Life’s Greatest Mysteries: The Cure for Insomnia

There’s a lot of things in life that I don’t understand, but climbing to the very peak of that list is how people can fall asleep, full out snoring, within sheer seconds of their head hitting the pillow. If you are one of these people, start explaining.

I’ve been an insomniac for quite some time now. These days, I’ve been hit particularly hard. I lie down in bed and my brain is wired. I’m up at odd hours of the night. Then I have to arise from my sorry excuse for a slumber at some godforsaken hour in the morning.

Every day, the question of prime importance has been whether I should engage in that second cup of delicious coffee or desist. Most days I surprise myself with the willpower to begrudgingly let it go. Other days, I crumble without shame.

Yesterday, someone suggested that I buy a bottle of melatonin and take some before bed to regulate my sleeping schedule. It wasn’t the first time this was suggested to me, but the idea of taking a sleep-inducing chemical to put an end to my misery at night has always given me the heeby-jeebies. What if that stuff is so damn good that I can’t get off it?

Not only that, I had been re-reading one of my favourite books, Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography, and was at the part where the author Streatfeild describes how cocaine products, when first introduced into Western society, were sold in pharmacies and praised as the cure-alls to any ailment one may be presenting with. Toothache? Stomachache? Stuffy nose? Try cocaine. Next thing you knew, cocaine addicts were sprouting up everywhere.

Well, after passing out on the bus and missing my stop — which meant that I ended up taking a tour of the city for almost two hours — my fears of turning into a melatonin junkie were superseded by the realization that things were getting way out of hand. I needed to get my act together. Pronto.

So today I picked up a bottle of liquid melatonin and after having read another couple chapters of Cocaine, warily examined the bottle and decided, at 8:45 pm, that it was time to take the plunge. Ten minutes after having a few sips of my green tea-melatonin concoction, I started feeling funny.

Ah, it’s all psychological, I scoffed.

But no, it was really taking over my body. For fear that my face might end up implanting itself into the table in front of me, I retreated safely to my bedroom where I am now groggily writing these last two paragraphs. So here I am, at 9:15, ready to fade away into La La Land. Good…zzzzzzzzz…

– Cafe <3


65 thoughts on “Life’s Greatest Mysteries: The Cure for Insomnia

  1. Pingback: 2012 Wrap-Up: The Top 3 Ways Blogging Has Changed My Life | Your Daily Dose

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  3. Sounds like you’re having difficulty turning off your inner voice. Learning to be still is a fairly easy trick, but it seems difficult for some to master. It can be tricky for some to be willing to let go of the internal dialog or to let go of thinking about the particular thing that keeps running through your mind.

    I’ve heard of relaxation techniques: start with the toes, concentrate on consciously relaxing your toes. Then the feet, calves and so on to the top of your head. Focus on being aware of each body part. Try not to think in words. Just focus on relaxing your muscles.

    I’ve also heard of visualization techniques: visualizing a circle in your mind and focusing on keeping the circle perfect. Or visualizing an empty blackboard; your thoughts are words on the board, so you must keep erasing them. Again, the idea is to stop the internal dialog.

    Other tricks: focusing on breathing, doing yoga or meditation, drinking hot milk or having sex. For some it is just a matter of having a regular schedule.

    • Hey, thanks for all the tips! The relaxation stuff does often work. I was listening to some relaxation recordings some nights and found it helpful. Especially when there’s a voice telling you what to do, then it’s harder to be distracted. But some nights I found that I just couldn’t concentrate on it at all and gave up.

      I’m sitting in my room at a sleep clinic right now as I write this! Let’s hope I get some more insight into my insomnoia from this :)

      • Did you have insomnia on your overseas trips or on your hiking trips? If the answer is no, then that might be a helpful clue.

        Remember the secret lake I showed you? My camping buddy, who has stomach issues normally, always brings antacids on the trips, but never uses them. His “sour stomach” vanishes during the camping trip.

        Point is, relaxation and freedom from day-to-day stress have an astonishing effect on the body. Dealing with the underlying issues — whatever is keeping you awake — may be the most productive path.

