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Feeling blah and unable to pin down a cause


Night Elf
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My chronic insomnia has become worse. I now sleep one hour when we go to bed around 11:00 pm. I wake up by 12:30 am and am awake all night. I go back to bed between 6:00 am and 7:00 am and sleep for a while. I'm averaging 4 hours of sleep a day. 1 at night and 3 in the mornings. I feel tired all day and have absolutely no energy.

I'm not losing weight despite eating a low calorie diet. I did have my doctor do a thyroid panel, including those tests recommended here, something like Free T3 and T4, and something else. All came back normal. My therapist and I have come to the conclusion that my problems are hormonal. I'm in perimenopause. I haven't had a cycle since December 1st of last year. I did gain weight because of binging but even when I slowed that down, I was still gaining and I have that typical menopausal apron belly. Yuck! I refuse to eat extremely low calorie because of my eating disorder history, but that is usually unhealthy anyway. Weight lost too quickly comes back. I want a slow and steady loss, just enough to put me back into a healthy weight range. I just don't like being overweight. I'm not asking to be skinny again like I was 4 years ago at the height of my eating disorder, but neither do I want to settle in the other extreme. 

I just feel blah. I'm having significant problems with leg aches, specifically knee pain. The orthopedic doctor said I have chondromalacia of the patella and the best two things to do was find a new job and lose weight. I did quit my job because I was unable to perform my simple duties. I am not losing weight though. I can walk about 20 minutes at a time for exercise before my left leg starts hurting. The knee aches and pain radiates up and down my leg. My right leg hurts a little but no where near like my left leg. I bought a recumbent exercise bike so I'd keep moving during the day but my doctor said she wants me to continue walking because it's weight bearing. She's asked me to walk 10 minutes twice a day. I'm trying but I'm so darn tired from not sleeping that I can't muster the energy to go outside for even a 10 minute walk.

So that's my life right now. Does any of this sound familiar? What else could all of this be? Any ideas on things I can do to improve my quality of life because right now I'm just dragging through my days. I'm desperate enough that I'm even willing to try a new way of eating, but that doesn't solve the sleep problem. I'm trying to eat low carb but that for me is between 120 - 150 grams of carbs. I just can't seem to get below that. I have some days where I eat over 200! I'm a confessed carboholic. Would that have anything to do with my energy levels, or do I blame everything on sleep?

I have tried numerous sleep medications. I'm currently on 50 mg Trazodone and it does nothing. I've tried increasing it but still nothing so I dropped back down to 50 mg. Melatonin is a joke as is Benadryl or Unisom. My body just doesn't react to meds the same way as others. I tend to need strong meds to affect even small changes. Like taking something for my leg pain. Tylenol doesn't touch it. The only thing that works OTC is 800 mg ibuprofen but I also have a prescription for Meloxicam which helps a little but doesn't take away the pain like the ibuprofen. 

When I post, the responses usually degenerate into my eating disorder history and bipolar 2 diagnosis. I do not see either of those being a problem in my life at this time. I'm on meds for the bipolar and my psych doc is waiting to see how I react to being taken off two of the meds before making a decision to switch my meds up completely. She doesn't understand why I can't sleep or lose weight. My GYN said her only offering was hormone replacement therapy but that's too risky for me to try. I'm not ready to tackle that yet. I'm only 54 years old and the side effects of HRT just don't seem to be worth it. 

Ok, that's me. Suggestions? Comments? I'm really at a loss and need to know where to go next.

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Walking will really help, but I hear you say that you can't.  Buy a knee brace, take ibuprofen and go.  Start with ten minutes out, turn around, ten minutes back.  Increase quickly over two weeks then maintain at least 1/2 hour out, 1/2 hour back every day.  Your leg will hurt but not sleeping is worse. Walking is literally your medicine, you just don't swallow it with water.

It hurts to get older but moving more eases the aches and pains and definitely helps with sleep.  Raising three kids was way harder than walking every day, so you know you have the ability.

Signed, a sometimes-sleepy but supportive sister,

Eos

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18 minutes ago, Eos said:

Walking will really help, but I hear you say that you can't.  Buy a knee brace, take ibuprofen and go.  Start with ten minutes out, turn around, ten minutes back.  Increase quickly over two weeks then maintain at least 1/2 hour out, 1/2 hour back every day.  Your leg will hurt but not sleeping is worse. Walking is literally your medicine, you just don't swallow it with water.

It hurts to get older but moving more eases the aches and pains and definitely helps with sleep.  Raising three kids was way harder than walking every day, so you know you have the ability.

