Please help me stay asleep before I go insane.
January 8, 2013 12:13 AM   Subscribe

I am an incredibly light and difficult sleeper, but only sometimes. Other times I sleep like a rock. This happens regardless of tiredness level. How do I keep from getting into vicious cycles where everything wakes me up?

Right up front I will say: I have no health insurance, so I can't afford to go to a doctor or get a prescription for anything unless I've exhausted all other options.

I write this at 2:30 am; I have to be up for work in five hours. I get up at 7:30 and usually am in bed by 10:30, sometimes I will read or be online until about 11:30. I seem to need a solid 8 hours a night to be rested. My partner works from home and usually gets up around 8 or 8:30, I believe. She usually will come to bed with me and use her laptop for a few hours, and usually put on a TV show to fall asleep to. Sometimes she will get up to use the bathroom or get a snack.

Sometimes I will be incredibly tired, fall asleep around 11, and then get woken up intermittently by EVERYTHING, which seems to turn into a vicious cycle. I wake up and I'm too hot. I wake up if she gets out of bed to do anything. I wake up when she's typing or the screen light bothers me or she puts on the TV show and the noise bothers me. But this only happens SOMETIMES - sometimes I will go straight to sleep and nothing wakes me up. I actually like having the TV show on, usually. I can't really estimate how often this happens, maybe one night out of 8? 10? That I'm a suddenly-light sleeper and then I'm awake for hours. The multiple wakings are such that any sleep I get during that time is not refreshing - if I keep waking up until 2 am, then I feel like I only got 5 hours sleep the next day.

I'm on our couch crying from frustration and STILL AWAKE. It's so frustrating that I don't know which nights it will be so hard to stay asleep. It doesn't seem fair that my partner should have to come to bed and be completely quiet and still in a dark room because I'm so fussy. Is the only option for her to only come to bed when she's ready to sleep? I might wake up anyway when she gets into bed, but at least (hopefully?) that'd only be once instead of multiple times over hours.

Other info: my work sleep schedule is (supposed to be) completely regular, I sleep in a bit on weekends but not insanely, I'm definitely not staying up until 3 am on the weekends such that my body's confused. I don't typically feel like my mind is racing or I'm too tense to get to sleep, UNTIL I start waking up multiple times and get into "oh fuck I have to be at work in 6 hours, 5 hours, 4 hours" mode. It seems like sometimes the sleepless nights come in pairs - I had trouble getting to sleep last night, but not this badly, and now tonight again, even though I'm SO TIRED. I don't drink a ton of caffeine, maybe 3 combined caffeinated drinks total a day, if that. But I drink caffeine even on days where I sleep like a rock.

Why is it only certain nights? What can I do about it? Please help me.
posted by nakedmolerats to Health & Fitness (36 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Sometimes the frustration of being awake when you don't want to be is all it takes to not be able to fall asleep again.

I've read it's best to just accept that you're awake and do something else - go read a book or watch something on TV. Anything but ruminating over the frustration.

For me? The full works is chamomile tea - warm bath - eyemask - earplugs - ocean noise via youtube - dark room - complete silence - no internet/tv in the hour before I'm going to sleep.

I feel for you. Hang in there.

FWIW, I do not think it is at all unreasonable to reserve the bedroom for sleeping only - no laptop, no TV, just sleep and sex. But that's between you and your partner.
posted by pink_gorilla at 12:21 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

man i know you said meds are a last resort but you should ask your doctor about doxepin. 100mg's of that puppy and you're sleeping like a baby through the night (and non-narcotic, non-dangerous). two things that you can do that will help on their own is to either black out your window curtain or use an eye mask, and buy some lo-pressure foam earplugs. i swear by howard leight max lite, they're made a huge difference for me. lo-pressure means they don't cram up your earcanals and are ultra-comfortable to wear.
posted by facetious at 12:21 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Because of your situation, you and your partner need to accept that bedrooms are for sleeping, not for eating, or reading, and especially not for watching TV with light and noise! Can you ask her to confine her activities to another part of the house?
posted by Cranberry at 12:28 AM on January 8, 2013 [29 favorites]

