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Dealing with insomnia due to pain and illness?

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  • Dealing with insomnia due to pain and illness?

    So I have always been a light sleeper. But it seems that ever since I got sick I have horrible insomnia either due to pain or just the fact that I can't fall asleep no matter how exausted I am. Does anyone have any good ideas? The catch 22 is that if I don't sleep at night I feel sicker the next few days and then sleep for a couple days and then can't sleep at night

    I have tried tons of different sleeping pills and teas. So any idea on how to not only deal with the pain but also the fact that it seems the longer I am awake no matter how hard I try if I feel even a little ill I can't sleep and then the squirrels that run around in my brain don't stop thinking about how I can't sleep and then will feel sicker? I had to cancel 3 of my lessons this week due to not only the insomnia, but the fact that it makes everything worse so I have had walking issues and can't keep my head out of the toilet

  • #2
    Originally posted by GaellentQuest View Post
    So I have always been a light sleeper. But it seems that ever since I got sick I have horrible insomnia either due to pain or just the fact that I can't fall asleep no matter how exausted I am. Does anyone have any good ideas?
    Low dose amitriptyline (10-25mg). Also helps with chronic pain.


    • Original Poster

      Thanks I will ask my doctor about it in the morning. I am sick of not being able to sleep and that making me sicker so not able to even do the little things that I enjoy. Brushing my 2yr, giving a lesson here and there. Sleep is good. I wish I could sleep like my husband. He falls asleep fast and can sleep through anything!


      • #4
        The catch 22 is that if I don't sleep at night I feel sicker the next few days and then sleep for a couple days and then can't sleep at night
        Aye... there's the rub, 'eh?

        For me, the Amytrip made me WAY too groggy in the AM.

        I recently upped my Vit D to 4-5000 mg per day, and I think my sleep has been MUCH better, despite the fact that I'm currently on graveyards. Magnesium helps with sleep and relaxation.

        I took a week long class for Cops & EMS dealing with the Mentally Ill. One of the classes was all about drugs--the Rx kind. Topic came up about sleep/lack thereof, which is SO common among public safety with our rotating shifts etc. The consensus among the two Psych Docs and the Pharmacist that were teaching (along with about 1/2 the class) was that Benadryl is actually the safest, non-habit forming sleep aid.

        Benadryll helps me *fall* asleep, but doesnt' help me STAY asleep, unless I take too much, then I'm groggy in the AM.

        AlkaSeltzer Cold & Flu works wonders *at times* for me. A little anti-inflam, a little bicarbonate, a little diphenhydramine... It's actually what I *have* to take if a cluster migraine wakes me--it's the only thing that lets me keep down the migraine meds.

        I've discovered that HALF a Flexoril (my Rx is 10mg, they are safe to split) is just about right for me for a 'normal' night's sleep (8-9hrs) with no hangover. A whole one insures SLEEP of the DEAD but makes it damn hard to get up in the morning.

        And this is probably HORRIBLE advice, but I've found that ONE glass of port leaves me happily sleepy... two and I'm awake 4-6 hrs later... but one healthy glass and I'm off to dreamland...

        I have friends on graveyards who swear by Tylenol PM. I really think part of it is psychosomatic. *I* believe that half a flexoril works for me. So it does.

        Melatonin works for me the first day I take it. Not after that. JUST read soemthing recently that you're only supposed to take it 2-3x/week.

        Dr. had me try a couple of the other Rx sleep stuff, most left me too groggy to get up in the AM. My *issue* is non-refreshing sleep... so certainly others will have FAR better luck with the 'real' sleep aid stuff.
        InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

        Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


        • #5
          Same issue here. For the days when I've overdone it and know I will be hurting the next day if I don't get a good night's sleep, I take 2 Benadryl (at 25 mg each) and 3 melatonin (at 3 mg each). The Benadryl knocks me out as long as I don't miss that "Benadryl window", and the melatonin keeps me asleep. I find that when I make sure to take the melatonin and not just Benadryl, I don't get that groggy Benadryl hangover. Your dosage may vary, but for me, this mix works better than Ambien CR.
          Note: don't take this combo if you don't have time to get at least 8 hours of sleep. You WILL be wiped and out of it if you don't sleep long enough on this stuff.


          • #6
            Oh, interesting about the combo. Will try!
            InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

            Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


            • #7
              Originally posted by rcloisonne View Post
              Low dose amitriptyline (10-25mg). Also helps with chronic pain.
              Second this. I have had the same problem, and if I got two hours of straight sleep a night, it's a good night. Have been through all of the usual sleeping meds - Ambien, Ambien CR, Sonata, Lunesta. None of them did a thing. Was put on a low dose (I believe it was 50 mg before sleep, then another 50mg if I was still awake several hours later). Worked great. Usually never needed to take the second dose.
              ~*Friend of bar.ka*~


              • #8
                Have you tried your local sleep clinic, your local pain clinic?
                They address those problems regularly and may have something that helps you, now and later, if and as your conditions change.