Signed, a sometimes-sleepy but supportive sister,

Eos

Are you saying that more exercise might help me sleep? I've heard that but I always thought it meant 2-3 hours of exercise that basically wears you out. 

Right now I'm walking 5 minutes to a stop sign in my neighborhood and 5 back. I'll see if I can increase that today. With just 10 minutes, I get home and hardly hurt but then I sit down and become my ordinary sedentary self. 

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I would look into another opinion on the knee.  Too often especially as a female, we are told to lose weight to fix joint issues and that is not always correct.  There could be even alternative treatments to help you that might be missed. Water workouts at a local pool are awesome for joints.  Check out your local ymca or gyms.  

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12 minutes ago, Night Elf said:

I've heard that but I always thought it meant 2-3 hours of exercise that basically wears you out. 

A smaller amount really helps.  And actually, when I really push myself in walking long distances, I sometimes have a hard time sleeping that night, I believe because of residual adrenaline which is something I learned about from my Type 1 diabetic dd but can't tell you the science of why.

If you did 10 minutes total yesterday, that's sweet, but do twenty today, even if you go home and become your sedentary self.  You can ice your knee if that helps.

20 minutes total tomorrow and for a few days, bump up to 30 total for a few days, then reach for 40 total on Sunday or early next week.

If you can do 40 minutes total, you can bump up to an hour total, then just stay there and cruise. I promise you will sleep better, but you also have to remember to drink some water during the day.  Don't drink water after 4 so it doesn't keep you up at night and don't eat dessert at night so the sugar won't spike you awake.  These are what work for me.

2 hours ago, Night Elf said:

Would that have anything to do with my energy levels, or do I blame everything on sleep?

It's such a spiral, isn't it?  I'm tired, so I crave carbs because my boy knows I'll get energy from them, but if I eat a bowl of cereal or some toast I will almost immediately need a nap and get fuzzy feeling.  

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I have had sleep issues that I believe are hormonal, but I'm seven years past my last period. I've been trying a calcium/vit d/magnesium pill in the late evening, and I think it is helping me have better sleep. Have you tried anything like that or magnesium? 

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I have a couple of thoughts, but perhaps you've already considered them.

-- Get direct sunlight early in the morning. A walk during this time would be ideal. If nothing else, sit out in the sun for 30 minutes.

-- Have you had a sleep study? Or seen a sleep specialist doctor? My mom had similar issues several years ago and found out that she had sleep apnea. It was not something she would have thought she had but a CPAP mask has greatly improved her sleep. 

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I didn't look up the study so I don't know how big it was, but I've heard from a few sources recently that when weight loss stalls it's because the body is moving fat from visceral fat (the dangerous kind around organs) out into muscles.  When that process is done there's a whoosh effect and you drop weight very quickly.  When the plateau is happening you should subtly see your muscles filling out so you look better even if your measurements and weight are close to the same.  So when we get depressed because our diet "isn't working" but mathematically we know it should, we should stick to it because the dangerous fat that causes inflammation is what is being lost. If you can't stand the plateau you can always drop calories a little.  Like 100 calories less per day and see how that does over a week.

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I'd work on the insomnia first. Easier said than done, I know. It causes everything else to be worse.

I'm not so sure that more exercise is helpful for that. I have RA, so some level of pain/fatigue is constant. It's a tricky thing to judge whether more exercise is helpful or harmful. It can go either way on any given day. Painsomnia is a thing, so the trick is figuring out how much exercise is helpful versus hurtful. It's hard to get it right.

I think a sleep study is a good idea.

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9 minutes ago, mom31257 said:

I have had sleep issues that I believe are hormonal, but I'm seven years past my last period. I've been trying a calcium/vit d/magnesium pill in the late evening, and I think it is helping me have better sleep. Have you tried anything like that or magnesium? 

I do take Calcium with Vit. D, but not magnesium. Is it all one pill or separate? I just purchased a new big bottle of Calcium/Vit D. Can I buy a magnesium supplement? Any suggestion on how much to take?

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10 minutes ago, Insertcreativenamehere said:

I have a couple of thoughts, but perhaps you've already considered them.

-- Get direct sunlight early in the morning. A walk during this time would be ideal. If nothing else, sit out in the sun for 30 minutes.

-- Have you had a sleep study? Or seen a sleep specialist doctor? My mom had similar issues several years ago and found out that she had sleep apnea. It was not something she would have thought she had but a CPAP mask has greatly improved her sleep. 

I have mild sleep apnea and do sleep with a cpap. It is extremely mild though so I was surprised when they gave me the machine, but I use it. 

