Insomnia: The Middle of the Night

Believe it or not, my fellow insomniacs, there is actually an established form of insomnia specifically where you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t return to sleep (as opposed to those that have trouble initially falling asleep.)  It even has it’s own acronym; MOTN.  And that’s kind of what I’ve been dealing with for the past few weeks.  I have written before about my sleep troubles, but it seems as if they’ve morphed a bit from sleep latency issues, to this troublesome middle-of-the-night shit.  This problem is made even more difficult due to my family’s current sleeping arrangements–

Hubby has back issues and has been finding the bed increasingly uncomfortable, so he sleeps on the couch most night.  Three and a half year old J has been taking to invading my bed at least half of every night.  Even if she falls asleep in her bed, when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she calls for me, and I am too tired to argue when she climbs in my bed.  I often spend half the night nudging her back to “her” side as she encroaches on my space with an elbow or tries to steal my pillow.  When I do wake too early, I hesitate to just get up and go out in the living room because hubby is asleep out there, so I just toss and turn in bed until I either fall back asleep, or get pissed and take a hot bath.

But I can’t blame it all on the family. No, not at all.  I have sinus problems; spend a lot of time forcefully blowing my nose.  I have IC (what I half-jokingly refer to as “hamster bladder,” although it’s not really that funny.)  I have OCD and anxiety issues.  Often now, when I wake up, if I am awake too long I become hungry.  If I eat, the next time I wake up I am ravenous.  Basically my sleep is shit, and I have developed some pretty questionable methods for trying to capture the elusive dragon’s tail of sleep– Namely drugging myself with anti-histamines (I tell myself it’s for my allergies and sinus issues) and the occasion Ambien prescription (which sometimes ends poorly.)

Lately, I decided to give melatonin another go, and I can almost believe the dissolvable kind I got helps me fall asleep a little faster.  But at least three nights a week I am still waking in the middle of the night, sometimes for as long as two or three hours.

So 5 am this morning, I finally just got up and asked hubby to relocate, and I did some yoga and dicked around on the computer, which brings me to now.  I looked up a bit about MOTN insomnia and read up on few ideas to try and help myself out.  Now I share them with you, faithful reader, in the hopes that you may benefit from them as well.

Some science shows that cognitive behavioral therapy may help with sleep issues.

Some of the main tenants of CBT for insomnia involve such things as:

1) Sleep Restriction–  In my case, this may involve not going to bed so early, but can also include cutting any daytime naps (which I am no longer ever lucky enough to get anyhow.)

2) Stimulus Control– This encompasses things like not staying in bed to toss and turn when you can’t sleep, since this can build unpleasant and sleep-hindering associations with your bedroom.  Basically, you want to restrict your bedroom activities to only relaxing thing.  Avoid watching TV or working in the bedroom, and use your bed for only sleep and sex.

3) Sleep Hygiene— You may have heard this term and not really understood what it means.  Basically, it means just establishing good habits in relation to sleep, to promote better sleep.  This includes things like restricting caffeine and alcohol consumption before bed.  (Although alcohol may seem to help you fall asleep, it has been shown to disrupt the sleep cycle.)  Also, avoiding clock-watching and sleeping in a cool, dark room can help.


Lastly, I thought it might still be helpful to figure out some techniques to help people like myself relax enough to sleep, as anxiety or an overactive brain is often a big portion of my problem.

There are two main reasons why relaxation techniques are useful for inducing sleep. First, a relaxed body is prepared for sleep; and second, when you focus your attention inward on a specific routine, you are less likely to think about outside stimuli or thoughts that would hinder the sleeping process. (source)

One such technique is called Progressive relaxation, and involves following a series of steps encouraging active body awareness and relaxation (which you can pretape and then play back to yourself, if so desired.)  *see detailed example

A second, simpler technique involves simply alternately tensing and relaxing your toes, allowing them to draw tension from your body.

A few other tips for promoting a better night’s sleep are as follows:

1) Keep a regular sleep schedule– set a regular bedtime and wake up the same time every day.

2) Increase your light exposure during the day, especially natural sunlight, or a light therapy box, if necessary.

3) Likewise, boost your melatonin production at night by avoiding bright light sources, even such as a computer or backlit device like an Ipod, too close to bedtime.

4) Create a relaxing bedtime routine for yourself.

5) Eat right and get regular exercise



Well, that’s it for today, folks.  Follow the source links for more detailed info and additional ideas, and also feel free to comment telling us your techniques and experiences.

I would tell you all that I hope you sleep like a baby, but babies often toss and turn and cry and pee themselves, so…

I hope you sleep like a cat.

CAT1s (5) CAT2 CAT3 cat4(5) cat5 sleep06


Ambien Shame

So I was all sorts of excited last night because I got some Ambien from my doc.  I’ve been sleeping so poorly lately, and aside from the normal “dealing with child” stuff, I can’t figure out why.  My birth control has been wreaking havoc on my hormones so maybe that has something to do with it.

