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Tricks to avoid waking up at 2am?


Laura Corin
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I've been in my new job for six weeks.  Although I now have a good idea what I'm doing, I still make mistakes - that's expected and hasn't been an issue.  So my conscious brain is feeling confident about the job.  My subconscious keeps waking me up at 2am in a panic, and then I need to get up for an hour before I can get back to sleep.  Any tips?

 

So far I: go for a good walk in the evening, but not right before bed; read (rather than staring at screens) before bed; avoid alcohol (which tends to make me sleep restlessly);  talk through any issues at work and make sure I have solutions in place before I go home; have a warm shower before bed (the weather here is cool) which is my normal habit anyway; close the double-blackout curtains; wear earplugs.

 

Thanks.

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That is an issue I have struggled with for years. I have gotten way better at just telling myself I will not bite when my subconscious tries to nag me into getting worried about something at three in the morning, but I still wake up sometimes.  Owning the restaurants has been stressful and so I kept waking up every night over something but finally I got tough about telling myself, "There is nothing really wrong, I am going back to sleep." I think if you practice you will get the knack, it can just take awhile.

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When my mind is in a night time panic, I flip on my TV. (I know bad habit.)

 

I have several movies saved on my DVR that I can drift to sleep with. Pride & Prejudice, Down Periscope, Apollo 13 are all movies on my quiet the mind list. Sports Center is also a favorite--very quiet volume and I can drift off and stay drifted off.

 

Fortunately my husband can sleep even when my light and TV are on. :)

 

I've found reading helps, but as soon as I stop reading, turn off the light, and settle in, the unquiet mind returns. During my chemo year when steroids kept me jittery and awake is when I started with the boob tube as a nighttime pacifier.

 

 

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I've heard a couple different diet suggestions.  One is to eat a small snack high in protein before bed:  almonds, a hard-boiled egg, etc.

 

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/07/19/sleep-promoting-and-sleep-stealing-foods

 

Also, I've heard that a tablespoon of raw honey before bed (after an evening of no other sugars):

 

http://blog.sethroberts.net/2013/11/05/honey-at-bedtime-improves-sleep/

 

I don't know if it's true or not, but I guess it wouldn't hurt to try!

 

 

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I'm not sure if I can describe this well, but it is something that has helped me sleep better this spring.  I sleep very lightly and have a hard time going back to sleep.  When woken up in the middle of the night, I will lay in bed thinking of all the worries of the coming day.  I try to visualize happy things, but I just don't have a very good visual imagination, so then I get frustrated trying to make myself imagine the beach or the woods...  This is a life struggle.  I know it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I really like my sleep, you know?

 

Recently I started to just focus hard on whatever images pop up behind my closed eye lids.  These are not actual images.  They are lines or brightness or dots - not real pictures.  I try really hard to focus only on a line or dot, and focus hard, so I don't accidentally start in on my to-do list again.  There is something about that single minded focus on nothing that helps me ease back to sleep.  I'm not trying to hear ocean waves, or feel the crunch of leaves beneath my feet.  I am just focusing on the inside of my eye.  Easy.  

 

My dd was needing to get up at 4am for work, and I would get up to help her get out the door, then I felt like my whole day was wasted because I was getting so little sleep.  Being able to go back to sleep for another 2 hours was a real life saver!

 

I hope you find an answer for yourself!

 

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Four things helped me--I didn't try them all at once, but together they've made my middle-of-the-night insomnia a thing of the past.

 

1. Avoid carbs in the evening, including alcohol, desserts, pasta, bread, etc.  I'm so sorry to say it really does make a difference for me!  (I fought that realization for some time--sounds like you already know alcohol doesn't help.)

2. Pop a melatonin, as long as it's 2-3 am, and not 4am.  If it take it at 4 am I wake up groggy.  Earlier, it does help met get back to sleep.

3. Play a meditation CD on a battery-operated CD player with Sleepphones.  If I go back to sleep, the soft headband does not wake me up.  I like guided meditation anyway, so instead of getting anxious about insomnia, I welcomed the time to meditate.  Meditation + reduced anxiety about missing sleep made a huge difference.

4.  My insomnia coincided with stress, too.  I decided I'd give my worries 20 min of airtime during the day, and then be done with them.  I lit a candle, wrote in my journal or read something relevant, mulled things over, then put the candle and my worries away (at least in theory).  Somehow the theory/ritual eventually translated into practice.