I just saw my doctor on Friday about my weight and energy levels. That's when she did the thyroid tests. She said to walk in the morning and after dinner but she was only trying to break up my usual 20 minute walk that was making my leg hurt so bad. I've never thought about being in sunlight. It makes sense though. I bought my youngest one of those sun lights or whatever they're called because he is affected by the sun, or lack of it I should say. I've never thought about it for myself.

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8 minutes ago, Katy said:

I didn't look up the study so I don't know how big it was, but I've heard from a few sources recently that when weight loss stalls it's because the body is moving fat from visceral fat (the dangerous kind around organs) out into muscles.  When that process is done there's a whoosh effect and you drop weight very quickly.  When the plateau is happening you should subtly see your muscles filling out so you look better even if your measurements and weight are close to the same.  So when we get depressed because our diet "isn't working" but mathematically we know it should, we should stick to it because the dangerous fat that causes inflammation is what is being lost. If you can't stand the plateau you can always drop calories a little.  Like 100 calories less per day and see how that does over a week.

Oh I like the sound of that. I haven't given up. I've just been losing and gaining the same 2 lbs. over the last couple of weeks. Before that I had dropped 6 lbs. but gained 4 lbs back before going into this yo-yo thing. My therapist believes I totally messed up my metabolism from undereating during my eating disorder years but I stopped undereating in 2018. I've gained a bit each year but I gained over 20 lbs. in the last 6 months. Part of that was because I was binging but I got that under control. I even joined Overeaters Anonymous because we think I may be addicted to food, although I'm not so sure about that anymore. I do overeat once every 4-5 days meaning I'm eating more than my low calorie days but I don't think that should cause me to gain. Yesterday was a big day for me. It's just I get so hungry. DH thinks it's because I"m eating low calorie the other days of the week. But that's dieting! I can't go back to eating higher calorie or I'll never lose weight. 

 

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10 minutes ago, purpleowl said:

Sleep study, definitely.

My knee pain increases noticeably when I need to replace my shoes. 

I thought about that. I bought new shoes, going back to a pair of Hoka shoes that I loved so much. I also have extra supportive inserts to wear in the shoes. I've tried Brooks and Nike as well, but the Hokas seem to be the most supportive for me.

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13 minutes ago, Pawz4me said:

I'd work on the insomnia first. Easier said than done, I know. It causes everything else to be worse.

 

Oh I've been working on that for a very long time. I've had insomnia for many years. It's just gotten worse since my cycle stopped last December. Before that, I'd go to sleep, wake up in the middle of the night, stay away about an hour, then go back to sleep. I was getting 6-7 hours of sleep a night and didn't feel drained all day. Now I'm up nearly all night, getting only 4 hours of sleep and definitely feel tired all day.

I've tried every trick for sleeping I've heard or read about. My DH wants me to just stay in bed when I wake up. My therapist said to say an intercessory prayer, praying for everyone I've ever known, with the idea that my brain will get tired and shut down again causing me to fall back asleep. It does work occasionally but staying on task is very difficult for me. My mind wanders and I start thinking negative thoughts and if that happens, my thinking spirals down so that my anxiety kicks in and then I definitely can't sleep. It's so hard for my DH to understand. He says just think of something positive but it's just not that easy for me! It's just much easier to get up. I do admit I could be better about what I do when I'm awake. I get a lot of my schoolwork done. I'm using homeschool curriculum and it's all very interesting and fun. My therapist says I'm stimulating my brain, even when I watch a sermon which I do instead of reading sometimes. I've tried reading a boring book, or something I've read numerous times but I just get agitated. I've trained my brain to be awake, I'm sure.

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13 minutes ago, Night Elf said:

I do take Calcium with Vit. D, but not magnesium. Is it all one pill or separate? I just purchased a new big bottle of Calcium/Vit D. Can I buy a magnesium supplement? Any suggestion on how much to take?

You could use Calm. It comes in powder form or gummies. The powder form was bothering my reflux taking it late at night, but gummies don't. I now have a pill that has some magnesium included, but I still take one gummy with it. I take two pills for a total of 500 mg Calcium, 5mcg D, and 100mg magnesium with one gummy (83 mg mag). 

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Stating the obvious, but is it possible  the staying awake and then falling asleep around 6:00 am and sleeping for several hours could be a detrimental self-perpetuating cycle? What would happen if you got up just a bit earlier (in increments) even if you didn’t sleep well, ate nourishing foods, got exercise to pain tolerance, stayed busy with household tasks, put away all devices/screens after 8 pm, and went to bed at the same time every night? I’m saying this because I have lots of nights like this, and this is what I thought I would try for myself. I think sleeping in the morning is the culprit. Maybe it’s wrecking your sleep cycle because your body gets used to that, but it can’t stop unless you change your sleep patterns. Easier said than done, I know. I find if I do this, I need a small nap in the day, but the key is to keep that nap under 20 minutes and get up and get going again. 

