Tuesday, April 28, 2015

An Insomniac's Take on Insomnia

From this post's title, it's apparent I have a sleeping problem.  I've struggled with it for almost 5 years now.  Up until then, I considered myself a great sleeper.  While I'd be sleeping, my husband would mess with me (like pick up my arm and drop it) and I'd never budge.  So what changed?  I'm getting older?  I have 5 kids? I wish I knew the exact answer!  But I do have a few speculations:

I had 3 kids at the time when I had my first instance with insomnia.  My youngest was just 6 months old and my twins were 2.  I could probably say it was stress related having all those little kids.  Ironically, it went away when I got pregnant with baby #4 but returned again and I struggled with it until...you guessed it...getting pregnant with baby #5!  My theory as to why it goes away when I'm pregnant/newborn is I totally bottom out for 9+ months as I'm so sick with morning sickness.  Then the first 6 months while I deal with a newborn, I'm so tired that I'll do anything for sleep.  But as soon as the baby starts sleeping more through the night, that's when I struggle...crazy.  I also read that losing weight can contribute to insomnia and between each pregnancy I've lost anywhere from 15 - 35 pounds to get back to my pre-birth weight.

BUT, I do think that when my baby starts sleeping through the night more, I start pouring "extra curricular" items on my plate that subconsciously stress me out.  Think PTA President, huge home remodeling project, moving states, husband applying for law school, the list goes on.  For me, I think my overload of stress presents itself in the form of insomnia.

Now, I'm also not saying that I don't ever sleep.  I have good and bad nights and they go in waves.  I'll go several weeks (sometimes months) without issues but then something stressful comes into my life and triggers my insomnia, then struggle with it for several weeks (and sometimes months).

Funny how when you suffer from something you find out lots about it!  I don't know that I've Googled any other subject more!  I know all the little "tips" and "tricks" that are all out there.  Ya know, no electronics before bedtime, only sleeping and sex in bed, don't exercise in the evening, no caffeine especially late in the day, yada, yada, yada.  I do all those and still can't sleep.

I've even gone in and seen my family practitioner.  All he did was prescribe me Trazodone and send me on my way.  It helped for a bit (I think it just put my mind at ease like a placebo) but then I'd eventually find myself worse off - drugged and still not sleeping.  I have not been in to see a sleep specialist but that is next on my hit list (I just can't keep having babies as my cure for crying out loud!).  I know there is a sleep center that my insurance company covers that I will probably be looking into in the near future.

But I did want to share a few DIY things that have become a godsend in my life!  I don't know how I happened onto them, but they have been a real life saver:

First up is this DIY workbook:

It has taught me things that I never would have never found by Googling.  My favorite is the "Sleep Restriction" section.  It has done wonders.  You may be able to find this book at the library, but if you are a regular sufferer from insomnia, you may want to have this workbook in your home library.  There are also worksheets for you to fill out so you can keep sleep logs and other helpful information so it's convenient to own your own copy.

Then I've been collecting great aps that I can relax to as I fall asleep at night.  Reading for me is great before I actually get into bed to wind down from the day (which I've discovered that I MUST do for at least an hour before my bedtime) but I find when I get into bed, anxiety about sleeping hits me and I can't fall asleep.  I need something to turn my mind off while I'm in bed.

For that, I have used several aps suggested in this article, "17 Apps That Will Help You Fall Asleep Easily."  I've been using "Simply Being" for several years but I'm branching out and going to try the "Sleep Genius."

If you are suffering from insomnia, know that you are not alone, nor are your only options medication.  I'd LOVE to hear more suggestions on how you cope with insomnia and what you do to treat it and live with it (medically or on a more DIY approach).

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