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Psychological VS Chemical Solutions to Insomnia


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Hey, I made this post to discuss the benefits of psychological solutions in comparison to chemical (medicinal) solutions to insomnia.


What do you guys think?  A lot of the time, I try to psych myself up to sleeping better psychologically and give myself some confidence, but how much of sleeping is psychological?  It seems that my attempts to do this have largely been futile.  What are your experiences with this?  I notice that for me, only chemical solutions seem to work.


Maybe I'm just not finding the right psychological techniques to improve sleep?  So far, the only things that have worked for my sleep are Zyprexa or benzos, and I'm off benzos now.  Eventually, I want to be off of Zyprexa too.  I only take it for sleep and IMO, you shouldn't be on antipsychotics (the class of medicines that Zyprexa is in) for a sleep problem.


I'm looking to get some opinions on this and maybe together we can combine our knowledge to help each other sleep the best we possibly can.


Things I have tried that *haven't* worked or haven't had a significant effect are: cutting down the lights 2 hours before sleeping, sleeping only in darkness, taking opiates, red wine, or marijuana, (none of these have worked and I don't do them anymore), homeopathic remedies (Moon Drops, Rescue Sleep, Bedtime Teas, Calms Forte), Benadryl, Dramamine, Seroquel, any antidepressants (though I haven't tried Remeron yet) and Unisom.  That is a long list of stuff that doesn't work.


I'd appreciate any feedback and hopefully we can help each other out.  I haven't ruled out psychological techniques when it comes to improving sleep, but I just haven't found any that worked for me.

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Hi Glyn. Jittery is going to post at the end of the month about her sleep restriction. It is not very pleasant, but it seems to be working for her. It is part of CBT cognitive behavior therapy. She has had terrible sleep trouble and this method seems to be working well for her. I am temped to try it next month. It is unpleasant in the early stages, but it seems to work for a lot of people.

I've tried all the same things you have and many help...but not the same way the drugs do. I use the zzz glasses at nite to block the blue light and to make melatonin. I also use sleep tracks, tho not every nite. I use Insight rain cps. Some nights I use tryptophan and melatonin...works some of the time. I think you have to keep rotating. Unisom really helps me sleep on those nights where i need to have sleep. We just have to keep trying.

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Things that do work for me..(In the order of what I use the most)

- CBT-I (Especially sleep restriction, as maltesemom mentioned) overtime

- Lowering Light in the night, sleeping in darkness, sleeping with earplugs

- Listening to Hypnosis..surprisingly! (I have this one from Steven Gurgevich called "Deep Sleep with Medical Self-Hypnosis")

- Delta Sleep Wave music (the one I have is Delta Sleep System by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson)

- Melatonin (3mg)


CBT-I is something I've been working on for nearly two months now and I have not had a completely sleepness night in a long time now. I don't have the best quality sleep but it is improving in every way (less awakenings, more sound sleep, longer rest). It is a slow but working progression.


I don't commonly use melatonin (at most maybe 5 times), and the last time I ever took it was in December, but I recall that it was the one non-prescription sleep aid that had an impact on me.


Things that did not work for me..

- St. John's Wort / Valerian / Passionflower capsules

- Chamomile / Lemon Balm tea (Although Lemon Balm does soothe me a lot..good for when I feel anxious. I guess teas do work in a sense but not to "sedate" a person. They simply encourage us to relax in order for our natural sedation to occur)

- Opiates (horrible :()


Things that used to work for me..

- Dimenhydrinate/Dramamine (I overused it in the beginning of my insomnia problems and it quickly stopped working

- Ativan (Worked like a charm in the beginning, but its effects were wearing off before I CT'd)



It's true for me that chemicals were more effective in giving me the "sedated" feeling..drugs were able to do that for me regardless of how I felt at the time (agitated, happy, sad, etc.) It seems that non-chemical therapies require a certain level of faith and belief for me to gain the effects from them sometimes (Hypnosis seems to work better when I go with the flow of it, instead of stagnantly waiting for something to occur) and I won't deny that a placebo effect may be causing part of the success I'm gaining from them. But placebo or not, sleep is occurring. I have to say though, that CBT is the most effective of everything that I have tried.. I guess this is because it is instilling a lasting and permanent change to my sleeping rather than simply giving me a solution "each night".




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Thanks for the responses.  I'm excited to read how jittery is doing with the sleep restriction.


Chantillie - That's interesting about the CBT-I.  I tried hypnosis and it never seemed to work for me.  I've never tried the delta sleep wave music.  I was on 8mg of a melatonin med called Rozerem but it seemed to have no effect on me.


I don't know much about sleep restriction or insomnia CBT except you restrict the amount of time you're in bed for.  I'll read jittery's post to get a better idea of it.


I'm hoping to find a therapist for CBT but there's only one in the area and it would take me months to get an appointment so I never made one.


If I could create somewhat of a placebo effect, I wouldn't mind if it actually helped me sleep.  I guess in essence it wouldn't be true placebo since it's actually putting you to sleep.  The problem with me is that since I have a negative outlook on most of this because I'm so upset/pissed off about it, a lot of the time I have a reverse placebo effect where stuff doesn't work for me because I expect it not to work.


Part of this is because I originally had a positive outlook and everything I tried has been a disappointment.

