We see a lot about lack of sleep, but not so much on the effects this has on our every day waking lives. It seems this is the crunch-line in fact – How do you cope on little or no sleep? Any strategies for keeping going?
When I'm very sleep deprived, I tend to start racking up a number of unsettling symptoms that make it even more difficult for me to fall asleep at night – nausea, trembling/feeling cold, and pounding heartbeat. All of these contribute to my anxiety over not sleeping well and can keep me awake even when I can feel how exhausted I am. When it starts happening, I seriously feel like I'm dying and it's so stressful and frustrating. It becomes a vicious cycle: I feel sick because I don't get enough sleep, then I don't get enough sleep because I feel sick. I'm pretty averse to taking meds so I don't feel like sleeping pills are an option for me; I'd be too afraid they'd stop my heart or something.
Just wondering if anyone else gets similar symptoms, and how you manage to push through despite feeling so bad?
Hi there, I totally feel your pain.
I have been a chronic insomniac for the last 10 years & am going through a particularly horrendous spell at the moment which has resulted in me being off work for the last 2 weeks. I just want to get back to normal & be able to function normally & live a life
I don't have any coping strategies to divulge I'm sorry…
I just wanted to offer support & understanding to say you are not alone as I know exactly the slow torture you describe of in the daytimes.
Here's hoping things improve for us all on here soon.
Hi! I just wanted to reach out and say you're not alone and I'm dealing with exactly that! I'm 26 and have been experiencing insomnia for about a year now. I totally can relate to what you say about your friends not being able to relate. I really struggle to let people know just how crap I feel from having 3 hours sleep the night before, and I feel so much stigma around complaining and saying 'I'm so tired!' because I just feel like no one wants to hear that when you're trying to have fun and socialise. I guess I have a belief that complaining you're tired is boring for people to hear and that it might bring the mood down, which maybe I don't want to be seen as being responsible for. But then I find I resent my friends sometimes for not being more sympathetic, which is unfair of me because I haven't let them know the extent of my sleep issue. I've found it a constant balance to try and maintain normality and my social life, whilst actually being able to be honest and let people know about my problem. Basically, the challenge of balance.
I think craborne's reply is great and really helpful, thank you craborne. Perhaps there's a lot to be said for the pressure we place on ourselves. In addition to this, I actually work within the mental healthcare field and I even feel like I can't talk to my colleagues about it, which I think is another issue about the stigma of mental ill-health even within workplaces of this nature.
Sorry for massive post!
I regularly get no sleep at all, and sometimes just an hour or two, and have a busy job as a litigator as well as a 7 year old son. I am 3 1/2 months off anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds, and 3 days into the sleep restriction.
Daytime, particularly the morning, is really tough. I get the shakes, headaches, grogginess, tight chest, increased anxiety, obsessive rumination and worry about sleep and my health in general etc etc. It is even worse at 3-4am, when the hopelessness and depression kick in too.
However, I have a little mantra that goes: “sod it, do it anyway”. If I am tired and don't want to get out of bed? Sod it, do it anyway. If I don't want to go the gym at lunchtime? Sod it, do it anyway. I am not going to let this ruin my life, or stop me doing things I want to do. The more I do that, and the more I see how much I am capable of doing even when absolutely exhausted and falling to pieces, the more confidence I have in my ability, and the less anxious I get about the insomnia.
I also take this experience of feeling awful from lack of sleep as a lesson in compassion for others – I think of those with insomnia from chronic pain, or cancer treatment etc, and am better able to feel compassion for their struggle because I have experienced a tiny portion of it. That is a good thing. And I am now better able to offer advice and support to colleagues and friends (so many of whom it turns out have sleep and mental health issues of their own) about these sorts of things. So that helps me see the unpleasant sensations of the day as a teaching exercise. I find that can help.
Also – regular exercise every day (even if just a 20min walk outside on the way to work, but 3-4 times a week I go to the gym), meditation/mindfulness, Omega 3 fish oil, magnesium, vitamin C and zinc, all help a bit too. That and eating healthily in general – giving my body as much assistance in keeping itself going as possible.
Hope some of those ideas might help!
I've tried sleep restriction therapy a couple of times but find it really hard to stay awake. I always fall asleep by mistake at some point between 8 and midnight.
Right now, my sleep window is from 12 midnight until 6 am. Recently I went out with friends and got back home at 11:30. So going to bed at midnight was sooo easy.
