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Sleeping issues

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Birdie, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. Birdie

    Birdie Peer Supporter

    Hi everybody,
    since a few months I'm dealing with severe sleeping disturbances from getting 3-5 hours sleep a night to no sleep at all. It usually goes along with palpitations, sometimes with anxiety and I feel very hot and sometimes sweaty. I am then very tired and exhausted by day and, paradoxically, often get wide awake in the evening again. Just in the moment I fall into sleep without problems only to wake up about 4 hours later and stay awake for the rest of the night. I then get up and go into another room and don't watch the clock.
    Over the day I feel nauseous and weak and have difficulties in concentrating and thinking (not the best as I teach pupils in the afternoon). Normally I refuse to have a nap in the afternoon but it seems to make not such a big difference for my night sleep if I sleep for half an hour in the early afternoon or not.
    I don't watch TV in the evening nor do I read thrilling books. So my sleeping hygiene seems to be ok.
    It's not the classic symptom substitution as I have the sleeping issues on top of my chronic pain (so either or would be "nice" but both is not funny).
    In former times I used to pop a sleeping pill but I don't want to do that anymore because it only reinforces my false belief that I am not able to sleep without some extrernal help. I feel that this could be TMS because even if I was still in pain the last months I did not care about it as much as usual. Now this new issue cought my full attention, so it's obviously TMS, isn't it?
    Any advice on dealing with this? Ignoring the fatigue and just going on? My husband really hates it, too. I am so thin-skinned and even moody without an adequate amount of sleep and I guess he just does not want to see me crying every morning as soon as I come out of my bedroom any more. Really feel like a total wreck these days.
  2. Mermaid

    Mermaid Well known member

    Hi Birdie,

    It is 100% definitely TMS !

    I had the exact same problem as you. I had little trouble falling asleep, but I couldn't stay asleep. I had short dream filled naps of about 20mins throughout the night, and I would wake several times with adrenalin surges like you do. I used to get up more tired than when I went to bed, I was getting 2-4hrs a night maximum with no real deep sleep.

    I was in so much pain I couldn't deal with trying to resolve sleep issues as well, I just survived it somehow. However, as my healing progressed and my pain and anxiety levels dropped, my sleep started to improve too. A few months ago I decided to try a few things out to see if I could improve it further. I've made a list of what worked for me :
    • Getting as much fresh air and exercise as I can
    • Journaling my thoughts and deepest feelings about my day in the EARLY evening, not before bed
    • Reading in the bath before bed
    • Listening to delta wave music on my ipod when falling asleep, whilst picturing myself in a big comfy bed on a tropical beach, imagining myself pain free and drowsy. The piece below is my favourite

    • Getting up and making myself a warm drink if I was too restless
    I didn't sleep worth a damn for ages, and I'm fine, so it's OK, you're OK, don't try so hard.

    I know all about the sleep hygiene thing, but it doesn't make any difference whether I'm on my computer or watching TV before I go to bed. I can have a busy day, watch a horror movie then sleep like a baby, or I can have a massage, meditate, no TV and have bad night. It's what's going on with me EMOTIONALLY that make the difference. Try to make peace with yourself and your feelings about your day before you go to bed, that's the key. Be absolutely 100% honest with yourself and peace will follow. If I feel tired during the day and I can take a nap I will, it helps. I don't buy into all that sleep only at night stuff either, who's are these rules anyway, we're all different - so if you want a nap ENJOY.

    Well done on ditching the sleeping pills a very wise decision. You KNOW it's TMS so it's half way to being over already.

    I hope this helps you a little.

    Much love & blessings :joyful:
  3. Pingman

    Pingman Well known member

    Birdie - I am one of those whose sleep is impacted when my TMS flares up. One of the biggest causes of Insomnia is stress and anxiety. Like you, I was falling asleep ok but popping up wide awake after 3-4 hours of sleep and not being able to get back to sleep. There is a term for this type of Insomnia.

