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Insomnia Help Please

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posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 03:54 AM
Hello everyone

as some of you know im a 19 year old college student trying to become a H.S history teacher..anyway...i work 3rd shift on the weekends in the ER (as a patient registration person) at the hospital. (Fridays-11pm-7am and Saturdays 11pm-7am). Perfect setup for a fulltime college student since i Get my weeks to myself and then my weekend it pays over 11 dollars an hour and (i dont need any medical knowledge) so this is like hitting a Gold mine for a 19 year old LOL. So im sure you can imagine my enthusiasim when i got this job.

Well its been 6months and i cant get over my insomnia, Since im up pretty much all weekend because of work and only sleep like 4 hours when i get home from each shift because im young and i cant just sleep away my weekend
...My body then wants to stay up ALL through the week too. My whole clock is off which of course there is no conspiracy to that at all.....i knew that was gonna happen.

Well this is becoming really hard for me now since i gotta be up for college in the morning and since im fulltime staying up becomes even harder. Ive tried taking warm baths before bed on sunday night, Drinking decaffinated tea, playing soft music..NOTHING helps.

I really dont want to use sleeping pills because that can be very addictive for people once they start...

Does anyone know of anyways that i can help myself Get tired when iwant to go to sleep.

Its like im tired the whole day then when its finally time for me to go to Bed my brain is like "nope you should be at work right now" and i cant go to sleep. I dont drink alot of caffine..just various coffee drinks in the morning but never any caffiene past like 4 oclock.

Anybody have any ideas?

Digital Grl

[edit on 10/01/2004 by DigitalGrl]

Mod Edit: to remove ALL-CAPS title

[edit on 26-4-2005 by kinglizard]

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 04:11 AM
I know how your feeling. I haven't seen sunlight for more than two hours at a time for about 4 months now.

There are a few over-the-counter drugs you can buy.
DOZILE:It's like a mild tranquilizer. It worked for a while, but I grew an immunity to it.
VALERIAN: It's all natural, and supposed to be one of the best, but it just didn't work for me.

Allot of people tell you that you can rid it though a SOLID routine. For about 5 years I've lied in my bed awake for 6HRS+. So It's clear that that didn't work.

I havent tried any stress relieving breathing techniques as was suggested to me, but it might work.

In conclusion: There is no universal set cure, whether it's chronic or otherwise, Each individual must experiment and try to find out what works for them.
Other than that, you can adapt like me and get some night shifts
But That doesn't look like an option in your line of work.


posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 04:11 AM
Its called shift worker syndrome, you have to wait until your circadian rhythm gets back into sync with the hours you are supposed to be sleeping. Most people that work 9-5, and sleep nights go into REM sleep around 1200, 0300, and 0530, so when you went to working this shift you threw that off, now your body has to take the time to re-acclimatized to it.

Besides working the night shift is generally harder on a person then any work schedule, mainly because the rest of the world never seems to respect that fact that there are those that work in fields like medicine that need to be functional at night, so they continue to call, make noise and generally keep you awake. I have found that the best thing I can do, also working the night shift in medicine is to get really dark shades for the windows (eliminate and visual cues as to the real time), run some type of white noise generator (masks traffic, people cutting their lawns and stuff like that), and unplug my phone.

You might want to mention this to a pulminologist at your hospital facility, tell him what is going on and he might be able to help you get through it. I say a pulminologist in particular as most of them are your board certified sleep practitioners from having to deal with sleep apnea patients.

[edit on 4/26/2005 by defcon5]

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 04:18 AM
Actually being a polysomnographer myself, I would say that you should not get into taking a bunch of over the counter stimulants/sleeping pills, unless your Doc says you should. The proper way to get your body into synch is to stay up and hour later every night until you are on the shift you want it to be on, then once your there you have to stay with that shift 90% of the time. I realize that this may not be realistic if you need to be Mr 9-5 on Monday and be ready for the night shift on Tuesday, but that is how you properly reset your internal clock.

Edit to add:

Oh, one more piece of advice that worked for me, if you get someone that refuses to respect the fact that you work the night shift and continues to call and wake you up in the middle of your night, return the favor and give them a buzz at like 0300 am. That tends to get the point across…

[edit on 4/26/2005 by defcon5]

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 05:57 AM
something that works pretty well and is very mild is benadryl.

working in OB/GYN for years...........we would tell our OB patients that were having problems sleeping in late pregnancy to take a dose of benadryl.

that is basically the same concoction PLUS tylenol or advil that those other the counter (OTC) meds contain.........benadryl and a pain reliever.....

so that might help..............but i would definitely go with the staying up an hr later to get your circadian clock back in sync.

good luck!


posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 06:28 AM
I would speak to your Doctor about it--I went through something similar when I was much younger & was working nights on a trading desk and going to school in the morning.

