I is for Insomnia

Insomnia is habitual sleeplessness or the inability to sleep. According to this definition, I don’t have insomnia. I am able to sleep. In fact I love sleep, I always want to sleep…except for those anxiety dreams, but that’s another post. If I don’t have insomnia, then why am I so tired all the time?

Upon further research, I learned there are three different patterns of insomnia. One is sleep onset insomnia, the inability to fall asleep. This I knew. It’s more common in people with anxiety. Your brain just doesn’t want to shut up and thoughts keep cycling in your head. Anxiety is similar to stress in that the hormone cortisol is at higher levels. One of the functions of cortisol is to keep you awake. I don’t have sleep onset insomnia. I have trouble staying awake!

Another pattern of insomnia is early morning awakening with an inability to go back to sleep. Usually you get around 6.5 hours of sleep. This pattern is typical of depression. I’ve been having this kind of trouble lately. I wake up at 3:30am and that’s it, I’m awake. It makes me pretty useless during the day.

The third pattern of insomnia is nocturnal awakenings. I didn’t know this counted as insomnia. I have this all the time. I wake up several times during the night for no apparent reason. Thankfully, I am usually able to get back to sleep, but it still leaves me waking up tired.


How do you treat insomnia? By keeping good sleep hygiene for one thing. This includes going to bed and waking up at regular times, avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, giving yourself time to wind down before bed, exercising during the day and keeping the bedroom a comfortable, dark place for sleeping, not TV! This stuff is pretty obvious. I try to follow these rules, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. Then what do you do? Well, I climb out from between hubby and Ewok and head to the couch where I watch the Phantom of the Opera until sleep finds me. Sometimes the movie has to play several times. My psychiatrist has prescribed me sleeping pills for when my insomnia is bad. I’m not comfortable taking them though. I’m sure there are lots of different options, but I am worried about becoming dependent or really wanting to sleep and taking too many. So I was pleased to discover an alternative to sleeping pills, cognitive behaviour therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)!

According the the Globe and Mail (a Canadian newspaper) it’s the first line of treatment for insomnia in Canada, USA and Britain……really? Then why was psych so quick to give me sleeping pills? CBT-I is supposed to teach you how to manage racing thoughts and limit the amount of time you stay in bed to your actual sleep time. This means only going to bed when sleepy, not napping, having a certain rise time and getting out of bed if you can’t sleep for some reason.

It’s hard to believe that this CBT-I stuff is recommended over sleeping pills for chronic insomnia and I’ve never heard of it. With 8 years of mental health treatment under my belt, I would have thought I’d come across it.

Has anyone else heard of this? Has anyone tried it? I’d love to hear from you about CBT-I or about what methods you use to get to sleep.


Globe and Mail

Canadian Sleep Society

26 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sakshi Chopra
    Apr 10, 2014 @ 07:36:10

    So I get in bed at 11pm with the intention to sleep on time and get up on time.. Unfortunately by the time sleep comes it’s 1 am and then, my Dog wakes me up at 5 am and there is the constant tiredness that I have the whole day.

    I follow the rules. Like making the room dark. Winding down. No caffeine. But when over stressed and sleepless for two nights in a row, I have to take the pill.

    And I love to sleep. But with office, dog, husband and a social life to handle.. Sleep deprivation is becoming a curse.

    Regards, Sakshi

    Please ignore any typos or errors as this message has been sent from my handheld.


    • somberscribbler
      Apr 10, 2014 @ 07:38:59

      Not being able to sleep or not having the time is really frustrating. My cat usually wakes me early too (if I’m not awake already) She’s too cute to stay mad at though.


  2. drheckleandmrjibe
    Apr 10, 2014 @ 07:42:30

    My methos for sleeping comes in two 300mg tablets. Seroquel. If I don’t get to sleep within an hour after taking my meds thenits my powerful, old school sleep onset Insomnia. I used to sleep on average 3-4 hours a night, if at all. I never flt tired unless I’d completely skipped a day or two! Now I’m having to try and fit everything into what I consider to be shorter days.



    • somberscribbler
      Apr 10, 2014 @ 07:50:46

      Seroquel was what I was given. I haven’t filled the prescription though. It’s good that you don’t feel tired, maybe you just need less sleep than most. I’m pretty useless when I don’t sleep.


      • drheckleandmrjibe
        Apr 10, 2014 @ 07:53:34

        When you start with seroquel it REALLY knocks you for a loop. It still really nods me off. Before I would have said that you were right and I didn’t need as much sleep as everyone else, but then everyone else didn’t have crashes of depression, and me not sleeping probably factored into those crashes. I’m doing a lot better with sleep, even if it is chemically induced.


      • somberscribbler
        Apr 10, 2014 @ 08:03:09

        I’m glad to hear you are doing better. I’m hoping my sleep will return to normal and I wont have to resort to seroquel.