Yeah, your gf needs to not go to bed until she's ready to sleep.
posted by fshgrl at 12:31 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

Some thoughts:

1. You may metabolize caffeine differently than other people. Consider cutting back the caffeine for a month and see what happens.
2. Valerian supplements help me relax when nothing else does and I'm not willing to take Zzzquil or my usual go-to mix of benadryl and tylenol.
3. Sometimes the healthiest thing for both people in a relationship is to sleep apart for the majority of the week. You have different needs than she does. It's not unfair at all. She can go type somewhere else. She can watch TV somewhere else. She can come to bed only when she's ready to sleep. This is a big deal, so don't minimize it (and don't let her do that either). Your health and sanity depend on sleep. Do not feel guilty for asking.
4. Get a big ass fan to drown out the sounds around you.
5. You could be really dehydrated. If I were you, I'd go drink a lot of water and see if that doesn't relax your system.

Bedrooms really should be for sleeping and sex only. I know that this isn't always possible when living space is limited, but based on your description of your living situation, I think it's worth investigating alternative set ups so you get what you need.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:32 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Because of your situation, you and your partner need to accept that bedrooms are for sleeping, not for eating, or reading, and especially not for watching TV with light and noise! Can you ask her to confine her activities to another part of the house?

I think she would do that; but it's vexing that the majority of the time I actually find it soothing to have the TV on to fall asleep. By the time I've identified that it's a bad sleeping night, though, I'm already off on my "everything wakes me up" cycle so I usually can't just turn off the TV off and be OK.

It's aggravating that we can never use laptops or TV in the bedroom, because I like to use them too, just because one night out of 10, say, is the night I'm completely sensitive to every noise and light ever. And I don't understand why the other 9 nights, that stuff usually doesn't bother me at all. But I'll try anything at this point..

We've been together 3 yrs and this didn't used to be such an issue - I don't know what's changed. And even now I feel like it's an issue so relatively infrequently that I hate changing our whole routine for it. But I neeeeeeeed sleeeeeeeeep.
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:37 AM on January 8, 2013

I've got this! Look no further!!!

Get some earbuds. Check!

Get the Mindifi binaural beat guided meditation suite for $19 iTunes apps. Check!

Put on ear buds. Play the "Deep Sleep" program.

Sleep deeply.

You will wake up in the morning with your phone or iPad battery dead. I combat this by plugging the phone into the charger while it plays the app. It doesn't turn off by itself after you fall asleep, hence the need for a charger.

If you require an alarm in the morning, go for a stand alone alarm, since the headphones will keep your iDevice from ringing audibly.

Sorry no links. On my phone typing this.

I GUARANTEE the best sleep EVER.

(check into other binaural beat apps if you don't have an iDevice. The science works the same. I just super dig Mindifi since I discovered it:))
posted by jbenben at 12:57 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hey. How are you? I'm up too.

I've been through this for years. I've done sleep studies; One pulmonologist said that it was narcolepsy, another that it was pervasive something or other, and a psychologist that said it was CRSD.

I've been on a slew of medications, some to keep me awake during the day, others to keep me asleep at night, and sometimes I'm prescribed both types, simultaneously. You know what...? They fix the sleep situation, sorta, but it really didnt fix me one bit. You see, what you're looking for is Consistency. Guess what? Vicious, nasty cycles are pretty damn consistent: You take the pill and wake up the next morning after getting that magical 8 hours of sleep that'll make everything hunky-dory feeling like you need another four, then you pop a Nuvigil just to get yourself to the shower, you get to and work realize you forgot to eat again, you go to the cafe and force yourself to eat, and you're keyed up the rest of the day getting work done but eagerly taking on more than you really should, going home worried about what's waiting for you at 7:45a when you get to the office tomorrow, and holy crap whattya know...? You're stressed and you need another yellow, maybe two.