        Or several margaritas before bedtime….

        • You’re right, I definitely get some great sleeps out there. It’s just so invigorating to be out in the fresh air and just your body is working hard, not your mind (at least not in terms of stressful things). I wish I could recreate that feeling back in the city …

          • I wonder if some of it doesn’t come from the connected interweb lifestyle. I’ve learned that if I’m up writing and blogging late, it will take me longer to shut down my brain and fall asleep, because I’ve been using it so heavily shortly before, and it’s usually filled with thoughts about what I just read and wrote. (Frequently my mind is ticking over so much I find myself turning on the flashlight I keep handy and jotting down notes.) It’s the equivalent of going for a good physical workout and then trying to take a nap; not gonna happen.

            The trick may be to find activities for the latter part of the evening that don’t get your mind going quite as much. Reading, just quiet time, or some other mellow activity might be the ticket. A walk or bike ride in the evening might help.

            • I totally hear you. I’ve especially been trying to stay away from TV and the computer screen before bed because of the bright lights and over-stimulation (although admittedly I haven’t been doing that as consistently as I should). But I think reading is probably the best route to go. I’ll be trying that tonight! Thanks for the reminder :)

            • Reading definitely can do it for me! I’ve learned that it’s okay to decide you’re too tired to continue in the middle of a paragraph. A sticky note (a Post-it or Tape Flag) makes a great bookmark. Really marks the spot and never falls out.

  4. Good luck at your sleep study! Can’t wait to hear how it went. Not sleeping regularly or enough sure takes a toll on the body and the mind. I know when I don’t get enough sleep I feel like my speech is affected and my mind wanders or feels like it’s blanking out during the day. Exercising, eating healthy, and maintaining a healthy stress level helps me with falling asleep and guess feeling overall healthy. Good luck!

    • Thank you! I’m looking forward to being hooked up and analyzed :) I think one thing I need to do more consistently is exercise. That’ll help with me with feeling stressed too. Ugh, why am I so lazy these days? A run tomorrow is in order …

  5. 2 things have worked for me. Dedicating myself to a regular sleeping schedule and the other was smoking marijuana. I got sick of depending on weed to fall asleep so I just decided to change my sleeping habits. Getting good regular sleep is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Now I’m scared to stay up past midnight. Really lame, I know. Cocaine is pretty addictive! And you definitely won’t be able to sleep.

    • Lol don’t worry, I won’t be trying cocaine as a sleep remedy (or for anything else, for that matter). I went for a sleep consultation and they also commented on the regular sleep schedule. I already failed the first day (I was supposed to wake up at 8, but finally got out of bed close to 9), but I’ll get there sooner or later =P

  6. I have experienced something similar. I often feel tired all day, but once I go to bed I’m awake for hours before I fall asleep. I guess it’s a similar thing to you; speculating about things! And then I get worried about not getting any sleep and that just makes the problem even worse. It is a bad circle! The only thing I have noticed which helps, is going to bed & getting up at the same time every day. That can be almost impossible to do though…
    Hope it works for you with the melatonin. As far as I know it should be completely safe. And it can be pretty unhealthy not sleeping, both physically and mentally, I think, so maybe better to take the melatonin.

    • Thanks hun, I’m going to take a dose tonight :) I’ve also been listening to some relaxing stuff that’s been helping me to keep from thinking about other, more stressful things. I hope you resolve your own sleep issues. After so many years, it really starts catching up to you. I seriously can’t take anymore of this!!

  7. Thanks for the heads up about my profile. I found the problem…although changing it didn’t fix my older posts. Let’s see if this does the trick. Typing…this…is…making me so…sleepy… (I have no problems with sleep still. lol)

  8. Whoa good luck on the insomnia. I’ve fallen asleep on the bus a few times myself…it was a 1hr ride cuz rush hour super sucks. I’d wake up missing my place by like 2 stops but that put me 3 miles down the highway into the gross part of town where I’d huddle on a bench trying not to touch anything and wait for my husband to pick me up. :(

  9. Lay off the coffee?

    You’re a pretty active person I gather which is strange you’d have this problem. I rarely have trouble sleeping and almost always get 8 hours in fine. The only time I’ll have trouble is if I’m really stressed or even worse, I’m really happy. If I’m happy I can’t sleep. Nothing like good news to keep me awake all night.