      • drheckleandmrjibe
        Apr 10, 2014 @ 08:07:52

        Its weird that they gave you Seroquel for sleeping irregularities. It’s an antidepressant and antipsychotic. It just happens to also sedate you 🙂

      • somberscribbler
        Apr 10, 2014 @ 08:16:33

        Yea. They wanted to see if an antipsychotic would help boost my current antidepressant cocktail. They chose that one to knock me out at night. I ended up going with abilify instead.

  3. C.E. Darrell
    Apr 10, 2014 @ 08:35:39

    I am probably the most erratic sleeper in the world. Some nights I’m up writing until 3am, others I’m dead to the world at 9pm. If and when sleeplessness strikes, I usually resort to some serious meditation to lull myself into that state; I started meditating last year and it’s really helped keep my REM sleep regular, according to the sleep monitoring wristband I got, haha 🙂

    I’ve been fortunate enough never to suffer from serious insomnia, though, and I really hope you can find something to help you out with it!


    • somberscribbler
      Apr 10, 2014 @ 08:42:16

      3am?! Wow! could never make it to then. I usually fall asleep early and then am awake around 3am. Unfortunately, 3am is a bit early to start my coffee drip.


    • Fatma Alici
      Apr 10, 2014 @ 19:31:33

      I have a pretty erratic sleep schedule too. Though, if left to my own devices I’m a full on night owl. If my family would let me get away with it, I’d get up at noon every day, but yeah no going to happen.


  4. lauraclipson
    Apr 10, 2014 @ 14:44:31

    I tend to sleep quite well, probably because for the last 6 years I’ve had to get up at 3.30am for my job, and I’m so tired all the time that I can’t not fall asleep. I’ve just started later hours, and I’m not quite used to all the extra sleep yet, so I still wake up early.


  5. emmyleigh
    Apr 10, 2014 @ 15:24:30

    I’ve always had problems sleeping – usually of the fall asleep okay but wake up around 3am and lie there for an hour before dropping off again variety – which isn’t as bad as when I sleep until around 4.30 and then wake up – then I drop back off just as the alarm goes off at 5.45 😦
    I always used to use that awake time to make up stories, usually about my favourite TV or book character of the time – I’m sure that led directly into my fanfiction and so on to the writing I’ve done since. I used to worry that my story inventing was keeping me awake – eventually I realised that I was awake anyway and it was just helping me through that time.
    A couple of ways I’ve found to help me sleep is to either lie still and listen carefully – works best at dawn chorus time – or to run through a boring song or routine in my head, focusing on all the details – 10 in the bed, or one man went to mow work well, repetitive counting songs.
    I hope you get over your insomnia smoothly.


    • somberscribbler
      Apr 10, 2014 @ 15:29:10

      It’s good that you can use your awake time to be productive and come up with stories. I should try doing some work when I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m sure that would put me right to sleep! haha. Thanks for sharing your sleep tips!


  6. nembow
    Apr 10, 2014 @ 15:59:23

    I’ve found that good sleep hygiene really helps because it keeps my body in rhythm. When I can’t sleep though, I distract my mind with stories, otherwise I just start thinking about not being able to sleep and that stops me from sleeping! (That probably counts as CBT-I.) If it looks like I’m going to have a completely sleepless night though, I do get up early and start the day, so I’m not just waiting for the alarm to go off – it was on one such occasion that I wrote today’s blog post! My doctor has also prescribed me amitriptyline which I can take if I need to get my sleep back on track. It’s only 10mg a night and is not addictive – so they tell me! I’ve only needed it on two occasions when I took it for a couple of weeks each time. It’s an antidepressant in higher doses, but is a sedative at up to about 50mg. Just knowing I have it helps reduce my anxiety and thus helps me sleep. xxx


  7. Cheryl Wright
    Apr 10, 2014 @ 17:11:21

    I haven’t had a good night sleep in about 10 years! I wake up every 2 hours. I do have mild sleep apnea but even using a CPAP I still wake up every 2 hours, so why use this machine. I wish a doctor would finally figure out what is wrong with me!


  8. RZT
    Apr 10, 2014 @ 18:12:26

    I quite like waking up in the middle of the night. I know that I can just chill and drift back to sleep and do not need to leap into action and do things. It is a like a small break in the race of life.


    • somberscribbler
      Apr 10, 2014 @ 18:16:14

      I can appreciate that. I don’t mind if I can’t sleep on weekends, but it’s not so cool when it happens during the week. I need my brain in top working order! lol.


  9. Birgit
    Apr 10, 2014 @ 21:12:51

    I did a sleep study once and it was found that I am in waking mode 23 times per minute so my body does not get the necessary sleep it needs to heal. Meditation helps a lot! I also have hot milk with honey or chamomile tea


  10. lisa-marie
    Apr 13, 2014 @ 17:42:11

    I have the worst sleep hygene – I really need to turn off the telly and laptop! I really should try turning everything off and see if I sleep better! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Cheers!


  11. Sketchuniverse
    May 22, 2015 @ 01:18:51

    I’m so grateful for your link. Have a nice day!


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