I began having trouble sleeping when I was a teenager. I am now 61, 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. - Dominie FMS-help.com
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 alphabetically below.
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.
Ativan (lorazepam) - 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 and worry.
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 flashes."
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.
Elavil - An anti-depressant. See amitriptyline above.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
5-HTP - 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.
Holosync 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 about sleeping.
Hyperimmune Egg Powder - The first several years that I used hyperimmune egg powder, it made a noticeable difference in my ability to sleep ( in that sleep meds actually started working). I used it for over 8 years for help with my immune system (or lack thereof!)
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 www.fms-help.com/fibro.htm. Can't remember how it worked or why I stopped using it.
Lorazepam - This is the generic of Ativan (see above).
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 working.
Nyquil - If my sinuses feel a little runny, I can't wait around to let infection set in, as I have had CFIDS www.fms-help.com/fatigue.htm 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!)
Prozac - Antidepressant that I tried for sleep - felt weird! Only took it a few times.
Quetiapine Fumerate (generic Seroquel) - see below.
Remeron - 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.
Seroquel - This was the suggestion of one of my doctors, and at the tiniest dose of 25 mg it greatly helps my sleep. I take it every night. In much larger doses, this drug is used to treat bipolar and schizophrenia.
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. (HA!!!)
Sominex - See diphenhydramine HCL above.
Sonata - 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 different.
Sounder Sleep 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 ambien above.