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sleep patterns and triggers


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Oh my goodness, I just typed this REALLY long thread, and then I accidentally closed my browser!!! OH MAN :sick: I have to start over now!

 

I have been thinking about my sleep patterns, and recording them in a journal actually, to try to get some insight into what is going on, and further clues about what is working and what is not working. These are my thoughts about all this, and potential remaining questions, would love any feedback or thoughts from you guys, especially from those of you who have similar things going on! GOD I wish I didn't delete my previous post!

 

Brief Intro:  As you can see from my signature, I was on benzos for a relatively short amount of time. This all started because I had a panic attack the night before going back to work after a summer off (not a new job, but taking on more at a previously worked at job), and couldn't sleep at all which made me worry about work, hence taking the benzo as a last resort, which ended up as me taking it several days in a row. Despite my short term use, I do believe I developed some psychological/physical dependence, and had some more severe symptoms in the beginning of stopping, which have since milded out but the sleep problems (and anxiety about these) are the remaining pieces of the puzzle. Just FYI, I literally never had insomnia or any kind of sleep issue prior to three weeks ago. I know this is not a return of a problem, it's still a new problem. I'm quite sure benzo use exacerbated it, so I will learn my lesson and never go this route again!

 

What I DO know: The further out from benzos I have gotten, the more improvements I have noticed. I still have terrible nights where I feel like I will never sleep, and end up "giving in" and trying to take something to help. When I do sleep, it is broken up (I wake up approximately every sleep cycle, every 90 minutes, sometimes I make it almost 3 hours) and then I wake up, remember my dreams, am relieved I slept, and lay there thinking until I fall back asleep and it repeats itself. The other thing I've noticed is the farther away from benzos I get, the more likely OTC stuff and prescribed trazodone are to help, while they do not ever "knock me out," they help me to sleep longer once I do fall asleep. Also, another thing, the week all this panic and sleeplessness started, my PCP put me back on a beta blocker (metoprolol) which I had been on in May-June for heart palpitations related to stress, and back on sertraline(zoloft) which I have had luck on in the past with my anxiety. I do realize BOTH of these medicines can contribute to insomnia, though my gut feeling tells me it is more likely the zoloft doing this than the beta blocker. I have since moved my doses to earlier and earlier in the day, I take sertraline first thing in the morning now, and take the beta blocker before dinner. *FYI: I recognize that many folks on here are highly against prescription drugs, especially antidepressants, because of their horrible experiences on and off them, and how they were treated by the medical profession. I respect everyone's view about this and choice to not take meds. However, please remember and know that for some people, these medicines can be VERY helpful. I have had positive results with SSRIs in the past, and only being on a low dose (50mg at the most). It dramatically improved my health anxiety and helped me feel more like a human. I eventually went off them just to try life without them because as most people feel, I didn't want to depend on a drug. My PCP means well and is trying to help me, even if the zoloft might be exacerbating things, please don't tell me to stop taking it or that medicine is bad...some people have better experiences and really need to try anything.. also know I am doing literally everything else possible to deal with my anxiety and have for years, including therapy, mindfulness meditation, yoga, exercise, good eating, acupuncture, tons of positive coping skills, etc. SSRIs are a last resort but they can help! Sorry getting off my soapbox!  :laugh:)

 

What I DON'T Know: The missing link! Okay, so went to a naturopathic doctor last week after a recommendation by an acupuncturist as well as a psychologist friend. I should have went months ago in the summer before this got so bad! The ND was kind, compassionate, and seemed to actually "get" what I am going through. She hypothesizes that this has to do with increased/overproduction of cortisol. I fit the bill on this, not just with current symptoms, but my past year (tons of chronic stress with work, tons of distance running which can increase cortisol, using too much caffeine, etc). I have a test kit to test my cortisol and actually get to the bottom of it. She prescribed supplements in the meantime. One of which I nixed and will not take because it had phenibut it it (I read on here about that one being addictive!) the other one is called cortisol manager, and yes, has some herbs in it that may or not may be problematic, however they do help some people, and I am willing to give them a try. Not valerian root or anything like that, but definitely herbal. I was trying to hold off on taking them til AFTER the cortisol test, but last night I couldn't fall asleep after sleeping okay 3 nights in a row, so I said "eff this!" and took one. It didn't necessarily kick right in and knock me out or anything, but i did eventually sleep, so who knows. The big question mark is, was this a hormonal issue to begin with???

