Pillow TalkⓇ - Questions and Answers About Sleep

Questions and Answers About Sleep

Hello everyone. This is my first post. I just ran across this site so I'm a newbie, bear with me here.

I have dealt with insonmia for nearly 20-25 years now. I am 40. I have tried everything from over the counter meds (every OTC med that exists, I've tried with no luck) to prescriptions (Ambien, Lunesta and others don't work either) to no caffeine, etc. You name it, I've tried it. Nothing works. Got 10mg Ambien's right now; like taking an aspirin to me. No results. In fact, I take two of them and NOTHING. I'm about at the end of my rope here not knowing what else to do. 3 Tylenol PM's nothing. I have also been to a sleep clinic THREE times. They each tell me that I never get to the REM sleep stage and they do not know why so thats what they leave me with; no cause. I already KNEW I didn't get to that stage. A nurse recently told me that pills do not go in my liver into my bloodstream; they pass right through me. I've also had gastric by pass done and lost about 100 pounds. But the problems did not change after this surgery. I've always had problems sleeping since my late teen's, early 20's. And being overweight which I am not now. Still could use about 25lbs but I'm not sweating over that.

I've tried breathing techniques, sleep CD's, etc. I've basically given up. The Ambien will allow me to sleep all of about an hour if I'm lucky and I'm up every hour after that and today, well, I've been awake since 3:30am. My mother said I was three years old before I even slept through the night and I was born at 3:10am. Is that a curse that I'm stuck with to just be awake during those hours? I've tried exercising, not exercising, don't go to bedroom except for sleeping, raising the bed, tried a CPAP, nothing gives me any relief. I've also had surgery for sleep apnea; I do not snore any more.

Does anyone have such a problem finding anything to work? I've also been to see a shrink and tried any little "old wives tales" people have suggested to me.

Can anyone help? I really would like a good nights sleep. And 4 hours non stop; no wake ups, I'd be good. And so you know, I am happy with my life right now, no stress, no negativity, no drama so none of that is the cause.

Thanks for listening.
Frustrated in Alabama. (Michelle)

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You, Michelle, are my future. I am 22 years old, have struggled with sleep since I was an infant, just like you. My problems only worsened over time, and by my sophomore year of college I was hardcore addicted to Ambien (be careful with it, I know they say it is not addictive, and it may not be, but the sleep you get after taking a dose higher than that any doctor would perscribe is), a problem I am still dealing with. I have been on narcotics, benzos, melatonin supplements; you name it! There is just NO RELIEF. Those precious two or three hours I sometimes manage to squeeze out of myself every other day are simply not sufficient to keep me functioning properly. As a result of my problems with sleep as well as other mitigating circumstances, I have gained over 150 pounds in less than a year and a half. I'm already in the process of getting approved for bariatric surgery. As you know, this extra weight causes many more problems than just interfering with sleep. Although, I think that we have both found that fat or thin, sleep is still hard to come by.

I finally went for sleep studies this year. Like you, I never entered REM sleep. My doctor said they had a conference about me when they read the results. Other than that, they just tell me to use the CPAP and everthing should be okay. Well, that is fine and dandy, and I very well could feel better if I was able to use it, but if you cannot fall asleep, the thing cannot help you. So I am continuing to humor them by keeping sleep logs, following all the advice, use the CPAP, and generally trying not to fly into a homocidal rage when the doctors look at me like I must be lying, because certainly no human could exist on that little bit of sleep, right? Furthermore, someone who is narcoleptic must be taking naps during the day, so obviously she is just trying to get attention.

One thing that has helped me, because I was (and to a certain extent still am) prone to falling asleep during conversations or while driving or doing whatever, is Nuvigil. It does not help you sleep; instead, it lets you function like a human being again during normal business hours. Since taking it I've gotten some of my reasoning skills back and my memory has improved. So, I say that if I cannot fall asleep at night, I will find a way to function during the day.

