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Does sleep eventually improve?


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YES! A very resounding yes!

 

I asked this question a long while back, when the insomnia caused by withdrawal had me thinking I would go insane. I couldn't possibly imagine a time where things would get better, as it just seemed so hopeless. I didn't get a lot of responses to my question, and that left me feeling even more scared.

 

But I'm here, 29 months after quitting benzos and z-drugs (that I had only been on for a few months) to tell you that you will get your life back. Not only your sleep, but your sense of self.

 

I used to break down and cry to my wife and tell her I just wanted to go home... I used this an a metaphor for feeling like myself again. I really don't know how I made it through some of those days, but I did. I knew I had to keep fighting, even though the prospect of a better life wasn't assured to me.

 

I became obsessed with certain lifestyle changes and rituals to ensure nothing would disrupt my sleep. I was afraid to eat certain things, stay out past certain times, or even travel because it would take me out of my comfort zone.

 

And now, I drink coffee in the day, eat pretty much anything and anytime I want (though this is not a good thing!) and I travel and enjoy life with my family. We actually just went away for a few days to NYC, and despite all the noise, I still slept and had a great time.

 

My sleep is not perfect, though I don't know it ever was even before drugs, but I'm now at a place where I do not let it dictate my life. I have complete confidence that I will get enough sleep and it will not be something that destroys me.

 

I just wanted to share this because I know at one point, if someone told me this would be me, I would have never believed them!

 

Stay strong and be well everyone :)

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Thanks so much for sharing 8damien8! I'm still in the "rituals, lifestyle changes, and fear of foods" phase. (Last night was only 1 hour of sleep, must have been the 1/2 of a chocolate bar).

 

Can't wait until the day when I don't worry so much about my sleep. But we will NEVER take it for granted!

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Thanks Damien

 

I need hope as I have gotten 3 hours of sleep the past 2 days and our experience with benzos is similar in terms of use and time on them.  I hope I start getting some better sleep soon.

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Thanks Damien, it's been 7 months off a one month course of that garbage. Hearing that you're enjoying much better sleep at 29 months off gives me a lot of hope. I slept well before benzos too, but now I'm so afraid of bedtime because of all these weird sleep symptoms. I do feel like a  shadow of my former self, and I'm just so upset how a one month course of so called medication can cause such havoc on my body.
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8damien :

Thank you!  Appreciate a success story for insomnia. I have found it a bit peculiar - some of the vague responses about insomnia improvement. Ppl will say I am 100% healed, and then I get to talking with them more and they'll say ' oh well my sleep still struggles '. :( :(

Don't really care if it's perfect.  I just want to know that it returns to the point of being somewhat comfortable (?) waking up at 2am, but getting back to sleep wouldn't bother me. I just need to know that the 2 or 3 hour s sleep nights go away? I hope some more ppl respond.

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Thanks Damien!!  We need all of the insomnia success stories we can get!

 

Radtech-  yes, it's so frustrating to hear when people claim success but then we learn they still sleep like crap!  It seems to happen to many around here- which makes me want to rip my hair out when insomnia related symptoms are my nightmare!  How long off are you?  I think I was the worst case here for so long, but miraculously I started sleeping better since month 12.  My weekly average used to be about 20 hours... Now its about 35 hours.  Still sucks but I will happily take it over the hell I've been through with nights of zero-little sleep!  I wake up at least twice before its officially over at 4:00am...Jolts and jerks.  Never fails.

 

Oh,  siggy was a horrible case and he's well now :)

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Omg Damien, I was going through some of your older posts and I got the heebeejeebees!  I also spent a night in a pych ward and I also would be up calling rehab facilities in the middle of the night bawling my eyes out... What a f*ing nightmare.  Do you still have the burning skin?
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Thanks for sharing this 8damien8. I've been cycling through despair about sleep a lot lately. With rare exceptions all I've gotten in the past 6 weeks has been the minutes at a time sleep where I'm not at all aware of sleeping. It feels like it's going on forever and will never end. Insomnia brain makes for some extreme, distorted thinking. It's just absolutely shocking that life goes on without sleep, or with very little sleep. As much as possible I try to do and focus on other things, to have a life in the midst of this, but sleep deprivation has been a soul and identify stealer. It's super helpful to hear folks get past this point.
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meowie - It will return to something you recognize as normal. Just be kind and patient with yourself. And I agree... We should never take good things for granted after this!

