Annoying microdreams
July 18, 2022 5:39 PM   Subscribe

For a while now--probably since starting Wellbutrin--I've been having annoying very short naps/ dreams before falling asleep for real. I tried to nap and not only was having those dreams but kept going back to them (something about eating on a boat?) and looping. Anybody else get these? What''s helped you? YANMD.
posted by mermaidcafe to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have those sometimes (no meds). It seems to be helped by finding ways to calm my mind before I go to sleep (meditation to empty my mind or just generally feeling calm and peaceful). I don't know if that actually reduces the dreams or just makes them more pleasant so I don't get jarred awake.
posted by Lady Li at 6:03 PM on July 18, 2022

How's your daily physical exercise? Increasing that (esp. from 'low') is one way I've improved lots of sleep issues, including drug/dream related.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:13 PM on July 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

All my life, I think what you’re talking about might be hypnagogic hallucinations, which happen when REM sleep interrupts wakefulness as you sleep (or like you edge into REM while you’re still awake). I unfortunately don’t have an answer for it, although I haven’t prioritized it.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:19 PM on July 18, 2022

It’s worth mentioning this to your doctor though. Maybe there’s another medication you can try.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:29 PM on July 18, 2022

Wellbutrin is typically stimulating to people. When I was on Adderall (too high of a dose turns out) + Wellbutrin, this gets worse and worse for me. The loops are so fast and insane. Also happens when I get a fever. So it might be that your stimulation from the medication is just too high. 150mg or 300mg are common doses, maybe you could dial it back? Or talk to your doctor about something like sertraline (which IMO is amazing.)
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:37 PM on July 18, 2022

I did not respond well to Wellbutrin at all, so discontinued quickly, but yeah lots of intense crazy dreams.

On sertraline, I had similar extremely vividly intense dreams but that dampened down over time. Discontinued because of side effects and I'm on Trintellix - near zero side effects and no crazy dreams, but not as effective for mood and not effective for anxiety.
posted by porpoise at 7:21 PM on July 18, 2022

I haven't done any rigorous testing on it or anything, but I've noticed a correlation of dreamless restful sleep when I take an l theanine before bed.
posted by phunniemee at 8:06 PM on July 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I have these types of dreams off and on (no meds, generalized anxiety disorder). The worst part is when they start up again when you doze back off!

What works best for me is to try and stay awake for a couple of minutes and distract myself—a few pages in my book, a few swipes on a match-3 phone game, getting up and having some water—just something to wake all the way up for a few minutes.

I also try to wake myself up when I realize the dream is still happening, since they tend to be slightly more lucid dream states (I’m always aware that I’m back in the dream from before). Mixed results there!
posted by assenav at 8:31 PM on July 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I get these too. Am on Lexapro but it's happened all my life. I also have always had a lot of lucid dreams and very intense upsetting nightmares, and, since I had Covid, horrible hypnic jerks that startle me awake, sometimes 8, 9, 10 times before I finally fall asleep.

What works for me is to be really interested in all of these. Instead of thinking of them as hurtful and frightening (which used to be the case, I used to be terrified of trying to fall asleep) I now see them as fascinating.

I take note of them and am amused and exasperated with my brain's peculiar antics. I mine them for writing inspiration.

I also use the technique of "cognitive shuffle" to fall asleep. Works very well for me. Either the word and letter game most googling of cognitive shuffle will get you, or doing my own version, trying to remember small visual details of my day. "what colour shirt was that woman I saw jogging wearing? Did she have a watch...? How was she wearing her hair...?"
posted by Zumbador at 10:15 PM on July 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Oh, I want to second what assenav said too. Sometimes if my brain keeps dragging me back to a dream I don't want to be in I have to disrupt it a bit, get up and walk around or read on my phone for an hour or go sleep on the sofa (this feeling necessary is usually a sign I'm having a bad week for anxiety). Getting up is usually the right solution since it resets me much faster than phone reading and also because sometimes a need to pee turns into a generalized anxious/urgent feeling that won't stop me falling asleep if I'm tired enough, but will keep waking me up and lacing the dreams with intensity.
posted by Lady Li at 5:10 AM on July 19, 2022

Are you on the brand name or the generic? The generic has a different type of coating and in general has more / more severe side effects than the brand name. You doc can write a script specifically for brand and insurance will usually cover it if the doc requests it.

Inositol is a supplement available from PureBulk. Com that my psychiatrist recommended to me for calming those anxiety induced thought loops / daydreams. Take 4000 mg in water once a day (it's slightly sweet, no other flavor) and after two weeks, take 4000mg in the am and another dose in the evening. It's really surprisingly effective. I've told at least 6 friends about it and all of them have notice significant improvement.

THC is known to reduce dreams, so if that is a possibility, you might try low dose gummies or something.

Yes to more exercise, but timing is important. I find if I work out too close to bed time I end up more activated than sleepy.

Best of luck!
posted by ananci at 7:15 AM on July 19, 2022

I'm not sure I've had this specific kind of sleep disturbance, but I did start on Wellbutrin and have experienced a lot of difficulty sleeping this year as a result of surviving and exiting a narcissistically abusive relationship. Ruminations are a little like what you describe, and I've dealt with a lot of those... In any case, I have healed a lot, and found ways to improve my sleep greatly, especially in the last month or two. Maybe I could offer some general advice.

OnTheLastCastle mentioned Wellbutrin's stimulating effect. One thing that has helped me sleep on Wellbutrin and other antidepressant meds is to make sure I take the dose early in the morning (with at least a little food), in order to put as much time between the dose and bedtime as possible.

Another huge (and quite recent) help has been getting back into a yoga and meditation practice. Body scan exercises like Jon Kabat-Zinn's have helped me knock out for most of my life. They might send you right to sleep if your anxiety and ruminations aren't too intense, but they will be good for your brain either way, and seem to help even when done early in the day.

I don't like to proselytize about the many virtues of yoga, but it's something that has helped me sleep much better, among many benefits. Exercise has been mentioned but if you're not up for vigorous workouts right now, then yin/restorative yoga practice could be a good alternative. I'm convinced by the prevailing wisdom that its practice activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the mind. It's probably the most beginner-friendly style of yoga, and it has served to keep my newfound anxieties at bay well into the night even when I've practiced in the afternoon.

There's also something to be said for habits of sleep hygeine. Make it corny: take a hot shower (which lowers your body temp) soon before bed, put on yr PJs and nightcap, light a candle, turn off any screens or sources of colder light temperatures, have some herbal tea.

Finally, melatonin and trazodone used to work for me infallibly, and no longer have any effect... but I'm now a fan of magnesium citrate, taken as needed. It's natures Xanax!
posted by tovarisch at 5:05 PM on July 19, 2022

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