FROM AWAKE TO ZZZZZBy John Wiedman
Towering Pines Press, Inc.
Note to Readers I began writing this book in mid-October, 1997. I had started a program to cure my insomnia the first week in October, and I could already tell that the steps I was taking were working better than I could have ever imagined. I completed my first draft at the end of 1997. I had always felt as though the solution I used to cure my insomnia might be beneficial to others with the same problem. Even with this belief, I had a hard time letting others view my work, as I had never written anything in my life. My family, who had been somewhat skeptical about my writing the book initially, thought I had done a pretty good job. I was still reluctant to let anyone else see the paper. Finally, I broke down and gave a copy to a friend who happens to be both an insomniac and a doctor. I have always had the greatest respect for him and knew that if he liked my manuscript, I might be on to something. I was pleasantly surprised when he gave me some encouragement to have the work published.
I now had the nerve to send the paper to others. I gave three copies to other physician friends and several other copies to people that I knew to have insomnia. I also gave copies to friends and acquaintances who had heard me talking about the book and requested a copy. Additionally, I sent the manuscript to a handful of insomnia sufferers that I found on the Internet who agreed to give me written feedback after reading the paper. One of my concerns when I wrote the book was that others would find the sections dealing with my personal experiences boring. Instead, I discovered that most of the insomniacs found it somewhat fascinating to read about someone who had suffered through some of the same problems they had. Some of the readers had more severe insomnia, some said theirs wasn't as bad, but most saw at least a little of themselves in the book. I discuss some of their comments in the "Feedback" chapter toward the end of the book.
On the other hand, I was concerned that the doctors would feel as though I was taking unfair shots at the medical community for the lack of knowledge most primary physicians have had in dealing with insomnia. The feedback from the doctors, or at least the way I interpreted it, was also positive, with some saying they would have no problem recommending the book to their patients.
One of the doctors directed me to an article in the December 24, 1997, edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association pertaining to the use of sleeping pills for chronic insomnia. The following are some highlights from the article:
In 1988 Congress created the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research to conduct a comprehensive study of the status of current knowledge and research on sleep disorders. In January, 1993, the Commission delivered its report, Wake Up America: A National Sleep Alert, to Congress. The report, made available by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, includes the following findings:
I found the response to my book from those that knew me very interesting. Even though most were aware of my insomnia, few had any idea of the impact it had on my day to day life. I read that insomniacs somehow muster enough energy to appear to others to be feeling satisfactory. After all, most of us are not hospitalized. There are no cuts or bruises or even bandages or casts to show an outward appearance of trouble. Even though we might have bags under our eyes from lack of sleep, who doesn't? And while some of us complain about not feeling well, others have their problems too. The following statements came from the previously cited Commission report:
When the insomniac does discuss his condition with a physician, he is usually his primary care physician. Consider the following findings from the Commission report (Please remember this report was released in 1993 with one of the emphases being to increase education of sleep disorders in the medical community. I have to think there has been improvement since the time of this report.):
So, what does all of this information tell us? There are a great number of people with sleep problems costing billions of dollar to this country. Many of these people are trying to treat themselves incorrectly or are seeking advice from a medical community that is ill prepared to help.
Placed throughout the text you will find actual postings I have gathered from Internet discussion groups. Most of the postings came from areas designated for sleep disorders, but a few came from other sites. The authors of the posts are from all over the world. I hope you enjoy the inclusion of these remarks. I had never met or talked with any of the parties when they posted the comments. Their posts do not list names or e-mail addresses unless the author specifically requested the information to be included. The posts have not been edited for the most part. If there has been something edited, it was not for the purpose of changing the intent of the post. I also removed a few words that might be offensive to some readers. The remarks appear as they did on the Internet complete with spelling and grammatical errors. I do not want to imply that the statements are made by experts or that the information in them is true. In most cases there is no way of verifying the qualifications of the author nor the accuracy of the text. Anyone can post a comment, and anyone can respond. The information might be written by a sleep professional or by someone who is relating incorrect information. I find the postings very interesting, much like an electronic version of graffiti.