 

veggie buddy - At one month on the pills, I was starting to get interdose and no doctor or therapist accepted that it could be the drugs. They just kept pointing at me telling me I had some sort of mental disorder! Proved them all wrong! It's incredible to see how much havoc these little pills can cause after only a few weeks! Hang in there, you'll get back to good times!

 

Radtech - I always found it a bit frustrating that members rarely chimed in about improved sleep, seeing as it is arguably the most debilitating symptom. I really had no idea if I would ever feel normal again because of the shortage of input this topic. But I'm telling you it definitely does improve with time! I used to have the 4 hour shocking wake up like someone hit me with a bolt of electricity. Those days seem to be behind me now.

 

sleeplessMT - I can't even believe it was me when I read some of the past posts. Ending up in the psych ward because every doctor refused to accept the drugs were messing me up was a total shame. I still get shivers when I think about that night. I drive by the hospital once a week on my way to play hockey, and it's a constant reminder that I will always exercise caution with doctors and always avoid their poison. It's been a long hard road... But I made it :)

 

MTfan - I know exactly what you mean. I feel like I lost 2 years of my life fighting a pill I took for just a few months. I hate to think what would have happened if I took more of the pills that doctors were pushing on me thinking my problem was that I just wasn't take enough. Someone I had the strength and judgement to reject their diagnosis and  do it my way. But yes, it really does suck the life out of you.

 

alohafromhawaii - Hope you're doing well my friend!

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Thank you so much for posting this. Us insomniacs really need to hear that we can heal...even if it takes far too long.

 

I am so pleased that you are finally enjoying restful nights. I cannot believe how damaged you were from such a short time on the drugs. It is incredible how dangerous these pills are. When I think of how many I have taken over the last twenty years I realise just how much I damaged my brain and why I have never really been able to sleep.

 

I'm actually really excited about the future as I thought my insomnia was genetic but now I know it is the drugs and one day I might be able to be semi-normal (i'll take semi!!!)

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Hi everyone

I desperately need some help/advice , i have been tapering from diazepam since 1st June , currently on 5 mg , i do everything right - and always have done this throughout my life just had sleep issues .

My normal sleeping pattern is 15 to 20 hours a week , but if i am lucky i get  1 or 2 hours a week  forced via various antihistamines , ive not slept since last thursday when i got 1 hour , privates are always shrivelled  - and ache/painful .

My body cannot stand much more of this , this severe sleep started approx July 19th - since then 3 months ago ive slept no more than 30 hours , i feel i will die soon.

Do not drink or smoke or consume caffeine  or chocolate , my sleep hygiene is excellent never taken illegal drugs - nothing helps , i cannot live much longer surely ?

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Hi everyone

I desperately need some help/advice , i have been tapering from diazepam since 1st June , currently on 5 mg , i do everything right - and always have done this throughout my life just had sleep issues .

My normal sleeping pattern is 15 to 20 hours a week , but if i am lucky i get  1 or 2 hours a week  forced via various antihistamines , ive not slept since last thursday when i got 1 hour , privates are always shrivelled  - and ache/painful .

My body cannot stand much more of this , this severe sleep started approx July 19th - since then 3 months ago ive slept no more than 30 hours , i feel i will die soon.

Do not drink or smoke or consume caffeine  or chocolate , my sleep hygiene is excellent never taken illegal drugs - nothing helps , i cannot live much longer surely ?

 

Hello,

 

I'm sorry you're suffering so much.  I had severe insomnia my first few months off benzos, and it felt like I wasn't sleeping at all.  But, I was indeed catching some  sleep here and there, and in time, my sleep pattern slowly returned to normal.  I didn't practice sleep hygeine, (I knew what I was going through was from withdrawal and it would eventually pass) I simply went to bed and usually slept for a few hours in the afternoons or whenever I hit a "wall."  This worked for me very well. 

 

You're NOT going to die. It sounds like your sleep problems are severe, and there are others here who will be able to help you better than I.  I hope you get some relief soon.

 

:smitten:

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Hi everyone

I desperately need some help/advice , i have been tapering from diazepam since 1st June , currently on 5 mg , i do everything right - and always have done this throughout my life just had sleep issues .

My normal sleeping pattern is 15 to 20 hours a week , but if i am lucky i get  1 or 2 hours a week  forced via various antihistamines , ive not slept since last thursday when i got 1 hour , privates are always shrivelled  - and ache/painful .

