Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sleepless May Not Necessarily Mean Dreamless

think (Photo credit: the|G|™)
       You've undoubtedly had those nights when you've tossed and turned and gotten in and out of bed desperately wanting sleep, but unable to attain that much needed level of restful bliss.   There can be many causes for this.

         Typically, abnormal times of fitful sleep are the result of stress and worry.   At a time when rest might be most important, troubled sleep is the reflection of what our day has been like.  We carry the worry and concern to bed with us and mull it over in our brains which leads to mental stimulation rather than relaxation.  The more we think about our problems, the more frazzled we become.   Eventually we may succumb to exhaustion and fade in and out of the sleepy state.

         For me there have been some recent occurrences that have caused these kinds of nights.  Often I will fall asleep for the first half hour or so after I've gone to bed.  Then I will awaken wide-eyed as though reminded of what had been bothering me earlier.  After that sleep may become elusive for hours.   I may get out of bed at times and go on the computer, watch television, read, or play solitaire.   Sometimes my diversion works and I can return to sleep.  Still the rest so needed for the night has been disturbed and I usually can feel the negative effect the following day.

        The primary things that can cause sleep disturbance for me are:

  • Worry about some unresolved problem or situation.
  • Anger or some sort of conflict concerning another person.
  • Fear of some vague circumstance over which I have little control.
  • Thinking about the past, present, or future.
  • Hunger
  • Physical pain or discomfort
  • Illness
  • External influences such as loud noises outside or the occasional earthquake.
        There are fixes for a few of these, such as getting a snack to assuage my hunger or taking a medication if something is available.  The others are mostly mental aberrations that are tough to shake.  Getting diverted might be a temporary fix,  but usually once I think I'll be able to go back to sleep, the intrusive bothers reenter my mind after I've gotten back into bed.   

           The thing I have noticed is that if I do sleep or half-sleep and have dreams, those dreams will be equally troubled and related in some way to what has been keeping me awake.  Drifting between worry filled wakefulness and worry fraught sleep is disconcerting.  Not getting proper rest with healthy dreams is tough on the mind and body.  Fortunately it's not something I deal with on a nightly basis, but I wish it never had to happen at all.

          What usually causes troubled sleep for you?   Do you use any sleep aids?    What do you do when you can't sleep?

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  1. When I can't sleep which is most nights it's usually worry the cause.
    When I do sleep I dream vivid dreams.
    I don't take anything to help me sleep.


  2. Being unable to shut my brain off is the #1 cause of my insomnia. Also, stress about something the next day or being afraid I'll sleep through the alarm clock. I have been on a prescription for Amitriptiline for years which helps me to stay asleep. I usually take it with 2 benadryl around 6 pm so that by 10 I am finally able to go to bed. My fiance' is a truck driver so sometimes he sleeps for 4 hours, gets up and watches TV for 2-3 then comes back to bed. If I wake up, I tend to stay in bed, hoping I'll drift off again. I find that if I'm gonna have a bad dream, it's usually right before I wake up.

  3. When I can't sleep, it's usually worry and stress. I don't take any medications, don't like the side effects. Naps can also affect sleep patterns. Most of the time, I don't have this problem.

    Like JoJo, my bad dreams usually come in the 'half-sleep' time before you fall asleep or before you wake.

  4. I have those nights and they are frustrating. I never used to have the problem but over the last year or so, I've had trouble. Funny thing is that my husband likes to watch TV late at night. Can't tell you how many times Jessica Fletcher or Perry Mason appear in my dreams. ;-)

  5. usually its my dog. It used to be worry. not so much any longer. I do have to say though that it is often a recurring dream that is fairly upsetting. After that I am up for the duration...not in worry but just freaked out a bit. Hard to describe.

  6. Yvonne -- I don't like to take medication to help me sleep. The natural way is best.

    JoJo -- Could it be that you mainly remember the dreams right before waking whether they be good or bad?

    DG -- I usually take a nap each day. Maybe that's why I wake up at night? But then if I wake up during the night, I'm tired in the day and have to take a nap. It's a vicious cycle.

    Frances -- I rarely had a sleeplessness problem when I was younger, but as I get older I tend to wake up more often and have things on my mind.

    Zoe -- Maybe it's time to tackle the meaning of the dream and try to take care of whatever the problem might be.


  7. I totally agree with you Lee on the causes of sleepless nights - I've experienced all of them at some point. For me, the best way to get back to sleep, or initially fall asleep, is meditation. I find concentrating on something as simple as my breathing, is calming and will help me drift off.

  8. No sleep aids whatsoever!
    I keep my eyes closed and relaxed. I mentally recite a mantra. If I'm really not sleepy, I might get up, sit on the floor right off the bed and do Kriya Yoga exercises.
    If that doesn't work either, the hell with it: I'll watch a movie or call my family in Europe, six hours forward on the clock.

    You might want to check out the story of the man that never sleeps.


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