My Insomniac Life

This is a long post, and I apologize for it being so. This might become a series as I start to work on my insomnia again.

Insomnia has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I like to joke to people that “it’s in my blood to not sleep.” But, it is a very serious issue in my life. You ask any professional they will tell you that good sleep is key to your mental health.

Unlike most of the things wrong with my life, like living with Bipolar disorder or my social anxiety, I have never felt in control of being an insomniac. I have been through several sleep studies in my life, but they never amount to actually helping me. I have worked on my sleep hygiene to no avail. My biggest problem is getting to sleep.

I can remember growing up maybe eight or nine and not being able to sleep. Over the years it has become almost impossible to get to sleep without medication. I literally can’t remember the last time I could lay down and go to sleep without medication. I sometimes joke about this because I feel insecure about my sleep. If I really think about it, I spend more time at night trying to shut my brain off enough to get sleep, than actually getting to sleep. I have tried every sleeping medication on the market, both prescription and not, and at best they’re a temporary fix.

What has gotten me through the last few years is that I take the antipsychotic Seroquel to help with my Bipolar disorder and so that I can sleep. It’s the one medication that has been consistent in my life because it does a great job at shutting my brain down (although the side effects of having trouble getting out of bed as well as being in a constant haze have always been the worst.) Over the years my dosage has changed.

At one point in my life, I took that max dosage of Seroquel allowed for a patient at 600mg every night. This was early in my diagnoses in 2007, and it went like that for years. Most days that dosage got me to sleep, but the problem was that oversleeping became an issue. When I would oversleep, it would make it harder to sleep the next day. I became wildly inconsistent with my sleep, and sometimes I would go days without sleep even with the high dose of Seroquel. My days were spent mostly in a haze, at least a few hours after waking. The drug is very powerful and But I felt that sleep would be impossible without it.

Around 2012 when I was starting to get back to normal, and going back to school was on the horizon, my doctor and I came up with a plan to find a workable dosage where I could still function. Eventually, we settled on a 300mg dose. It worked for three or four years and while I still got less than five hours of sleep, at least it was something.

I should have realized last year that my sleep was starting to become a major issue again. There would be spurts of time over the last year where sleep was impossible at 300mg. My doctor at the time made the choice to give me options. I would get 100mg tablets and continue to take the 300mg dose with the option to go up to 600mg if needed.

It was slow, but the dosage over the last year has steadily increased. It started with 400mg to get me to sleep, and I would increase it to 500mg if needed. Sometimes it took that much but for the most part, 400mg was enough.

Then this weekend happened. If I had known on Friday that my sleep would take a bad turn, I might have worked harder to get back down to my 300mg dosage in the weeks prior. By I digress.

It started Saturday. I knew I had to wake up around 5am over the next couple days, so I figured why not go to sleep at a decent time? It normally takes me two hours from the time I take my Seroquel, to the time my mind shuts down so I can sleep. I took my normal 400mg and went to bed. I honestly tried to sleep. I was in total darkness, and I just laid there not feeling even a little tired.

I figured it was a night for another single dose so I did that, and still sleep escaped me. Hours had started to pass and I started to panic that I wouldn’t get enough sleep, it turns out that was the least of my worries. Around 2 am, I decided I had to get some sleep before waking up and did the unthinkable. for the first time in five years, I took a max dosage.

This has been hard to write.

This story doesn’t get better. I didn’t sleep that night/morning and still had to get up to be normal. I had to do the things that were planned. I was exhausted. I felt heavier. The worst part is, it was about to get worse. By the time the evening rolled around I could barely keep myself upright, and I figured why not try and sleep? My anxiety was at a very high and it was already in my head that it was only going to get worse.

I tried to go long into the night before taking my medication, but I finally had enough around 6pm. I took my regular dose, and I was barely aware of my surroundings. I laid down with the hope of falling asleep, and for some reason that woke me up. I lay there in my bed once again my thoughts racing faster than the day before. It had been close to 36 hours since I last slept. After an hour, I upped my dosage to 500mg. After two more hours of lying there, I took one more dose. After almost 40 hours, sleep finally consumed me.

This is where I find myself today. I am depressed about this because of it such a major deal and its finals this week. I am worried that tonight will be another step in the wrong direction with my sleep. I have no choice but to really work on my CBT today so that there is a hope to get my mind right. I have to get my mind right.

If you were brave enough to make to this sentence, are there any ideas people can give me on how to deal with insomnia. What do my fellow insomniacs feel about this post?

