Crisis, Grief, and Healing => Child Loss => Topic started by: LuAnn on August 07, 2007, 05:38:33 PM

Title: Insomnia and Nightmares
Post by: LuAnn on August 07, 2007, 05:38:33 PM
I have such a hard time sleeping. I am taking medication but nothing seems to work. The reality is that I am afraid to sleep because those awful scenes of my granson, son and nephew's death play over and over again. Last night I had horrible nightmares about losing yet another young male member of my family. After 2 separate nightmares I got out of bed so that it wouldn't happen again.

Please share with me about your sleep problems or successes and what has worked for you.

Title: Re: Insomnia and Nightmares
Post by: MelissaCharliesMom on August 07, 2007, 08:56:53 PM
I am sorry to hear you are suffering from insomnia and nightmares. I too have suffered from insomnia since the accident. They have tried it all with me. Ambien, herbal stuff they even recommended I try a narcotic...none of it has worked. I sleep about 2 hours a night if I am lucky. I have had nightmares and continue to. Mine generally consist of opening my eyesd and seeing nothing but a thick fog in front of me. I hear Charlie calling, "Mom, Mom where are you?" But I cant see him and dont find him. I usually wake up in tears and near hyperventilation.
I am sorry I have no solid advice, just know I understand and can lend a sympathetic ear.
Title: Re: Insomnia and Nightmares
Post by: owensmom on August 07, 2007, 09:00:59 PM
Hi LuAnn,

Sleep has been one of my challenges, as well.  As long as I'm up doing something, I can function in an unexplainable, although painful fashion.  But, the moment I lie down, I go to pieces.

I went to the doctor a few weeks after Owen died, not for help with sleep, but because I thought I had a bladder infection.  I didn't.  But, because for years, the reason for me waking in the night was to go to the bathroom (sorry if this is too much information for some), I kept thinking I should do the same in these grief-stricken sleepless nights.  The difference was, I was waking up every 30 minutes at first (not that I was actually asleep yet), so I would make my way to the bathroom, and nothing.  The doctor said it wasn't an infection at all, just the anxiety, stress, and grief controlling my body.  He gave me samples of sleep medications.

Because I'm allergic to three other known prescriptions, I have not used them.  A friend, who lost her brother two years ago, told me that her mother found Tylenol PM worked better than any of the meds her doctors had given her.  I tried it (the generic store brands), and yep, she was right.  I can now (and this is very early for me - only 10 weeks since my son went missing) get to sleep, and wake less often.  Maybe it's just the suggestion that something will help, but that's enough for me.  

I still cry the moment I lie down, and do so until sleep takes over.  I still wake exhausted, but at least there's the knowledge that some bodily recovery has taken place, and that's better than it was in the beginning.

My son's death is still a mystery, so when I wake (no matter whether it's in the middle of the night, or in the morning), I still see all the possibilities of what might have happened.  The difference 10 weeks into this, is there is SOME sleep.  Some is better than none, and more is what I'm hoping for.

It took me two weeks to try the Tylenol PM, after my friend told me about her mom's experience.  I don't know why I didn't rush out that day, but my husband brought some home one night, and wow...so simple.  Just taking that edge off our imaginations is something to hope for in the sleep deprived grieving stage.

I wish you the best with your search for help with sleep, but more importantly, with the long path you are on, along with the rest of us here.

Owen's mom
Title: Re: Insomnia and Nightmares
Post by: ~Dee on August 08, 2007, 11:14:40 AM
LuAnn, It has been 10 years, but I still have cycles of insomnia. I no longer have nightmares, but wonderful "visits" with my daughter instead.

Medication was not an option for me, and I found that going with the insomnia, instead of fighting to try to sleep works better for me.  In the first year, I just sat in front of the television, obliviously clicking the remote, staring at it, but not really seeing anything. Sometimes I read.  It was hard to concentrate, and sometimes I really didn't know what I had read, but it kept me from laying in the dark, both wanting and not wanting sleep.

Now, when I know I'm in for a rough night, I settle into the recliner in the livingroom and just read until I can't keep my eyes focused any longer.

I hope you find some peaceful rest.

