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I have always had trouble sleeping, I will lay awake in bed for hours before I finally fall asleep and even once i'm asleep I wake up constantly throughout the night so when I do get up in the morning I am so tired and exhausted that I am a grouch to everyone that comes into contact with me. I have tried sleeping pills (To the point I was addicted and was taking up towards 6 at a time just to relax not even falling asleep) then it grew into me taking demerol, Lorazepam and even on a few occasions morphine just to relax enough where I could rest SOME but not sleep. Thankfully I was able to break the habits before it got too much for me.

 

I have tried drinking warm milk, exercising, relaxing before, taking melatonin and so many other things I can't even think of right now and nothing works.

 

I can't take being so exhausted while trying to care for my child, work and go to school. I need something. All my doctors want to do is prescribe me sleeping pills even though they DONT work. It is becoming quite frustrating

 

What are some more healthier or "natural" ways to help one sleep?

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ambien. i swear my life on it. it does weird things (see metrogirl's thread about things done on ambien!) but that stuff knocks you out and keeps you out. i have had trouble sleeping my entire life, and when i take that, i feel amazing the next day instead of tired.

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really? i would take it about 20 minutes before I was ready to go to bed (10mg) and I'd be lying there and it'd start to be an acid trip if I fought it, but if I didnt, it knocked me out. I've struggled with horrible sleep problems since I was a kid, and that's the only thing that has helped me really without having to take a crap-ton of tylenol pm or something.

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First, what is the root cause of the sleeping problems, if any?

 

You can throw sleeping pills at a sleeping problem, but it's worthless if the sleep issues only exist as secondary symptoms of an undiagnosed or untreated illness.

 

Anxiety is alone probably the hands-down leader in causes of insomnia the world over. Next up, irregular sleep cycles causing disruption to your circadian clock. Depression and mood disorders akin to the depressive family are also known to destroy decent sleep patterns. Special consideration needs to be given to the potential for mild hypomania or hyperthymic temperament, as well, especially if you don't generally get enough sleep at night and are tired in the morning/have trouble getting out of bed.

 

This also then brings me to another keen possibility of which I'd never have imagined until experiencing first hand; Obstructive Sleep Apnea. OSA causes you to wake frequently during the night due to airway collapse and thus keep you from obtaining a good night's sleep. Because it rarely rouses you conscious enough to recollect the event, most sufferer's go for years and years before [if ever] being diagnosed. Now, normally this causes excessive daytime sleepiness, high blood pressure, and difficulty waking in the morning. However, sleep deprivation is known and well-documented to trigger elevated moods in individuals, thus the hypomanic/hyperthymic temperament I'd mentioned. In this state, you are awake, energetic, and generally feel well and are able to live out your life for the duration it lasts. Unfortunately, it does not follow a circadian schedule, which can explain [or at least be a partial contributor to] the insomnias that then plague the sufferer as they're supposed to be winding their day down. Coupled with anxiety or other problems, they make a compelling dint in a person's health.

 

Like I'd said, this isn't something well-known or understood outside of the world of psychiatric doctors and researchers, and even with my time spent studying such concepts, it never graced the backside of my mind until I came out of my own sleep/depression/anxiety/OSA issues and realized how they were all interrelated, noticing their changes subside in me one by one as I treated my problems.

 

In short, you need to work with a doctor on this one to find/treat root issues, rather than just seeking to patch sleep disruption that is occurring for some other reason. It's the equivalent of a patient with cancer, of whom should have their tumor removed, but instead only knows "I feel sick, weak, shaky, feverish, can't hold food down, etc" and so the doctor looks at the symptoms and prescribes Pepto-Bismol, antibiotics and lots of rest to clear up the problems that the patient is complaining of. We have meds and therapies for mood disorders, we have CPAP for sufferers of OSA, and a lots of specialists for you to work with no matter what your problem is.

 

I can't guarantee you an all-natural approach, but then again, I've never cared about natural/synthetic as long as I got the result I was looking for. What I can guarantee is if you've got a more pressing underlying issue, sleeping pills will have the exact lack of effect you're describing. Been there, tried that. Ativan, a minor tranquilizer from the days before real antidepressants. The nurse taking care of me that night suggested it as I wasn't able to fall asleep without an hour or more of lying around (this was at the beginning of my worst days) and she basically said "15 minutes and you'll be gone 'til morning. Don't take it until you're in bed". So I did. And waited with anticipation. 1 hour or more later, I was "gone". First and last time I bothered with that little feller'. Now, clear of OSA and elevated mood issues, that little guy would probably knock me out where I stand (not that I need it, I could close my eyes just the same

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You need to go to a sleep clinic and find out what the problem is. Other than that try melatonin which is a natural hormone in our body that makes us sleep. Talk to a dr or pharmacist first as you are pregnant. Pregnancy also affects sleep greatly. I know it made me sleep less definitely.

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Wearing an eye mask and listening to audiobooks help me immensely. Books for young adults are good because they tend to be easier listening, with good voices for relaxing to. I don't necessarily follow the story well, since I almost always fall right to sleep, but that's ok. Sometimes I use CDs designed to improve sleep through self-hypnosis, but I like the easy fiction books better. (Otherwise, I have a difficult time falling asleep.)

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An eye mask is an excellent suggestion. Unless you have really good curtains and lack alarm clock LED's and other micro-sources of light, most bedrooms are far too bright for humans. The eyelids don't block out light at all like we think, and the amount of light our brain sees coming in through the lids will absolutely change the amount of melatonin and other critical sleep hormones and the time/rate at which they're produced.

 

Everyone has their own favorite when it comes to sleep noise. Some people love white noise like a bathroom fan. Others love ambient talking. I've found Baroque-era classical music works wonderfully. More so, anything with the sound of waves, the ebb and flow of the tide, etc. Many CDs like this are designed specifically and work beautifully for relaxation/sleep. Also, the beating of a heart is supposed to be great because it takes us back to being in utero when that was one of the only things we could hear familiarly.

 

Addit:

 

It is said that some techno CD's designed for being eroti-romantic can also be relaxing at a proper volume. Try not to use ones that bring back memories or emotions that could interfere with sleep, though.

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Guided Meditation | Sleep Countdown...
Guided Meditation | Sleep Countdown Relaxation Exercise For Falling Asleep

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