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Alexander Possingham


47 Replies to “My Insomniac Life”

  1. I feel your pain my dear!!!…
    I am with you …I am up at least every 30 mins to every hour…been on the same medication as you and still would be awake… Have you tried Trazodone ???… I can at times get to sleep but not stay asleep…and other times not get to sleep at all…up all day n night… I know that I have been on other medications but can’t remember off the top of my mind…this has always been a problem of mine as well…

    1. Hey Suzette. I am not sure if I have tried that, I lost track how how many sleep medication I have taken. The worse was Ambien. I had bad reactions to that medication, I would sleep walk on it. It’s good to know I am not alone in this

      1. Oh I remember sleep walking on some meds as well lol… sometimes I sleep walk either way lol since I was a young kid…
        Trazodone is an old school drug…been around for a long time… it’s ok I have also lost count on what all I have taken…
        Oh yes you are not alone…sometimes I am here at all time of day n night or both or all day n night… you are never alone my dear… : )

      2. Also if you can’t sleep just leave me a comment and if I am up I will chatt with you my dear friend…
        Are you in the states if so what one and time difference??? if you don’t mind me asking???…
        Hugggs again

  2. I’m so sorry. I struggle with the same issue. Seroquel used to be the only thing that worked…until I couldn’t take it anymore.

    I am now on a super low dose of remeron to help but it gives me technicolor dreams which wake me up so it’s kind of not the best option. It does help me fall asleep though.

    I struggle with sleep all of the time. I know that if I use my “happy light” in the morning, that seems to help some.

    I’m so sorry you are struggling.

    1. I use my happy light in the mornings about 30 minutes. It helps with my depression. Thank you for your kind words. I will figure it out and get back on track.

      1. Gah I wish I had better ideas. I’m sure you have tried everything people have ever suggested like melatonin etc. That kind of worked for a while.

        I honestly wouldn’t sleep ever without the benzos I take and the remeron.

      2. Yeah that’s starting to become the issue is that I have tried everything. Teas. Melatonin. You name it I have tried it over the years. I have an appointment with doctor so maybe there is a solution out there I haven’t tried. I appreciate the advice. It’s good known I’m not alone in this.

      3. You are definitely not alone. That’s the best thing about talking about these kinds of things.

  3. Umm. I am sorry this is so hard for you. Maximum i slept in my student life was 3 hours, on very good days 4. Even when i had to wake up at 6 am i wouldnt be able to sleep before 3 am to 4 am.

    There are apps of white has helped some people especially kids.
    I have tried having camomile tea, warm milk. Didn’t work for me.

    I dont know. I just hope and pray your problem gets sorted soon.

    1. I appreciate your advice. The white noise do work sometimes when my sleep is as normal as possible. Warm milk never helped. I will have to work at getting my mind right before I try and sleep.

  4. I cannot even imagine what you are going through. I have only taken sleep medication once and it actually seemed to ha e the opisit effect. I know diffuse essential oils at night to help. But that is more calming than anything else.

  5. So sorry to hear about your sleep troubles. I suffer from insomnia from time to time too. I’m not on a prescription medication for it though. I usually can take benadryl and it will calm me down enough to fall asleep. doesn’t work all the time though so I may have to speak to my doctor about it. 🙁
    I hope you find some relief soon!

    1. I used to smoke all the time, it really help my insomnia when I was in high school. The problem is that when I do it now it really effects my anxiety. I have tried to use it.

  6. I as well had problems with insomnia at the peak of my panic attacks. I would keep myself awake for 30 hours at a time. I was(still am) prescribed promethazine for nausea because my panic attacks induce cyclic vomiting – eventually the combination of promethazine (it makes you very drowsy) every 6 hours on top of pure exhaustion I would fall asleep, but sadly wouldn’t stay asleep because I would have panic attacks in my sleep. I would wake up with a jolt – panic attack in full swing. I could get back to sleep a few times, but after the 3rd-4th wake up I would be wide awake with panic.

    I had to change. It took me a month. I had to dig into myself and find the root of my panic – necrophobia. I then took up heavy meditation – guided and quiet. I would meditate for an hour-two hours before bedtime. I would then take my Ativan and Promethazine before bed, 9mg melatonin and be out.
    Meditation and anti anxiety medication was key for me. However, the guided meditation is what really did it for me.
    Love and light – hope you can get some sleep and figure out a regiment that works for you. 💜

    1. I meditate every morning but I never considered at night. I will try that, and I got some sleep last night. I switched out my medication for some new ones, I was thinking that the batch I had was just bad. I was back on my dosage last night. I am going to add meditation and breathing before bed. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Meditation for bed is so vital to my sleep. I usually will find a guided meditation made solely to guide me to sleep. I’ll take my meds, meditate, get into bed, put on a guided sleep meditation, and then I drift off.

        I hope it helps, and I’m so glad to hear you got some sleep last night!

      2. I am buying into the idea tonight and adding to my sleep routine. I think that is one of the major things I need to work on is structure in my routine.

