I began having trouble sleeping when I was a teenager. I am now 59, so that's a lot of years of "bed dread" (sleep anxiety) and "rotisserizing" (tossing and turning all night). I used to tell people jokingly that I had "Reverse Rip Van Winkle Syndrome" - he slept for 20 years and I've been awake for 20 years! Lack of restorative sleep greatly reduces ones quality of life and hurts your immune system and general health. (If you think about it, sleep deprivation is used in POW camps as a form of torture, so it certainly can't be good for you!!) I recently read about a medical study where people who participated in sleep deprivation experiments developed FMS symptoms! I have had fibromyalgia since 1982, so really no surprise there. Below are various things I have tried for sleep and how
they worked for me. Remember, these are only my personal reactions - everyone is different. My insomnia story is at www.fms-help.com/insomnia.htm.
Ambien (zolpidem) - 10 mg
tablet - helps me sleep, but I get rebound insomnia if I try to stop.
(Well, I really can't call it "rebound" insomnia, because I don't sleep at all
without meds anyway.) Although ambien helps me sleep, it caused short term
memory loss for me for quite awhile - I couldn't remember things that happened between a few
minutes after taking the pill and falling asleep. It also caused eating
binges late at night (much to my husband's amusement when he finds crackers or
cereal crumbs on the floor). However, ambien is the only med that actually helps
me sleep, so I really have no choice. (Frankly, after 40 years of insomnia, I
really don't care HOW I get to sleep, just THAT I get to sleep!) I was glad when
ambien became available in the generic (zolpidem), because it is a lot less
expensive. I also tried ambien CR ("controlled release") when I had a 7 day
"free trial" coupon, but I felt horrible on it. I think it stayed in my system
too long. Everyone is different when it comes to treating insomnia -
there's no one single approach that works for everyone. However, keep reading
and you will see more things I tried. I have listed them
Amitriptyline (generic Elavil)
- Of all the antidepressants I tried as docs attempted to
treat my sleep disorder, amitriptyline was the only one I could tolerate - but
only at extremely low doses. However, it left me with a heavy, groggy,
lead-like feeling the next day. I became depressed using this. I
would tell people I didn't feel "blue" - I felt "navy blue" - like a
dark cloud was over my brain. It sort of helped me sleep, but wasn't "the
answer" I was looking for.
- Anti-anxiety med. This worked well for me in
the past for sleep. I used .5 mg (that's 1/2 mg) 1 hour before bedtime
along with 1 generic Sominex (diphenhydramine HCL) tablet. When using this
protocol, if I was not asleep by 1 a.m., I occasionally took 1/4 of an ambien
tablet. Now, however, I take 1 mg of ativan (lorazepam) when I wake up in the
middle of the night and it helps me get back to sleep. I have terrible "sleep
anxiety" from all the years of having to go to work after no sleep the night
before. Simply going to bed became a traumatic experience for me, as I no longer
anticipated rest for my weariness, but a nerve-racking night of clock-watching
Calms Forte -
homeopathic remedy - gave me nightmares, but others have used it successfully for sleep and anxiety issues.
Chillow - This is a great product you
can get at Walgreens or other drug store. It's a flat plastic pad
that you fill with water and place on your pillow to keep your head comfortably
cool. It soothes my tired brain.
Cold gel packs - I use these when I need major help in calming my mind down or when
I am very hot (most people with fibro have temperature regulation problems
caused by the hypothalamus). I use the gel packs that feel like cloth
on the outside. They are more comfortable than the plastic kind. I
keep my cold packs in the freezer and put one behind my neck and sometimes one
on my forehead when I lie down to sleep. They are usually too cold right
out of the freezer, so I let them warm up for about an hour before using.
Putting them in the fridge doesn't keep them cold long enough once in use.
I think the cold helps slow down my thinking processes and relaxes me. I
also live in Florida, where it is hot and humid much of the year, and I am also
a woman in my 50's, so these cold packs help me manage "hot
Diphenhydramine HCL (generic
Sominex) - OTC drug. I use the generic from
Wal-Mart. It worked pretty good for me for quite awhile.
Doxylamine Succinate (generic
Unisom) - This OTC drug worked
well for me for many months, then stopped working for some unknown reason.
Most people with fibro have this problem with medications - they work for
awhile, then stop working.
Ear Plugs - I use Hearos ear plugs from Wal-Mart. They are the softest and most
comfortable that I have found. They block out just enough noise to help me sleep
and they don't hurt my ears.
An anti-depressant. See amitriptyline
Essential Oils - These extremely high quality plant extracts (which, by the way,
do not feel oily) have electrical frequencies that affect the limbic portion of
the brain (where the hypothalamus is located) and promote relaxation and relief
of anxiety and depression. If you want info on the ones I use, write
Tried this years ago and it didn't seem to help. I tried it again at age
53 to see if things had changed with my body and if it would help with serotonin
production. A doctor suggested taking one 50 mg tablet the first night and
increasing by 1 capsule per night up to taking a maximum of 5 per
night until sleep improves. It did not work for me again, but it does help some
people with sleep disorders.
