lot this month, and now I feel like I can't sleep without it, even though there were days this month where I did.

It's like if I don't take something, I believe I can't sleep.

I'm tired of this!
 

Joetaylor

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Joe, I'm sorry to hear you are going through this. Last night I took some cannabis capsules (small does of THC and CBD). It got me relaxed and I drifted off for a minute as I was meditating on my couch. Went to my bed and nothing. Tried to relax, but the tired feeling was gone. After about an hour, I went and took 3mg of melatonin. Fell asleep about half hour later, and woke up 5 hours later feeling anxious. Tried to go back to sleep, but couldn't.

I need to tackle this anxiety. I know that when I get a few nights of good sleep, the anxiety goes down and I'm able to get to sleep easier.

The problem is, a bad night tends to put me back in the anxious loop again.

I've relied on melatonin a lot this month, and now I feel like I can't sleep without it, even though there were days this month where I did.

It's like if I don't take something, I believe I can't sleep.

I'm tired of this!
Thanks for the reply, I’m glad you got some sleep last night. I got a few hours myself. Just still so tired but even as I try to nap in the early morning it’s like I can’t fall asleep.

Also, prior to this I’ve relied on marijuana for the past 3-4 years to help my anxiety and I always went to bed high. Until recently as it was making my anxiety way worse and wasn’t working for me no more. I’m trusting in my doctor and hope these medications will do the trick. I’ve had success with SSRIs before to treat my anxiety and used to take klonopin. They won’t give out Benzos anymore around here and I understand why. That stuff can create a bad cycle like u said always needing more. Then I felt like I didn’t need it anymore and would rather use cannabis. I tried melatonin last week too and it worked for one night but not the next even after an increased dose. Either way it’s like I’m gonna need something to go to sleep. Praying that seroquil will work wonders for me tonight, to at least give my body some rest. I just wish I could sleep normally without having to take somethin. I’m tired of this too!
 

Damien

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I feel the same. When I'm anxious, I rarely get back to sleep after waking up.

In June, I went 17-18 days with good sleep (melatonin for a lot of those nights) and the other days I struggled.

What does your pattern look like?
 

Joetaylor

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I’ve only recently been dealing with this for about 3 weeks. My pattern seems that once I miss a whole night of sleep, my body will usually give in the following night. Even if it’s just a small handful of hours. Still not a complete night of sleep though. And I can’t help but obsess about why I can’t sleep and I know the worrying and Anxiety is just feeding it. Then it seems to repeat. I have gone almost 2 nights though but I think I’m light sleeping at some points just still fully aware of what’s going on around me. My partner swears I’m sleeping sometimes but I feel like I’m not. It’s so exhausting so I can’t imagine what you feel having multiple bouts with this.
 

ManaClash

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I used Cannabis regularly for years up until a few months ago .Now it just makes it worse ,I definitely think it helped with my sleeping problems. The funny thing is the all the SSRI keep me awake when I'm off my meds I fall asleep in 30 mins but the anxiety is unbearable without them. Hang in there Damien don't give into the dark thoughts. Last month I went to the psychiatric ward because I wanted to kill myself because I didn't think I could take living with the constant anxiety and lack of sleep. Get back on the meltonin even if it's a placebo it still works.

My hat goes off to you having kids because there are days I feel like I can barely take care of myself. Hopefully both you guys get a restful night's sleep.
 

maryam

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I also struggle with insomnia and melatonin has helped a bit, you should also consider taking 400 mg magnesium. Very helpful. Drink some chamomile tea as well and lavender oil can help too.
 

Brad66

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Stress effects sleeping patterns so there isn't a whole lot you can do about waking in the middle of the night type stuff. However there are a lot of methods you can use to try and calm your thinking to allow you to go back to sleep easier.

First thing you have to do is accept the waking up part, understand it's stress, and don't be be frustrated with it or with yourself over it happening.

