Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sleep Problems

My name is Kristin and I have sleep problems.

Like many other adults, I have trouble sleeping. I used to be an awesome sleeper. I would have no issues going to sleep with little to no extra wind-down time. I would stay asleep until my alarm went off and I would feel just fine throughout the day. But ever since my divorce and subsequent depression at the end of 2010, I've had problems getting to sleep, staying asleep and waking up feeling refreshed. I'll go through each sleep period and give a little overview of what I've tried, what has worked and what has not.

Getting to Sleep

One of the biggest suggestions has been just relax. When ever I've tried to just relax, I start to think more and my brain just ramps up. Something I've always done is having my phone near by to write down any todo tasks or items I think of. That usually helps to get that item off my mind. But I would stress over events, emotions or general depression.

I also tried creating a routine but I didn't have time for a nightly bath and 20-30 minutes of reading. Or stopping all thing electronic 2 hours before bed. Seriously? I'm a single mom who only gets about an hour to myself a night. Of course I'm going to watch TV AND be on my computer. I did try reading but I wanted to read the Bible and then remember it the next day. Plus think about what I was reading. This always winds my mind up and not down. Then I wanted to read parenting or self help books but the same problem. So on to fiction. Well the ones I picked I loved so much I couldn't put it down. I would end up getting to be way too late.

I tried many medications. All of which didn't work or had troublesome side effects. Lunesta worked for a while then stopped working. Sonata the same. Trazadone would knock me out within 30 minutes but after a few nights, I would get the worst nightmares. High stress, high anxiety that would keep me in a dream state while I experienced and remembered all of it. Unfortunately it took a while for me to connect the dots and stop the medication.

Something else I learned that took a while (a few weeks), was not to take my antidepressant (Viibryd) before bed. I was taking the medication in the morning with breakfast. I told my dr that I was sleepy in the morning (now due to other issues) and he suggested taking it in the evening. So I started taking it about 30 minutes before bed. After a few nights I would notice that I could hear white noise louder. It felt like I could hear my blood rushing through my veins. Then this sensation would build up, electric-like sensations would shoot through my limbs and I would jerk. These sensations would become painful and I had a few nights where I cried myself to sleep. I started to develop anxiety not knowing what was causing the pain or when it would occur. I decided myself to stop taking the medication at night and resume taking it in the morning since that was the most recent change.

I came to find out that it was serotonin syndrome due to the affect of the antidepressant. While this issue was occurring, I tried doing research using my terms, electric sensations, pain, etc but not much came up. I remember reading about serotonin syndrome but it didn't match what I was experience. Hopefully my explanation will help someone else.

Staying Sleep

I thought I had my sleep issues under control, then I started waking up about every 90 minutes. Waking up enough to open my eyes and remember it. It would make me feel sleepy all day. This wasn't working and something needed to be done. I spoke with my dr and he perscribed Lorazepam and it worked. This was the fastest solution to any of my sleep problems but the most odd solution. An anti-anxiety to help stay asleep?

In the summer of 2012, I went to Japan. It was awesome but with the 14 hr time difference. It completely threw off my sleeping. I knew this was going to happen. While there, I found that Japan has fantastic chocolate and brought a whole bunch back, including dark chocolate, my favorite. I started having a bit each night before going to bed. After about a week, I started having nightmares. Not as violent as I described above but just enough to through off my day. Again, it took some research and some time for me to figure out that dark chocolate was giving me nightmares. Yet another side effect of food though unexpected. It makes me sad I can't have it at night, but that means I must eat chocolate during the day.

Waking Up

Just recently I've had issues waking up. My alarm would go off and would be going off for about 5 minutes. I would have to tear myself out of sleep and open my eyes. They would stay open just long enough to turn off the alarm and then shut. I would end up sleeping again for anywhere from 10-20 minutes and it would repeat. I would lay in bed for about 5 minutes with my mind convincing my body to wake up. The fog of sleep would last until 2 or 3 pm in the afternoon despite multiple cups of coffee. It came on sudden. What was going on? Again, I thought I had my sleep issues under control and again, things changed.


I take .75 mg of Melatonin to get me to sleep. I also take 5 mg of Lorazepam to stay asleep.

It has to be in a certain tiredness state in order to go to sleep now. I end up with a mixed up going to sleep routine. I wash my face and brush my teeth. Then do some stretching and rub lotion into my feet while giving myself a mini foot massage. I use relaxing pillow spray from Bath and Body Works on my pillow. And massage Sally Henson orange cuticle treatment on my fingers. Then I'll watch a YouTube video or two about 10-15 minutes depending on how tired my mind feels.

If you have sleep issues, I feel for you. Keep working at finding a solution. Try to figure out what is going on, and what has changed. Even if nothing has changed in your routine or medication, your body is always changing and you may need to adjust what was working. I hope my story has giving you some ideas.