These habits have developed, in my case, because of chronic muscle pain. I’m working so hard to make things better. I did buy a treadmill so I could get serious about it and walk without having to depend on good weather. I long for longer hikes. It’s my favorite thing to do. I’m trying to work toward that because I miss it. 

So maybe working toward a consistent routine even though it’s hard at first will eventually give you results. 

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33 minutes ago, Indigo Blue said:

Stating the obvious, but is it possible  the staying awake and then falling asleep around 6:00 am and sleeping for several hours could be a detrimental self-perpetuating cycle? What would happen if you got up just a bit earlier (in increments) even if you didn’t sleep well, ate nourishing foods, got exercise to pain tolerance, stayed busy with household tasks, put away all devices/screens after 8 pm, and went to bed at the same time every night? I’m saying this because I have lots of nights like this, and this is what I thought I would try for myself. I think sleeping in the morning is the culprit. Maybe it’s wrecking your sleep cycle because your body gets used to that, but it can’t stop unless you change your sleep patterns. Easier said than done, I know. I find if I do this, I need a small nap in the day, but the key is to keep that nap under 20 minutes and get up and get going again. 

These habits have developed, in my case, because of chronic muscle pain. I’m working so hard to make things better. I did buy a treadmill so I could get serious about it and walk without having to depend on good weather. I long for longer hikes. It’s my favorite thing to do. I’m trying to work toward that because I miss it. 

So maybe working toward a consistent routine even though it’s hard at first will eventually give you results. 

Thank you. I did think about that already and did not go back to sleep after breakfast around 6:30 am. I got 2 hours sleep last night, one hour twice. I have an appointment at 10:30 am with my therapist and I hope I'm not falling asleep trying to talk with her. I get in bed at night between 10:00 and 10:30 and turn out the light between 11:00 and 11:30 pm, but am awake by 12:30 am. I lay in bed for 30 minutes and then get up. What I really need to do is not stay up for so long before trying to go back to sleep. I just have such difficulty doing that. I did it last night and that's how I got my 2nd hour of sleep. It also kept me awake beyond 6:00 am. I'm really tired right now at 8:00 am but I'm trying to stay awake. If I can stay awake all day, maybe I'll sleep longer tonight as you suggest. I'll find out tonight!

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I second so many of the above replies. I take the Calm magnesium powder every night and it helps tremendously. I've tried twice to stop just because I don't like being dependent on it but it really does work. Just helps calm the mind and I do sleep better taking it. 

I walk every morning as soon as the sun is up. I think it not only helps me sleep later that evening but it improves my mood. I skipped my walk the other morning due to weather and didn't try to get it in later in the day. I was an absolute beast all day...everything irritated me and I just couldn't settle down that night. I understand you have pain when you walk but I agree with the previous comment that if you just start in 10 minute increments you can slowly build up. Exercise is truly the key to mental and physical health. I wish I had accepted this 30 years ago. I didn't start exercising in any form until my late 20's. I've been reading a book by Dr. John Ratey called "Spark" and it really reinforces everything people say about exercise benefiting your mental health.

I don't do strenuous exercise...just the walking in the neighborhood with our dogs. I do some strength training videos 3 x a week, again, nothing strenuous but keeps me healthy. Yoga helps also...again, nothing outlandish but gentle stretching and focusing on my breathing on a regular basis helps. 

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Anecdotal story - a friend who has suffered from insomnia has tried various and sundry solutions. For her, she has found success in Magnesium oil applied before bed (she uses a spray - she used to purchase from Amazon but now somehow she makes her own)

It might be worth investigating? 
 

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Just another idea for you - can you walk in a pool to get exercise and build back strength? I

I also agree that spending time outdoors in the morning and in the evening will help rest your clock as well. Do you have a small garden you can tend to as well? 

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The pool idea is out because I have a supreme dislike of my body and I flat out will not wear anything that reveals any part of my body. Even in my skinny days, I didn't wear a bathing suit. Shoot, I don't think I've even worn one in over 20 years.

I'm really not an outdoorsy type person. I don't mind walking but I don't hang out like just sitting around or gardening. There are too many living critters that totally freak me out.

I had a treadmill but it totally broke and the repairman said it was too old to find parts so we had to trash it. DH wouldn't buy another because we weren't using it daily anymore, but I did buy a recumbent bike. I'll do that in addition to walking outside on nice weather days.