The second night I was really bored with nothing to do and ended up watching tv. I thought I was in control, but the next thing I know, I'm waking up at 12:30. My Fitbit data shows I fell asleep at 10:30.
I have been trying various things to stay away like walking around the living room listening to music on headphones. Or going for a walk outside in the cold. However these are pretty rubbish ways to spend 2-3 hours every evening.
I can't drive anywhere as I'm way too sleepy.
Is there a trick I am missing?
These are good ideas, Sleepyjomo, thanks!
I saw on your profile question that you are a lawyer. Your job must be stressful, so it's not surprising to me that you have trouble sleeping--and that your colleagues do too. It sounds like you have a ton of willpower!
I also find that doing whatever I can for my health is helpful. In fact, I am better about eating a proper lunch and making myself green smoothies b/c it's one thing I can do for energy.
How is the SE going? I know you were anxious about it.
You're definitely not alone. I am 26 and have been experiencing problems with insomnia for about six months now.
I have friends who have also experienced difficulties with sleep and even them I find difficult to talk to about it all. I think it is always a symptom of anxiety and depression driven problems that you feel like a burden in some way or like you are being a downer so to speak and you don't want to continually moan to your friends about it. However I often found that whilst I thought I was being really irritating and a downer on my pals, they were really worried about me! I think don't be afraid to reach out to family and friends.. if you need someone to stay in with you rather than making that trip to the pub, then ask. You would do the same for someone else..
I have come to realise that my insomnia has developed in tangent with a growing subconscious depression that I had sort of developed in the background but not properly addressed. Whilst my sleeping hasn't normalised yet – I am in the process of dealing with the depression stuff, and slowly as I tackle that and adjust my medication and so on related to these problems, the sleeping stuff is starting to get better too. Definitely keep in touch with your doctor and reach out in that direction also.
I do obviously also think there's a lot to be said for improving your sleep hygiene and taking the Sleepio programme seriously – but also I was really hard on myself for a long time and stopped myself from doing loads of stuff for ages because I was terrified of disrupting my sleep – but looking back I wish I had tackled things a little differently. I don't think it should stop you from socialising or having fun. I don't think you should be hard on yourself for having a night out distracting yourself with friends and having a slightly less perfect pre sleep evening. I found that as soon as I started (admittedly sometimes forcedly so) introducing things back in to my life that I knew brought me joy, (mostly social activities and exercise which had fallen by the wayside as I prioritised the wrong things) I started to feel much more positive and the sleeping stuff started to improve too.
Basically I think tackling your sleep and employing all the sleepio things is important – but if you structure your WHOLE life around sleep then it becomes quickly an obsessive area – where really you don't want that to be the thing that defines you. Cut yourself some slack – if you feel like going out and forgetting about it all, then DO. If you feel like being boring and staying in and watching netflix all evening, then DO. Prioritise yourself – you need to be selfish and get yourself back on track.
Thanks PuppyMum – I am going to have to give up on the program for now. It ended up massively increasing my anxiety issues (I have GAD and depression, but was managing ok off my medication) – I burst into tears on the Tube home last night (and I never cry!) – Therapist thinks I am putting too much pressure on myself and I need to just relax and take care of myself for a while.
I wonder if this program works when there are underlying mental health issues. My anxiety is always strong enough to override my sleep drive anyway…
I Sleepyjomo. Wanted to reach out as I also work as a lawyer and sometimes lie awake entire nights without any sleep at all because I worry about how not sleeping will affect my job performance… On weekends I sleep like a baby. I work in-house and kind move meetings around and hide from colleagues when I haven't slept at all. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to perform in court after a sleepless night – how do you cope? I feel like my mind is at its “sharpest” in the morning after a sleepless night. In the afternoon I can hardly put sentences together.
Session 5 & holding strong at 79% sleep efficiency :-)
I'm finding that a spell outdoors at any time during daylight hours helps me to stay awake. I don't always wait until I'm sleepy. I just go for it as & when I get the chance. I believe the improved quality of light helps top up my awakedness (is that a word?) for later. Sometimes, I'm just waiting for the kettle to boil & I'll stand next to the window or opened back door for the duration. Every little helps.
That said, if I start to flag in those few hours before my sleep window, watching what hubby calls “viewing bubblegum” helps. Essentially it's watching things that I have a mild interest in (health, human nature, people, gardening). Currently “24Hours in A&E” is being a wonderful aid.