Title: Re: Insomnia and Nightmares
Post by: Lonnie on August 08, 2007, 12:34:22 PM
LuAnn: I have developed almost a pathological sleep disturbance since my dad died, and I now have the responsibility and care of my diabetic insulin dependent mom. She goes low unexpectedly and sometimes falls.  It just turned my nervous system upside down. But when I do opt for medications, I have found that 2 Benadryl do wonders. A doctor once told me that of all the sleep aids you could take, Benadryl is the least likely to cause harm, so when I know I can sleep for a long night, I'll take 2. One seems to knock my husband out. LOL! At any rate, I believe that the Tylenol PM that Owensmom referred to has tylenol and benadryl in it. So to avoid getting too much Tylenol which can cause liver problems in excess, perhaps try the Benadryl, which is just an anithistamine. It really is quite effective a good deal of the time. Many hugs-Lonnie (Main Board)
Title: Re: Insomnia and Nightmares
Post by: Dena on August 08, 2007, 03:23:12 PM
LuAnn - My sleep was awful for the longest time after Josh died.  I wanted to avoid sleep meds at all cost.  Follow the guidelines for insomniacs. When you find yourself tossing and turning, get up until you feel you can sleep.  No caffeine after 6 pm.  Try to lower the amounts of sugars, fats, & sodium that you are taking in.  Try to avoid stimulating TV, books, news, etc in the evenings.  Use that time to unwind. Take a soaking bath, listen to soft music and do things that relax you.  Aromatherapy is a good one as well.

Use Bendryl or Tylenol PM as little as possible so that you do not become dependent on it to help you sleep.  The less used, the better.  Keep your bedroom strictly a place for intimacy & sleep. No TV, reading, eating, etc.  Try to make it a peaceful haven.

I still have nightmares from time to time.  They are brought on now by extreme stress or illness. 

In time, you will come to a place where you can sleep peacefully.  Give it and yourself time.

Dena, Josh's Mom
Title: Re: Insomnia and Nightmares
Post by: Gill on August 08, 2007, 05:52:20 PM
I have been on xanax since the second night after Joanne died.  I have cut down to 1/4 tablet of the smallest dose and take it every night.  I wouldn't sleep at all without it and find after about 3 nights of no sleep, it seems to be the lesser of two evils to keep taking it. I have tried OTC like Tylenol pm, but find they stay in my system and make me groggy the next day.

I hope you find something that works for you, lack of sleep is so debilitating and I found I just couldn't deal with anything, plus started feeling light headed etc.   


Title: Re: Insomnia and Nightmares
Post by: lainie on August 10, 2007, 05:14:22 PM
I too, am plagued by insomnia and nightmares.  It's horrible.  I can't establish any sort of proper sleep pattern at all.  My grief counsellor says it is normal.  My doctor has put me on anti-depressants as well, but this is now the 3rd one I have tried because the others seemed to have made things worse.  So, I'm sorry, I don't have any answers.  All I can say is I am in the same boat.
Elaine  (Brynn's mom)
Title: Re: Insomnia and Nightmares
Post by: wintersnow on August 10, 2007, 07:59:31 PM
Oh my sweet loves my heart goes out to you all.  It's been two years since loosing my son and I can't sleep at all any more.  I've taken double doses of abien the last two nights and slept a total of six hours.  I was going to try the Tylenol PM but if it has antihistocrap in it I can't take that - high BP.  I think it is menopause, at least for me.  You may want to check with your doctors and have your levels checked.  I think the grief was so overwhelming after his death that I couldn't distinguish between it and a chemical imbalance.  I had major surgery three months after his death and they took my uterus and ovaries...  so I'm pretty sure my chemical imbalance is catching up with me.  Anywho.....

I might be able to help you with the nightmares...  I've had considerable dream therapy for those......  anyway....  First - to Charlie's Mom - who hears her lost one calling her - answer.  Any time you have a "vision" of them that vision of them can reach you to put you at peace.  I knew a woman who's son kept appearing at the end of her bed in her dreams.  When she finally acknowledged him she found peace.  Acknowledge them.  Focus on this before sleeping.  Call out to them.

Second.  If you want to dream about them or if you need to control nightmares first you have to remember the dreams. Try placing a note pad at the edge of the bed and writing down every detail of the dreams immediately after you wake up.  Until you know the details of the dreams and understand the dreams you won't be able to control them.  Once you face them you will be able to learn to control them.  This is one answer. 