Sorry I don't know of a magic pill,
I Can't Believe I Graduated From College in This Shape
One appliance you may ask your doc about is called the t.a.p.
It fits into your mouth kinda like a teeth- grinding guard, but it locks your jaw forward to keep your airway open. It's much better than a cpap (no hoses/hassle) but you have to see if your sleep porblem is able to be managed by this instead of the cpap.
Hope it helps,
loved the comment about "trying not to fly into a homicidal rage" when the doctors look at you like you have to be lying! Do they really thing we want to feel like a character out of "the Night of living Dead"? Practically walking into walls? I had one sleep doctor tell me, that "you sleep okay, I know you're out of work, so since you can't sleep at night, only apply for night shift work"! (I told him I had, and there weren't that many options! Hell there aren't that many day jobs either! So the people who work nights...well I've spoken to a few and once had to hold myself back from telling her (after she told me it was her 2nd job), "PLEASE GIVE UP THIS JOB so I can apply for it! You already have one job!" (Bet that would've gone over well).

Then another good one, was after I started to get a series of rashes, and was seeing a dermatologist every 3 weeks or so, the physician's assistant said to me (I had only slept about 3 hours before I had to get up for the appointment) "Look at me! I feel like I'm talking to my 2 year old, and when she doesn't look at me, it means she isn't listening!" (And the worst part was, I was listening, but I didn't retain anything she said, so in an awful way, she was right!) So now, the lack of sleep and stress it's causing is messing up my skin, as well...

Gosh...it's so wrong! I could handle being what they call an "Owl" vs. a "Lark" but being a sleep deprived mess, is the worst. At least as an "Owl" if I worked 2nd shift type hours, I still could get 7 to 9 hours of sleep (sigh).......and now they've added "Fibromyalgia" to my list of "issues". Which is related to not getting quality sleep. Anyone else had that problem, yet since my insurance is so crappy, the rheumatologist is too pricey to see enough to let her know that the few things she's prescribed to help me sleep just aren't working...UGH!!!!!!!!!
I can so relate... I'm on sleep study #6. It is very frustrating... the doctors look at you like you are simply out of your mind. I average 3-4 hours of very restless sleep a night, with the help of sleep medication. My most recent sleep study was horrific. I averaged 75 limb movements per hour. My pulmonologist thought it was an error. I basically thrashed all night long... as if I didn't already know this...

If you find a magic answer, please let me know. I'll be up.
Well im the total opposite. i sleep all the time. I cant wake up, no matter what. im scared to go to bed bc im scared i wont wake up! I couldnt tell u how many times ive woken up , all alarms off- no recollection of turning them off and like 3 hrs. late to work. My sisters hated me in the mornings, they always told me.. your alarms been goin off for hours!! Why dont u hear it or wake up!!! They had to throw water on me, hold my nose, punch me, anything to get me to finally get up. Man, i wish i had them now but i dont live w my parents. Then its a struggle to actual wake up in the a.m. It takes hours and hours to actually feel "awake" and focused and not foggy and not exhausted but... that doesnt last long. Ive tried a lot too. My meds. work for very very short period if they even work at all then they just stop working. idk why. I have narcolepsy, btw. lol. Soo- if anyone finds a miracle drug for that, and waking up, and staying awake- pleas let me know too! thanks. Sorry i couldnt help anyone, just thought i share my story of nuthin working.
The fact that you cannot get to REM sleep must be very frustrating. My problem if different, in that I have snoring and sleep apnoea. Have you tried an inclined, lateral sleeping position. That is what I do to control my snoring and sleep apnoea. prop up pillows, and build up that inclined position, the hardest part is to be able to lock your self in that position to be able to sleep. I know this is difficult to do every night that's what I did for about six months. If and only proping up pillows help you, let us know I will provide you with a url where you can get a inclined, lateral positional pillow.
Hi Michelle, I'm a newbie, who understands your desperation. (I'm one of those people who needs spell check, so pardon any typos!)...

