Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Ongoing Battle of Sleep

My life seems like an ongoing battle. While I'm awake, I battle to balance life; face the struggles, limitations, and fears of life with chronic illness; and strive to live in the present moment. While I'm asleep... well, I don't feel like that's been happening much, especially lately.

I've had sleeping difficulties for as long as I can remember. However, chronic pain adds a whole new dimension to the struggle. I seem to go through varying phases of sleeping difficulty... usually from bad to horrible. The sleep problems I have can be any combination of these:

  • Mind going / racing
  • Trouble getting to sleep
  • Waking up through the night
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Stressful dreams and/or nightmares

Resulting in... NO REST!

It's been especially bad lately, and I'm not sure why. I've tried Melatonin before, and it actually made me wake up more often throughout the night.

I've tried Ambien, as well as Ambien CR. The CR usually helps me to sleep, but I've recently had additional, scary symptoms with it. Even when I took it (occasionally) in college, I might do say or do things between taking the medicine and getting to sleep, and have no recollection of it (nothing like sleep-driving... but I learned to take precautions like keeping any technology away from me, so I wouldn't unknowingly call/email and say things I didn't mean). Now, though, I get really paranoid and jumpy. I normally don't really remember what happened, or things are at least very foggy. But, it kinda scares Jeremy... and me, in the moment. I wake up anytime I think I hear something, and I even freaked out the other night at wind outside and my hair brushing up against my arm.

My doctor has tried using meds to help with my chronic migraines, as well as my sleep (trying to kill two birds with one stone); but nothing has helped. He's most recently had me trying Benedryl, which was in the hopes of helping the sleep situation and my bad seasonal allergies. But, I've stopped taking it because I was increasingly having trouble getting to sleep.

I've tried the "sleep hygiene" rules found in articles, and they're completely unhelpful. If I just lay in my dark bedroom, doing absolutely nothing (no distractions like technology or anything), I still don't drift blissfully into sleep, like the articles suggest. No! I lay there feeling tortured by my mind and body. I'm actually so thankful for my Kindle and my iPhone. I never wanted to have any kind of technology in the bedroom, but it's actually been such a life saver for me. It gives me something to do, while I wait to fall asleep (or pass out) out of exhaustion and/or boredom. Not ideal, but necessary right now.

I'm to the point of desperation now. :( I haven't been able to get to sleep until at least 3:30 or 4am (regardless of when I start trying to go to sleep), most nights. I keep having horrible dreams and nightmares that have me waking up in a panic. And, I often wake up frequently through the night. It's worsening my daily headaches and migraines, and the anxiety around bedtime and sleep is getting out of control (vicious cycle). I'm in bed so late in the morning because I'm desperately trying to get some rest... it's not that I'm lazy! I'm sooo stinkin' exhausted, yet sleep continues to elude me.

I've been trying to hold on to my faith and trust in the mercy, love, peace, and hope that our Savior offers us... so that I can live the best life possible, in the circumstances I find myself in... regardless of how miserable things are at the moment.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:28-31)
This post was written as part of the Health Activist Writer's Awareness Challenge (HAWMC).


  1. Sleep is so important - like you I've struggled with it lots more since the onset of the chronic pain. I wish you luck as you continue to search for restful sleep.

  2. Have you tried reading the Bible? I'm sure your sleep problems are worse than mine as they are a lot more complex but I find reading the Bible helps me to fall asleep. I just read until I can't hold my eyes open any more. Sometimes if on a revelation it gives me the opposite effect & my mind races but that's why I have to read until I just can't any more. But either way I have a good outcome, sleep or a closer relationship with God. I have almost completely read the Bible front to back, using a Bible plan helped me keep track esp for those times I fell asleep very well! God bless & hope that the sleep & pain improve & you are healed!

  3. I have the same problem. What has helped me the most is Ativan. 1mg will knock me out pretty good with no bad dreams, and 0.5 will sometimes help me sleep. The Ativan helps me not care quite as much about the pain also and does seem to help alleviate SOME of the pain when I have a migraine that won't budge. I don't have anxiety, which is what it is normally used for, but the Neurologist agrees that it's a great sleep aid. I'm sorry you suffer. I average about 20 a month and got my first set of botox injections in March. Will be praying for pain relief for you.

  4. I have a very hard time reading at all. I might give reading a Bible a try at night. My doctor started me on a medicine at night a few weeks ago that seems to be helping me sleep... most of the time.

  5. Heather, I haven't tried Ativan. I might bring that up with my doctor in a few weeks. I do deal with anxiety, so maybe it would help with both (one can always wish, right?!). I hope your experience with Botox is helpful in bringing you relief. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


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