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12 minutes ago, Eos said:

I don't do bathing suits either.  I literally swim in leggings, a bra, and a dress.  

At the YMCA, I'd feel very out of place dressed like that. My mom said they made bathing suits for older women that are shorts and blousy tops with built in bra, but even that sort of freaks me out. I don't show my legs in public. I hate my legs! I'm white as a ghost. Friends used to make fun of me when I was a teenager hanging out at the apartment pool during the summers. I was totally unable to tan. I'd burn and then it would fade away back to white.

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Things that keep me awake:

Calcium in the evening. Magnesium in the evening. Frankly, I stopped eating after 5pm just to get rid of all the foods that might be keeping me awake.  Calm was an absolute disaster for me. Just throwing that out there because sometimes things that work for practically everyone don't work for individuals.

Walking much or other active exercise in the evening -- definite adrenaline lag there. 

The biggest thing for me was any sort of collagen, gelatin, or bone broth, even at 6am would cause insomnia that evening. Also I eventually realized that those things cause anxiety for me. I think it's at least partially due to the amino acid profile, but could also be a histamine reaction. 

I eventually learned to meditate in lieu of sleeping because it was something quiet to do in the dark, and if I accidentally fell asleep (a problem for beginning meditators) no big deal. And if I didn't fall asleep, no big deal, at least I was accomplishing something.

Reasons I've lost weight:

Sufficient sleep is tied to weight gain and loss. I'm done with menopause. I've accidentally stumbled into Intermittent fasting by going long stretches without eating in the evening.  Mostly, though, I think it was just due to that wild ride of hormones being over.

Things I wish I'd known about earlier:

Qigong for women -- there are entire practices to help women hormonally, and it's so tranquil. 

Binaural beats for helping entrain my brainwaves to a more sleep-like setting. I just do little doses, not the 8 hour long youtubes, using crappy little earphones. I have no idea what types of mental health issues should avoid binaural beats, or if that's even a concern.

Things I've wondered about:

Self hypnosis.

 

 

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Just now, Night Elf said:

At the YMCA, I'd feel very out of place dressed like that. My mom said they made bathing suits for older women that are shorts and blousy tops with built in bra, but even that sort of freaks me out. I don't show my legs in public. I hate my legs! I'm white as a ghost. Friends used to make fun of me when I was a teenager hanging out at the apartment pool during the summers. I was totally unable to tan. I'd burn and then it would fade away back to white.

I'm reading this and thinking of those badass surfing outfits that have long sleeves and long legs. But I spend a lot of time in the mysterious underworld of people who make their own beach and swimming attire.

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3 minutes ago, Night Elf said:

Ok, I just walked 15 minutes. I'll go for 20 this afternoon if it doesn't rain. Right now it's overcast and damp. Forecast says rain about 2:00 pm so I'll go at lunch.

Wonderful! If you’re trying to not doze off, a walk is a good way to avoid that. Also, you’re doing great slowly bumping up your duration. Just add an extra 3 or 4 minutes every few days and with 2-3 walks per day you can get in 45-60 minutes of walking. Also, if you knee hurts when you come in, ice it. 

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1 minute ago, Night Elf said:

At the YMCA, I'd feel very out of place dressed like that. My mom said they made bathing suits for older women that are shorts and blousy tops with built in bra, but even that sort of freaks me out. I don't show my legs in public. I hate my legs! I'm white as a ghost. Friends used to make fun of me when I was a teenager hanging out at the apartment pool during the summers. I was totally unable to tan. I'd burn and then it would fade away back to white.

I definitely do feel very out of place, but I've also worn capris with a short dress, not so bad.

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I've been slowing losing weight through walking, over the last year. I've lost about 35 pounds and am still losing.

I've found that it is a very typical pattern for me to stay at a plateau for a few weeks or even a month, where I am not losing anything, even though I am walking 12,000 steps a day. Then, my weight will suddenly drop two or three pounds.

Another pattern I've noticed is that my weight will bounce up and down by a few pounds for awhile, before settling at the lower weight eventually. You say you have been losing and gaining the same two pounds for a few weeks, so it sounds the same for you.

What I've found is that I can't stress over the time frame for my weight loss. I want to lose the weight gradually and not do a drastic diet, so I am learning to be content with my health gains over being worried what the scale says.

So I would encourage you not to be discouraged by the bouncing scale or the plateaus. Just keep steadily on.

I agree with others about the other advice given and need to take some of that advice myself. I also struggle with insomnia and find it easier to sleep in the morning than at night.

The only thing I would add is to consider physical therapy for your knee.  If you can reduce the pain and then increase your ability to walk, that would be beneficial. Oh, and maybe try a light box during morning hours to help reset your circadian rhythms. I haven't tried that yet.