 

What I experience: When I CAN fall asleep normally (on or off a sleep aid) I lay and bed and relax and can just get lost in thoughts. I feel peaceful, interested in my thoughts, and not concerned about sleep. On these nights, I don't even let myself care if I sleep or not, I just am satisfied with my own little fantasies and trains of thought. And, without fail, eventually I pass out without knowing it! I do end up waking every sleep cycle like I mentioned before, but I wake up, recall my dreams, and patiently wait to fall back asleep. friday night was the best night I've had in weeks, I got over 7 hours with no sleep aid. Woke up every 90 minutes but still got plenty of sleep. When I CAN'T fall asleep, it is more a physical feeling than a mental one. I feel almost like the excited adrenaline feeling in my chest (not as bad as it was before, but it is there). My heart doesn't race, but there's this feeling of fire. Almost like being pumped about something, an anticipatory feeling. I lay there and think "oh great, not again" which I'm sure doesn't help. I try to get lost in thoughts, but I want to get up and DO something. Eventually I do get up those nights. On the other nights if I can't sleep, I am content to lay there and rest. Last night was a "get up" night. I got up, talked to my husband, texted a friend, eventually took one of those cortisol manager guys. Mind you, it wasn't that late.. I tried laying down at 8pm because my old bedtime was between 8-9, and by 9pm I was up anxious and restless last night. After taking that supplement, I was up for about another hour or so, before I laid down again, eventually falling asleep but not sure when. I woke up every 90 minutes again (first time was 2:30am.. I think I got to sleep between 11-12, second wake up was 5:30am, dozed until 7am).

 

I know I should be grateful and glad for sleep at all and I AM, believe me. 4-5 hours is better than nothing! I just wish I could solve this mystery so I wouldn't dread bedtime because its always this question mark of what will happen!

 

My main questions are 1) could it be a hormone issue that the brief benzo use exacerbated? 2) how much could the zoloft be playing into this, and is this going to keep getting better? 3) does it sound like it is getting better, and it is normal to have good nights in a row followed by bad nights? 4) do my symptoms still sound like healing from benzo use?

 

I'm sure my anxiety is just amplifying all this x 10! But the funny thing is, even though I am bothered by this and want to resolve in, during my waking life I am actually okay. When I don't sleep much I am tired and grumpy, but my anxiety is slowly settling.  Yesterday I went for a run in the forest for the first time in weeks, and I felt so alive, I felt like myself!!! I really hope this is a good sign of things to come.

 

I also hope this post helps people who are also trying to sort out their sleep - a HUGE part of this is the CNS recovering, but maybe tracking and thinking about what other triggers there are, and cycles and patterns, can be informative and helpful. I feel like I should also start a separate dream journal, that would be a kick. ::)

 

Gosh, sorry this is so epic. Thanks for reading! I clearly am thinking about this a lot but I love getting feedback from you guys!

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Just replying so maybe someone will see this and comment :( having a super rough day, not sure if it's from the not sleeping well or just my thoughts or side effects from zoloft. feeling really depressed and hopeless today. yesterday I felt okay, I had a lot of good moments. i feel like people think I'm just crazy and don't understand.
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Yes this experience can be really up and down sometimes, which is difficult to deal with. I would also get hit with waves of depression. Most of my symptoms have faded away now for the most part. I hope you feel better soon.  :)
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Yes this experience can be really up and down sometimes, which is difficult to deal with. I would also get hit with waves of depression. Most of my symptoms have faded away now for the most part. I hope you feel better soon.  :)

 

Thanks so much for replying, Siggy! I feel like I'm so wordy, people must open my posts and think "geez, another dissertation!" :laugh: I just have so much to get out of my head sometimes!

 

How long did it take for your symptoms to kinda stabilize, especially the whole weird sleep thing? I am still not exactly sure what it is I am experiencing, but I'm calling it "a combo of benzo withdrawal, starting antidepressants, and hormone imbalance." LOL. I guess I could be having little windows and waves mixed in. I had a really lovely two day window with more sleep and feeling happy yesterday, and today was awful other than my long run this morning....despite all this, my energy to exercise is returning which is weird and maybe doesn't make sense. But running makes me feel alive and helps, at least while I am doing it. The positive thing is I can talk myself out of the funks more easily now.. I do get worked up and upset, but I don't "stay stuck" as long, if that makes sense :)

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Don't worry, type as much as you like! That's what this place is for.