I've had some hippy folk tell me to cut out caffeine, sugar, gluten, gluten+sugar, gluten+caffeine+sugar, all of the previous plus tobacco even though I don't smoke, or red meats (I dunno... She seemed to make a reasonable case, and I fell for it). I exercise regularly, have a decent sex life (when the wife isn't pregnant), and have one or two hobbies... But there's always these nights.

The last couple years haven't been as bad, but some nights, like tonight, it happens. You know what I'm taking right now? A glass of Luksusowa. No, it's not helping me sleep one bit, but it's making my sleeplessness half as miserable, and that's all you can do.

The way I see it, it's like my grandpa's ankle. He had intermittent problems with his ankle his entire adult life. He'd say stupid shit like "must be it's gonna rain," or "Somewhere, a Mormon's drinkin' rotgut," as if that's what caused the pain, but in retrospect, I think it was a humorous way to say "that minor nuisance that doesn't seem to have any direct correlation with obvious variables seems to have manifested, yet again." If it acted up, the afternoon was spent with ice, his jazz records, his armchair, and a set of headphones. He did alright.

I would venture to guess that at least 50% of the time, you cause yourself to lose 3 hours of sleep for no other reason than having lost 30 minutes of sleep. I'm not going to tell you what you should do, nor do I fully believe your situation is the same as mine. What I will say is that I've spent several years and many visits to "specialists" trying to fix a problem very similar to what you've described, only to find it's like trying to stop the rain on account of a leaky roof.

My advice is to relax and find some way to enjoy the additional awake time, rather than stressing over the missed sleep.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 12:59 AM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]

Hi! I'm no longer on my phone.

Hey - I forgot to mention how difficult my own insomnia is. It is BAD.

You don't need meds or tea or any other bs. A little bit of melatonin + the Mindifi (or like) app I recommended might help, but melatonin always gives me bad dreams. The Mindifi app helps me fall asleep easily, sleep deeply ALL NIGHT (this never happens without it) and I have very very pleasant dreams with Mindifi, which I love.

The link to the app is HERE.

If you do not have a compatible device, please memail me and I'll search out alternatives for you.
posted by jbenben at 1:39 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just want to Nth that Howard Leight Maxes are like little nebulas of pure joy and silence for your ear drums. They are the best, without a doubt. If you don't like other plugs, try some of them - they are much better than anything you will get at a chemist, for example.
posted by smoke at 2:28 AM on January 8, 2013

You don't mention exercise. I don't know if this is relevant to your situation, but my experience is that regular exercise promotes much better, deeper sleep. Physical tiredness forces you into a rhythm, encourages you to hydrate, improves your metabolism and your general health.

I am not an exercise nazi, but this is my experience. I can sleep through 21 gun salutes when I'm knackered. You are looking for a cheap, easily implementable solution. Exercise, combined with a rule of no tv/laptops etc after 10.30 in the bedroom (assuming your other half does not join you exercising) could be enough to radically improve your sleep patterns.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:43 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]

nthing the no tv, laptopping and you & your partner need to go to bed when ready to sleep. i know it's a hassle but good sleep hygiene will make a difference. dark eye masks are great too as they prompt your body to naturally release melatonin. if you wake up you might try journaling a bit as it sounds like you get anxious at that point. if you can get those anxious thoughts on paper rather than in your head it might help. also, cut down or out on the caffeine. and yes, regular exercise is another big one.

if i were following my own advice i'd be sleeping right now. doh!
posted by wildflower at 2:54 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

White noise machines (we have this one) do help.
posted by miss tea at 3:06 AM on January 8, 2013

My spouse always had the same problems you did. When we bought our most recent house, on a whim, we didn't put a TV in the bedroom. Problem gone. Immediately. Yes, I also missed dozing off to the late-night gabfests, but not for long once my body and brain got used to "We are horizontal and it is dark so we are sleeping now zzzzz..."
posted by Etrigan at 4:23 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

A magnesium/calcium vitamin supplement has helped me a lot. It doesn't work right away (as in, if you take one today you won't necessarily conk out tonight automatically); you need to take it regularly and it takes a week or so to start kicking in.

