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Have insomnia, unrefreshing sleep and awakening early in the mornings

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Practicing since : 2004
Answered : 1851 Questions
years of killer insomnia.. unrefreshing sleep, early morning awakenings, etc..
Posted Sat, 11 Aug 2012 in Mental Health
Answered by Dr. Ashish Mittal 59 minutes later
Thanks for your query.

I appreciate your efforts for medical consultation in so much distress.

Important aspects of your query are:
•     29 year old female
•     Complaints of: insomnia, unrefreshing sleep, early morning awakenings.

Common causes of insomnia in your case may be:
-Poor sleep hygiene
-Excessive stress
-Substance use if present
-Primary insomnia

Common symptoms of anxiety and depression are:
anxiety, low mood, decrease talk and interaction with others, nervousness, restlessness, mild irritability, excessive worry regarding own health, tremor, muscle spasm, heaviness in body, easy fatigability, headache, sleep disturbance, negative thinking, palpitation and dry mouth.

Let me know if you are having some of the above symptoms with duration.

Irrespective of cause, below principles of sleep hygiene which will help you in long term:
•     Fix a bedtime and an awakening time. Do not be one of those people who allows bedtime and awakening time to drift. The body "gets used" to falling asleep at a certain time, but only if this is relatively fixed. Even if you are retired or not working, this is an essential component of good sleeping habits.
•     Avoid napping during the day
•     Avoid caffeine 4-6 hours before bedtime. This includes caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate, so be careful.
•     Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods 4-6 hours before bedtime
•     Exercise regularly, but not right before bed. Regular exercise, particularly in the afternoon, can help deepen sleep.
•     Use comfortable bedding.
•     Find a comfortable temperature setting for sleeping and keep the room well ventilated.
•     Block out all distracting noise, and eliminate as much light as possible.
•     Reserve the bed for sleep. Don't use the bed as an office, workroom or recreation room. Let your body "know" that the bed is associated with sleeping.
•     Practice relaxation techniques before bed. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, XXXXXXX breathing and others may help relieve anxiety and reduce muscle tension.
•     Don't take your worries to bed. Leave your worries about job, school, daily life, etc., behind when you go to bed. Some people find it useful to assign a "worry period" during the evening or late afternoon to deal with these issues.
•     Establish a pre-sleep ritual. Pre-sleep rituals, such as a warm bath or a few minutes of reading, can help you sleep.
•     Getting Up in the Middle of the Night :Most people wake up one or two times a night for various reasons. If you find that you get up in the middle of night and cannot get back to sleep within 15-20 minutes, then do not remain in the bed "trying hard" to sleep. Get out of bed. Leave the bedroom. Read, have a light snack, do some quiet activity, or take a bath. You will generally find that you can get back to sleep 20 minutes or so later. Do not perform challenging or engaging activity such as office work, housework, etc. Do not watch television.
•     A Word About Television: Many people fall asleep with the television on in their room. Watching television before bedtime is often a bad idea. Television is a very engaging medium that tends to keep people up. We generally recommend that the television not be in the bedroom. At the appropriate bedtime, the TV should be turned off and the patient should go to bed. Some people find that the radio helps them go to sleep. Since radio is a less engaging medium than TV, this is probably a good idea.

I hope this information has been both informative and helpful for you. In case of any doubt, I will be available for follow ups.

Wish you good health.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have insomnia, unrefreshing sleep and awakening early in the mornings 14 minutes later
tried all that... i'm male by the way...

i don't have any other diagnosed illness..
i've tried many medicines..

amitriptyline, xanax, klonopin, valium, seroquel, risperidone, olanzapine,
remeron, trazodone, pregabalin, lunesta, ambien, numerous SSRIs,
to name a few...

some of them work, but the next day is a wreck.. they don't suit me.. some of the medications i listed have an absurd half life. initially when i was prescribed xanax, i felt excellent.. i had not felt nor rested that well in 5 or 6 years.. i then switched to klonopin, continued sleeping well @ 2mg, then suddenly no effect, again terrible sleep.. no doubt i built a tolerance. rather than continuing using benzos, increasing the dose, i decided to taper off the klonopin.. i'm now at 1mg / night... long term benzodiazepine use is pretty much last resort in my opinion.

i don't drink. recently i've been smoking cigarettes.. i go through stages where suddenly i smoke an obnoxious amount of cigarettes a day..
then i'll quit, then i'll smoke, etc... it's from stress, from my sleeping problems.. the sleeping problems then bring on depression because i'm
tired nearly everyday, dark circles under my eyes, feeling and looking run down... often this causes me to just stay at home... it's a nasty cycle i need to break...

i was hoping you could possibly give insight to medications i haven't tried.. most probably they will be off-label for insomnia, etc..

sometimes i just can't wind down at night, other times i awake early, then just have hours of shallow sleep, other times i wake up 10 times a night or so.
it's pretty gross.. i definitely can't continue like this.. so we're clear, i've never had thoughts of hurting myself.. haha
however, to proceed like this will probably put me over the top.. it's clearly not healthy for my mind or body...

Answered by Dr. Ashish Mittal 10 hours later
Hello again,

Thanks for follow up,

I am can understand severity of your suffering. From your elaboration current symptoms and treatment history it is clear that you have severe depression with sleep difficulty.

Many of your medicines as listed by you good medicine for depression but they need to used in appropriate doses for few months even after improvement. Taking only benzodizepines is not a good option because of development of tolerence.

You can also use Mirtazapine 15mg after your physician prescription which help in sleep and depression. Hope it will suit you.

Wish you good health,
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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