Halcion - A hypnotic drug. Worked okay for me about 10-15 years ago,
but for some reason I stopped using it. Can't remember why, but the one
thing I do remember is feeling like I hadn't slept. I would take a halcion
tablet and within minutes it seemed that I was awake again and had to get ready
to go to work. Not the best sleep med I've used.
Audiotapes - This was very helpful for me in the
past for falling asleep. I was usually asleep by the time Side One was over. You
need stereo headphones to listen to the Holosync tapes. Not to worry....my
husband got me a tape recorder with stereo headphones for only $4.97 at K-Mart,
which I used for this purpose. However, I now use scripture tapes (KJV), and
just love them! They help me calm down and give me a feeling of peace and
spiritual safety. I also listen to a Christmas carol CD www.fms-help.com/CD.htm that I made in
2007 on a digital piano - it is very soothing also with many beautiful
sounds. I think listening to something distracts me from becoming anxious
Kava Kava - This herb helped me with mental relaxation and anxiety but was banned,
because some people abused it, causing liver damage. (Strange, isn't it, that
people abuse Tylenol every day and develop liver damage, but it is never pulled
from the shelves.) Recently, however, I found Kava Kava again at the
health food store. This herb was also useful to me in the past as a
musician for "performance anxiety."
Klonopin - Anti-seizure
medication - I took this about 20 years ago for sleep when I first developed FMS
Can't remember how it worked or why I stopped using it.
Lorazepam - This is the generic of Ativan (see
Lunesta - I tried
this new sleep med last year when it first came out. It worked well for a few
weeks with no unpleasant side effects, but eventually stopped working. It
was also very expensive. Also, if I ate anything around the time of
taking the pill, it didn't kick in for many hours. Some people report a bad
taste in their mouth from Lunesta, but I did not experience that.
During the few weeks it worked for me, I liked that it helped me feel a little
"sleepy" before knocking me out.
Magnesium - Helps me with muscle relaxation and calmness. I recently heard
from a reader who tried a liquid calcium/magnesium supplement at bedtime and
sleeps very well now.
Magnetic mattress pad
- I got mine from Natural Health Alternatives (very
expensive) and they are now out of business. I slept more restfully
and could work on the computer until late at night and still fall asleep. I no
longer have this mattress pad - I gave it to an ailing friend - but
I am sleeping well on much a softer mattress (and taking the right sleep
meds and supplements for me).
Melatonin - Worked quite well for me for 3 years. Then when I turned 47,
it suddenly stopped having any effect. Melatonin is a hormone, so
perhaps the hormonal changes in my body had something to do with why it stopped
Nyquil - If my sinuses
feel a little runny, I can't wait around to let infection set in, as I have had
since 1987. So I take just 1 oz. of generic Nyquil (from Wal-Mart) at
bedtime in addition to my sleep meds. Nyquil has a mild sleep med in it
too and that helps.
Pamelor - Awful stuff for me! This antidepressant was prescribed by a
psychiatrist for sleep about 15 years ago. I took just 1 capsule, slept 18
hours and when I woke up, I was wildly manic. It was terrifying. I
called the psychiatrist at his home to get a "downer" prescription the following
night. I got to K-Mart pharmacy 4 minutes before closing.
Whew! I thought I would lose my mind! I refused to take any
more. At my next appointment, this psychiatrist insisted that I take
3 Pamelor capsules per day! I never went back to him!!! I would have
been in a mental hospital if I had followed his advice. (Moral of the
story: Listen to your OWN body!)
Antidepressant that I tried for sleep - felt weird! Only took it
a few times.
- Recommended by a friend, but I had an awful reaction! This is a powerful
antidepressant. After taking it, the lower part of my body thrashed around
uncontrollably for several hours. I laid on the couch feeling fearful as
my body did it's thing. The drug just had to wear off. I
felt like I was falling into a well. I also tried Remeron at much lower
doses, but felt almost "demon possessed" the next day. Let's just say it
was not a good drug for me!!!!!!
Restoril - This was one of the earliest meds I took for sleep. Don't know why I
stopped this one and went on to something else. Could have been daytime
grogginess. Can't remember.
Sleep mask -
Wearing a black sleep mask (Wal-Mart) helps keep early morning light from waking
me up too early. This is a good alternative to putting dark shades over your
windows, which can get depressing. Also, you can slip the mask off your
face at any time to see the clock, go to the bathroom, etc. My husband
used to say it was like sleeping with the Lone Ranger.
Sominex - See diphenhydramine HCL above.
This sleep med used to provide me with exactly 2-1/2 hours of "sleep" - only
useful for "naps." However it doesn't work at all for me anymore, despite
infrequent use in the past. However, I have a friend with fibro who can
sleep all night using Sonata. Everyone with insomnia is
CD's - These worked wonderfully for me, along with
my current sleep meds. Someone asked me how long the CD's are, but I don't
know because I've never heard the end of one. They also have a free audio
download that you can try for relaxation.
Trazadone - Another antidepressant I tried for sleep, but I didn't sleep well
and felt terrible (possessed!!) Didn't use it too many times before I gave
up on it - just not the right one for me.
Unisom - See
doxylamine succinate above.
Zolpidem - See
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DISCLAIMER: I am not
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purpose of this website is not to diagnose or cure any disease or malady, but is
presented as food for thought. This information cannot take the place of
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