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Brain Won't Let Me Sleep!
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Brain Won't Let Me Sleep!

I had a scary night last night. Every time I got to the point of almost dozing off, my brain would suddenly kick me out of sleep. (A couple of times it did so while I had just started to dream.) I think what's happening is that my brain is trying to check and see if I'm going to sleep and in the process of checking, it wakes me up! It was really unnerving. I feel as though I am physically unable to sleep now and dread having to try it again. I'm afraid I may have one of those fatal insomnia diseases and may never sleep again! (I am anxious and stressed out for the record, but it wasn't until last night that I had troubles actually getting to sleep.  I've been super-tired and unable to concentrate lately, but I thought that might have been a symptom of my fibromyalgia. I was always able to get to sleep and rest for at least 7 hours...until now.)

Is there anything out there that could help me? Melatonin, maybe? Or a special  technique? Has anyone else ever had these symptoms (so I know I'm not alone and have a rare special disease that might end up killing me?)
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Avatar_n_tn
Since the trouble falling asleep is a recent thing, yet even when getting 7 hours of sleep most nights you still were tired and had difficulty concentrating, it sounds like the quality of your sleep may be poor. There can be any number of causes - medication side effect, caffiene, thyroid dysfunction, sleep apnea, limb movements of sleep - just to start the list. Have you had a sleep study? That's the first thing that comes to my mind.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have had the EXACT same thing and so have thousands of others. It is a very common problem. Firstly, you do not have any kind of incurable disease. That fatal familial insomnia is hereditary only and the only thing troubling you seems to be anxiety as you had a bad night and it made you anxious about sleep. You cannot fall asleep when you are thinking or stressing over it. I know this I have been there many times. The more you want sleep and think about it - the more it evades you .One bad night you see is all it takes for me to get sleep anxiety, and then I get anxious about getting sleep anxiety and so on which leads to  - guess what? No sleep (or very little). I have had this for over a decade now, on and off.
There can be of course contributing factors such as diet, lifestyle and certain illnesses that can contribute to poor sleep, but one thing I have learned after years of on and off insomnia is that you always sleep eventually. You can go to bed each night in a fit of anxiety just KNOWING you won't sleep, so you end up awake for hours, but eventually you will drop off - even if it takes a night or two of being up! Nobody has ever died from lack of sleep and even those with medical conditions sleep eventually. The human body is a survival expert. It won't let you die because your brain is playing at silly buggers regarding sleep. It will hit the off button eventually.
On those horrible nights, you can either force yourself to stay in bed but this does increase anxiety, although if you sleep it in turn relieves anxiety for the next night because you slept and in your own bed the night before. If you have to get up, I would say leave off the light. You can try the harsh method which is go sit on a cold floor and don't put on a cozy dressing gown nor get a drink or a smoke if you smoke. Sit there in the dark for 20 mins. When you go back to bed it will feel that bit more inviting. Plus, you don't want your brain to think 'hey, if I keep her awake I get to walk around and do stuff!' You need to train your brain to know that it must sleep between say 11:00 and 7:00 and it gets no reward for keeping you up. Forcing yourself to stay in bed at specific times with no naps or variation is called sleep restriction. It is a very tough approach to curing insomnia but it has a high success rate. Google it - there is a ton of info on it.
For me, I lie awake with my brain playing the 'oh look your trying to nod off for the umpteenth time! Lets send a massive jolt of adrenalin through you even though you only got three hours sleep last night and it's now 3:00am' game. I put up with this for about an hour, then I get up, pour a glass of strong alcohol and have a smoke. I stress and quietly panic on the sofa and maybe have another tipple and smoke until I eventually get to sleep for a couple of hours before my alarm goes off or my cats meow me awake. It's not fun. Don't let insomnia win. Try if you can to keep your routine as normal as possible. The worst that can happen is you will feel a bit tired. No physical harm will come to a person who has lacked sleep. Get into a good pre-sleep routine at a set time. Make sure your room is as black as the ace of spades. Get earplugs if you experience any night noise. If you have a snoring partner, consider one of you sleeping in a different room if possible. But above all else, please say to yourself positive affirmations each night. If you think negative thoughts your brain will take them as truths and nobody wants that.
Most importantly, try to do something fun or active each day. A nice, relaxing early evening walk will do wonders for you. There is a website called Soothetube which has loads of soothing sleep inducing videos and self hypnosis stuff. Also, see yourself in a weeks time, still here and having slept and coped! And then you know all that anxiety was pointless. I know you can't stop it, but you can take steps to not let it beat you. You are so not alone here. There are dozens of forums and loads of people who know exactly what you are going through. Most insomnia is anxiety related, and its usually caused by an emotional event, stress or an over-active mind or simply one or two bad nights sleep. Something as simple as a change in the weather or a late period can cause it. Menopause can cause insomnia, menstruating can also cause it. Sleep is a delicate and fragile thing, and us women are more susceptible because of our monthly cycle, then the change happens.
This sometimes works for me: So, you are lying there, sleep deprived and its very late. You desperately need sleep. All you can think of is sleep. It's been on your mind all day and has spoiled your evening. Watching TV is interrupted by the nagging anxiety that bed time is looming. You can't bear another night lying there with your brain which for some bizarre reason keeps jolting you out of sleep. It's very stressful and upsetting. So, here you are again. In bed. Awake.....
Tense then relax every muscle slowly. Concentrate on your breathing. Now picture the ocean and picture yourself standing beside it (not too near though!) It's a balmy summer evening. The sun is just setting and its sooooo relaxing. Now when you breath in, picture the ocean being drawn in towards you, as though you are drawing it towards you with your breath. When you exhale, imagine you are pushing back the ocean. Repeat this scene and try not to let your mind wander. If it does, snap it back onto the ocean view. You can even put yourself in a nice, flowing white dress and add sounds if you wish. Give it a go! And if it doesn't work, don't worry. Just try another method. Get up if you feel the need, try a bit of dull TV if you think it might help. Many people say white noise works. If it is warm try a fan in your room on its lowest setting. The fan will help drop your body temperature (which is essential) and the white noise my help soothe you.
If you feel very exhausted after work, go to bed for 'a lie down'. Never tell yourself you are going for a nap. This will put pressure on you to sleep. A lie down with your eyes closed for one hour will restore you sufficiently and give your body a much needed rest. It's not sleep that's the issue here - its how you deal with it, or lack of it.
I made the fatal mistake of giving in to my insomnia and taking time off work. It made things worse and indirectly resulted in me having a six week breakdown because I let the insomnia win and gave in to panic and anxiety.
If you are still having problems after three weeks,  I would recommend seeing your doctor. They will almost certainly take blood and conduct a thyroid check. If you are female they will probably insist on a smear. If they find nothing physical they will more than likely treat you for depression or anxiety. You can also ask to go on the waiting list for cognitive behavioural therapy.
As for sleep apnoea, it is something that stops a person getting quality sleep. If you snore a lot or your partner has noticed you have stopped breathing for short periods during sleep culminating with a sudden snort or inhale (which can also wake up the sleeper), it might be worth seeking medical assistance over it. The usual candidates for apnoea are older, overweight males but that does not mean others cannot suffer from it.