Anyway, I'm with a new sleep doctor, who I was hoping could really help me. He had me do a "sleep diary" so he could see where my problems were (delayed sleep phase disorder?) basically my body clock is backwards. I've always been a night person, and used to (when I had a JOB!) found that where I used to live (Charlotte NC) as long as I worked later hours -- anything from 2 - 10PM to 3 or 4 to 1AM, worked okay...I'd be exhausted since my jobs were physically demanding (now am feeling it -- lots of body aches, which doesn't help the sleep problems) and when I moved up here (PA) I moved to help my mother in caring for my father who was in declining health. (Sorry this is so long)...I got jobs that were usually night based, like waiting tables, then could do the household grocery shopping and felt that since the work wasn't exactly career oriented, if my mother needed me during the day to help her with my Dad, I could tell my boss, that I HAD TO GO, but would be back, (and if they had a problem w/it I wouldn't care, since my parents meant more to me than waiting tables)...anyway, my mother had her own health issues, but seemed clear of mind, just due to arthritis, she couldn't really pick up things and carry stuff (and Helping my Dad when he couldn't get out of the tub, was something she just couldn't do. I couldn't either, but I'd try to have him hold on to something sturdy and then hold on to me (I'd have my mother hold up a towel to protect his privacy, though he said he didn't even care...the poor man was freezing from sitting in the tub for hours, it was horrible, but hated it when my mother would call the police to help him!) Anyway, once things were back in order, I'd go back to work.. THEN it happened...I called the house to see if there was anything I could pick up on my way home....a policeman answered the phone. Initially I thought, Did I dial the wrong number? And I Said, "Who is this?" he said, "Who is this?" I said, "I'm trying to reach my parents..." he said, "are you Marcia or Ann?" *I had the cell numbers for both me and my sister posted near each phone in the house. I said it was Marcia, he said that he was with the Local police dept., and my heart was in my throat, and I said, "What's going on?" he Said, "Are you in a car?" I said that I Was...he said, "How fast can you get home, I don't want to give you any details when you are on a cell phone". I had to know something, so I said, "My sister is in Chicago...do I need to call her and ask her to see if she can get the last flight out?" he hesitated, and then said, "ah, yes". Then he said, "your father is hysterical", so please hurry home. Turns out my mother had a sudden heart attack and according to the hospital people, by the time the EMT's got her to the ER, she had no pulse. I thought I was going to die...and I think a part of me did. But I had to be there for my dad. I had no idea what to do. My mother was in charge of all of the basics, from cooking him healthy meals for his history of strokes, and I could barely cook! They had been married for 47 years, and after my father retired, they were basically inseperable. Needless to say, I became Dad's full time caregiver, and I couldn't grieve for my mother, since my dad was so upset (I didn't want him to see how upset I was). I needed him as much as he needed me...Life as I had known it, was over. Gradually I got myself familiarized with his doctor, medications and being able to tell when I needed to call the doctor, or 911. Thru a series of CNA's I learned how to change the bed with the person in it. What to look for...and since he couldn't sleep at night, I stayed up with him watching news programs, old movies, even things like "The Sopranos" which I thought he'd hate (but actually liked!) I never thought about, "what happens to me after dad dies?" (Who thinks of that?) Gradually more and more friends stopped emailing and calling. I tried to send out joke emails, and stuff, to let them know I wasn't a depressed mess (even though I guess I was), so...when my Dad died...Well, I felt like I died with him. I had been seeing a therapist in Charlotte, so had been seeing one up here, to air out my feelings...I've had the various meds prescribed (I wouldn't mind being addicted to anything, if it meant I could SLEEP!) Trying to find work is nearly impossible. I live in an area where there aren't that many 24/7 businesses. I made the mistake of buying a townhouse, and am terrified of running out of money...I have very few family members (a sister in Chicago with her own husband and career, who've basically discouraged me from moving out there, but I have a standing invitation at Christmas! Whooee! Like I feel like celebrating? My brother is dear, but we only communicate via email. He lives in Europe, and I doubt he will ever return to the states. I don't have any close friends up here, and would love to sell this house and move back to NC, but the market isn't great for selling. And since I don't have a job, without the money from the house, I couldn't get a mortgage.