My doctor gave me a 7-day prescription for Ambien--I took it everyday 15 minutes before I went to sleep and stuck to the same schedule during the week I took it. At the end of it, I was able to fall asleep every day as soon as I got home from school and get 6 to 7 hours.

Ambien is very addictive (it isn't a barbituate--it is a hypnotic--I had great dreams & woke up feeling amazing...), but as it is a short-term prescription, so there is no chance of getting hooked.

I kept this schedule up for 3 years and when I abandoned a regular schedule periodically, I had to repeat the 7-day Ambien cycle--I did it about 3 times during the whole period I was in school.

Now, when I can't sleep Benedryl works for me--the kind that is Diphenhydramine HCl only (pink box.)

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 07:54 AM
I'm not a shift worker -- in fact we are retired now -- but I have had insomnia for years and years -- any hints defcon5 or anyone else. Have tried most everything I think


edited to change spelling -- lord I have to work on that

[edit on 26-4-2005 by justme1640]

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 10:07 AM
I take zoloft, for depression, and I have trouble sleeping, so my Doc gave me a prescription for Ambien. Works like a charm! I'm out in 20 minutes, I sleep through the night, and I feel refreshed in the morning.

Talk to your doctor about some natural remedies- melatonin, chamomile, etc.- before you ask for, or try, a sleeping pill Rx.

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 10:13 AM
Well knowing nothing about you its hard to say for sure, but a simple sleep study will tell all. Not being a Doctor, and not having seen you during a sleep study I really don’t want to try and tell you what is going on. That is a doctor’s place to do to begin with, not a technicians. What I will explain to you is from first hand experience in running studies every night for years.

Basically people’s perception of what happens when they are asleep and on the boarder of sleep are not what in reality often what happens. I had a patient once call my boss because he truly believed that he had woke up in the middle of the night, taken off all his electrodes, and sat there for the rest of the night with none attached. He also told my boss I had left in the middle of the night and come back first thing in the morning.

Problem was that the study is recorded on a polygraph, and if he removed any wires they would go flat or show 60 cycle noise all night, plus the entire study is camera recorded to disk with the study. Then there was the fact that I had made adjustments to the equipment all the way through the study and added notations. But in his mind this had happened as real as anything else he had ever experienced. In reality he was most likely dreaming this very vividly, and thought it was real.

That is just one of a thousand strange stories I can tell you, but the point is that what you think is happening and what you tell the doctor is happening, may not be what in fact is happening. Only a sleep study can tell for sure.

The reason I say this is because finding someone that truly has insomnia, while not impossible, is much rarer then you would think. About 95% of the people, especially older people that tell me they have insomnia, actually end up being what I am about to tell you.

What I am going to guess your real issue, especially since you mentioned being retired, is in fact sleep apnea. While it is true that we require less sleep as we age, and the deeper stages of slow wave sleep dissipate by the time your in your 40’s, you also tend to loose muscle tone and put on extra weight with age as well.

So Here is the scenario I am going to say is most likely, again this is just MY GUESS not based on any personal fact other then the few you have stated here. You bounce back and forth between stages one sleep and awake, stage one is very light sleep, but during this period you are stopping breathing. Your brain sensing that your oxygen level is dropping, causes you to wake up to breath. This goes on very rapidly, so out of every 30 seconds of time, you spend 10 seconds of it totally awake and 20 seconds in stage 1 but not breathing correctly. This will in fact make you FEEL like you have stayed awake for hours, when in reality you are drifting in and out of sleep. Here are a few other things that are good signs that I am right:

  1. You always get up to go to the bathroom at the same time, usually around 0300 am.
  2. You feel more rested after napping in your chair then sleeping all night in bed.
  3. You snore, or gasp for breath when you are asleep.
  4. You either don’t dream, or you always remember your dreams.
  5. You usually wake up at the same time in the morning without an alarm clock.
  6. You kick you feet, or arms in your sleep.

Let me know if any of those ring true and I can help you more from there, but again only a sleep study is going to tell you for sure, and it’s the only way your going to feel rested and stay healthy. Getting sleep study done might seem like a pain, but sleep is so important we spend a third of our lives doing it, so I can guarantee you that if you don’t sleep well it will have a detrimental effect on the rest of your heath.


