Trauma/sleep deprivation/help falling asleep

In 2013 I was assaulted till unconscious by 5 men , then taken against my will shortly after and having to escape. I had always had small bouts of insomnia or trouble sleeping like anyone would about things like school or work worries. After the assault It didn't seem like it phased me, or at the time i hadn't notice that some nights that year i would just be wired and couldn't sleep. About the same time of the assault i had entered a relationship, unknowingly it would turn out to be very tumultuous and unhealthy, i would go as far as to say abusive. This relationship was a constant play on my nerves. Fast forward to about September/October of this past year, because of unforeseen events I was assaulted and robbed. Shortly after I experienced my first night terror/panic attack. I never experienced panic attack but they grew more frequent. At the same time my unhealthy/tumultuous/emotionally abusive relationship was falling apart and very dramatically. After being robbed and the relationship stress and blow out I stopped sleeping. It began with a month of very shallow sleep or non at all. Then the sleep progressed to full blown insomnia sleep deprivation. The panic attacks, anxiety, agoraphobia, paranoia, every stimuli felt like a sonic boom. Then since everything was so fresh everything was a trigger. I ended up having to bow out of my job and seek help. I sought out a therapist I knew, but the symptoms and the now almost 2 months of sleep deprivation were too much. I decided to go to the ER told them what had happened and been happening and they referred me to a trauma center for PTSD. The center was alittle slow on the uptake of how severe my symptoms were and how far along my sleep problems were. After about a month or so there my symptons were worsening and they were obvious now my sleep had become such an issue. I was being recommended inpatient treatment, and after a couple of weeks of trying to make it work and stick it out i entered Psychosis because of the sleep deprivation. I was sent inpatient and my sleep barely improved but i was stabilized and put of lithium and seroquel. after leaving the hospital and entering an IOP my sleep still wasn't improving. My panic and anxiety and other symptoms had finally left but still no sleep. The seroquel would sedate me, but i would not sleep. Finally Just about a week ago i caught some nights of real sleep and it felt so good. But now once again my sleep is fleeting me.

Im feeing desperately lost in this. And Im tired of being tired and feeling awful all the time.

Dose anyone have any real advice as to how to train my body for sleep. I believe i may be going to a sleep study soon but I'm not sure how much that is going to help me. I know that healing takes time, but i need to be headed in the right direction. So please, if anyone is aware of ways to train your self to fall asleep, any type of therapy..facility even. I would be greatly appreciated. My body needs to re-lean its parasympathetic state. I feel as though I'm deteriorating day by day.-Mike

11 Replies

  • Feeling safe and warm helps me. But I'm down in sleep this week. I just rely on the fact that when I'm really tired I'll just pass out basically. On some nights if I'm not sleeping I might listen to music or wrap myself in a blanket and sit for a while.

    I tend to turn up the heating a little too high in the evening so that I get drowsy. I also only have one very dim lampstand on for several hours before bedtime. I like soft fabrics near me in an evening so I feel comfortable. I like nice sheets on the bed that feel good on the skin. I like duvets rather than blankets so I don't feel trapped. If I wake startled I can be out of bed and on my feet in one movement - a bit like a cat.

    I've used a Sleepcycle app in the past to track how restless I was and how much sleep I might be getting.

  • thanks, i do try some of those things, my body has been wired to be on alert at all times is its difficult, its hard to take my mind out of that heightened state but i will try some of your recommendations.

  • Being alert all the time is part of this damn condition. We all feel for you with that one

  • Have a look on YouTube for 'Emotional Freedom Technique for sleep or insomnia'. It looks a bit simplistic tapping points on your hand, face and torso and repeating statements but it really does help to calm the nervous system. it has similar principles to Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing used for trauma and PTSD. You can practice the technique watching the youtube videos, so it is worth giving it a try. I hope you get some sleep soon and do try to find a therapist, preferably an EMDR one or a CBT Therapist specialising in trauma.

  • thanks i was actually recommended EMDR by a current therapist at this place...and would i try the emotional freedom technique before bed or throughout the day? and would you recommend 'David Delight Pro'?..i had been looking into it. its light and sound therapy

  • EFT can be used as and when you need it. However, avoid doing it in public- you will draw strange looks! You can use the tapping for a range of problems e.g., for anxiety - you just need to rephrase the statements ....... even though I am anxious about (fill in the blank, e.g., the dentist, spider, meeting new people, etc.), I fully and completely accept myself. See the YouTube videos.

    Practice good sleep hygiene - set your bed time and rise time and stick to it, prior to bed time do relaxing activities (warm bath, reading, listen to music), when you get into bed you can do your EFT (sitting or lying down). If you wake up during the night or after a bad dream/nightmare you can repeat the EFT to calm the nervous system. If you cannot get back to sleep within 20-30 minutes, then get up and do non-stimulating activity (reading, ironing, etc.) and only when you feel tired return to bed.

    I can't comment on the light and sound therapy - EFT is developing a sound evidence base and it is free and simple to learn. Take care about spending a lot of money on treatments on websites, unless you are financially able and don't mind losing money if it doesn't work!! Try the EFT, it's free and easy to learn, you've nothing to lose and if it works you can use it for other problems.

  • When i am at my very worst i sleep after someone else gets up. It seems that hearing them bumbling about makes me feel safer.

    I also find routine helpful. Both in getting ready for bed, and in getting up. When my clock needs resetting I go to bed at midnight and whether I slept or not I get up at 7. No naps during the day. By the third night my body gives in. But then my problems have never been as bad as yours.

    I did find one thing I read helpful. No blue lights before bed. No back lit technology after you have eaten your evening meal. The blue light spectrum affects sleep hormones. No tv in bed either. Read books and have the radio on quietly. Having a radio or music playing at a volume where you have to focus to hear it helps to stop nightmares and can help keep you asleep.

    I also have blackout curtains but have a bedside light with a yellow spectrum bulb should I need to make sure the ghoulies and ghoulies aren't there.

    Hope you can take something from this

  • I have to sleep with a fan running, which may sound irritating to some, but for me it drowns out all the bumps in the night that startle me awake. Trigger.... Don't know if your religious or spiritual or not, But u know how people count sheep?, well if im having a hard time I pray until I fall asleep. Doesn't work all the time but enough to mention it. Whether you believe in the big guy up stairs or not, I will for sure say a prayer for your body to fall asleep after you hit the bed, and for you to get R.E.M. sleep. A good sleep that will refresh you in the A.M. Big hugs! :O)

  • thanks everyone, feel free to write down any other suggestions

  • I can sympathise Mike. "I can make you sleep" by Paul McKenna challenged my way of thinking and how I was concentrating on the fear of not sleeping and the nights when I was awake all night, and not on the nights when I did sleep. Have to keep reminding myself though as it's easy to forget!

    You might find it useful.

  • I have to sleep with my window open. I live near a motorway and the traffic can soothe me. However, I am like others I put up with my night terrors and insomnia because eventually I sleep so deep because I am so shattered. PTSD is cruel but it is also a part of our healing. My youngest son noticed some self harm wounds. When he asked what it was. My reply was it's just a part of what is wrong with me. That is what these things are. We live with them we will eventually manage them.

    Hopefully, eventually even free of them.


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