Sorry this was so long, but I figured since others might read this, it might be good to set up a forum on what does work, why are we like this (whatever each of our sleep disorders is, and how did we get there?) What meds we've tried, or wonder about. In my case, my current sleep doctor said that I needed to try to reset my body clock, it would take time, but...the goal would be to be able to get a decent night's rest. Not taking an Ambien at 8am (which I did today) and woke up at 10:30AM! I feel like everything is off...I've got skin problems I didn't have before. I look tired all the time. Because I'm trying to only spend money on vital essentials, things like getting a better hair cut, are out of the picture, though I have to give in sooner than later, I can't wear it up all the time, plus the dead ends are nasty! Oh...my memory is shot at times, since whether it's lack of sleep or depression, or middle age, brain fog hits at times, which I can't stand!

So getting back to this sleep "doctor"...he wanted me to get these glasses that had a "light box" in the glasses. Wear them 20 minutes a day and push the time back by 15 minutes a day...he felt by my next appointment, I'd find myself fallling asleep earlier. The problem? He said to just look online for "these glasses" no specific website or even the name of the manufacturer. Can I FIND THEM? NO..........I even called a few sleep clinics, and none had heard of the glasses.
I feel like I'm going to lose my mind or just groggily fall down the steps and hurt myself, and since I live alone, what then? My not so nice brother in law made a joke once about me getting one of those things that some older folks might wear as a panic button! (nice guy, huh?) So, have you heard about these "glasses" or anyone else on this forum? I can't go back in time, and say, "devise a plan for what to do with myself after my parents are both deceased" and I also didn't see the economy going to hell, right when I needed it to be better. I still have a little inheritance left, but for now, that's mortgage/car payment/bills money! I used to think it would be retirement money.....but even that is running out. So, like you.........I NEED HELP!

And Gosh, do I know what you mean about 4 hours non stop! I've had the occasional day where I'm so exhausted I'm able to sleep, but since my body clock is so messed up, I sleep lightly, so when the guys who mow the yards come around, I wake up...most people sleep through the night and their bladder slows down, so they can sleep straight through, but not me! I've gotten good at trying to hold it in, but then I realize how bad that is for you, so I get up, and drag my sleepy self to the bathroom, (I attempt to sort of sleep walk, so I can hopefully go right back to sleep, but that doesn't always work...). I've tried staying up all day, hoping that I could fall asleep at a sort of normal time, but generally I'll find myself nodding off during Oprah, or the evening news...So, I guess you could say, I feel your pain and frustration...and if I can find these "light box glasses" (only to be worn indoors) if they would work for me, they might work for you...THAT is if I Can find them. And why do so many doctors not quite get it, as far as how frustrating and life affecting it is to NOT be able to get a decent amount of sleep.......I've tried so many things, as well. Right now, I just want something really strong, that doesn't make me feel sick, and where I can function the following day (even if my day starts at 2PM!)

I recognize myself in just about every story on this board. One thing that I am now looking at more closely and that you have done is finding a proper shrink--more about this later.

So, am brand new on this site--found it as I was about to be a human subject in a sleep study, but got cold feet, knowing that for 12 weeks I may be on a placebo and would find myself unable to take a Lunesta 2 or 3 mg or on occasion an Ambien--nothing really works.... here's my current routine: two nights with a Lunesta, one night off anything. On pill nights, I am lucky if I sleep 4 hours of interrupted sleep. But I feel rested. When I don't like last night, I often do not sleep at all -- like last night or 90 mn at best, and always with lots of dreaming. Generally speaking, and that freaks me out big time, I am quite okay and productive at the office the next day, but today, a combination of rainy weather, a new desk lamp (removed the overhead) and over-eager heat thermostat, I was almost dozing off at my desk. So, I am going to take my Lunesta--do not trust the fatigue to be enough, and go on to bed, and hope for 4 + hours.... But even that is not sustainable as Target Rx just told me that a 30-day supply WITH insurance would cost me $111.00...! If only Ambien (generic) agreed with me--it makes me super anxious ans sometimes does not work at all.

