Help for insomnia (and psych drug withdrawal triggered sleeplessness)
I shared the below comment about sleep on facebook yesterday and the resulting comment thread is being turned into this post as it contains a collection of links with natural sleep suggestions. I ended up sharing many different posts that contain information about how I’ve learned to cope and soothe and hopefully help my body fall asleep.
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of severe withdrawal syndrome and often a part of just about any and all withdrawal from psychiatric drugs is the insomnia most people face at one time or another. It can be so severe as to be quite dangerous. Learning to soothe and ease the body back into sleep or at the very least rest becomes an issue of survival.
All the below suggestions may be helpful to anyone dealing with insomnia from any source as well.
And since this is another post that collects information from many articles from the archives I save this post in the drop-down navigation menu at the top of the page. I will title it for that purpose Sleep/Insomnia and update it as appropriate. It will remain there as a resource.
So tired of never sleeping close to enough. Sleep does slowly come back. For a long, long time (years) it was 0-3 hrs a night, now it’s generally 4-6…I do expect it to continue to improve…that is why it’s good to communicate with those who’ve gone before us in this healing process. I know many others who’ve regained their sleep completely.
I’ve got lots of methods of managing and coping with insomnia now that help calm and sooth etc. I’ve written about a lot of them already. I’ll post some of what I can think of here: most recently this yoga helps a lot.
I never go to bed without it: Simple yoga and this little yoga routine too: Yoga for sleep, insomnia, or deep relaxation
NEW: Yoga Nidra too helps relax for sleep (free meditation download included in that post)
Epsom salt baths: Healing bath: for anyone who hurts or simply needs to relax and magnesium in general oral or topical…magnesium oil is really great (topical magnesium) – some people react to magnesium when they have very severe sensitivities. Start slowly.
Essential oils have been a huge help too…I was astonished at how effective they can be: Aromatherapy is being scientifically studied — my favorite oil that induces calm and sleep is White Angelica. It appears expensive but the same bottle has lasted several months. Use sparingly. I put directly on pulse points. I’ve actually had my bottle for over six months now and it seems there is about 1/3 of it left still. (some folks with grave sensitivities can react to essential oils, be careful with this too)
And when I still can’t sleep I lay down and meditate, I just be with whatever chaos is keeping me awake. Struggling against insomnia is often a large part of the problem. It’s not always pleasant but I’ve come to deeply trust that it is, indeed, healing to be with whatever is in my body/mind/spirit.
See also: Life as a meditation: my contemplative adventure
The opposite of “being with what is” is okay too. Sometimes it can be very healthy to simply distract yourself for a while, by any means necessary. TV, music, the internet, magazines, pets. The writing and maintenance of this blog worked for me. Well, frankly, it still often does. Find whatever works for you.
The supplement that has helped me most greatly is Lactium. I don’t tolerate pretty much anything else. I did at one time write a post about other supplements that helped at one time or another. But my hypersensitivity is such now that I can’t take pretty much anything in that post anymore. You can see if any of it helps you out. Certainly not everyone is sensitive like I am, but it’s worth being aware that hyper-sensitivity to many drugs and supplements, too, is a common issue among those with severe withdrawal issues and it is generally wise to be very careful introducing any substance while in withdrawal, natural or otherwise.
More on hypersensitivity
Lactium is a brand name but it’s in lots of different supplements. It helps ease me into sleep these days with no issues and so I’m grateful for it. It’s a milk peptide but doesn’t cause problems in most people who do not tolerate milk. (I don’t tolerate cow’s milk and I’m fine with it.) Swanson Vitamins carries the cheapest source I’ve been able to locate. Don’t be deceived by the name of the product. It’s not just for women! That’s just their particular marketing BS.
Update: since I wrote this I’ve begun to use a lot of different nervine herbs. I didn’t tolerate herbs at all early on after withdrawal but they’ve become wonderful healing allies now. I need to write more about my relationship with herbal plants, but I do talk about how I got started in this post: My growing herb list: healing with plants
NO COFFEE or caffeine containing beverages ever for me…because it’s really like doing cocaine for my brain…I’m not exaggerating. I do generally suggest everyone coming off meds cut it out even if they don’t recognize severe sensitivity like I have. That’s the common advice on all the withdrawal boards too…those of us who have lots of collected experience helping others find that it’s generally necessary and helpful to stop caffeine. It can be hard to do but it really helps the healing process along…
I loved coffee too at one time…it took me years to eliminate but now I’m so radically sensitive it’s not even remotely tempting. Once people truly stop using caffeine most find that it helps so much that they too stop craving it.
I can’t touch alcohol either…it gets easier to give up these beverages as you realize it really helps you heal…(it did for me anyway) and alcohol also impedes natural sleep for everybody so it’s good to avoid in the evening before bed even if you’re not sensitive to it otherwise.
The commitment to good health is one that grows and grows as your body thanks you for taking care of it!
Another thing that really helps me is a sort of sound therapy that raises alpha and theta brain waves. I have a set of CDs that have simply at times worked wonders allowing me to rest, if not sleep. These tracks are no longer available for sale so I uploaded them that you might be able to use them too. See what you think.
Of note: when my nervous system was most deeply fried, even these Tracks irritated me. It took a couple of years before I tolerated them. Most people, however, find them helpful long before I did. I know several people who really like them. We’ve done some passing around of them among ourselves in withdrawal circles.
The first three tracks are by far my favorites. I sometimes just listen to them on a loop for hours. It’s good for relaxing any time of the day and it can also help me meditate when the chaos in my autonomic system is too loud to manage without the CDs.
FYI: USE HEADPHONES
I’ve moved all the tracks to soundcloud: LISTEN OR DOWN LOAD HERE
Other posts on sleep, insomnia and psych drug withdrawal:
NEW: Shinzen Young reframes insomnia
- Insomnia? Or is your body just asking to sleep like our ancestors did?
- Sleep, insomnia and iatrogenic injury – an update
- Benzodiazepines, Sleeping Pills and Tranquilizers: what happens to the brain on drugs?
- Sleeping pills…commonly prescribed medications that can cause unexpected problems
- Are sleeping pills addictive?
- Sleeping Pills (benzos and Z-drugs) shorten life-span and a list of other adverse effect
- Stimulate your vagus nerve and thus chill out: simple, natural, uninvasive methods
*it is potentially dangerous to come off medications without careful planning. Please be sure to be well educated before undertaking any sort of discontinuation of medications. If your MD agrees to help you do so, do not assume they know how to do it well even if they claim to have experience. They are generally not trained in discontinuation and may not know how to recognize withdrawal issues. A lot of withdrawal issues are misdiagnosed to be psychiatric problems. This is why it’s good to educate oneself and find a doctor who is willing to learn with you as your partner in care. Really all doctors should always be willing to do this as we are all individuals and need to be treated as such. See: Psychiatric drug withdrawal and protracted withdrawal syndrome round-up
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