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It's not surprising to feel blah on that little sleep.  I will say I have perimenopausal sleep interruptions.  But I still generally average probably 7 hours a night.  So know it's an ongoing process and not unusual, but I think you could do a lot better.  Lack of sleep magnifies pain too.

I do think walking outdoors could be helpful to you, starting slowly.  I try to average an hour, around 6 days a week.  But I'd build up slowly.  I have very slowly lost some weight being dedicated to getting outside and doing it.  

With this sleep cycle, you may want to consider a sleep study.  What do you do when you wake up at midnight?  Immediatley bounce out of bed?  Try to do something relaxing?  If you are prone to trying to use that time constructively, you may want to back away from that and force yourself not to necessarily just lay in bed but do something that you might do right before bedtime.  Reading, listening to a podcast, whatever might be your usual go to.  

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I had horrible insomnia since puberty. I am now several years post menopause. 
I have fairly recently been diagnosed with a neurological condition unrelated to earlier insomnia, but now directly linked to my neuro condition. (Young onset Parkinson’s, which messes with sleep and I had started acting out my dreams.) Anyway. I had a sleep study, which I failed miserably. I now have a stupid sleep apnea machine which I hate with a passion, but I now wake up refreshed which is amazing. I do take a prescription sleeping pill and muscle relaxer at bedtime bc of the neuro issue. 
I highly recommend a sleep study! And lack of decent sleep affects body’s ability to lose weight. 
 

Leg pain - I have also had that since puberty. I was always told it was growing pains, even though I stopped growing around age 12. I have chronically low vitamin d levels. When my d gets low, my legs ache like crazy. The first time I had my d levels checked, we had just returned from a 2 week beach vacation and I had a great tan. My labs showed my d levels at 13! I have to take high levels of d every single day. If I miss a few days, my legs hurt. Doctors have also advised me to get sunshine, without sunscreen and have even suggested the tanning bed in small increments. 
 

Have you looked at yoga nidra or even the “legs up the wall” pose? I find both to be incredibly helpful! Also, look at yin yoga. Find a small yoga studio and try it out, if at all possible. I prefer yoga at a small studio or nicer gym, not at a local rec center where the classes are held in a mixed use room. The setting and acoustics are very  important. 
 

I would also look at bio identical hormone replacement for menopause issues. And research the vagus nerve… I have found massage and reflexology to be incredibly helpful for me. I have read your posts over the past months and really feel your pain. I could have written nearly identical posts. I would really try to find some small things that are healthy, bring joy and set a routine.  At the start of the pandemic, I started shopping at our local farmers market. I had always wanted to, but just never made the time. It has been amazing. I love getting to know the growers, nourish my body with fresh, local, in season foods. I am eating as much raw vegan as possible. Not 100%, but maybe 50-60% most days. I really think there is an amazing connection between the food we eat, our energy levels and cellular healing. Maybe you could start growing some microgreens or wheatgrass in your kitchen? I know you said no gardening, but just start a small container inside, to begin that connection with food and health. Or try sprouting seeds. I follow several people on Instagram and I love watching their videos. 
hugs! 

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I have tremendous sympathy over the chronic insomnia. I suffer from it. I couldn't sleep until 2 and was up at 5. I do take a sleep remedy from Hylands which sometimes can help. Also keeping my diet clean helps, I really can't have any sugar or any caffeine of any sort in my diet. It does not work for me. I am hypersensitive to any sort of stimulants. Staying away from wheat seems to help me as well.

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I would consider looking into this protocol that seeks to balance your minerals. I see several have mentioned magnesium, which is great! Magnesium is needed for 700 functions in our bodies. Most people are lacking in magnesium. But, magnesium needs to be balanced with potassium or you still end up with health issues. I have been following this protocol for four years now and have seen so many health benefits. I sleep well at night and wake up rested. I used to need a nap in the afternoon, but have felt so much better that I was able to start my own business this year. 

Here is the link to the protocol. https://therootcauseprotocol.com/ They have a manual to download with recommended sources of magnesium. Calm isn't a recommended one as it is made from citrate.

 

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8 minutes ago, GoVanGogh said:

I had horrible insomnia since puberty. I am now several years post menopause. 
I have fairly recently been diagnosed with a neurological condition unrelated to earlier insomnia, but now directly linked to my neuro condition. (Young onset Parkinson’s, which messes with sleep and I had started acting out my dreams.) Anyway. I had a sleep study, which I failed miserably. I now have a stupid sleep apnea machine which I hate with a passion, but I now wake up refreshed which is amazing. I do take a prescription sleeping pill and muscle relaxer at bedtime bc of the neuro issue. 
I highly recommend a sleep study! And lack of decent sleep affects body’s ability to lose weight. 
 

