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Sleeping issues

Hello to everyone who reads this.

I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who replied to my 1st blog last week after i became aware of ICU steps.

A lot of very very kind words and encouragement.It is also sad to hear of all your experiences because i know what you have/are going through.But hey we are all alive and that's the thing to hang on to! Where theres life theres hope.

I have identified a lot of people have suffered from three things having been through ICU


2.The feeling of lack of support

and mostly

3.Sleeping problems.

I would be pleased to hear from people regarding advice when trying to sleep at night be it medication or something else.I drop of like a light when its busy during the day but at night it seems almost impossible sometimes.

Also, does any one have experience of going back to work after their stay in Hospital and the reaction from their employers?

Best wishes


7 Replies

Hi Richard,

It can take a very long time to get back to normal sleeping patterns, as it is often thought by relative that when you are sedated you are sleeping, when in reality you are awake 24/7 as you are in an induced coma with your brain working overtime trying to workout what has happened, I still find sleeping at night a problem at times over 2 years on from ICU, I was advised by a psychologist to try and avoid to much stimulus in the evening like watching or reading something that may play on your mind at night, also the breathing technique of breathing in for the count of 7 and out for 11 it's meant to relax the body, I hope this may be of some help to you.

Unfortunately I can't help with the going back to work and employers reactions as I was self employed.

Best wishes



Hello Bill

Thank you for your reply!

I had not thought about it that way.You are right when you say the Brain would be working overtime,i suppose that is why the Hallucinations were so strong!

I will try the breathing technique and see what happens.

Best wishes



I posted this a little while ago but the questions seem to sink very quickly, thought I would repost it here. I am sure it's easier for me to look at, since currently I sleep well, and I am grateful for that.

I think sleeping tablets are risky. Because if you learn to sleep with them, when are you going to get off them, and sleep without? What happens when the dose you're on isn't enough and you have to go up. And up. And on to more addictive drugs. The reason drs are wary about prescribing them is along these lines, because their use has produced thousands of people addicted to controlled drugs.

It's tough, and it takes massive persistence but really good sleep hygiene will start to work. A dark room (blackout material is relatively cheap and easy enough to stitch into your curtains). A warm bath. Make your room only for sleeping in, and a peaceful place to be (tidy, no chaos or worrying papers about, etc). No caffeine from after lunch. Eat at least 2 hours before bed, and avoid dairy products. If you find a milky drink good, use soya or rice milk. At least 45 minutes exercise during the day, and get some natural light in the mid-late afternoon. No daytime naps, and get up at the same time every day.

I've managed to drop a few of these now, as I sleep well, but when I was struggling I was religious about it. I don't need an addiction to add to the post traumatic stress symptoms so I wouldn't take drugs for it. If my sleep worsens, I add in a bit more discipline to my sleep hygiene. A very wise lady suggested to me for dreams the stuff about your room only being for sleeping in, plus really watch what you are feeding your mind, during the day, with television being the huge culprit, but also reading material, music, what you talk and think about. At the time I was reading a lot of crime fiction, and complaining of vivid, violent dreams - well, it should hardly take a genius to work that out, but I needed it pointing out. I can now read some, but not before bed, and I have almost cut out television. Reading before bed is now gentle, not controversial, spiritual, encouraging.

There are more suggestions that I've probably missed but this is I think standard psychological advice for sleep issues. Sleeping tablets for short term issues, eg. the first few days after a bereavement, are one thing, but a chronic problem like many of us have needs a long term solution in my opinion. It took me a while to stop wanting a quick fix, and be prepared to make some serious changes, but I sleep, and if I do as it's been suggested, my dreams are less frightening.

I hope this helps someone, somewhere.


Thank you very mush for posting your reply!

All makes perfect sense to me,but as you said we all seek the quick fix!

What puzzles me i could sleep like a baby on a Train surrounded by football supporters but when i am in a dark room in the quiet i find myself just lying there.It helps when wind and rain are pounding at the window.I belive its a comfort thing knowing a noise means that i am alive!

Anyway,thank you again and i will try some of the points that you have suggested.

Best wishes



The idea of exercise is always good unless you are like me and find exercise near on impossible. I get tried shopping with the trolley in front and supporting me around.

As for my employer

I was in ICU of 32 days and 8 days in standard ward. My employer wanted my manager to visit me and ask when "I was expecting to be back at work" While I was in a coma at the time and my wife had been told that I would not survive the night, on more than one occasion. Once they realised that I could not answer them they waited until I came out. Just over a week later my team manager came to my home and was shocked to see what losing three and half stone and being critically ill does to you. However still asked when I was coming back? I was just starting to move about with the aid of a zimmer. I had to see their company doctor after a few months (who misdiagnosed me) and after 6 months I was back on a phased start to ease me back in. On My first day I was informed that I would be issued a written warning for the time I was off work. I countered this with the fact that on my application, I had informed them that I had breathing problems and a heart condition. So unless they can prove I was at fault I will take it further. I thought this would happen and got in touch with the disability commission who said they will back me and take them to court. They did not issue the warning after they took advice :)


Dear Offcut

I am really gratefull to you for your reply.Can i say that what i have just read is absolutley terrible,what planet are some peolple on??

I must admit i did nit get the grief that you got from your employer but when i went back there was just NO understanding and no give or take with regards to hours worked or working had Heart problems/operation/coma like yourself but when i took a small heater in and hid it under my desk as i was feeling the cold, i was promptly informed as no one else in the business had this luxury then i couldnt either!!

The general thought pattern by colleagues and directors was well if your back to work get on with it. I decided to leave.They do not deserve me.

I am really shocked the more i read your words it is below the belt.

I am going to my first ICU steps meeting in 2 weeks and with your permission i would like to quote your blog at the meeting as i really do feel employers need to be educated on what it is like to have gone through such an experience.We need support NOT ridicule!

It gets easier with support and a big thank you to you for yours!

Best wishes



Sorry for the late reply. Please feel free to quote anything I have written.

I am the sort of person that will speak his mind if I think I am right. I have over the years had problems with employers even though they are aware of my problems and limits.

I tried a job that was as near self employed as it could get (I was told) it involved standing in mall walkways and talking to customers as and when. I took a small folding stool to use when it was quiet as I cannot stand for long. To be told that was not good enough and lose the chair. I moved on. My Last employer used the disabled bay for their van as it was then easier to load. (I am a Blue Badge owner) If we had clients coming I was told on many occasions to move my car to a layby some distance away and then moaned becuase I took so long to get back. I have had my heart condition flair up again and been off work for 12months awaiting a procedure.


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