My body cannot stand much more of this , this severe sleep started approx July 19th - since then 3 months ago ive slept no more than 30 hours , i feel i will die soon.

Do not drink or smoke or consume caffeine  or chocolate , my sleep hygiene is excellent never taken illegal drugs - nothing helps , i cannot live much longer surely ?

 

This is helping me sleep (almost too much now!  :) - it really works:

 

The niacin has to be the kind that makes you flush, non-flush niacin won't work. Also, don't get extended release niacin because it has been linked to liver damage.

 

Niacinamide does not make you flush.  So it will probably take experimenting to see what works - I'm taking both niacin and niacinamide now.

 

one hour before bed:

 

150 mg. 5-htp

2000 mg. l-glycine (calming amino acid)

200 mg. l-theanine

1 Theanine Serene tablet by Source Naturals

500 mg. niacin

500 mg. niacinamide

500 mg. inositol

1 capsule choline/inositol (250 mg. each)

 

In the middle of the night, I repeat everything, except I do not take more 5-htp then.  I also take 0.5 mg. lorazepam in the middle of the night which I will be tapering soon.

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I personally think that a focus on sleep hygiene can work against you during acute withdrawal insomnia. When chemically deprived of sleep and experiencing severe anxiety, the rules go out the window. Do whatever is needed to calm down and rest whenever it is needed is my advice. This worked for me while sleep hygiene rules did not.
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8damien:

 

I know! I think insomnia is the most debilitating WD symptom, and there are so few comments on here about sleep returning. I wanna know all the details! How long did it take? What's your sleep like now? 5 hrs, 6,7, 10??? Broken, toss and turn? Feel rested day after? Get tired in afternoons? Naps? Traveling to different time zone troubles? Give me the details!:)

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Sweet glad you are doing well Damien

 

I think many of us go down this same path and mostly what differs is the time lines, some of us have shorter stints of horrible crushing insomnia and some longer drawn out insomnia.

 

Mines more of a drawn out one but it is no where as bad as it was in the beginning and I feel like once our minds get clear of the drugs we can feel normal and once we accept sleep might be rough here and their we then do not stress about it so much.

 

I never ended up in the pshyc ward but I did end up in the ER thinking i was going crazy and man the ID withdrawal is legit, wish the Dr's knew and understood that.  They seem to think nothing affects anyone and that I was just over worried.

 

Anyways glad you are doing better and I think all of us will be on the same path and it is nice that you chimed in to help newer suffering insomnia members to give them hope

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That's so great that you've posted this!

 

I'm glad you've come back to help out the people that are fresher into this hell. I'll just say to the one's here that don't know me, I too was out through the ringer with insomnia and now I'm doing a lot better. I was desperate when I was early on for some of the veterans to tell me I would get better. I feel pretty good most days now and sleep mostly like I did before going through this crap.

 

Hi to all my other friends on here. Hope you are all well.

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I personally think that a focus on sleep hygiene can work against you during acute withdrawal insomnia. When chemically deprived of sleep and experiencing severe anxiety, the rules go out the window. Do whatever is needed to calm down and rest whenever it is needed is my advice. This worked for me while sleep hygiene rules did not.

I want to clarify a bit about sleep hygiene, as I think this is very crucial. The most common understanding of "sleep hygiene" means going to bed at the same time every night (and a reasonable hour), getting up at the same time (again, a reasonable hour). Not imbibing in stuff or activities that are too activating before bedtime, keeping the bedroom a quiet, restful place, etc...In other words, taking care of and protecting sleep much as you do with your teeth or showering.

 

I agree that setting artificial constraints on sleep is probably not helpful when in the throes of insomnia. For instance, if I want to sleep in, I will, or if I want to take a nap at 3 PM I will. Sleep 9 hours, no problem! But other than that, I think good sleep hygiene is absolutely an essential part of getting back into better sleep as quickly as possible. It takes a lot of discipline to do when we've taken sleep for granted, or depended on a pill to make our sleep conform to our wishes.

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Another example of what I mean by not being constrained by sleep hygiene rules during severe withdrawal insomnia is watching TV late at night. I found that to be a welcomed distraction when I was awake buzzing with anxiety. I wasn't likely to sleep anyway so I decided not to worry about blue light keeping me awake. In fact I actually would doze a bit in front of the TV.

