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I Need Help Sleeping

Since leaving ICU in May last year I have had trouble sleeping. My doctor's surgery has a no sleeping pill policy and have suggested lying still and emptying the mind and willing my self to sleep. This is not possible for someone with PTSD. I have tried Kalms & similar products, but nothing. Can anyone please suggest something that could help me sleep?

9 Replies

Think of yourself in a dark room. (This may sound strange but bare with it you will know where the doors are) Open a a door to a darker room and each time you go through the door it is darker. this has worked for me and a few others I have told.

I must be honest it seems it is the bed that affects my sleeping, because if I wake I have an urge to get out no matter what the time is.


This sounds stupid, but have you ever played spider solitaire? I find it fascinating and compulsive. I play it in bed at night, on my laptop, I will be enjoying the game, and suddenly wake up to find it's morning, and my laptop is still balanced on my chest. I don't usually sleep for more than four hours, and I don't move in my sleep since being in ICU, but four hours are better than none.

I don't suppose it would work for other people, but why not try it.


i would have a few pints of beer myself(serious) if that fails go out for a run around the park, you need something physically demanding


poor you: to be honest, I'd change my GP - to have a 'no sleeping pill' policy is ridiculous. Have you tried the Co-Op's 'SleepAid' tablets, you can get them at a CoOP chemist and they sometimes work for me. Alternatively, try counting backwards from 100.

Sadly what works for one person won't for another - it's a bit trial and error, you have to find what suits you. But if your sleeping gets really out of order, and you become exhausted, then I think you should seek out a better GP


I have trouble sleeping still, along with many in same position,It may sound strange but sleepers dont always work, I take zopiclone and only manage 2-3 hrs before waking.Have you thought about sleeping when you can (power naps), day or night,This has stopped me feeling exhausted and im not as irritable.


As has been suggested I would change g.p. I am sure you can find one who understands. Zopiclone are a good help to get you to sleep but you may need to look for ways do geal with underlying problems if you keep waking. If you do keep waking than as suggested try sleeping when you can. you may find that the P.T.S.D requires a stronger sleeping tablt but still need advice from good g.p.


I agree with changing your GP. For me the problem is not so much getting to sleep but the vivid dreams or nightmares I have when I am asleep. This is getting worse the longer I am out of the ICU. I have a combination of Valium and sleeping tablets. But you need to understand that sleeping tablets will only give you a maximum of six hours sleep. I'm still working on it but I think the answer will end up being that I get four good hours sleep each night and a couple of power naps during the day. I don't know what causes the problem but it seems to be a major one and the most common thing mentioned on this site. If anyone has any suggestions on reducing the dreams and nightmares that would be most welcome. The most important thing I have to do in dealing with these is to make sure that I clear them out of my head and concentrate on other things that are more pleasurable such as music and television without ads. I have taken to buying television series and watching the whole series over the period of a week or fortnight. If I stay away from violence and horror I find the vivid dreams and nightmares are reduced. Stress and thinking about business seem to make them worse.


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.


I agree that you have to be careful with sleeping pills. I will never take more than 2 in a week and try not to take any at all but I think I have got used to less hours and broken sleep. My wife has said that I am in such a deep sleep when I do sleep, that she cannot see or hear me breath. Which ironically has affected her sleep.


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