It’s not the lack of sleep that's the worst thing - it's how you deal with it! Deal with it well and don't give it a single inch of your life and you will all beat it.
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Avatar_m_tn
This is the single most helpful thing I've read about this dynamic. I'm going through exactly this right now. You've given me confidence I'm not alone and will survive.
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Avatar_m_tn
i have a problem sleeping! i got 3 hours of sleep in 7 days! i am only 13 years old!!!! i can't sleep! i am super tired but my body does not let me fall alsleep! i did everything! turning everything off in my room then i turned my fave song on repeat to comfort i do not know whats going on with me!! i am so confused what do i do? ANYone?
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Avatar_f_tn
This is a very reassuring post, I developed health anxiety quite out of the blue about 3 weeks ago, I got a bit obsessive about checking my blood pressure and kept feeling dizzy and had blurred vision (I now know these are classic anxiety signs) Iv been to hospital twice with the same tests being done and full neuro obs which were all fine basically telling them that I thought I had a brain tumour or a horrible prion disease because at this point my insomnia started waking me up very early and unable to get back to sleep. I started taking some nytol which gave me nightmares and the doctor put me on propranolol which as a side effect causes sleeplessness. I was up for 2 days and developed a fear of going to bed. the doctor prescribed me zopiclone which left me feeling more anxious in the morning. the doctor then took me off zopiclone and put me on amitryptiline I took this and it didn't even make me sleep as had endless adrenaline surges. so now have an amitryptiline hangover which is far worse than the zopiclone one and haven't slept in 36 hours. no fun at all for me.  Im about to go and have acupuncture and got some CBT booked for tomorrow but I'm going it alone tonight without the help of sleeping tablets and maybe just a little wine. I know this is a very old post but how are you all coping? I have 2 small children and due to all the medication my poor mum has been drafted in to help look after them, hence why I'm going drug free.
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