But one thing I noticed is that a midway point before it kicked in and helped me stay asleep is that it improved the quality of whatever length of sleep I was getting. As in, after a few days, I was still maybe only getting five or six hours of sleep, but they were a better five or six hours than I had been getting. (And then after a few more days I started falling asleep faster and staying longer, and even on days when I didn't it still was good sleep.) So it's helped me on a few levels.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:32 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

People already mentioned the "sleeping/sex" only shift to the bedroom, getting a white noise generator, ensuring you have exercise during the day, and enough water. But what leapt out at me was:
sometimes I will read or be online until about 11:30.
Stop using the computer at least an hour before bedtime. This includes your smartphone! Otherwise, you're beaming light into your eyes and helping to keep yourself awake. Consider checking out f.lux
posted by canine epigram at 4:36 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

And I suggest you try all the non-medicating suggestions before you start taking pills or supplements. It sounds like there are plenty of areas where your sleep hygiene could be improved.
posted by canine epigram at 4:37 AM on January 8, 2013

Sleep hygiene, melatonin, and white noise. (Really, look into melatonin.)
posted by Specklet at 5:04 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

This sounds so much like me, except for the TV thing (so getting rid of it might not completely solve the problem). I have good sleep hygiene and it helps me overall, but there are some nights where sleep just doesn't want to come.

Here's a thing I didn't realize until reading your question: if something wakes me up when I first start to fall asleep, it can disrupt my sleep for the whole night. So, most of the time, I can drift off pretty quickly regardless of what's going on around me and fall back asleep if I'm woken up, but every now and then, I'll have a night where that starting-to-drift-off phase is interrupted. It does seem harder when I'm already tired; maybe fatigue actually lengthens the falling-asleep window, or makes people less tolerant of distraction? It might be worth it to float this possibility by your partner, and on nights where you don't fall asleep right away or are especially worried about getting a full night's rest, ask her to use her laptop in the living room for about an hour, so you can have a quieter window of time. Maybe come up with some sort of code word/phrase to use when you need this, because it's hard to express your feelings when you're exhausted and only sort of awake. That way you don't have to kick her out of the bedroom every night (and probably most nights you'd rather have her there anyway).

You may want to look into a new mattress, too, if you can afford it. One where you can each shift positions freely without the other partner feeling it. Separate blankets may help you if either of you is a blanket stealer.

A little bit of late-night yoga can help me get tranquil enough to sleep better; nothing strenuous, just stretching out all the parts that need relaxing. Draping myself over a bolster feels pretty good on the nights when I can't seem to find the right position to sleep in.

Warm baths right before bed help me get sleepy, but this is more of an advance solution; if it's late and I've already been tossing and turning for a few hours, getting up and turning on the faucet is too much of a distraction.

Good luck!
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:06 AM on January 8, 2013

In addition to the suggestions above, I have two that work for me. One, if I wake up in mid sleep and do not fall back to sleep within 5 minutes, I get up (keeping the lights off if possible) and walk around the house once or twice then get back in bed. I think it breaks the cycle of lying there worrying about not sleeping, looking at the clock, and freaking out that it is 3:49 in the morning.

Two, I will take a Tylenol PM about a half hour before I need to go to sleep. On nights when I know I have a big day ahead of me and may be concerned, I take the pill. Other nights, no.

(I am totally intrigued by jbenben's suggestion of the "Mindifi binaural beat guided meditation suite")
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:47 AM on January 8, 2013

Extreme, emotionally upsetting sensitivity to light and noise and temperature can be signs of impending migraines. In fact, they may be the only symptoms you experience; you may not even get an actual migraine until a day later and in the early stages it can be just seem like a really shitty exhaustion headache, one that you could easily write off as due to lack of sleep.