The problem with taking sedatives like Ambien without having a sleep study preformed first is that in the scenario I am describing your brain is acting to protect itself from oxygen deprivation. By medicating yourself to cause you to remain asleep even though your oxygen is dropping is dangerous to say the least. I have seen people’s O2 SAT drop to 50% and lower if they have this problem and are on a sedative, where they would normally wake by the time it hit 80% without it. Part of the reason that I know this is that I was a technician that worked for a lab that did the clinical trials on Ambien years ago. But again this is from personal experience, I am not a Dr, and if your Dr cleared you on it then I am sure it is fine for you, it just may not be so for anyone else.

Oh, one more thing, depression can be a side effect of sleep apnea as well.

[edit on 4/26/2005 by defcon5]

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 10:38 AM
I used to have a problem sleeping the full 8 hours I would only get 4-5 of them till I quit trying to force myself to sleep, I now sleep a full 8 hours but the problem I now have is that I tend to have a rotateing sleeping cycle its like I stay up an hour or 2 later then the previous nite so I am sometimes a day person and sometimes a nite person tho I seem to keep the nite scedule longer then the day one.

the doc wanted to give me something to sleep but I dont like drugs so I guess I am stuck like this which doesnt bother me much its just a pain to keep apointments and such.

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 10:46 AM
wow Defcon5 thanks for all of that -- my problem is more that I can't got to sleep no matter how tired I am -- not waking up after going to sleep -- I am actually a person who can get up to go to the bathroom and not really wake up if I get to sleep. I close my eyes and my brain takes off at a million miles an hour and then I wake up completely and can lie there for hours and hours and won't go to sleep. I have done meditation, even learned the rosary figuring it was repetative and I may as well be saying a prayer while trying to sleep (I'm Presbyterian so I had to actually learn it :lol

I can actually be sitting here feeling myself fall asleep and once I put my head down BAM (as Emeril would say) I am awake. Frustrating as all get out. Which really helps you go to sleep when you get frustrated
I also wake up after about 4 hours max and am up for good.

Don't know if it tells you anything -- but I was a major sleepwalker as a child -- would come down stairs and go outside even. I also know you can't diagnose me -- just appreciate any ideas you might have. thanks again.

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 11:09 AM
I should be in bed myself already as I have to work tonight, but I will try and give you a few hints. If you are waking up every few hours, it’s most likely because of what I said in my first post, you go into REM sleep around 1200, 0300, and 0500-0600. When you hit REM sleep is when you dream, this is when your body paralyses its non-essential muscles, and if you are lying down that tissue closes up your airway. Bad dreams, depression, anxiety things like this that would serve to further keep you awake will often go with this because subconsciously you know that you are choking in your sleep.

So here is what I was asking.

  1. You wake up at the same times because that is when you hit REM sleep.
  2. You sleep better sitting up because gravity is pulling the tissue more down then back on the airway.
  3. Snoring is a sign that the tissue is closing the airway and the noise is the air trying to get through.
  4. You either remember your dreams because you wake straight from REM, or you don’t dream because you never get into REM.
  5. You wake up at the same times because that is when you hit REM sleep at 0600, for example.
  6. Kicking is a way that your brain uses to wake you up, it often shows up to pts as leg cramps.

Sleep walking in children is common, and childhood sleep is an entirely different set of topics and rules. That goes away with age, and does not really contribute to your sleep now as far as I know.

Again the thing with staying awake after you have gone to bed is a matter of your perception, you cannot accurately judge this, and it has to be done with an EEG machine. Stage 1 sleep is too close to wake for you to make any accurate decisions based on what you think is happening.

Here try this, it is easier then a sleep study, and can be done at your house. Tell you doctor that you would like an over-night oxyimetery preformed, because you suspect you have apnea. If the O2 strip shows you have drops in oxygen then you know you need a sleep study done. The test is VERY simple and they just clip a probe on your finger while you sleep.

[edit on 4/26/2005 by defcon5]

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 11:49 AM
maybe you can speak to the school admin and get a job with day-time hours ? It wasn't glamorous, but I worked in the school kitchen for 2 me through !

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 01:01 PM
I'll handle my own health issues... If I ask for advice, then I'd want a response to my problems- I was using myself as an example in response to DigitalGrl, and saying how I've had good luck with Ambien.

I've also got quite a medical background, and a good team of doctors that I work with, so I'm quite confident in my treatment.

I also told DigitalGrl to speak with her doctor, which is exactly what she should do if she feels this is a problem- advice from an online discussion board is just that- advice- and should not be a substitute for a doctor's instructions.

[edit on 26-4-2005 by Bobbo]

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 01:52 PM

I am not a Dr, and if your Dr cleared you on it then I am sure it is fine for you, it just may not be so for anyone else.

Does anyone on this board read, or do they just skim?
Where in this response do you see me giving you any personal advice or saying that you should be less then confident in what your doc told you?