After that you have to find a way to distract your thoughts. You won't get back to sleep if you are worrying.

There are three methods I use:

1. Rhythm tapping. I do this before I initially go to sleep. I lay in bed on my back and do a rhythmic patting with my hands on my thighs. Just something simple, like the "we will rock you" beat. Do it for atleast a minute and then slow it down gradually until you are ready to sleep. Your brain will lose a little of it's focus on your thoughts and this should allow you to slow it down enough to relax towards sleep.

2. Counting down with visualizations. Start at 300 and count down visualizing the numbers as you go. This techique is taught in a few military trainings to be used in situations where you have a short time frame to rest in a stressful situation. It will help your brain refocus on the counting and visualizations of the numbers and get it away from the stressors.

3. Interval counting. If you aren't a good at visualizing another good counting technique is to count using intervals. Usually an odd number like 7 or 13 works best and use a non 0 starting point. Counting up or down works. I usually start at 200 and count down. If you get to the end counting down just increment the number you are counting down by and start again. This combines the tricks of the first two methods as your brain will start looking for the patterns just like it looks for rhythm of the beats.

I rarely sleep through an entire night. Unless I am on vacation or things really slow down can I do it. However using these techniques I can usually get a healthy amount of sleep most nights and I have let go of the struggle and frustration of waking in the middle of night to stress.

They take a little practice to master but should give you some benefits initially as well.
 

Damien

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I appreciate the tips. Last night I tried counting down from 200, and by 100 I felt awake.

I went to bed feeling tired, but after an hour or so, I was completely up. Went to the other room and folded some laundry. Came back, tried to rest and nothing was coming.

Took 3mg melatonin and eventually went out. Woke up less than 5 hours later. Feel anxious, and even though I lay there for over an hour, I could not sleep.

I'm really having a hard time falling asleep. Seems when I lay in bed for more than half hour, I start thinking I'm not going to be able to sleep, and the anxiety kicks in.

Then I worry that this could go on for multiple nights as it has before over the last 3 months.

And knowing that I can't fall asleep without the melatonin also bothers me, because I'd just like to fall asleep on my own.

I did fall asleep without anything 2-3 times last week. And in early June I did have a few days.

This is really torturous... Laying there for hours or all night not being able to turn off.

Has anyone else had this?
 

tenalive

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Hi Damien,

I am sorry to hear about your struggles. I had a period in my life when the stress and anxiety really effected my sleep. I would be up all night basically until 30 minutes before I had to get up for work. I would then find it easy to nap at the cafeteria at lunch time or in my car, but would then suffer again the next night.

What helps me is acceptance and the power of distraction. If you have too much on your mind then you can't relax. Sometimes I will sing a song in my head over and over again that relaxes me and I just drift off. I also use the TV a lot. I will turn the volume down low so you really have to focus or just read the subtitles. It gets your mind off of the worry and allows me to relax so that when a commercial comes on or if I am feeling super tired I can close my eyes and finally drift off.

I also find that tilting my head up in a 45 degree position gets me tired quicker. I am not sure if it reduces blood flow but it does help me. You just might have to deal with a little neck pain. I also find that when I am ready to possibly fall asleep that if I put my head right into the corner of the couch so that the end and side cushions are like cuddling my head that helps.

You have to do what is best for you. Don't feel obligated to get up from the couch and go into bed if the couch is working better for you. You will just have to explain this to your wife or gf so that she understands and you wont have to worry that she will get upset of wonder why you're not in bed.

Lastly, if you wake up and feel like you're just sitting there and not going back to bed. Accept it. This is your body and you can't force it into something that is not ready for. The best thing is to get up and try doing something productive. If you sit in bed you will just worry and get down on yourself. If you do something productive then you will feel tired but also good about whatever you accomplished. Maybe read a book, or start on a model, do a puzzle, go for a walk. I was on vacation the other day and woke up at 4. I couldn't get back to bed and talked to me gf and finally just went for a car ride, followed by watching the sunrise and a walk on the beach. If I had stayed I would have worried and probably wouldn't have got to sleep. But I did get to see the sunrise, and lot of cool animals on my beach walk. It was calming. If I am at home I will clean the house, paint or do a project.

