Friday, August 17, 2012

Insomnia Update

I'm coming back as a cat in my next life!

Wow, it's been a long time, eh? Sorry to leave you guys hanging. I'm just sitting here enjoying a cool, autumn-like morning (I love this weather!) and a cup of tea and I thought it would be a good time to do an update on my last post.

So, last time I checked in I was in the throes of early waking insomnia. Not fun at all. I bit the bullet and went to see my old O.M.D. (Dr. of Oriental Medicine, which is more advanced than a regular acupuncture degree) to get an herbal prescription. She examined me and took my pulses and she knew exactly what was up: a big imbalance in my heart energy, a classic underlying cause of insomnia and dream disturbed sleep (check and check!) which makes sense, since summer is the fire element/heart season.
If you have an imbalance in a particular element/organ, it will tend to flare and be exacerbated during the corresponding season (more on that here.)
This imbalance is secondary to my long-standing issues with kidney (read: adrenal) energy and is just a downstream symptom of that problem.

So, she formulated a custom herbal powder for me to take. I went up to northern Michigan for my summer trip and continued to wake at 5:30 every morning, but I was usually able to fall back to sleep as long as I had taken Benedryl the night before. Benedryl is not ideal, however, since it tends to deplete acetylcholine and when you deplete your acetylcholine, your short term memory suffers (which mine definitely did!)

So, I continued on, taking my herbs and my Seriphos (to inhibit early cortisol release) and I continued being tired all the time. It can be frustrating waiting for a regimen to take effect, but there usually isn't a quick fix.

Then, in the last two weeks, I began to sleep through the night. I had discontinued the Benedryl at the beginning of August, so I knew that wasn't it. I was no longer waking at 5:30/6 and if I did wake a little earlier than I wanted (usually only about an hour early), I was able to roll over and fall back to sleep. It took about a month for the herbs to start working their magic. I did go through a week or so of intense, excessive dreaming, which leaves you feeling exhausted when you wake, but now that seems to be easing up, as I haven't had that happen in 4 nights now.

Anyway, I'm definitely sleeping so much more normally and my daytime energy has improved just in the last few days, which is a relief. I've a few had days here and there with intense fatigue, so this feels like the light at the end of the tunnel.
I could still do better as far as sleep hygiene and getting to bed a bit earlier, but you know me: ever the night owl... I'll have to keep working on that.



  1. Glad to see you are back, I love reading about your approach with your health issues as mine seem to be quite similar.

    This is the first year I have dealt with early waking insomnia myself, and it was not fun. I found mine stemmed from a serotonin deficiency - I am taking 5-htp and back to sleeping like a baby. :)

    1. A friend of mine had mentioned serotonin deficiency as a potential cause. I'm glad you were able to solve your sleep problem. It's definitely no fun!


  2. We are all facing insomnia from time to time. Point is to work on our self constantly and to be positive!