    I have no real advice on what can help you other than try taking a Benadryl, it’s what I do when I can’t fall asleep and I’m so gross and allergy filled it’s not a bad idea anyway.

    • Haha, I’ve been doing pretty good with cutting off the coffee intake to only one and in the morning. But who knows, some people are sensitive to it no matter what time they have it. I don’t know if I’m one of those people. I do know, however, that I’m not giving up that one cup of coffee =P

      You know, I’m pretty active some of the time and lazy other times. I’m currently in a very lazy state, dunno what’s up but I just am. But I find that even when I’m in my active state, I still experience the bad sleep. I’m just screwed.

  10. It’s interesting as my understanding is that melatonin is not really supposed to put you to sleep, but to slowly help you stay asleep and get back into a normal routine. Melatonin is more of an herb; it is the chemical your own body uses to regulate sleep, so it is pretty natural, not a drug. I use melatonin; however, it doesn’t make me sleep. I take it along with Valerian root, which is a natural – go to sleep, herb. Now, it does make me sleepy. The stroke robbed me of any natural ability to fall asleep, so all my sleep meds are both necessary and loved because they work. I did not take them one night (didn’t remember to as I was too tired). However, there is a difference between tired and sleep. I actually lay awake, dead-tired from 11-5, before I fell asleep for a very short time. If the chemicals are not being produced sleep is almost a certainty to be absent. My lesson I pass on.

    • Yes, I think you’re right about melatonin being something to help get you on a normal sleep routine. Definitely not something that you’re supposed to take all the time either. I’ve heard of Valerian root as well and that it’s good to take in combination with other things like melatonin.

      I think I’m at the point where I’m getting over using certain things to help me fall asleep. Seriously, I think some people need it. We’re just not going to get good sleep naturally, that’s a reality.

      Thanks for passing on your lesson :)

  11. Coffee before bedtime .. never been a problem for me – but since I got TV in my bedroom I have problems to sleep, but on the other hand – I don’t have to worry about tomorrow and job, so my night can have no sleep .. if it comes to that. When I was working I had some nights when I couldn’t to sleep – I just relaxed and said to myself – that if I don’t sleep tonight I will sleep tomorrow and then I felt to sleep. Also if you count one when you breath in and 2 on out .. you fall to sleep too. Learned that from watching the Mentalist – and it works, because the brain gets busy from counting and forget to be uptight about not be able to sleep. Try it. Take deep breath.

    • Yeah, it’s funny how some people have no effect whatsoever from drinking coffee late. Quite mind-boggling!

      Ahhh, not having to worry about waking up for work tomorrow …. it’ll be awhile before I can do that :)

      Thanks for the breathing tips. That one I find a lot of people saying, and I think it also requires the most discipline! But I’m gonna work on it!!

      • I think its what the body is use too – I don’t drink coffee in the evening anymore … because my treatment made coffee taste metallic and I stopped drinking coffee for months. When I started drinking it again, I didn’t fancy it that much anymore – same with wine. You can also put a little pillow of lavender inside your pillow case – that’s very calming too. It’s something that worries you that stop you from sleeping, you have to work on that.

  12. You have ‘the coffee addiction'(according to one of your posts)!Avoid taking caffeinated drinks after 5 PM….And exercising too after this time is a strict no since it will elevate your metabolism to higher levels and your body will refuse to sleep early!

  13. Wow, so Melatonin really works. Cool. Well, longitudinal data is always best, so try posting again in two weeks to let us know how the experiment worked.