You definitely need to make the bedroom the place where only the sleeping and other bed activities happen. Other bed activities should not include tv or computers.

It also really, really helps to be completely physically exhausted from exercise. I got a solid 9h the other day after a 2.5h super scary advanced yoga class knocked my ass out.

No more caffeine after 2pm. Try it.
posted by elizardbits at 5:49 AM on January 8, 2013

Here's what works for me:

--Memory foam mattress (and king size bed), so I am less likely to be disturbed by my partner's tossing and turning.
--White noise machine
--6 mg melatonin every night
--No caffeine
--Reduced light in bedroom, as much as possible. I use f.lux on my computer.
--I have an Ambien prescription at the ready and take a half- or quarter-pill on the nights that seem like they're shaping up to be insomnia nights.

If I'm still lying in bed struggling to relax after all of that, I'll try a guided meditation.
posted by southern_sky at 5:55 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

This sounds terrible! my sympathies -- even the minimal sleep disruptions of having a toddler in the house can sort of break my life, so I'd want it fixed, however intermittant!

If you really can't see a doctor, I'd recommend keeping a totally anal journal for a month or so -- what you eat, when you drink caffeine or alcohol (at least, say, after noon), when you watched TV; whether you had any allergies during the day and/or took any medicines; whether there were any stressors in that day; anything you can think of. If you keep it up long enough to have a half dozen or more sleepless nights, you might be able to find something that correlates -- beer at dinner, or angry email from your mother, or having a sugary snack, or who knows! That's the only way I can really imagine trying to figure this out on my own in a way that lasts, however much some earbuds or a nicer pillow might help in the meantime...

Good luck!
posted by acm at 6:32 AM on January 8, 2013

When I was suddenly having sleep trouble, I went to my doctor. He recommended better sleep hygiene and melatonin.

Sleep hygiene eliminates things that can cause your body to go into an "awake" state. It includes things like having caffeine, sugar, alcohol, exercising, etc. within a couple hours of going to bed. This list is good.

Part 2, melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone naturally found in the body. There aren't enough studies to yet show whether it induces sleep or is just present during sleep, but they do know it increases during sleep. For many people, it helps induce sleep when taken orally 30 minutes before the time you want to sleep. Several members of my family have taken it successfully. My doctor recommended 2-5 mg. I found the sublingual one to be the best. It's use can be varied -- when my aunt was going through menopause and only sometimes had bad sleep, she would take it only after she woke up to help her get back to sleep. That's probably what would be best for you. It's sold in the vitamin aisle at any drugstore or grocery store, you should be able to get it for under $5.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:39 AM on January 8, 2013

If none of the above work (and for me, they didn't), beg, borrow, and steal for an appointment with a doctor and get the right prescription for one of the amply available generic and cheap sleep medications. I suffered for years and when I finally got help, the change in the quality of my life was immense. I now take small doses of trazodone (cheap) and klonopin (cheap), and don't spend my life exhausted. Good luck - insomnia SUCKS.
posted by walla at 6:59 AM on January 8, 2013

Seconding trazadone.

Listen, since I was a little girl I've had trouble sleeping. Melatonin? Valerian? Exercise? No caffeine? Check, check, check, and check. I still wind up having trouble on many nights.

Only trazadone has helped me consistently. I made an appointment at my local clinic (I'm also uninsured) and for $35 for the visit and $10 for the prescription, I can have peace of mind and a restful night. Having good sleep is so worth $45.
posted by too bad you're not me at 7:10 AM on January 8, 2013

The way you describe your symptoms, it is clear that your own reactions to your sleeplessness are the biggest obstacle to a full night's rest. I empathise, and have chronic insomnia myself.

I don't mean to be conflictive, but having the mindset of easy frustrations and annoyance will surely bring more of it to you. When you're sleeping, and you get randomly woken up, don't even look at the clock. Don't focus on that stupid train or whatever just rolled by out the window. The world's noises have nothing truly to do with your sleep. Just roll over, and say one time to yourself, "back to sleep!". You're not a genie or a wizard (probably?) but what i'm getting at is don't fall into the cycle you described - don't act like anything is to blame.

