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Chasing Morpheus. Thursday September 19, 2013

One of the symptoms I experience with my depression is insomnia. I am desperately tired all through the day, go to bed early and then wake up in the early hours with sleep frustratingly elusive.

Sleeping tablets just seem to make things worse and the whole "restful night-time routine" of no caffeinated drinks after noon, a relaxing bath, aromatherapy and a milky drink just before sleep just don't seem to be effective.

Diet seems to help a bit, and certainly the 5:2 intermittent fasting way of eating has been of enormous benefit. But it doesn't work all the time and the past couple of nights have seen me intimately acquainted with the dead of night. In fact, the first lines of Bill Hayley's Rock Around the Clock have been rather too appropriate.

I have to admit I have not yet tried hypnotherapy for it and that's definitely the next thing on the list.

So, rather than just lying there, with negative thoughts chasing each other like squirrels in my head, I tend to get up and do something (even this blog has been written at two in morning upon occasion).

Writing is great as it is something that (for me) is totally engaging. Reading can be good but my preference is for a comfortable book I've read before; it does not grip so hard that I miss the point where actually, I could go back to sleep. Sometimes I do sometime creative, like card-making or needlework (although, if your thing is woodwork with power drills, you may want to think through the whole neighbourliness issue).

My youngest daughter also suffers from insomnia and we discovered all night Roulette on one of the TV channels. That was helpful to watch together as the ball going round and round was soporific and, as we both invariably lost our imaginary bets, it had the added benefit of teaching her about the futility of gambling.

Experience has taught me that, if I lie in bed chasing sleep, it won't come until half an hour before the alarm goes off. If I get up and do something else for an hour or so, then, nine times out of ten, when I go back to bed, I'll drift off inside five minutes.

But I think I'm still going to buy that hypnotherapy CD.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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PWD Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 6:26am

Hypnotherapy helped me its worth a try I have similar problems and it is really frustrating. I think it is better to see a hymotherapist and purchase a cd from them rather than just sending for one, as it reinforces the effect, It also helped me with nail biting. The hardest thing is trying to stop the mind ruminating.Good luck.


Sharon Stiles Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 8:00am

Some time shifting would probably help too. It sounds as if you've shifted your whole sleeping pattern earlier than "normal". So, because you're sleeping early, you then wake up early which then means you're tired early and so it continues.

Recognising this can often help to relieve some of the frustration people feel when they find they're lying awake in the early hours. It's not that you can't sleep, your sleep pattern has shifted to an inconvenient time. Continuing with this pattern may work or you might want to shift it to a later one.

A short nap of no more than 20 minutes earlier in the day might help you to start your real sleep time later. Listening to a relaxation or hypnotherapy track earlier in the day could also help as that will help your mind and body to relax and so help your energy to last longer.

Using hypnotherapy can help. Also learning some self hypnosis techniques and/or learning a technique such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can also be helpful as both of those help to give you some control over your feelings about sleep and should also help you to either sleep or achieve a more relaxed state that will benefit you.

Mike Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 8:06am


Anonymous Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 8:06am

I think Paul is right about the importance of stopping the mind ruminating. I find listening to a podcast or a short story or book helps. Eg from:

Or go onto YouTube and you could try out some free hypnotherapy tracks, or sleep music etc.
search for "sleep" and you'll find sleep music, sleep hypnosis, sleep meditation etc. either that or try Leonard Cohen!

If you're using a smart phone set it to turn off after a certain amount of time.

Good luck!

Rupert Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 8:23am

I had the best nights sleep through the second half of Grand Designs last night but that was it really! The trouble is it is all cumulative and I am feeling really low this morning. Think I need to change routine and stop watching TV in bed so much!

joanne Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 8:26am

I've found that reducing stimulous from TV and computer from about 9pm greatly helps. As well as cutting out coffe/tea totally and not just in the afternoon. This in itself rectified my sleep pattern which has been rubbish for years. I wouldn't have predicted such a dramatic effect.

Bill Andrews Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 8:44am

Hi Mary,

I wonder if you might find it helpful to see if gaining an understanding as to WHY insomnia is a common feature of depression might help. Almost everything written anywhere highlights disturbed sleep patterns in depression but few give a sensible explanation about the underlying reasons for it.
It might help to have a look at a site like:
( I have no involvement with this company. I just agree with their explanation)

and see if their explanation makes sense for you. Googling terms like 'depression and REM sleep' might lead you to some useful explanations too that make sense to you.

I agree that finding a good therapist will probably help more than just using recordings but I suggest that you make sure the therapist offers you a sensible explanation about why your sleep patterns are disturbed. Otherwise it is easy to end up working on symptoms rather than causes.

All the best,

Anonymous Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 9:02am

I am surprised no one has suggested exercise.