I was becoming pretty excited. I had discovered a way to cure my insomnia. I felt that I could write a book which could help others do the same thing. Knowing that I would really have to struggle with the actual writing, I was nonetheless committed. I knew with my family's help, I could overcome my lack of writing ability. Never mind the grammatical errors, we could correct those. I was more concerned about coming up with coherent sentences that would convey my enthusiasm as well as the actual solution.
My in-laws were in town for the Thanksgiving holidays. Rhonda, my wife, had told them about the miraculous turnaround in my sleep patterns. My father-in-law, never one to mince words, was less than impressed with the idea that I was going to write a book. "What are you going to do, tell them to go to bed and shut their eyes?" After silently thanking him for his constructive criticism, I figured, "What does he know?" He's one of those guys that all of us insomniacs hate, one who say things like, "Well, no, I never have any trouble sleeping. I just lie down and the next thing I know, it's time to get up. Yeah, I go to bed at 10:30 and get up at six every morning. I couldn't sleep late if I wanted. No, I never have anything really bother me when I lie down. Like I said, when it's time to go to sleep, that's what I do."
Well Pop, my father-in-law, may not remember that he also had a fairly severe case of insomnia once when he changed jobs. But, in reality, I should not have thought so badly of him. I am going to try to do exactly what Pop said...help you to go to bed and shut your eyes and go to sleep....all night, without medication. And instead of wondering why he is so lucky to sleep every night, maybe you and I can learn from those that sleep so well rather than asking ourselves, "Why me?"
Please be advised that reading the following can and will be extremely habit forming, resulting in nightly recurrences of extreme drowsiness followed by a state of suspended consciousness, better known as sleep. Do not read the following unless you truly want to cure your insomnia and can tolerate the side effects of regular nightly sleep. You have seen all the articles and books and have heard all the things you need to do to sleep better, and, you are convinced, these things just don't work for you. If you seriously want to end your sleepless nights, I want you to take the time to read the following material and follow the easy steps to improve your sleep. If you are starting this with the outlook that there is nothing that can help you, stop right now. Pull it out again when you have yelled at your children just because you are totally fatigued from no sleep. Pull it out because you did not go to work today after getting two hours sleep the night before. Pull it out because you didn't have the energy to go to your little girl's dance recital. Or pull it out because, even though you did everything you were supposed to do and got through the day, it just wasn't any good. Life isn't meant to be like this. The information contained herein absolutely works, but I need your help also. So, if you are ready, settle back and let's take care of your problem. Otherwise, see you in a couple of weeks.
This book will help you with many insomnia problems. You need to consult with your physician to determine whether or not your insomnia has an underlying cause. A breathing problem during the night such as sleep apnea or the use of certain prescription medications are among several factors that can cause sleeping problems. This book is for you if you feel you have ruled out everything else and know that sleeping pills are not the answer.
Part I THE PROBLEM You are not alone. You will recognize the story and the symptoms
in the following section.
CHAPTER ONEIt's Back
(or Night of the Living Dead... and the Next Day) It's 3:30 a.m. You can't believe it. This is the third night in a row that you have not been to sleep before 4:00 a.m. You have been in and out of bed all night. When you get up, you watch TV on the couch in the den. Within minutes you find yourself dozing and return to bed only to become wide awake once again. Sleep is so close, and then it eludes you. And the more you worry about it, the harder it is to fall asleep. Your meeting tomorrow is very important and you need to be at your best. There is nothing in your life more disruptive or frustrating. Because of your insomnia, you worry about your mental and physical well-being.
You know somewhere there is an answer, but the answer must lie on some greater level than mortal man can understand. The options are simple. The Lord can either answer your prayers, or you can cut a deal with the devil. If you are praying, please continue. (I know my youngest child used to pray for his daddy to sleep better. My wife used to have her prayer group remember me and my problem.) If you are nearing a deal with the devil, cut off all negotiations at this time. I am about to share the answer that will help you get rid of your insomnia.