    As for sleep, I’m one of those guys who can usually sleep right away. In fact, I try to stay up and will read a 1/4 of a page of some kind of language learning book — that takes my mind off everything else…I stay concentrated on whatever bit I’ve learned to KEEP my mind off everything else, and next thing I know it’s morning. Having said that, I did go through a period of insomnia– usually when I knew that I had to get up early and I was worried I wouldn’t get up on time, etc. Coffee, on the other hand, has no effect on my sleep. If I can’t sleep, it’s stress. OK, sweet dreams, Ms. Melatonin!

    • Lol, Ms. Melatonin =P

      Well, I don’t know if it works just yet but it definitely does get me drowsy right away (the liquid version is immediate). It’s just a matter of finding the right dose though, otherwise you’re a zombie the next day. But more on that next time :)

      *Sigh* you’re another person I’m jealous of.

    • Oh hey, btw, when I click on your “tokyomike55” link beside your gravatar, it doesn’t go to your page because the URL is missing the “.net” at the end. I’m not sure how you can fix this, but hopefully you can figure it out!

        • No, not your gravatar. When you leave a comment, it says “tokyomike55” beside your little gravatar photo, with the date and time under the “tokyomike55”. Usually when I want to go to the person’s blog, I click on that name, but when I click on yours it goes to the URL “asiatravelbug” so it is an error page since there is no “.net” at the end of it.

          Good luck with the melatonin, make sure to do some reading on it first though because that is what I did not do!

          • Yeah! It worked. Just posted a new one and the .net is reflected there. Thanks for helping a brother out!!! I guess you’re not into Monday yet. 3PM here…already done with classes, had a big feed of Thai food for lunch and now marking papers from my exchange class on SLA. And now my links even work. A good day overall :) Kam sa ham ye da :)

            • No prob, glad it’s fixed!
              At the time you wrote that, it was Sunday night at 1 am. So nope, hadn’t been as productive as you just yet :)

  14. According to my husband, sleeping is what I do best. I can fall asleep any time, any place. I grew up next to a busy railroad with a busier highway on the far side. I sleep deeply (but I still wake up tired.)

    I have actually read that one of the worst things for insomniacs is electronics within 1 hour of bed. No computer, no TV, no texting. Books are good. My husband is an insomniac, and I can see quite a difference on the nights he turns off the electricity. He sleeps better (still not perfectly)

    • Ah! I am sooo jealous of you, Elyse, and everyone else who has this talent! But I feel bad that you still wake up tired :( Do you know why? I found out that I have high carbon dioxide levels so my lungs don’t take in air the same way as normal people, and apparently that’s why I wake up tired (and why I’m probably tired ALL THE TIME).

      • I have Crohn’s Disease — so I have that goin’ for me. Everybody has something, don’t they?

        But I am lucky — I can almost always get back to sleep. I’ve never heard of your condition — what is it called?

        • Aww yeah, you’re right, Elyse.

          Mm, maybe the name is hypercapnia? I am seeing that hypercapnia is high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. It is saying some pretty scary stuff about it actually. You know, I feel dumb right now that I don’t know more about this. I am going for a sleep lab visit soon and consultation so hopefully I will be able to clear some of these things up and understand it better.

  15. You might also try taking Magnesium tablets with warm milk 30 minutes before bedtime. The milk is obvious but magnesium is also meant to be good for reducing anxiety and “busy brain”. Of course, avoid looking at a bright screen like computers, television and Ipads before going to bed. If you have done all these things and are rolling your eyes at me right now, I will merely wish you good luck as that’s all I have!! LOL

    • Haha! Thanks! No, I’ve never heard of the Magnesium tablets with warm milk. Very interesting.

      Yes, it seems a few people are commenting on looking at bright screens and I’ve definitely heard/read about that elsewhere. Time to get back to the basics of reading good ol’ paper books!

  16. I have imsomnia, too. I get to chat with someone from South Korea, and the Philippines. 2 AM in the US, or someone from London. I get 4 to 5 hours of sleep everyday, sometimes, even less.

    • This is for your job? Wow, that must be a really tough schedule to manage. I hope it doesn’t go on forever! It’s gonna catch up to your health one day :(

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