Richard Hull, PhD Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 9:12am

A big issue for me too, for a long long time.
I typically wake at 4.30am or 5 then cannot stop ruminating.
This morning I tried a smartphone app, Pzizz, which helped me relax and I stopped ruminating but still didn't get back to sleep. But I'm going to keep trying it.

Anonymous Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 9:19am

The 5:2 diet helped me - not only did I feel better but I found the wonderful side effect of sleeping better and although I do have the odd sleepless night my whole sleep/eat pattern is much, much better - side effect - I don't get as much ironing done in the early hours of the morning now :(

Andrew Daws Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 9:51am

it could be an imbalance in your energy system. If you wake at around 4 it could suggest a problem with your lungs, as they are scheduled to take prominence at around that time.

Anonymous Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 9:56am

Can you elaborate on this please?

Anonymous Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 10:27am

Thank you for this post and for the discussions. I have struggled with this all my life until a couple of years ago and now I am pretty OK. Normally I get up for a pee in the night but now go straight back to sleep and often can only vaguely remember being awake. So firstly, and I realise this is not helpful, thank you for helping to realise that this is something I should add to my gratitude list... but why has it changed? Don't really know but... removal of major stressors, having a separate bedroom (my partner and I start the night together and have cuddles in the morning but I snore and she wriggles.. and this just works better), having a short sleep in the afternoon when I feel tired. I will think some more about what may have caused this small part of my recovery.

Anonymous Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 10:30am

What? Was that a hmmm, a harrumph, or a snore?

Anonymous Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 11:01am

I am enjoying reading all the solutions and discussions. Since having three children and doing night time feeds I have never returned to an all- night sleep pattern. However I spend little time worrying about this as many years ago I discovered World Service on the radio. I have a radio with ear phones and look forward to listening to programmes such as Outlook. In fact if I sleep through, I feel cheated of my nightly knowledge expansion! Occasionally I do wonder if I should be more concerned about irregular sleep but mostly I just get on with it. In case you think I must be napping in the day, I have a fulltime job and am a lone parent. The bonus of my radio wave excursions is that occasionally I find a fellow world service fan and enjoy discussing the programmes.

Anonymous Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 3:40pm

No being able to sleep has many flavours. Some physical, some mental. Pain & discomfort obviously need treatment first. Mental activity can often be quelled by writing down your thoughts, this frees the mind to move onto other things. Try to write in a positive activity focused way. ie 'Tidy house' rather than 'don't leave house messy'
Finally don't expect sleep to come immediately. Start by building a picture in your head about when you will awake, happy and refreshed. Then think of something you enjoy - relaxed but in detail. if cross stitch is your thing, start with the blank canvas and build it in your head stitch by stitch. If woodwork, select the timber, feel it in your hands, shape it and make your piece. The process is not about building as fast as you can but enjoying what you are doing. If you finish, start another piece. Every night repeat the same process. You may find yourself looking forward to this exercise.
Be careful not to do things which require you to be more "awake" in bed, this encourages the mind to think - 'this is a place for activity not sleep'. I find if I have 3 interruptions to the sleeping process, getting up, getting a water, then going back to bed allows me to "reset" the start sleeping process. Three interruptions seems to get my mind to the - 'it must be important to stay awake' - stage.
Start working out your sleep process, once you start to see how it works, it gives you a toolbox for YOUR sleep, not mine or another author.

Anonymous Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 3:55pm

Mary, if you do decide to follow up the hypnotherapy idea, you might like to consider the on-line option.
Obvious savings of time trecking to & fro; and usually a less expensive option, as the therapist, too, saves time, trouble & money as there are no practice/room space costs - a saving that is passed on to you.
Many therapists now offer this service, just as they may also offer a telephone (usually Skype) or email service.
Best of luck with whichever route back to good night-time sleep you choose ... maybe a selection of the many thoughtful suggestions mentioned here.
And thank you for yet another stimulating blog.

Anonymous Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 4:00pm

Mary, a quick follow-up. Bill's last para was right on the button: it's identifying causes that's key, not treating symptoms. Barbara

Anonymous Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 5:42pm

I have had insomnia off and on since my son was born... 13 years ago!! Recently, while on a trip with my mom and sister, I began using earplugs at night. It has made such a difference in how well I sleep! Sometimes it doesn't help, but I wonder if it is that I am such a light sleeper that blocking out the small bumps in the night helps me fall into a more deep and restful sleep!