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I am on sort of a sleep restriction schedule now. It works like - you should only in bed for sleep. If you can't sleep you are to get out of bed do boring chores, read, in another place than your bed.


Problem was that I was only getting 4-5 hours a night whilst tapering off Ativan, that went on for a few weeks as I tapered . Then because of the stress my body was under, my Blood Pressure went through the roof. I'm now on Klonopin and BP meds which also have side effects (dry mouth) that keep me up at night. I'm going to either taper off the BP med or switch, but, I am doing much better sleep wise on the sleep restriction schedule, just not setting my alarm and not getting more than 7 hours sleep per night which is pretty good for me.

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Hi Chantille. Do you like the Delta Sleep cds? I have them and hate them. The sounds are disjointed and disturbing to me and the volume seems to get louder and I can't find the right volume. I really dislike them.l I do like Insight which is rain sounds and Ocean Relaxation and a few others. I keep looking for the right one to really work and put me to sleep.

I think I will have to try sleep restriction but once I get up I don't know if I will ever go to sleep. I usually do better just relaxing in bed, hoping to eventually fall asleep. I've had 3 good nites but used unisom, which I so don't want to do. Want to get off all drugs but I also need to function.


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Here is what I do for sleep:


I have a banana and a cup of chamomile tea before bed (I also drink at least one other cup of chamomile tea during the day).

Also, I play an episode of one of my favorite shows on my computer (~30 minutes). I just listen to it while trying to sleep. I don't put any pressure on myself to fall asleep; just listen and enjoy it. The screen turns off after 5 minutes, and the computer is programmed to turn off after 40 minutes. If at the end of the episode I'm still awake, I may put on another episode and reprogram the time when the computer is supposed to shut down.

The episode I play is supposed to be one I already know very well (played it the night before and the night before). While listening to it, I occupy my mind with trying to predict the upcoming lines. Sometimes I try to do a double task: listen to everything in the show and at the same time think about something completely different (maybe something silly like, if I were to go on a date tomorrow, what would I wear? Or: Let me try to come up with a nickname for myself that starts with the same letter as my first name. Etc.)


For me, the psychological factor plays a huge role in falling asleep. When I was tapering off Ativan and got to 0.25 mg., I could not fall asleep no matter what. I would lie in bed for hours getting more and more frustrated. Eventually, I would decide to take a little more because I really needed sleep. As soon as I took just A LITTLE more, I'd fall asleep right away (I'm pretty sure it was before the pill actually kicked in). I am sure the simple thought "I just took some Ativan, I'm sure it will help me sleep." was what played a big role in my falling asleep. Now, I just try to replace that thought with "I just did all my routine for sleeping (which includes all the above). I'm sure it will help me sleep. And if I don't fall asleep, hey, at least I'm listening to some good comedy and having a laugh. It's not that bad."

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hi maltesemom,

i do like the delta sleep system tracks! i can perfectly understand why someone wouldnt though..its not really "music" by far and contains no natural soothing sounds (like rain), so it might sound very odd and even uncomfortable for some. the sounds are meant to be disjointed to keep the brain from focusing on them, to allow for better "drifting". i typically enjoy listening to a sort of ambient music with waves similar to delta sleep system so thats probably why its agreeable to me.


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Hi Glyn,

I am really interested in this thread and look forward to some good ideas. I think it is a really important question, because so many of us have problems and sometimes, it seems, chemical solutions are the only answer.


I collected all the ideas for psychological solutions to insomnia that had been posted in "Insomnia" from the beginning up until the time I posted it and put them in this thread:




I find the following help for me:

Not drinking or ingesting any caffeine during the day.

Staying away from refined sugar in the evening.

I use the orange tinted glasses to block out light in the evening - but find if I can discipline myself to put down the computer about an hour before I go to bed, that helps, too and sometimes enough that I don't use the glasses.

Lately, I have been listening to books on tape (on computer). I have comfortable enough head phones that I can use those all night. This forces me to turn off the lights. I find that if I am not that interested in the book, that my mind goes off and I my thoughts race, but if the book is good, it helps.


My problem seems to be in disciplining myself to do these things - if I don't, I don't sleep.


Good luck with it.


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Has your insomnia steadily improved since you completed your taper?  Did you have insomnia before benzos?  Also, do you still have any other w/d symptoms?  I hope you find your answers.  I was always a great sleeper before benzos but have had rocky sleep (and often very rocky sleep) since my taper.  I like to follow your updates.  I hope you continue to improve.  I remember you saying awhile back you were improving and I was so excited for you.



Tina  :smitten:

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Jittery -- thanks for posting about sleep restriction.  I'm going to try to reset my circadian rhythm the best I can.


Hanna -- Interesting post, thanks for the info.  Maybe I will try some of those techniques.


Tina -- yeah my insomnia has steadily improved since I got done tapering.  I had insomnia before benzos..the reason I was put on benzos was to try to get over insomnia from quitting Zyprexa.  The reason I'm on Zyprexa is for insomnia. The benzos didn't work for combating the insomnia from Zyprexa withdrawals.  It only worked for 2 weeks or so until the Zyprexa withdrawals overpowered them.  I had to take a high overdose of benzos just to sleep.


The only real withdrawal symptom I'm struggling with right now is OCD.  I'm waking up at roughly the same time and going to sleep at roughly the same time and seeing if that helps with insomnia.

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