 

I'm an unusual situation (I think). Initially I was feeling mostly better by 3 or 4 months off. Then I started drinking again thinking everything would be fine to just back to my pre-Benzo ways. That seemed fine until I got the flu the day after getting drunk at a big company party we have every year. That then plunged me in to another 9-10 months of pure hell. So I have no idea if it would have happened anyway or not, but it seems more than a coincidence.

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Thanks for the response! You were a short-term user, like me, so it helps to hear what your experience was. I definitely am worried about drinking again, I WANT to - I used to occasionally enjoy wine or beer (like, 1 or 2 max, a few times a month). But now I am kinda worried about it. Will have to wait and see, I guess.
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Just replying so maybe someone will see this and comment :( having a super rough day, not sure if it's from the not sleeping well or just my thoughts or side effects from zoloft. feeling really depressed and hopeless today. yesterday I felt okay, I had a lot of good moments. i feel like people think I'm just crazy and don't understand.

 

I sure don't think you're crazy....I think what we are going through is crazy! I'm having a really hard time concentrating today, so I'm going to have to finish reading your first post a little later. Sorry to hear that you lost the first one. I'm a one finger typer, myself, so that would be tragic for me! Especially in this state of mind.

 

On the subject of sleep; I swear if I don't get enough sleep I get tossed back into acute until I can sleep again...it's insane! I'm still trying to figure out how to fall and stay asleep. It's improved some in the past month, but I still have problems, especially when it comes time to go to sleep. It's almost like I dread the time to come, and I really don't know why? Anyway, I didn't get much last night, either, so I'll try later to maybe give you something that makes sense.

 

~CeCe    :smitten:

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Just replying so maybe someone will see this and comment :( having a super rough day, not sure if it's from the not sleeping well or just my thoughts or side effects from zoloft. feeling really depressed and hopeless today. yesterday I felt okay, I had a lot of good moments. i feel like people think I'm just crazy and don't understand.

 

I sure don't think you're crazy....I think what we are going through is crazy! I'm having a really hard time concentrating today, so I'm going to have to finish reading your first post a little later. Sorry to hear that you lost the first one. I'm a one finger typer, myself, so that would be tragic for me! Especially in this state of mind.

 

On the subject of sleep; I swear if I don't get enough sleep I get tossed back into acute until I can sleep again...it's insane! I'm still trying to figure out how to fall and stay asleep. It's improved some in the past month, but I still have problems, especially when it comes time to go to sleep. It's almost like I dread the time to come, and I really don't know why? Anyway, I didn't get much last night, either, so I'll try later to maybe give you something that makes sense.

 

~CeCe    :smitten:

 

Thanks so much, CeCe! You are awesome!! I totally share the 1) one finger typing thing (okay maybe I use 2, LOL) and what you said about the feeling about when it's time to sleep... the dread feeling. YES! I get that too. It's like "what is going to happen tonight!?" and there's a sense of uncertainty because it's almost like we don't trust our bodies. The odd thing is I don't get this feeling if I lay down to rest during the day, because I don't feel as pressured to try and force sleep when I'm napping, I just see it as possible rest time.. and 2 times this week I've had brief naps. Maybe the pressure is part of the problem? Once I actually do get to sleep, when I wake up frequently, I don't mind as much, because I usually can get back to sleep once I wake up. It doesn't always happen instantly but I don't feel as stressed and then it happens and I fall back asleep. Last night I think I fell asleep between 11-midnight, similarly to sat night, but I wasn't as freaked out about it this time around, and slept straight through til just before 3am, so a little longer than my usual 1.5-2 hour cycle. I then went back to sleep until right before 7am and then was awake so just got up a bit after 7. I felt a little less freaked out than after saturday, even though it was a similar amount of sleep. How odd! Tonight should be a trip, I'm in the middle of doing cortisol testing (saliva) and I have to do them 5 hours apart.. I'm about to do my third one at 6pm here, and the next will be 11pm and then 4am, so I'll be setting alarms on my phone. I wonder what the night will bring, at the very least it should be comical! I look forward to hearing more from you soon! :)

 

Another point, I've stopped wishing and hoping for sleep and pressuring that, and instead focused on having peace of mind and clarity during the day when I'm awake. I figured changing up the focus may help, and I need to be myself when I'm awake anyway! Here's to having good days even when we have rough nights!

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I use to get REALLY worked up right before bed. Once I started sleeping better, that all went away. There have been a few nights in the last 10 months that have been rough and got a little worked up about it, but the next day/night I didn't have any anxiety. So that can / does pass too.

 

:thumbsup:

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