Another one says that if you dwell on the nightmares  they will recur.  So if the dream is very bad and you keep reminding yourself about it you will have it again and again.  I fought the "faceless stranger" through rape and nightmares until I finally beat him.  It was many years ago and I was a younger woman then.  I still sometimes have those nightmares - together with others since Rick's passing.  You may want to learn how to fly in your dreams to escape the bad things.  If you move your arms and push the air beneath you in your dreams you will fly.  You can take your loved ones with you to safety and this may end the nightmares too.

Finally, I don't have all the answers but I can tell you what has happened to me.  For the first few months I was able to see and hold but never talk with my son in my dreams.  He was just as he was the day he died.  I've got a lot of control over my dreams, but after two years I still can't seem to talk to him.  When he's young, and not the age he was at his death, I never know in the dreams that he has died.  And he talks and giggles like he did in life.  But when he is his true age... well...  he looks me in the eye and smiles and I hug him.  I wake in a puddle of tears.

He pulls me along through the grief in my dreams.  Take their hands.  This is a long road we are on.

Linda - only ten weeks - that time seems so long ago now.  But it is still sharp like a knife cutting my heart from my breast.  I, also, will never know what really happened to my son.  My heart goes out to you.  But know this -  he is safe now.  Believe it with all your heart.  And learn how to control your dreams so that you can meet him.  Somewhere in that place, between sleep and awake, he will wait for you.


Title: Re: Insomnia and Nightmares
Post by: owensmom on August 11, 2007, 11:26:08 PM
Hi Mary, LuAnn, and everyone else who posted to this thread,

I'm lucky.  Owen does visit me in my dreams.  And, the Tylenol PM is something I think of as temporary.  Because I'm allergic to certain medications, I'm apprehensive about ALL medications, even OTCs.  But, I know that there are times when "aids" can be of some benefit.

This is how I explained it to Owen when we were considering certain medications that were prescribed for him, and he didn't want to take them:  Owen, I wear glasses to see better.  I don't wear them because I think I look good in them.  I wear them because they help.  I don't wear them all the time.  I wear them when I need them.

Sleep is something I need.  Sleep is something I know would make this journey less painful.  (Yes, I actually believe that.)  Sleep is something that evades me.  Whether it's Tylenol PM, or melatonin, or magnesium/calcium/zinc, or some of the other herbs I've tried, sleep is the objective, so as to mitigate the pain of conscious thought.  Conscious thought is where I grieve.  Sleep is where I get to visit Owen in beautiful, joyful memories.  So, sleep is where I want to go on a regular basis. 

However, how we all get there is up to us and our best efforts at finding it.  I wish you all a good night's sleep, so that you may wake up tomorrow with some relief from the physical pain of the deprivation from this biological thing that is supposed to replenish our ability to cope.  I'm not saying it's the end-all-and-be-all of grieving.  I'm only saying that I know my body and my mind well enough to believe a decent night's sleep could help.

I'm not new to grief, as I've lost so many friends and family (beginning at the age of eight) that there was a time when my brother and I talked about not making friends anymore, as they would just die, and we would be right back in this spot.  My first friend died when I was 8, my father when I was 10, and the list is unbelievable since then (can't actually remember the number right now), Mom having left us in 2001, three more friends, then Owen, my youngest son just 10 weeks ago.  I've been to four funerals since March, 2007, with Owen's being the most recent.  But, NOTHING, has been this terrible.  It's the promise thing - that giving birth means you'll always be there to protect him or her. 

Good sleep, good dreams, to all of you - no matter how you get there.

Owen's mom
Title: Re: Insomnia and Nightmares
Post by: LaVonne on August 12, 2007, 06:03:34 AM

 I have taken Tylenol PM, and Trazodone and they both work for me. I do wake up at times but can go right back to sleep. The Dr said i can alternate between the two. Trazodone is only around $8. to $10.for 30 pills. Hope you can sleep a little better and keeping you  in my thoughts and prayers. I don't know much about your loss because i don't come as often but will try to come more often and lend my support to all. So very sorry for all our losses and someday i hope to know the answers when i meet up with my son again. hugs  LaVonne (mom to Jason) forever and a day.