Julia Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 6:43pm

Hi Bill
I have been travelling today and only just seen this. I will look at the link you suggest. I wrote a blog a while back about insomnia (unfortunately a subject dear to my heart) and some of the most helpful constructive comments I have ever read about the subject were posted by Moodscopers. I will try to locate the blog as really it wasn't what I wrote but the replies which were so helpful

Julia Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 6:55pm

I replied to Bill above mentioning the posts in reply to a blog I wrote on insomnia in June earlier this year. Here is the link.
14 June2013
The replies are so helpful and I hope they may provide additional help to the posts today about the subject

Bill Andrews Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 7:02pm

Hi Anonymous (feels a bit weird addressing someone like that!),
I wonder how those early months were after your son was born? Our brains quickly learn to be on 'alert', sort of code orange, ready to respond rapidly if necessary. Strange thing is they often then don't learn to switch back off even when the need for that alert is long since past.
There are a variety of therapeutic processes that can help to switch off the alert mechanism when it's no longer necessary. (Google 'The rewind technique' if interested in an example).
Anyway, good luck with the earplugs. That's a great idea, as is getting black-out blinds or curtains.
Best wishes,

Mair Alight Thu, Sep 19th 2013 @ 9:40pm

what is the 5:2 diet? never heard of it! If it's effective I want to try! Thanks

Anonymous Fri, Sep 20th 2013 @ 1:48am

New studies show that the waves given off by wifi and cell phones directly interfere and contradict waves which help us sleep and interfere with melatonin production. I have stopped sleeping near my phone and turn it off as well as my router before bed and back to using an alarm clock. it helped. also guided meditation or doing it on my own using progressive muscle relaxation. good luck.

SANDRO RICARDO DA CUNHA MORAES Fri, Sep 20th 2013 @ 3:19am

Depressão é antes de tudo uma doença da alma. Estar de bem com a paz espiritual é a primeira coisa para mandar a depressão fugir. Se algum componente químico do cérebro desregula o humor, a depressão se instala; é juntar a meditação com remédios e ser feliz...

Anonymous Fri, Sep 20th 2013 @ 5:01am

tries with Vipassana meditation

Julia Fri, Sep 20th 2013 @ 8:07am

I can sleep anywhere I am not supposed to, for example, watching telly, in the car, on a train etc, but not in my bed. I guess my brain equates bed with a sleepless night. It's also the quality of sleep that counts. Someone told me on Moodscope once that the best thing is not to worry about it, that no-one has ever died of insomnia and that we think about it too much and that is why we can't sleep. It's almost a habit with me. My body must be used to not getting enough deep sleep by now. However I am not and it affects my mood so much.
Anyway got to stop thinking about it!!

Julia Fri, Sep 20th 2013 @ 8:13am

Thank you Bill for the Understanding Depression link which is so tied up with lack of slow wave sleep. I have read some of it and will go back to it later today. This is one of the reasons I love Moodscope and found it to be so helpful; the links people provide which can help with problems.
Thank you Bill again

Anonymous Fri, Sep 20th 2013 @ 9:53am

Hi Julia,
Earlier you said you can sleep anywhere except in your bedroom, perhaps you should change your bedroom if you have a spare room or even change the furniture round if no spare room is available for you. Maybe worth a try? All the best Julie.

Julia Fri, Sep 20th 2013 @ 10:07am

This is an interesting idea. Thank you.I have de cluttered my bedroom and that did help for a while. Actually come to think of it, I have changed bedrooms because of traffic noise. I now sleep in the middle of the house facing the garden.A smaller room though. I will think about this as I need something to disassociate my current sleeping arrangements from thoughts of not sleeping. As you suggest I could re arrange the furniture. That could well jolt my brain into a different thought pattern. Thanks again!

Anonymous Fri, Sep 20th 2013 @ 10:13am

Yes, I have also heard that TV / computer screens are too stimulating to the brain so should be turned off well before bedtime. And I agree dropping caffeine has a BIG effect - also in making me feel a lot calmer through the day.

Anonymous Fri, Sep 20th 2013 @ 10:20am

Only one person so far mentioned exercise I think.... I sleep better on days when I've been more physically active. I do have to force myself to the gym sometimes by reminding myself of the benefits! And I don't always make it when I should. A friend who is very sporty sleeps like a log.

Also, any form of light can keep us awake - moonlight, early dawn light (if curtains not very thick or left open), nightlights, even lights from electrical equipment in the room.

Julia Fri, Sep 20th 2013 @ 11:44am

I find I sleep better sometimes, not always (which is the bug bear as deep sleep is so unpredictable for me) when I have been for a really really long walk which can take all afternoon.
But the conundrum for me is why do some people sleep well every night (like my husband for instance (aaargh!) who do all the wrong things. I am not saying my husband does all the wrong things but some good sleepers, eat badly, look at their computers every night just before going to bed or even in bed, don't exercise, have light streaming through their window, etc etc etc.,I honestly believe it's a personality thing. Perhaps people who sleep well have no imagination, are terribly focussed individuals, have no worries. My husband infuriatingly says I should sleep as it's normal! But is it normal for someone like me and millions of others to sleep deeply every night?? Perhaps we expect too much from sleep. Us who can't sleep I mean.

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