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- May 16, 2019 at 5:59 pm #29399
My name is John. I am having a horrific experience with insomnia. Back in mid-march i had a lump on my neck. After weeks of doctors, ultrasounds and a biopsy everything came back negative. Somewhere in that time i stopped sleeping. I was so anxious and scared and i started not being able to sleep at all. I had numerous sleepless nights in a row. I called my doctor and he wrote me a prescription for Ambien. It helped me fall asleep but i would wake up after 3 or 4 hours and then either be up the rest of the night or toss and turn until morning. I also tried .5 mg of Xanax (my doctor’s advice) and that didn’t help much either. I have stopped both medications. It is now 2 months later and i am still unable to sleep most nights. I am talking no sleep whatsoever. My anxiety and depression have been out of control so i recently started taking lexapro.
My biggest fear in all of this is that i am rarely tired during the day. I yawn sometimes but i dont actually feel tired at work. I have lost the ability to nap. I have had many opportunities to nap but i simply cant do it. I am so dizzy and disoriented and i dont know how much more i can take. I dont think I have had any measurable REM sleep in 2 months. If i fall asleep it’s almost as if i am half awake. I have these “dreams” which are crystal clear scenes. I remember all of the dialogue, scenery and people and can remember them for weeks. I have convinced myself that i have sporadic fatal insomnia. I simply have lost the ability to sleep and all feeling around sleep. I should have crashed by now but i havent. My body is so amped up 24/7 its scary. I dont drink, do drugs or have any caffeine. I know all of these negative thoughts arent helping me sleep and only making things worse. I dont know what to do.May 16, 2019 at 7:10 pm #29401
RoyN✘ Not a client
Hi John. So sorry to hear about your situation. I was in a very similar place about 10 years ago and it was scary. I truly thought I had lost my ability to sleep and saw no end in sight. I tried all the meds including Ambian and had worse results than you. I remember lying in bed waiting for the Ambian to kick in and nothing happened. In the state I was in at the time, nothing worked and I also could not nap. I was doing everything wrong. I was so desperate for sleep that I would come home from work, eat a small dinner and go right to bed at 7pm and watch TV in bed until I fell asleep. The problem was I would wake up 30 minutes later and then be awake all night. I found CBT 3 months into my ordeal and worked. Very very well actually.
You have come to the right place. There is an end to this and you have not forgotten how to sleep. You have just lost the ability for awhile. In the state you are in, I would recommend immediately engaging in the full CBT program. Martin knows his stuff. Be prepared, the core of the program is sleep restriction therapy and it is not easy but it was less difficult than what I was going through 10 years ago. I imagine the you are in the same place what you described. I also found the personal coaching invaluable as well as a good support system at home while you are going through the program (if you are lucky).May 16, 2019 at 7:18 pm #29402
Thanks Roy. I take comfort in knowing that others have shared in this misery. Sometimes its difficult reading peoples posts about how they only sleep 4-5 hours a night when most nights i am unable to even fall asleep or get 1 hour of restful sleep.May 16, 2019 at 10:33 pm #29405
Hi John. I’m sorry you are having that tough a time with your sleep. First, let me assure you that you do not have sporadic fatal insomnia. You must have researched that on the internet because when I cane down with my insomnia, I was convinced I had that same exact thing. I even asked my doctor. Second, as Roy said, you have not lost your ability to sleep. It is just being overridden by your anxiety. A lot of us, such as yourself, had our insomnia triggered by a medical condition. Unfortunately, while the trigger may have disappeared, the insomnia remains. We are similar in other ways as well as I have taken both Ambien (didn’t work for me) and Xanax (worked but gave me a poor sleep plus the addiction fear). The reason you may be tired during the day is that all anti-depressants, such as Lexipro, have the side effect of causing insomnia. That’s why doctor’s sometimes prescribe a second medication to overcome the anti-depressant and help you sleep. Your anxiety is also pumping up your arousal system interfering with your sleep. Also, your crystal clear dreams are probably also being cause by the anti-depressants as that is another side effect of them. With all of the side effects, that’s why a lot of people do not want to tke medication for their insomnia. I know what you mean about the dizzyness and disorientation. I also suffer from dry eye syndrome from the insomnia.