                I guess I am one of the lucky ones, maybe have two nights a year I am not asleep before my head touches the pillow.
                My problem, I can't sleep more than 5 hours, so have to go sleep late, or wake in the middle of the night, ready to go with my day.
                That is ok, I get more hours out of my life than most this way.


                • #9
                  I have been an insomniac my entire life... Can remember watching the sun come up after horse shows when I was nine or so.

                  Currently the classic fibro mix of flexeril and activan puts and keeps me asleep for 8 hours. Good quality sleep. It sounds like maybe you need something to slow your brain down, mental activity has always been the source of my insomnia. Talk to your doctor about that.

                  Don't know if you are a CountingCrows fan or not but if so, whenever it's very late and I need some sympathy I listen to Frankie Miller Goes To Hollywood
                  Last edited by EqTrainer; Apr. 22, 2010, 10:43 PM.
                  "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                  • Original Poster

                    Ok trying zolpidem 10mg tonight. Guess it is the generic ambian or whatever. We shall see if it shuts my brain down and I can fall asleep. Which I hope works well since I way over did it today. I couldn't even drive myself home tonight from the stable.


                    • #11

                      Insomnia is a primary symptom of depression and is successfully treated with antidepressants. Anyone with a chronic illness likely has some level of depression. Acknowledge it and get it treated. Your quality of life will improve.


                      • #12
                        I'm also a very light sleeper on a combination of different meds. It's tough to find the right combo that helps you sleep the night without sleeping through the next day. Keeping in mind I have not been totally successful, here are some things I have tried or heard of.

                        Second the sleep clinic idea. Have you considered you may have sleep apnea?

                        Checking into the depression piece may be helpful, as well as asking about anti-anxiety strategies if your "wheels keep turning keeping you up".

                        I find listening to the same book on tape every night helps put me to sleep.

                        That's interested to read about the Melatonin b/c that's exactly the experience I had. First night was awesome but after that, nothing. I like the Benadryl but I also have Sjogren's, so have to be careful with allergy meds.

                        If you have pain, have you thought of a different mattress/pillow?

                        Also, read up on sleep hygiene to help 'train' your body to sleep.

                        Good luck!

                        ETA: The worst part about not sleeping is not having the energy to ride!


                        • #13
                          Ear plugs may help a great deal if you're easily awakened. I'm a light sleeper, and if I wake up, it's very difficult to get back to sleep. The best kind I've found are some pink foam ones especially sized for ladies. I think they're called "Sleep Pretty in Pink." They stay in, and I stay snoozing despite the snoring hubby and the restless dog. I don't have the medical concerns that some of you have, but if you are looking for suggestions, this one is low cost, readily available, no doctor visit needed, and may augment some of the other therapies you are trying.
                          It's 2017. Do you know where your old horse is?

                          www.streamhorsetv.com -- website with horse show livestream listings and links.


                          • #14
                            a regular routine can help... a snoring spouse - not so much!

                            Due to chronic, and now coupled with acute, pain, I have to use everything at my disposal to try to overwhelm the pain with sleepiness - not easily done some nights.

                            Firstly, I take my pain meds as close to bedtime as possible. Then I add a cornucopia of 'sleep aids':
                            - hot cup of chamomile, or SleepyTime tea
                            - calcium pill
                            - muscle relaxant
                            - prescription sleeping pill
                            and I try for a routine:
                            - lights out at about the same time each night
                            - quiet music, especially "sleep inducing" CD's,you can get them on Amazon
                            - switch TV to Fireplace Channel - "live" fireplace, complete with log crackling noises, set TV to "Sleep" - off in 30 minutes
                            - read some short threads on COTH
                            Repeat Routine in 30 minutes if still awake.

                            and avoid caffeine up to 8 hours before bedtime, it can have a rebound effect many hours after initially consumed. Be aware that some pain meds contain caffeine - I read all labels. And some prescription meds can cause insomnia - that you'll have to research and discuss with your doctor, if applicable.

                            My hubby is equally annoying by being able to fall asleep the second he closes his eyes. This alone can irritate me to the point of sleeplessness on a bad day!
                            “Your appearance should reflect the care you take in every aspect of your horsemanship... feeding, grooming... everything you do, from the barn to the show ring. Class, people, class…" George Morris


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wateryglen View Post
                              Insomnia is a primary symptom of depression and is successfully treated with antidepressants.
                              Amtriptyline is an antidepressant.
                              Melatonin only works for me for exactly 4 hours.
                              Benadryl doesn't work
                              Several "PM" helpers will help eventually, but I mean SEVERAL.....
                              It sucks

                              I am an insomniac for a great many reasons. I do have to take mass doses of anything to sleep a few hours here and there. Really, nothing helps even when so exhausted I can't think straight.