 

I also did not concern myself with staying in my normal sleeping space. My behavioral therapist at the time was certain that I would imprint on another sleeping place and have a hard time returning to my bed. Luckily I ignored this advice as well as most of her other CBT advice and went with what worked for me. Even throwing out my sleep log worked out to be a good thing since doing so helped direct my attention away from my sleep fixation a bit, making it feel more like a natural thing rather than a science experiment.

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Thank you so much for sharing this and congrats!  This will be us in time..we just have to believe in ourselves enough to go on and fight through whatever comes our way...you're a good influence..and example of good things to come!

 

Thanks again....~CeCe      :thumbsup:

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The ongoing sleep issues is why I refuse to write a success story yet.   

 

I remember what my sleep was like before I got into this mess with zdrugs.  It was great.  I could drift off easy and stay asleep all night.  I felt refreshed in the am.

 

I may be feeling a lot better these days.  Many days, I'm 90%.      But the sleep problems continue and I refuse to write the success story until my sleep comes back.

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Geek,

 

Can you describe a typical night and how many hours you get? Has it improved much in the last 6-12 months?  Like you, my sleep was perfect before benzos, aside from the 2 weeks of situational and very minor insomnia (had a sick baby) that led to these damn drugs.  My nights vary, but an average for the last month has been to fall asleep around 10pm, wake up every 1-2 hours out of a dream (10-30 minutes to fall back asleep) and then no more sleep by 3-4am due to relentless jolts and spasms.  I never feel like I get any deep sleep- all dreams!  Last night I had several dreams about Donald trump and clinton and not remembering who my husband is- agh! Stressful! 

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Geek,

 

Can you describe a typical night and how many hours you get? Has it improved much in the last 6-12 months?  Like you, my sleep was perfect before benzos, aside from the 2 weeks of situational and very minor insomnia (had a sick baby) that led to these damn drugs.  My nights vary, but an average for the last month has been to fall asleep around 10pm, wake up every 1-2 hours out of a dream (10-30 minutes to fall back asleep) and then no more sleep by 3-4am due to relentless jolts and spasms.  I never feel like I get any deep sleep- all dreams!  Last night I had several dreams about Donald trump and clinton and not remembering who my husband is- agh! Stressful!

 

Not far off yours.

 

I aim to be in bed around 930.  It takes me varying lengths of time to fall asleep. 

 

When I do pass out I will usually stay asleep until around 1am-ish and that's when the it goes down hill.  I will usually wake repeatedly every hour or so after that.    My non-medical trained instincts tell me I'm not reaching slow-wave sleep. And once my first wakening in the night comes I just repeatedly transition  between AWAKE and REM. 

 

I don't get a lot of hypnic jerks compared to year one of withdrawal.  I also stopped getting the toxic rushes around months 13 or 14?

 

To answer your question directly yes my sleep is better than months 6-12, but it's not fixed yet either.

 

hypno-gram of average sleep cycle:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep#/media/File:Sleep_Hypnogram.svg

 

 

everything you never wanted to know about the mechanics of sleep:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep

 

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I aim to be in bed around 930.  It takes me varying lengths of time to fall asleep. 

 

When I do pass out I will usually stay asleep until around 1am-ish and that's when the it goes down hill.  I will usually wake repeatedly every hour or so after that.    My non-medical trained instincts tell me I'm not reaching slow-wave sleep. And once my first wakening in the night comes I just repeatedly transition  between AWAKE and REM. 

 

I don't get a lot of hypnic jerks compared to year one of withdrawal.  I also stopped getting the toxic rushes around months 13 or 14?

 

To answer your question directly yes my sleep is better than months 6-12, but it's not fixed yet either.

 

Wow, your sleep sounds a LOT like mine. I also try to get in bed by 9:30 (begin prep at 9 PM). The first chunk is usually 3 hours, rarely 4. Then I'm awake for a while, often 2 hours, reading or whatever. Then I have 2 or even 3 "chunks" of sleep, about an hour or so each. Lots of dreams, and I suspect not a lot of deep sleep. Interesting, as I thought my sleep might be worse because I am female and post-menopausal.

 

At this point, I'm just happy to cobble together 6 or 7 hours of sleep and be able to function (7 months out from cold turkey, 35 years of medicating for insomnia). I guess if I got to a year or more out and was still having sleep like this, I would be pretty frustrated also.

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