I believe that what I am saying is that yes in the case of DigitalGrl that may be fine, but in other cases it may not be so, either way people should still have at the least an over-night oxymetery preformed to check what is going on with their O2 level.

Oh, and BTW sleep medicine is one of the least well known or understood and often misunderstood medical issues out there, so make sure that your doc is either familiar with it, or sends you to a Board Certified Dr that is.

If you have such a great med background then I would think you more cautious then to tell someone to ask for a prescription to a med that can have serious side effects without the proper testing first...

I certainly would not take that chance.

Also where have I told anyone to do anything without the advice of a Doc, or that they should not listen to their doc's advice?

Where have I said that I was giving more then advice to begin with?

I believe I have told people to seek out Doc's and have the proper testing done, there is no reason here for you to take that tone with me, nor have I said anything that is not verifiable, proper, or correct advice....

[edit on 4/26/2005 by defcon5]

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 02:12 PM
calm down, Defcon, all I'm saying is that I didn't ask for your advice on Ambiem, and while your information was informative, quite frankly, you have no idea what the history of my illness is, or why I was prescribed any of the current medications I am on. Therefore advice directed towards my condition is unneccesary- this is DigitalGrl's thread regarding her own problems.

I read the whole post, and I responded as I saw fit. I also believe I said it like this:

Talk to your doctor about some natural remedies- melatonin, chamomile, etc.- before you ask for, or try, a sleeping pill Rx.

Any competent doctor wouldn't prescribe something without a proper evaluation.

My comment regarding following a doctor's advice over that of discussion board members was directed right at DigitalGrl. We are only good for advice, and she can use that to get an idea of what might be going on with her, or what can help her, but nothing we tell her should be regarded as proper medical advice unless directed at her by a MD.

Don't make such broad generalizations about the discussion board members (who only "skim"), since it is quite hard to display the proper emotion necessary when typing a response, as opposed to verbalizing one.

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 02:25 PM
I believe that the misunderstanding here is that you were commenting on DigitalGrl initial comment, but it appears right after justme1640’s post.

In either instance I would recommend being tested, but although the two situations may on the surface sound similar, I get the impression that at the core they are not.

I suspect that yes you are right in one instance, but in the second case I suspect that it would not be the correct approach.

Let’s just say that there are nuances to this job, same as any, and things that you pick up, and what may be good ADVICE for one person may not be good ADVICE for another. So it was my misunderstanding as to who you where making that suggestion too.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

posted on Apr, 26 2005 @ 02:39 PM
My apologies, also, for the misunderstanding.

Sometimes I'm not as clear as I could be in responding to a post.

posted on Apr, 27 2005 @ 02:14 AM
hey guys thanks for your help.

Its so hard for me. I think i didnt explain everything clearly though..see i JUST work third shift on the weekends. then through out the weekdays i go to college. i can sleep fine when i get off of work its just through the week i have a problem my body wants to stay up like i do for the weekends for work. So they staying up an hour later on the weekdays doesnt make sense because i am up ALL night on the week days and cant fall asleep at all until like 5 in the morning. so getting up for school in the morning is difficult. do ya get what im saying?

i was reading some peoples posts and some of em werent applying to my situation at all ...probably because im writting these at 3 am lol!

heres my schedule just so i know im making this clear

FRIDAY: COLLEGE, then go to work at 11pm
SATURDAY: get off of work at 7am. Go back into work at 11pm
SUNDAY: get off of work at 7am.

i dont sleep the whole day on sunday's either so on sunday nights i can usually fall asleep really easily.

its monday through-thursday nights that i cant sleep.
i cant wait until i can finish college and become a highschool history teacher and get on a regular sleeping schedule

By the way...the ambien does work, ive tried it. but it made me hallucinate and feel totally buzzed. i found myself trying to stay awake while on it because it felt so good. So after about 2 weeks i quit that stuff. ITS CRAZY.

benodryl does work but i dont want to get myself addicted to anything.
i wish i controlled when the sun came up

Thanks for you help everybody.
If you got any more ideas id be more than welcome to hear em!

Digital Grl

posted on Apr, 27 2005 @ 03:36 AM
Well, I used to have this problem, until I foudn a simple solution:

Go nocturnal.

I took all night classes at my university. I woke up at about 1800, went to bed at 1000 or so. Played hell with my diet, but I enjoyed it well enough. Plus, you're already on nightshift. Hell, it's become natural to me. If I don't have a schedule, my body automatically drifts back to being nocturnal. I'm out of school and not working this week, and I've gone from waking up at ten in the morning to waking up at three in the afternoon.

Basically, what it boils down to is set a schedule the same for every day, if at all possible. Exercize. Find a comfort point.


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