Leg pain - I have also had that since puberty. I was always told it was growing pains, even though I stopped growing around age 12. I have chronically low vitamin d levels. When my d gets low, my legs ache like crazy. The first time I had my d levels checked, we had just returned from a 2 week beach vacation and I had a great tan. My labs showed my d levels at 13! I have to take high levels of d every single day. If I miss a few days, my legs hurt. Doctors have also advised me to get sunshine, without sunscreen and have even suggested the tanning bed in small increments. 
 

 

Our bodies don't absorb Vitamin D if we are low in magnesium and potassium. 

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I don't have a regular issue with insomnia, but sometimes go through a spurt.  I've found that if I eat a small snack, take a pain reliever (like tylenol), and turn on a boring show that I've already seen to focus my mind, I'll be back asleep shortly after the tylenol kicks in.  I do have pain issues, and a high pain tolerance.  I think sometimes I hurt more than I realize.  I wouldn't recommend going to get a snack because it can wake you up even more.  I just keep a box of crackers or bar of dark chocolate in my room so I can grab it easily and go right back to bed.  

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Like @GailV, magnesium at night didn't help me, but before I gave up, I started taking it in the morning, which helped. Some of us just do things differently! I am well past menopause. I have lost about 15 lbs--in the past year. So it is easy to get discouraged. But I just focus on the fact that I am 15 lbs less than I was last year. It would be really good if I could lose about 40 more. I am exercising though, use my CPAP every night, and my sleep is much, much better than it used to be. Sometimes I drink too much caffeine, and that throws a wrench in things. Our bodies are so complicated. I hope you find some good answers. I would feel horrible, not just "blah", if I were not getting any more sleep than that.

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1 hour ago, ShepCarlin said:

I don't do strenuous exercise...just the walking in the neighborhood with our dogs. I do some strength training videos 3 x a week, again, nothing strenuous but keeps me healthy. Yoga helps also...again, nothing outlandish but gentle stretching and focusing on my breathing on a regular basis helps. 

Yes. Gentle exercise. Walk at home videos on YouTube and yoga. Yoga is really really beneficial. Arm weights, a few squats. 

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1 hour ago, Night Elf said:

At the YMCA, I'd feel very out of place dressed like that. My mom said they made bathing suits for older women that are shorts and blousy tops with built in bra, but even that sort of freaks me out. I don't show my legs in public. I hate my legs! I'm white as a ghost. Friends used to make fun of me when I was a teenager hanging out at the apartment pool during the summers. I was totally unable to tan. I'd burn and then it would fade away back to white.

I feel ya, but if you can let that go it is so freeing…..

I have little stick bird legs. I don’t swim anymore, but if I did, I’d wear a swim tank and swim shorts. Not outside, of course. You’d need more than that. 

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I can't be any help with the sleep, but I was also recently diagnosed with chondromalacia in one knee, pretty advanced in a couple of places. I was also diagnosed with arthritis in both knees a couple of years ago. And I have peripheral neuropathy in both feet and lower legs. I am also carrying a good 25 pounds more than I really like. 

I walk. A lot. I had to work up to it. When I first started being intentional about walking, I was going to the corner and back. But I started doing that at least two or three times a day. Then I started going around the block on one of those walks. Then longer/more often, etc.

These days, I regularly walk 4K (about 2.5 miles) every morning and again most evenings. I walk 5Ks for fun and have acquired so many medals that I may need to add a new rack soon to store/display them. Last weekend, I walked my first official 10K. I don't win any speed records, but I usually come in around the middle of the pack for my age/gender division.

When the chondromalacia flared up last month and I thought my walking/racing days might be over, I panicked, because I depend so much on that activity to benefit both my physical and my mental health. The orthopedist, though, said I was fine to continue doing whatever reasonably low-impact activities I liked, as long as it didn't hurt. He gave me a prescription for an NSAID I can take when I need it, recommended icing my knees when they get sore and offered injections to manage pain if things get to that point. But over all, he encouraged me to keep moving. (And never said a word about my weight.)

I would encourage you to get a second opinion and possibly explore physical therapy. 

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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1 hour ago, Eos said:

I don't do bathing suits either.  I literally swim in leggings, a bra, and a dress.  

Long sleeve swim shirt and swim leggings for me. For anyone concerned about pale skin, I invite you to come on up to northern New England! Mine burns so fast now, it’s ridiculous.