      3. Oh I do hope it helps! Routine is definitely vital – it helps your circadian rhythm tremendously.

  7. Have you tried mindfulness? That’s when you concentrate on your breathing, in an out, and you might have thoughts come up but you just watch them float by. I took a course called mindfulness based stress reduction. You might have a course like that in your area. The idea is to clear your mind and not concentrate on the thoughts. They come up but you just watch them leave as you concentrate on your breath.

    1. I do mindfulness breathing throughout my day. I do use it especially at night, the problem is when I have trouble controlling the negative thoughts that run through my head at night. I am currently working CBT.

  8. CBT has been insanely amazing for me, very helpful with my anxiety, so I hope it helps you. I go through periods of insomnia when my anti-depressants are being changed, but nothing compared to what you’re going through. Taking a higher dose of meds is tough though, due to very difficult circumstances this year I have ended up having to up my dosage of anti-depressants again and again and again. Every time it makes me feel like I’ve failed somehow. It’s all tough. Hope your doctor can help you work out something else that will work for you soon!!!

    1. I can understand your deal with anti-depressants. Since my diagnosis I have probably changed my anti-depressant at least eight times. I might be due for another change as well. I feel like I failed as well when I have to change them. Thank you for sharing your experience and of course for your kind words.

      J.E. Skye

  9. Before the prank gone wrong that caused my now chronic dizziness and nightly vertigo-s which keep me up, I cut out sugar and caffeine (in all forms – coffee, black tea, coke..) and I exercised almost daily. I find that exercising really helps me fall asleep. Insomnia has been with me for over 10 years too but these really helped. When I get too depressed, I still force myself to exercise even though I might be crying just tryna put on my shoes and get dressed because I’m just too depressed to do anything.

    After exercising though, I feel good about myself and the endorphins released helps too I guess. It makes my mind quieter when I lie down to sleep and because I’m physically exhausted, I shut down. Soft, quiet instrumental music helps too, and I fill the room with the scent of essential oil.

    You gotta find the one that your body needs though, you will know when you respond to a smell. Pink violet scent balances me and calms my nerves, muscles and mind, Sandalwood takes away all stress and ESPECIALLY any rage in me. It’s amazing when your body just responds. No 1 scent works for everyone. You will know if it’s the scent for you. You just won’t stop sniffing it, your body feels so good. It’s not just a nice smell, you will feel that your body NEEDS it.


    1. I have cut coffee after noon and I don’t drink sodas or energy drinks the rest of the day just water. Exercising is something that I have been neglecting. Between my many issues and being a full-time student I am usually burnt out easy. But your point is valid. I have already added meditation at night (which helped me sleep last night) so adding exercise in the afternoon night help. Thank you the suggestion and for the words of help.

      J.E. Skye

      1. Ah yes, keeping really thin was easy when I was a student and part-time worker too. Even a 15 minute HIIT exercise is enough to knock you out for the night. Hopefully it would work well for you too. Wishing you the best. xo

  10. Hi J. E. Skye, have you ever tried Zopiclone? Zopiclone I know is quite addictive, but it could be worth asking about for those nights where your Seroquel isn’t working? My version of insomnia is my inability to get to sleep and then waking up early, Zopiclone puts me out for 8 hours easy. I do wake up a little groggy (and there’s a nasty after taste in the morning) but when I’ve been going weeks with only 2/3 hours sleep it really helps.

  11. I know you probably have heard of everything … but restorative yoga or relaxation yoga and guided meditation from stop think breathe app are what I do.

    1. I think people has suggested meditation (which I added to my nighttime routine) but I will take this into consideration. I appreciate your willing to offer what works for you.

      1. Yeah the app makes it easy for mediation.. I mean both are the oldest type of medicine on the planet

      2. Yeah I meditate in the morning after I wake. I’m not sure why I didn’t think to do the same at night.

      3. Just be gentle and patient with your self. You’ll get there. Your pillow is calling lol

  12. Insomnia must be very difficult.. I have read that meds can cause an opposite effect for some people..
    Although Seroquel is pretty potent.. have you considered a Naturopathic Doc. they use remedy’s found in nature.. like melatonin, and magnesium to help relax your mind.. Proverbs 3:24 May your sleep be sweet 🙂

    1. I have not tried a different doctor. My options are limited due to my insurance so it would take my main doctor to approve it, but I have used natural remedies like teas and melatonin. None of it helps. I have been on so many different sleeping medication. Seroquel is the only thing that works.

    1. Insomnia is a tough one to solve for me. I don’t in my life it will ever get to a point where I could sleep without Seroquel in my system. Insomnia is something I work on but it is a tough puzzle to solve. Thank you for you kind words.

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