    It is very common for people to awake at night as we age my Dr. said. Men have prostate issues so they have to get up and urinate at night. People who snore typically wake themseves up at night. The key difference though is that it sounds like your Insomnia might ahve started as stress induced and now you ahve added that extra layer of fear on top of it.

    The fear of, will I wake up tonight? Will I be able to function tomorrow? I hope so, I don't want my husband to be upset with my harshness. Do I watch TV? Do I read? I need to get a good Sleep Hygiene going on to get back on track.

    So yes, Insomnia is really closely related to TMS is it is happening for you like this. I use to sleep like a log 4 months ago. In bed at 11pm and had to be shaken by my wife multiple times at 6:30 am to get up. When my TMS hit my sleep was one of the first things to go and I belive added to my TMS. My Dr. tried giving me sleeping pills but they made me feel like a zombie. I also tried all kinds of sleep hygiene things like taking a shower before bed, no TV in bed etc....nothing worked.

    What helped me was seeing how many people have sleep issues in normal everyday life. My inlaws....say they fall asleep and wake up at 2-3 am and just flip on the TV in bed all the time. My wife, wakes up almost every hour and sometimes only sleeps 3-4 hours when she is feeling bad. My dad said he wakes up at times and it takes him over an hour to fall back asleep. My co-workers, some say they can get in bed until 2am and get maybe 5 hours of sleep at best.

    I realized that everyone has issues to some degree. Mine were horrible to me becuase of the power I was giving them. My wife, she said you know who cares if you wake up at 2 am and can't sleep? Read or watch TV and relax. If you relax you will fall back asleep and if you dont you will survive. Its just your attitude the next day that makes you feel so tired.

    So I took her advice along with others on this board who gave me some great breathing excecises. First thing I did was...stop adding the fear of a sleep hygiene. Not to say its bad to do but I use to love to watch TV in bed for 30-45 minutes and fall asleep with the sleep timer on. I have done it for 20 years. So why did I suddenly stop? = FEAR.

    So I started doing it again with the help of one Unisom OTC. I would wake up still but I would go to the bathroom, lay down and relax. I told myself, who cares if you don't sleep anymore....your body will catch up. I started to use that time to Pray to God. I also would lay on my back and do deep breathing excercises and try to think of enjoyable thoughts. I tried not to let the what ifs... pop into my mind. Sometimes I have laid there for an hour or more but eventually I doze back off.

    And to millions of people that is normal. it was just my old normal was awesome sleep and my new normal freaked me out and added fear kept me up. Now sometimes I sleep all night. Sometimes I wake up but I am still working through some anxiety and TMS. I think once that is off my mind I will go back all the way to normal.

    The key is finding a routine that puts yuo in a relaxed state before bed and makes you happy. The next step is removing the FEAR you have built into the sleeping pattern. Come to grips with the FEAR and remove it. Acknowledge that you might not get sleep some nights but thats ok. Your body will eventually force you to sleep once your relaxed and it needs it. Your only awake becuase the FEAR and anxiety introduce adrenaline into your system.
    Ellen and Birdie like this.
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Birdie,
    Insomnia has been one of my oldest TMS issues, and the hardest for me to handle, so I can empathize with you completely. You have already been given great advice by Mermaid and Pingman. I would just emphasize to try the deep breathing, as it has been shown to calm the autonomic nervous system. I haven't been as good about doing it regularly as I need to, because for some reason, I find it very difficult. But I am going to try to include it in my daily routine. Here is a link to an article Walt posted on breathing:


    There are other methods that you may find more helpful.

    I admire that you have completely given up sleeping pills. I still use them when I have something I need to be rested to do, like some work stuff and if I'm going to be driving in traffic. But I do always give myself an hour or so to fall asleep before I resort to them.

    I used to be one of those people who couldn't fall asleep because my mind was working overtime--or so I thought. But I was able to get rid of that aspect of the problem with some cognitive techniques. So now when I can't fall asleep, I'm not aware of anything that is consciously bothering me, or that I'm thinking too much. It all seems to be that my nervous system is overactivated--I'm in a state of hypervigilance. And I think that this is driven by the unconscious, which makes it very hard to work on. So I'm just trying to focus on doing those things that are shown to calm the nervous system, like the deep breathing. And I use a mantra or affirmation, "I'm completely safe."