Many years ago my mother was dying, and I was a seven-hour drive away. I would go home every second weekend, and at other times I would suffer extreme insomnia. I developed a bedtime routine of putting on my pajamas, getting into the car, and driving 45 minutes to the beach where I would just slowly drive with the windows down. I'd go home and immediately fall asleep. It doesn't have to be the beach, you could take an evening walk through a park or just sit outside and look at the stars. Once you find something that works, you can look upon it as something that WILL work and your mind will go along with it.
I really wouldn’t worry about how to record naps since “nap privileges “ are withdrawn quite early on! I used to love my naps too. It seemed like the only time I got any decent sleep. But they certainly had a bad effect on my nighttime sleep patterns and I really wanted to sleep at night.
Just started Sleepio. Started to record my sleep routine on my diary. I seem pretty normal after reading a few peoples comments and I get 67% efficiency. I wake on average 2 times a night only for a short while though. And I have no trouble getting out of bed.
My problem is around lunch and after I can feel tired physically drained. I survive on coffee but sometimes i'll struggle to settle for bed until early hours. If I don't have a caffeine hit I'll fall asleep (and have done).
Just posting this to see if anyone has similar experiences
I often struggle with sleepiness in the afternoon. What really works for me is to keep as busy as possible. Including physically moving around. If I just sit in the chair and read a book, it is too easy for me to just close my eyes and nod off. I have to get up and go do something.
I too am a lawyer, I also have M.E. and am menopausal. I used to sleep well,all night, for about 5 years now I've struggled. I wake on average about 7 times during the night, often due to hot flushes. During the day in tired from the moment I wake. My memory is awful, my balance is all over the place and like you, I often struggle to string a sentence together. I stopped doing my own advocacy and send counsel to court as the thought of babbling nonsense before a judge terrifies me! I have just accepted a new job and now that terrifies me too -what if I can't cope? I have just started the sleepio programme this week so still at the diary stage but I'm really hoping it will help so I can feel normal and Start enjoying life again. Fingers crossed for all of us.
Thank you for you're reply.
Yes I try and keep as active as possible. I'll try and plan things so I'm busy before my fatigue kicks in. Once again thank you.
Hello Karen, we share some similar traits. After I went through surgical menopause, the hot flashes happened every 35 to 45 minutes. During the night, I would be freezing cold until I got up to walk around, which kicked in a hot flash. I couldn’t take any hormones because I had two sisters with breast cancer. After several years of this torture, my OB/GYN agreed to allow me to take a low-dose of hormones as a quality-of-life issue. I have mammograms and breast MRIs every six months. Because I am taking a very low-dose, I still have hot flashes, but they are not debilitating like they used to be. If you can take a hormone, it might solve your problem. If you live in Canada or the US, look for doctors in your area who are affiliated with the north American menopause Society. They should be able to help you find non-hormonal strategies to help with the hot flashes. I have heard about this organization, but none of the doctors are near where I live.
For the first month or two after starting Sleepio, I had many of the same symptoms as you have. Couldn’t put a sentence together, couldn’t remember words, couldn’t have a coherent conversation, always tired, etc. It gets better. Don’t think that this will be your new normal. Give it time. If you can get through law school, you can get through Sleepio.
I have had problems with insomnia ever since I came off benzodiazepines, 25 years ago, but since I had two emergency surgeries 6 months ago and had to take opioids, although I have been off these drugs for 5 months, it has got so much worse. I am lucky if I get 3 hrs sleep a night, and that has caused me to become anxious and depressed. I have just started Sleepio, and am hoping for the best!
I have been struggling with staying awake until 1 am and getting up at 7am on the weekends, so I have adapted it to suit my lifestyle.
I also struggle with what to do before it is time to go to bed as I rarely watch TV and find it makes it difficult for me to sleep afterwards.
I often get really tired at work and will go for a walk around the garden if I am between sessions, which does seem to help. I have also found myself drifting off when driving home, which is scary so I often drive with the air con on full or the windows down and turn the radio up.
I am finding Sleepio is helping my sleep, but I am still very tired and have some issues. I am hoping as I sleep better I will become less tired during the day.
I went to a lecture recently and the expert said that we breath shallowly and therefore our lungs have mostly stale air. Take a deep breath and breathe out through your mouth. Keep pushing the air out and you'll feel your stomach contract and your pelvis rise a little. Push as long as you can. The next breath you take in will be fresh air. I do this several times during the day and it seems to re-energize me.