If noises continue to be the biggest agitator, get earplugs, some headphones or a 'white noise' machine (a fan works).

It is consensus that what we do a few hours before sleeping can greatly influence our rest on any given night. Staying on the internet, with its' wonderful capacity for information overload, disturbing thoughts, and other sources of mental agitation may not be the best choice for a 'relaxing evening'. Of course, you can choose what you're looking at too... so maybe just being aware of your intention to sleep as you're online will eliminate the negative possibilities there.

There really are always a changing set of factors in our lives, so losing a few hours once or twice out of 10 nights isn't severe insomnia. Having a stable set of rules for getting in rest mode will help you get there. A few people have linked to the sleep hygiene list, but i'll go ahead and also endorse it again.

You can fix this without a doctor. I wish you well!
posted by phylum sinter at 7:11 AM on January 8, 2013

If you lived in a state where it was legal I would suggest Indica, used with a vaporizer.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:51 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

It doesn't seem fair that my partner should have to come to bed and be completely quiet and still in a dark room because I'm so fussy. Is the only option for her to only come to bed when she's ready to sleep?

I think you need to get some perspective on this. It's also likewise not okay to have you out crying in the living room because you can't sleep. And yeah this is a cycle and getting agitated about it makes it worse. I have similar problems and my bedroom is basically the sleep-and-read-only room and my partner only comes in for sleeping. And really the anxiety is a lot of it. It's weird but for me once I realized that basically forbidding myself from thinking about not-sleeping when I woke up in the middle of the night was actually beneficial, it's been my go-to remedy ever since. Everyone's going to have different suggestions but mine are

- bedroom sleeps when you sleep [i.e. no partner up late doing whatever]
- get off the laptop an hour before bed
- benadryl or some other sleepifying thing (melatonin, chamomile, &c)
- earplugs or other soundmasking
- if you wake up, just lie there and think "sleeping... sleeping ... sleeping" It's easy to think you're more awake than you actually are. Don't think about not sleeping. This takes more work, oddly, but I've found it a real game changer for me personally
posted by jessamyn at 8:40 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oddly enough, I sleep like a log when I supplement with magnesium. I take ionic magnesium drops from trace minerals research, 3-4ml in a shot glass with water, followed by more water to wash it down before bed. The quality of my sleep and how long I stay asleep ( no more waking up in the middle of the night and not falling back asleep for hours) improves dramatically!

Epson salt baths work too, but not nearly as well and can be a hassle.

Also: no direct lighting after 6pm, start dimming those lights as much as possible for more melatonin production
posted by Neekee at 9:09 AM on January 8, 2013

Oh, how I empathize -- I have the same sleep schedule and the same general inability to stay asleep, punctuated by an occasional night of actual rest. My die-hard insomnia has not been completely curtailed, but these things have helped to minimize the damage.

- Doubled-up blackout curtains (plain liner underneath decorative curtain).
- Eye pillow/mask AND earplugs.
- The Dohm (white noise machine).
- Soothing aromatherapy scents like lavender and vanilla.
- Two cups of Yogi Bedtime tea at double-strength, about 30-45 minutes before I would like to go to sleep.
- Aside from my alarm, zero electronic devices within a 5-foot radius of the bed.
- My partner and I sleep in separate bedrooms during the work week.

Mitigation, once The Great Awakening has occurred:
- Covering up the alarm clock with a blanket or turning it to face the wall so I am physically unable to watch the minutes and hours tick past.
- Counting breaths -- both inhalations and exhalations until I get to 10, then exhalations only until I get to 50 (or fall asleep). If I lose count or get to 50, I start over.
- Yoga nidra practice. I use this or this.