    I hope you are able to find some relief. I know how very hard it is.
    Birdie likes this.
  5. Birdie

    Birdie Peer Supporter

    Wow, so much advise, I really appreciate that! I already supposed this as TMS but now I'm pretty sure. It's just another odd distraction as the pain partially lost its function and it's all about an overactive nervous system. It really does not need much to throw me into a state of alterness and vigilance. Having no real boundaries really makes me very vulnarable to all kind of stimuli. And thank you very much for your great advise on so called "sleep hygiene". Once purchased a book called "The effortless sleeping method" and there were lots of rules and instructions what not to do ...I guess this book was even mentioned in this forum and some people mentioned that they got rid of their sleeping issues by following this programme. But I really feel not comfortable with following all this do's and don'ts because there're already so much restrictions and do's and dont's in my life that I really feel no need to add some more (such as gettin up each morning the same time, no matter if you're well rested or not....normally if I CAN sleep in the morning, then I sleep). That also means missing the tv- time with my husband in the evening...we love to watch TV-serials together, having some snacks. So I will do that again.

    It's really all about removing the fear of a sleepless night!
    I once read that it is of enormous importance to do some sports/cardio fitness to change the chemistry of the brain. Beside that riding my bike is the only thing I can do without any pain, so I really love it and over the time it became an important routine for me. So riding my bike in a state of sleep deprivation always ends with circalatory failure and vomiting as I can barely function during the day but even less if I force myself to mobilize my last energy. It's really then that my body screams "no, I need some rest!". I will tell myself from nowon that it's not so important to do some daily sports, it's enough if I do some sports a few times a week when I feel pretty good about it.

    I also have some catastrophic thinking about it, like "if my body does not get the sleep it needs my energy will be completely depleted and I will develop chronic fatique syndrome" (typical TMS-thinking ).

    Ellen, "I am safe" is also my general affirmation and the one that works best for me! I was only able to give up sleeping pills because I do not have a regular job, I only teach a few pupils about 3-5 afternoons a week (what is a great ressource for me, even if I'm exhausted!). I drink some sleeping tea in the evening with chinese herbs to calm down, that's a kind of medication, too. But I used to pop benzodiacepines several times a week (diazepam for sleep and tetrazepam for muscle relaxation) and to be honest: sometimes I really miss these "little helpers".

    I will also try the deep breathing, that will help to calm the hyperarroused nervous system down.

    Again, your advise was really, really helpful!
  6. Pingman

    Pingman Well known member

    This really is the key I think....removing the negative thinking. It really is the key to all of TMS isn't it? Somehow Birdie you keep functioning even with all of the negative thinking. Just imagine if you were able to relax and roll with it. Maybe get back 2-3 more hours a night. Maybe 6-7 as you become more relaxed and learn to be free from worry.
  7. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I've found some things helpful in getting and staying asleep for the night.

    I start with relaxing my mind for at least an hour before bedtime. Listening to soothing music, meditating.

    I try not to take any worries to bed with me.

    In bed, I practice deep breathing while saying or thinking of a positive mantra. One of my favorites that helps a lot is the old one: "Evey day in every way I'm getting better and better."

    If my mind wanders onto anything worrisome or stressful, I try to shift it onto something relaxing like being on a sunny beach and listening to the sounds of water or birds or breezes in the trees while being engulfed in warm sunlight.

    If all else fails, I count from 100 to 1 backwards. It may take two trips but by the time I'm into the third, I am usually asleep. Someone suggested this in my reading, I think a psychologist, and for some reason, it works.

    And never look at a clock while you're trying to fall asleep. Cover it or turn it to a wall. Seeing what time it is keeps me awake.

    I hope some of these suggestions work.
  8. Pingman

    Pingman Well known member

    Great point about never looking at the clock.....this is a killer for me if I wake up to go potty. I know there will be an alarm at some point so I refuse to look at it.

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