As for what to do, I agree with Roy that you are so full of anxiety right now, you need to sign up for Martin’s paid course or take his free course. I took the free course and it is very well put together but in your case, you have so much anxiety, you may need a coach to help you along with the program. Martin’s paid course can do that for you. I have to warn you though, neither the paid or free courses are easy. You have to put a lot of effort into it. Since you only have had your insomnia since March, it is really short term and that works in your favor. Good luck whatever you decide to do.May 16, 2019 at 10:48 pm #29407
Thanks Steve. I was having numerous sleepless nights before the Lexapro. I’ve only been on Lexapro for 5 days and the horrible insomnia was entrenched long before that as were the dreams that I attributed to being in very light sleep. I had the dreams mostly when taking the ambien and Xanax.
I don’t know how many more sleepless nights I can take. I’ve started coughing up phlegm this week and my throat is very sore.
Another thing is I did the keto diet for 3 months and then stopped it. My insomnia started around this time coupled with the health anxiety. I’m wondering if I completely messed up my body by depriving it carbohydrates for months and then suddenly eating carbs again.
apologies for being all over the place.May 16, 2019 at 10:55 pm #29408
No problem John. Yes, vivid dreams can be the result of benzos (Xanax) as well. You probably just picked up a viral or bacterial infection somewhere and it is adding on to your anxiety. Try to stay calm knowing that you don’t have some incurable disease. All of us here went through what you are going through. Insomnia is tough but you can beat it with the right treatment.May 17, 2019 at 2:37 am #29409
Hi John. CBT-I works. I was a total mess a little over three weeks ago having high anxiety, depression and panic attacks. I’ve had my insomnia since October. I had to go to the emergency room in March because I was completely falling apart feeling so crazy from the sleep deprivation and super depressed because I felt like the insomnia was taking my life away from me. I was almost suicidal.
I hired Martin 3 weeks ago and it’s amazing the difference. I’m sleeping 6 to 6.5 hours per night on average and the anxiety has gone way, way down. Of course for some people, the improvement doesn’t come as fast, but CBT-I definitely works. It’s too bad that there isn’t more awareness of CBT-I. Even a lot of sleep doctors don’t know about it. So people like you (and us on the forum) suffered because we don’t know where to turn for answers and felt hopeless. But it’s not hopeless. CBT-I works, but like Steve said, it’s not easy so its best to hire a coach like Martin to get you through this.May 21, 2019 at 4:59 am #29530
Martin Reed★ Admin
I love all the shared support! How are you getting on, John?
It’s no surprise that your sleep suffered after discovering that lump — I would be surprised if it wasn’t affected by such a health scare. Normally, sleep recovers naturally once the initial trigger passes, but sometimes it doesn’t.
When sleep doesn’t recover by itself, that’s usually because we start to spend a lot of time thinking about sleep, worrying about sleep, trying to control sleep, and trying to compensate for lost sleep.
Although all these responses are understandable, they actually perpetuate the problem rather than make it better.
Let me reassure you that you can still sleep. We never lose our ability to sleep. Sleep is a core biological function, like breathing. Just as we can hold our breath, our body will eventually take over and make us breathe. In a similar way, we can suspend sleep (usually due to heightened worry and anxiety about sleep) but, eventually, our body will take over and make us sleep.
The key to getting back on track is to avoid the compensatory behaviors (such as spending too much time in bed, napping, canceling plans, trying to control sleep, etc) and try to get back to not thinking about sleep or letting it dominate your life.
CBT-I techniques are a very effective way to get sleep back on track. I encourage you to look into this if you are still struggling.September 6, 2019 at 4:44 am #32285
stanislav24✘ Not a client
Hello John. I am from Bulgaria and have exactly the same insomnia as you mentioned. Everything started before 5 years out of the blue with 2-3 days of no sleep. Then I had lost the natural ability to sleep. I have done a lot of sleep studies and have visited a lot of neurologists, MRI tests and everything looks OK, but I can’t sleep. I don’t have the feeling that I sleep, but actually we do sleep. I take 8mg of Mirtazapin at bedtime along with pregabalin from 5 years. It works I do sleep, but I don’t feel it. After a sleep study the doctor told me that I have “PARADOXICAL INSOMNIA” and maybe I should take the pills forever.
You just have to find the pills that work for you. Also I find very useful to eat Bananas during the day and nuts. I try to not get angry from my work and to be calm during the day.