                              Recently I got tired of throwing mass quantities of meds into me and went back to a childhood "remedy" of sorts. And believe me I am a sceptical as anyone...
                              Warm milk and honey. .... It worked much to my suprise.

                              Sorry you are struggling with this. It does suck.


                              • #16
                                Insomnia is not always coupled w/depression. Fact is that I sleep GREAT if I am depressed. The better I feel in general the more likely I am to be awake all night. FWIW sleeping aids have never helped me either it has always been important to actually address the thing that keeps me awake - my busy mind.
                                "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                                • #17
                                  I do think you should consult with a pain or sleep clinic if this is regularly interfering with your daily life.

                                  Some things that help for me:
                                  1) Unless I'm prepared to stay up until 2, I avoid working on the computer, watching TV, or sitting in front of bright light sources before bed.
                                  2) If I do wake up and can't get back to sleep, I try going back to sleep someplace else. I've got a futon in my office and daybed in the living room. I'll wrap a couple of polarfleece throws around me and cuddle up.
                                  3) If the change of venue doesn't work, I turn on the dimmest light possible and read a book. I find horse training and horse care books are pretty good insomnia reads. They aren't so exciting that I get hooked and stay up all night, but they aren't so difficult or boring that I get irritated. I get less upset if I feel like I'm making productive use of my AWOL sleep time, and getting less upset ultimately helps me get back to sleep faster.


                                  • #18
                                    Yup that works!

                                    Carp is right!
                                    Avoid bright light sources before going to bed. Including computer screens. Bright light is stimulating. Don't look directly into the lamp before turning it off. ditto the tv.

                                    Don't eat anything prior to going to bed. But a big glass of milk can calm you and make you sleepy. Tryptophan is also in turkey!!

                                    No alcohol before bedtime- it's actually a stimulant.

                                    Benedryl (an antihistamine) can be used at varied doses - from 25 mg to 50 to 75 to 100mg. It's only in your system for 4-6 hrs so it wears off.

                                    No showers/baths before bed. Even warm ones can be stimulating.

                                    Make sure you are warm & comfortable when getting into bed. Any chill is stimulating.

                                    And finally; it's VERY hard to sleep when you have any pain of any level. Pain is an alarm response and can keep you awake. Bedtime is the time to break out the pain meds or bigger guns ones.

                                    For those of you with busy minds; try some mental imaging as you try to fall asleep. See yourself riding, doing something pleasurable, calming. I often try to see myself on a trailride in pretty country on a great day. Keep going back to that good thought & image.


                                    • #19
                                      My visual when my mind is busy is loping bareback through a field with the tall soon to be hay brushing against my legs. Reminds me of my childhood and a simpler time. Simple things, I suppose.


                                      • #20
                                        Hey GQ-Boy do I know what you are going through!!! I have become the queen of no sleep and the anxiety that comes with it.

                                        My doctor prescribed Seroquel 50 mg for the nights that I have not gotten any sleep for more than 24 hours (and yes, this happens more than I would like). The great thing about the Seroquel is that I sleep...but it is not a restful sleep but it takes the anxiety away from not having any sleep. Ambien, and other sleeping pills just do not work for me anymore. The Seroquel is my one home right now.

                                        There is a great website that I have completely fallen in love with. Newdirectionsaromatic.coms. I have bought a fair amount of their products, especially their dead sea salts and essential oils. When I am on an insomniatic bender, I take a hot bath 2-3 hours before I want to go to sleep. I add specific essential oils such as Lavender with the dead sea salts and it helps my body calm down from the nerve pain.

                                        I try not to drink too many liquids before heading off to bed as that will keep me awake too. I have bought some books on tape and even started reading some of my old college English Literature books as well to help calm my mind into sleep. I cannot fall asleep infront of the tv but a good book on tape, with a soothing voice, really seems to help.

                                        The pain is another big issue and if that is a problem, then you need to get to a pain management doctor to seek help for this. I hate taking any pain medications but I do realize that having them on hand just in case I am having a bad night will help me relax. Stress from pain is almost as bad as the pain itself.

                                        Another thing that I have looked toward for help is accupuncture and deep tissue massage. I really hate to spend the money on these things (but I will for my horse...go figure). Sometimes these treatments will get the stress out of your system and relax some of your muscles.

                                        Good Luck!
                                        Keep in mind...normal is just a dryer setting.~anonymous