I'm not sure anyone around here would care how a person dresses to swim. It’s a privilege of getting older, for sure, the letting go of societal (patriarchal) expectations and finally being free. 

1 hour ago, Night Elf said:

At the YMCA, I'd feel very out of place dressed like that.

Dress how you want in the pool, OP; don’t let old high school hurts get in the way of living your best life today.

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1 hour ago, catz said:

IWith this sleep cycle, you may want to consider a sleep study.  What do you do when you wake up at midnight?  Immediatley bounce out of bed?  Try to do something relaxing?  If you are prone to trying to use that time constructively, you may want to back away from that and force yourself not to necessarily just lay in bed but do something that you might do right before bedtime.  Reading, listening to a podcast, whatever might be your usual go to.  

I do a lot of school work and Bible study in the middle of the night. I love the totally quiet house and the stillness outside. The problem is I'm thoroughly enjoying myself. I love all of my reading, watching sermons and surfing online. My therapist says I'm stimulating my brain and of course it doesn't want to go back to sleep. I've tried reading a book I've read numerous times so I'm not thinking about it so much or reading so intently but then my mind just wanders and that keeps me up.

I have a Kindle I can read in bed. My DH has suggested, and I've followed it sometimes, that when I wake up, don't get out of bed. Just start reading my Kindle until my eyes get tired. But the problem with that is rather than paying attention to the reading, I can't stop thinking how nice it would be to be in the living room in my cozy recliner under my cozy blanket reading or being on the computer, and I give in to that desire. I've got to break that habit and I'm just having a very difficult time doing so.

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1 hour ago, GoVanGogh said:

 I now have a stupid sleep apnea machine which I hate with a passion, but I now wake up refreshed which is amazing. I do take a prescription sleeping pill and muscle relaxer at bedtime bc of the neuro issue. 
I highly recommend a sleep study! And lack of decent sleep affects body’s ability to lose weight.

See, I really like my cpap. I feel like I sleep so much better with it. I only have mild sleep apnea but just having my airway opened up while I'm laying down feels amazing and restful.

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I go in cycles with insomnia.

I find I can fall asleep between 10:30-11:00 and then wake up around 12:30. I feel like I will never go back to sleep and I am just up for the day. If I get up- that is true. I’ll either be up for the day or get up until 5:30 or 6:00 when I fall asleep for a couple hours. Once I start this it is a hard cycle to break. But, if I can just convince myself to stay in bed I almost always will fall back asleep much earlier than the 5:30 time and sleep until a normal wake up. Then I can probably sleep more normally the next night.

So if I can just stay in bed and not get up I prevent that cycle of taking hold. The problem is that as wide awake as I feel in the middle of the night my thinking skills and logic are not always strong.

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Thank you all for such insights. I'm going to make some small changes at a time but it's nice to have a list of things to try because I really felt stuck and like I had no other options. My doctor offered to put me on a weight loss pill for 3 months but I told her I can't take stimulants with having bipolar disorder. I did tell her I would check with my psych doc but I did some research on my own and that drug, Phentermine, is known to cause manic episodes. So nope, not for me.

First change I'm making is to walk every day. Just doing that is going to be a major accomplishment for me. I'd also like to try the magnesium to see if that makes a difference. I will look at that website mom2samlibby gave me to see if I can get any helpful information from there. 

I'm just going through a rough time right now but I do have hope that things will get better.

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You have a lot of good ideas here.  I hope working the list a little at a time will make a positive difference for you.  Have you ever tried inositol for sleep?  Some people take a small amount a few hours before bedtime to help them get sleepy, then a bit more at bedtime to stay asleep; others just take it at bedtime.  As far as I know, the only drug interaction is with diabetes meds, but you'd want to do your own research.  

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10 minutes ago, Night Elf said:

Thank you all for such insights. I'm going to make some small changes at a time but it's nice to have a list of things to try because I really felt stuck and like I had no other options. My doctor offered to put me on a weight loss pill for 3 months but I told her I can't take stimulants with having bipolar disorder. I did tell her I would check with my psych doc but I did some research on my own and that drug, Phentermine, is known to cause manic episodes. So nope, not for me.

First change I'm making is to walk every day. Just doing that is going to be a major accomplishment for me. I'd also like to try the magnesium to see if that makes a difference. I will look at that website mom2samlibby gave me to see if I can get any helpful information from there. 

I'm just going through a rough time right now but I do have hope that things will get better.

This is really smart and disciplined! Do not take Phentermine! I have taken it and I think it is useful for some people but you have multiple contraindications for it and you should definitely not take it. I am proud of you for researching that for yourself and turning it down. 

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