I had a question regarding family: I have one brother who sleeps ok and the other one who is like me. Are you siblings also affected?
For some people, insomnia would be better, don't you think?

'Dream killer' cleared of murder

A husband who killed his wife while he said he had a dream about an intruder has been cleared of her murder.

Brian Thomas, 59, admitted killing Christine, 57, in their camper van, but blamed his rare sleep disorder.

He was discharged after the judge told the jury to return a not guilty verdict at Swansea Crown Court after the death at Aberporth, Ceredigion.

The judge told Mr Thomas, of Neath, that "in the eyes of the law you bear no responsibility for the events".

The High Court judge described Mr Thomas as a "decent man and devoted husband".

Mr Thomas's brother Raymond, speaking on the court steps, said: "This is absolutely wonderful.

"This is the right decision. Justice has prevailed."

He went on: "Family and friends are truly delighted by the outcome today. They were a loving couple and always like that together.

"He has always been a loving husband and a family man. This was a tragic, tragic episode and we are all very emotional.

"It is like one psychiatrist has said, this was a perfect storm."

Mr Thomas said he was not surprised that the trial had gone ahead: "The circumstances were that it happened and it had to be sorted out."

But he said his brother was "a gentle man and has always been a gentle man," and he was "very emotional and thankful to be out".

Raymond Thomas said the family thought it was wrong that his brother had been in custody for 10 months.

"Because bearing in mind what happened in the beginning and he was out and then to be suddenly remanded then was ridiculous."

'Highly unusual'

The case was described as "highly unusual" by prosecuting barrister Paul Thomas.

Jurors were told at the start of the trial that they could reach only two verdicts for the murder charge - not guilty, or not guilty by reason of insanity.

The court heard that tests commissioned by both the prosecution and the defence were carried out on Mr Thomas as he slept following his claims of a sleep disorder.

Both sleep experts agreed his behaviour was consistent with automatism, which meant at the time he killed his wife, his mind had no control over what his body was doing.

But the jury has been told there are two types of automatism: insane automatism and non-insane automatism, which they will have to decide between for their verdict.

In court on Friday morning, however, the prosecution told the jury that it was no longer seeking a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity and that there would be no purpose in sending Mr Thomas to a psychiatric hospital.

The court erupted into shouts of "yes" as family members jubilantly greeted the outcome.

'Not a risk'

The prosecution had previously described how Mr Thomas killed his wife, his childhood sweetheart to whom who he was married to for 40 years, because he had dreamt she was a man who had broken into their motor home.

The jury heard that Mr Thomas, who took medication for depression, had stopped taking his tablets as they made him impotent and he and his wife planned to be "intimate" while on holiday.

Expert evidence during the trial, however, suggested that he would have suffered worsening dreams and nightmares as a result of the withdrawal symptoms he would be experiencing.

The court heard that as part of their holiday, the couple, who had two daughters, stayed the night at a vehicle park in Aberporth in July 2008.

But, while there, a group of younger people turned up at the car park after they had gone to bed, and the screeching of brakes and tyres - described in court as "boy racer activity" - disturbed the couple, who moved from the site's lower to its higher car park.

The prosecution said that at 0349 the next morning, Mr Thomas made a 999 call, which was later played to the court, in which he said he had killed his wife because he had mistaken her for an intruder in a dream.

He said he had dreamt he was fighting one of the boy racers.

The court heard that the daughters said their father had been prone to episodes of sleepwalking, during which he had been known sometimes to act strangely.

During the trial a psychiatrist for the prosecution, Dr Caroline Jacob, said she did not think he posed a risk and should walk free.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/11/20 13:18:53 GMT



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