Bottom line is that you have to find what best works for you. I usually do the above but my gf takes 10 mg of melatonin or NyQuil.

Good luck to you
 

ManaClash

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Stress effects sleeping patterns so there isn't a whole lot you can do about waking in the middle of the night type stuff. However there are a lot of methods you can use to try and calm your thinking to allow you to go back to sleep easier.

First thing you have to do is accept the waking up part, understand it's stress, and don't be be frustrated with it or with yourself over it happening.

After that you have to find a way to distract your thoughts. You won't get back to sleep if you are worrying.

There are three methods I use:

1. Rhythm tapping. I do this before I initially go to sleep. I lay in bed on my back and do a rhythmic patting with my hands on my thighs. Just something simple, like the "we will rock you" beat. Do it for atleast a minute and then slow it down gradually until you are ready to sleep. Your brain will lose a little of it's focus on your thoughts and this should allow you to slow it down enough to relax towards sleep.

2. Counting down with visualizations. Start at 300 and count down visualizing the numbers as you go. This techique is taught in a few military trainings to be used in situations where you have a short time frame to rest in a stressful situation. It will help your brain refocus on the counting and visualizations of the numbers and get it away from the stressors.

3. Interval counting. If you aren't a good at visualizing another good counting technique is to count using intervals. Usually an odd number like 7 or 13 works best and use a non 0 starting point. Counting up or down works. I usually start at 200 and count down. If you get to the end counting down just increment the number you are counting down by and start again. This combines the tricks of the first two methods as your brain will start looking for the patterns just like it looks for rhythm of the beats.

I rarely sleep through an entire night. Unless I am on vacation or things really slow down can I do it. However using these techniques I can usually get a healthy amount of sleep most nights and I have let go of the struggle and frustration of waking in the middle of night to stress.

They take a little practice to master but should give you some benefits initially as well.
Never heard of these thanks for the info. Some Buddhist use counting down to meditate then when you get good enough they stop counting . Interesting, can you explain interval counting to me I'm terrible at math? You mean like 2 4 6 8 10 or 9 18 27 36 45 in my head? Do I visualize the numbers.
 

ManaClash

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I appreciate the tips. Last night I tried counting down from 200, and by 100 I felt awake.

I went to bed feeling tired, but after an hour or so, I was completely up. Went to the other room and folded some laundry. Came back, tried to rest and nothing was coming.

Took 3mg melatonin and eventually went out. Woke up less than 5 hours later. Feel anxious, and even though I lay there for over an hour, I could not sleep.

I'm really having a hard time falling asleep. Seems when I lay in bed for more than half hour, I start thinking I'm not going to be able to sleep, and the anxiety kicks in.

Then I worry that this could go on for multiple nights as it has before over the last 3 months.

And knowing that I can't fall asleep without the melatonin also bothers me, because I'd just like to fall asleep on my own.

I did fall asleep without anything 2-3 times last week. And in early June I did have a few days.

This is really torturous... Laying there for hours or all night not being able to turn off.

Has anyone else had this?
Most nights I worry I won't be able to fall asleep. Sometimes it takes me a good 3hrs to fall asleep and then I wake up at least twice. This is with .5 Xanax and a hot bath 2hrs before bed. But my anxiety is so bad during the day I wake up with panic attacks almost every morning at 10 am or 11 am on the dot man. Then I feel all ****** up with anxiety for the rest of the day **** looks all weird and my thoughts are abnormal or Intrusive. Then I worry I never feel normal or like use to feel which was alot better than this.
 

ManaClash

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I can't really do or say anything to help you but I understand what you're going through.
 
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