Good luck!
posted by divined by radio at 9:22 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I feel for you.
Going to agree with what many have said.
For me what works is ear plugs, I cut them down a bit for size.
No tv or laptop in the bedroom but phones and kindles on silent are ok.
No caffeine after around mid-afternoon. I am not always successful.
If I had trouble sleeping the night before, NO NAPS.

But the biggest thing for me is to simply accept that sometimes I can't sleep and to try to keep calm about it. I can feel the anxiety rising up and it I can control it and just accept that, yes, I am having trouble sleeping, than it goes better. The worst thing that can happen is that you will be tired tomorrow. Hey, you've been tired many times. You can handle that. No biggie.

Recommend ear plugs-you don't have to use them all the time but maybe on those nights where you are having trouble.
Good luck!
posted by Kitty Cornered at 11:31 AM on January 8, 2013

+1 to MuffinMan! I'm usually a good sleeper, but I have very frustrating awake nights sometimes. Exercise is the thing that helps most consistently and reliably. First, I have an easier time getting to sleep and staying asleep (usually from day 1). Then, after a week or two of exercising regularly (45 mins, 4-5 times/week, plus some walking around or other light activity other days), I actually notice that I feel rested with a little less sleep (say, 7 hours instead of 7.5-8). Healthy eating, and cutting down on alcohol help, too.
posted by pompelmo at 4:22 PM on January 8, 2013

I used to have a similar problem. This is the combo that worked for me:

1. We LOVE our white noise machine (this one: We travel with it, and I have never slept better in my life. The dogs love it, too.

2. My husband we the one to veto TV and laptops in the bedroom. This has made my sleep better, and I'm pretty sure we have sex more than we would otherwise. And it wasn't a difficult transition. If I want to watch TV or get on my laptop, I go into the other room. Easy. Bedroom is for sleeping and sex.

3. I take 1000 of magnesium about an hour before bed on most nights. It helps me stay asleep, and I have less headaches and period cramps than I used to. It does make getting out of bed a little tough, but as soon as my feet hit the floor, I feel like a million bucks.

4. I didn't see any mention of pets, but if you have them, no pets in the bed. I underestimated how much this impacted my sleep.

5. On nights when I am a little stressed or anxious about sleeping, I'll take a short hot bath with BathTherapy (green powder, they sell at most drug stores).

6. Sex helps, too.
posted by picapica at 8:13 AM on January 9, 2013

In addition to all the suggestions you have received (excellent ones!) there is one more thing to think about: Insomnia Linked to Trouble Breathing

You might have some subtle breathing disorder that causes you to wake up without being aware that you were unable to breathe (causing you to blame noise or racing thoughts rather than trouble breathing). (If you had full-blown apnea your partner would be complaining of your snoring, gasping and grunting, tossing and turning, and sweating heavily.) You won't be able to tell if this is the case without a doctor's appointment and a sleep test.

But, I suggest you try using Breathe Right strips anyway until you can get a sleep test if you need one. Use the ugly beige "extra strength" kind - I find they adhere better. Breathe Right strips can't hurt you - the worst that would happen is they don't work. Personally, Breathe Right strips (and magnesium, melatonin, an air purifier in my room, and a moratorium on kitties sharing the bed) have worked wonders for me and my insomnia - I have been able to do without prescription sleep meds for a whole month, hooray!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:43 AM on January 9, 2013

Thanks for the advice, everyone. What I've been trying so far:

- close our curtains at night
- my lovely SO makes a little blanket tent around her laptop so it's not so bright (I'd rather not move immediately to no laptops at all, if there's a way to adjust to less light/noise)
- I myself am trying to limit screen time in the bedroom
-I'm trying to shower/bathe right before bed so hopefully that's calming.
-getting in bed at least half an hour before sleep time so I have some time to read or just de-stress without feeling like I need to be immediately asleep to get my 8 hours in
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:03 PM on January 10, 2013

« Older Replace the motion of my Pop-pop's pocketwatch   |   Why are PCs pulling IPs from the wrong router?... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.