 

I also think my insomnia has a hormonal component, and exercising more and drinking less alcohol may have helped with that part of it.

 

Congrats on your new job! 

 

Amy

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Recently I started waking up about 2 a.m. and would stay awake for at least an hour unable to shut my brain off.  I put a light comforter over just me when I first go to bed and have been able to sleep through the night ever since.  I realize your insomnia might not have to do with being cold, but perhaps if you cool off too much that is when your brain kicks in and you start to think of all those things that keep you awake.  It might be worth trying.

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I've found reading helps, but as soon as I stop reading, turn off the light, and settle in, the unquiet mind returns. 

 

I experience the same thing, and it's frustrating. Sometimes the TV works but I have to put on my glasses to see it, and that can make me feel more awake. Lately I listen to podcasts. I do have a sound machine that I like and it really helps, but I forget to use it!

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Slept well last night - work was easy and I resolved all the issues left over from last week.  I was woken at two by a mouse dragging a bait block around the loft over my head, but I put in ear plugs (I had been sleeping with white noise before) and went straight out.  Which suggests that it is all about the unquiet mind, rather than a sleep pattern issue per se.

 

The mouse thing is just part of living in a 150 year old house surrounded by fields: you always get them in at harvest time.

 

Thanks for all the suggestions - I'll look into them.

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When this started happening to me (but at around 3 or 4 am) nothing worked. Not magnesium, not lemon balm, not lavender. For a long time, melatonin worked for me, but that stopped as well. And this whole waking up in the middle of night thing was new. I've long had insomnia, but was always able to stay asleep once asleep, so these new symptoms concerned me. Often I could not go back to sleep and I was exhausted all the time. I got a lot of really beautiful morning walks in, but that is the only positive thing to be said about it. 

 

I eventually caved and asked my doctor for a sleeping pill. I was giving Ambien. I've heard it can be very addictive, but it worked for me. I'd wait and take it when I woke up, so long as I woke up before 5. It would put me right back to sleep. After a couple weeks, I was sleeping through the night and didn't need to use pills any more, so I stopped taking them. I know this is not the route everyone would want to take, but for me, I was so desperate for sleep I was willing to try it.

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When this started happening to me (but at around 3 or 4 am) nothing worked.

 

I eventually caved and asked my doctor for a sleeping pill. I was giving Ambien. I've heard it can be very addictive, but it worked for me.

 

Earlier this year I was also waking up at 3 or 4 am. Tried trazodone at bedtime, but that didn't work so well. Taking klonopin at bedtime or klonopin or trazodone when I wake up in the middle of the night tends to work better. Klonopin of course is also addictive (though I haven't become addicted to it, since I make sure to only take it sometimes), trazodone isn't addictive.

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I find that when I have a lot on my mind, I tend to wake up. This week it was a relative's funeral Monday (unfortunately I couldn't go) and receiving their death certificate in the mail, and school prep work.

 

Thankfully if I get up, have a drink of water, and walk around for a few minutes, I go right back to sleep.

 

In a few weeks I should be fine. Truly.

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Four things helped me--I didn't try them all at once, but together they've made my middle-of-the-night insomnia a thing of the past.

 

1. Avoid carbs in the evening, including alcohol, desserts, pasta, bread, etc.  I'm so sorry to say it really does make a difference for me!  (I fought that realization for some time--sounds like you already know alcohol doesn't help.)

2. Pop a melatonin, as long as it's 2-3 am, and not 4am.  If it take it at 4 am I wake up groggy.  Earlier, it does help met get back to sleep.

3. Play a meditation CD on a battery-operated CD player with Sleepphones.  If I go back to sleep, the soft headband does not wake me up.  I like guided meditation anyway, so instead of getting anxious about insomnia, I welcomed the time to meditate.  Meditation + reduced anxiety about missing sleep made a huge difference.

4.  My insomnia coincided with stress, too.  I decided I'd give my worries 20 min of airtime during the day, and then be done with them.  I lit a candle, wrote in my journal or read something relevant, mulled things over, then put the candle and my worries away (at least in theory).  Somehow the theory/ritual eventually translated into practice.

 

I also think my insomnia has a hormonal component, and exercising more and drinking less alcohol may have helped with that part of it.

 

Congrats on your new job! 

 

Amy

THANK YOU for the Sleepphones reference!!  I had never heard of them before!  I have been sleeping with earbuds for years now, and have never been entirely happy with them.  Can't wait to try the Sleepphones!!

 

Thanks again!

 

Anne

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