But anyway, I took my Ambien last night, looking forward to falling asleep fast and NOT needing to eat ten times and get up to pee fifty.  And then I made a classic Ambien mistake.

"Other complex behaviors (e.g., preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex) have been reported in patients who are not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic. As with “sleep-driving”, patients usually do not remember these events. Amnesia, anxiety and other neuro-psychiatric symptoms may also occur." (source)

“Other complex behaviors (e.g., preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex) have been reported in patients who are not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic. As with “sleep-driving”, patients usually do not remember these events. Amnesia, anxiety and other neuro-psychiatric symptoms may also occur.” (source)

I got up.  I thought I had time before it “kicked in” to grab a quick glass of milk.  I was feeling a tiny bit empty and wanted to coat my belly with something.

Apparently it had already kicked in.  Most of the rest of what I will recount was told to me by my hubby this morning.  I don’t remember much of it…and what I do remember, I thought was a dream.  I woke up to a cup of fruit snacks next to my bed this morning, with only the vaguest idea of how they got there.  Hubby said I asked for them.

Anyway, I brought J* out to sit with hubby around 10 pm because she just would not sleep. I got my milk, and polished off the rest of the dark chocolate Hershey bar I had left in the fridge.  Then I guess I went to the bathroom… and puked everywhere.

thought I maybe had a dream about throwing up.  Had no idea I had actually done it until hubby came home for lunch and asked if I was “feeling better.”  Not only did I puke everywhere- homemade chili and chocolate.  Somehow I even got some on the tub next to the toilet. I told hubby I felt bad he had to clean up after me and I didn’t even know it. He said I cleaned most of it up myself.  (I don’t remember.)   With what, I asked disgusted, wondering if I was going to find a pukey towel in the laundry.

Wipes, I guess, he said.

Where did I put them? 

In the trash can I guess…

I hope I flushed them…  I tentatively went in to take a second look at the bathroom.  I’d already been in there numerous times today and noticed nothing amiss, so between the two if us, we must have cleaned up okay…

A spot or two on the floor towel we use to soak up water by the tub.  A dribble on the outside of the toilet.  That’s all the evidence that’s left.  That and a resolution to only take half a pill tonight, and under no circumstances, get out of bed.

And the mild feeling of shame, like a drunk, post blackout.  Heed the drug warnings, people!

Saturday Morning First World Problems

Nothing to improve a Saturday morning like stepping in a steaming pile of cat puke.

This after virtually a whole night spent feeling like Donald Duck in one of those old Merry Melody cartoons.  You know, the one where Donald is trying in vain to sleep but one thing after another seems to confound his efforts?

My first mistake was eating a snack too late.  I’ve discovered, much to my dismay, that if I eat much later than 8:30 or nine at night, I will invariably wake in the middle of the night even hungrier.  It must kick-start my metabolism, kind of like a second wind for my appetite.  And in case you’re not a regular reader, I have a very low tolerance for being hungry.  It makes me cranky and miserable, especially when I’m trying to sleep.  So then I eat a little “mid-night” snack, which is really nothing more than me grabbing something as I make a small circuit from the bedroom, to the kitchen, to the bathroom to pee, and then back to the bedroom.  And since I usually wake up multiple times a night, catalyzing this routine usually results in several repetitions of this routine, as the more I eat in the middle of the night, the hungrier I am each time I wake up.  I’m usually okay if I can fall right back to sleep; I can take a sip or two of juice and be fine. I try to drink juice or milk or even water in place of eating, but sometimes that just aggravates my bladder and then I can’t sleep because I keep having to pee…  And then when I get up for good in the morning, I already have five hundred calories under my belt (pardon the pun) to try to work off for the day.

And then the damn cats– Methos, specifically.  He’s always doing irritating shit, like butting into the black out curtains and letting in light from the lamp outside my window.  He’s learned that he doesn’t have to run away unless I actually get out of the bed, so after like the fifth time he opened my blinds, I finally got up to lock him in the laundry room.  Chloe hears the door shut, knew she was next (cuz that’s where the litter boxes are), so she led me a merry chase around the coffee table trying to evade capture.

It sounds ridiculous even as I type it.

So, last night was spent in a semi-comatose swirl of eating, drinking, peeing, tossing, and turning.  All of J*’s stirrings made me anxious, as I dreaded her waking early and me having to get up and stay up.

Hubby had a headache this morning, but I managed to beg him into getting up with J* so I could at least get a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep.

So I get up around ten AM and, as I make my coffee in the kitchen…squish…

Insomnia, Writer’s Block, and Tape Worms

Okay, last thing’s first.   I’m starting to think I must have a tapeworm or overactive thyroid or something.  In fact, I am almost hoping I do.  What started out as sporadic and mostly an annoyance and hindrance to my weight loss efforts even with the added bump in exercise,  has become out of control.  I am hungry almost all the time.   Continue reading