You know that later today you will feel wasted, and, as a result, your productivity will be below par. This is not fair to you or your employer. But you have tried everything in the world including sleeping pills. Nothing works. All that you are sure of is that this problem will probably be with you again tonight, or, if not tonight, then the next night. And even if it goes away, it will return after a short respite. You would go to a sleep disorder clinic, but you know there is nothing physically wrong with you, and you do not want prescribed sleeping medication or to be referred to a psychologist for evaluation. Aren't the people with mental problems the ones who go to psychologists? There is nothing mentally wrong with you. Besides you have neither the time nor the money to go. Therapy probably wouldn't work anyway.
It is now 4:00 p.m. Somehow you made it through the day. You were so exhausted you were unable to do any productive work, but you did make it to the meeting. You should not get fired, at least not for failing to attend the meeting. Never mind the fact that you were so tired you neglected to finish the proposal that was due today for your most important client. Never mind the fact that your insomnia-induced fatigue, demonstrated in your job performance, is preventing you from being promoted. Today was about survival only. If you can just sleep well tonight, you will get back on track at work tomorrow....hopefully.
Earlier, at lunch today, you fought the urge to go home and take a nap. With a nap you might have been able to be more functional during the afternoon, but you knew better. A nap just would have made things worse. Tonight you and your spouse have been invited by some friends to go out to dinner and a movie. Both of you have been looking forward to this. You dread calling your spouse and telling her once again that you are too tired to go out. All you want to do is go home and crash. You are going to have to cancel the racquetball match with your friends after work also. You always have fun with them, but not today. Life is supposed to be better than this. Much better.
It is now 10:00 p.m. When you first arrived home, you were so sleepy that you thought about taking a nap again. You could have been asleep in two seconds. But you have been there and done that. You knew if you took a nap, your sleep tonight would be worse than the last several nights. As usual, dinner did somewhat revive you. Between 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., although you were still worn out, you felt more alert than you had all day. You had some interaction with your family, but mainly you were tired and irritable. You also realize that, when you feel this tired, you seem to eat more than normal. It's as though your willpower has been suppressed along with the rest of your energy supply, so you end up compounding your overall problems by eating too much. You are physically and mentally exhausted and know that it is critical that you get a good night's sleep. As bedtime approaches you become more anxious knowing you will probably end up tossing and turning once again, repeating the same ritual from hell that you have faced most nights recently. How can you be so tired and still unable to sleep? You need help and you need it right now. There has got to be an answer.
11:00 p.m. You know the drill. As tired as you feel, you are becoming certain that tonight will be no different from the last several. You decide to try to lie down hoping that you are wrong and will find sleep tonight. As a matter of fact, you feel yourself getting really sleepy after laying your head on the pillow. You are almost there. Then POW! You are wide awake again. Exhausted, but wide awake. Perhaps you even dozed off for a minute or two. But the cycle continues. You cannot continue to live like this. "What is the answer?"
CHAPTER TWOMy Credentials
Let me introduce myself. My name is John Wiedman. I am a mortgage broker with a degree in finance from the University of Memphis. I am forty-eight years old. I live in Memphis, TN. I do not have a Ph.D. specializing in clinical psychology from some big name university. I have not been in charge of a center for sleep disturbances for the last fifteen years. I am, however, a professional insomniac (or at least I was until recently). I have had regular bouts of chronic insomnia for more than ten years and sleep problems for much longer than that. I can help you rid yourself of insomnia. And although I am not much of a writer, I will try to present this information as effectively as possible. I am writing this from the perspective of an insomniac. I have found the answer to my insomnia, and I will do my best to convey to you the steps you need to take to treat yours.
I am not attempting to circumvent your relationship with the
medical community. This book is for those of you that have already talked with your
doctor, and nothing short of sleeping pills will provide even temporary relief. My
assistance is directed at those of you that have fallen into regular routines of insomnia
and need to learn the solution to your problem. I think this book should also help those
of you that have recently developed insomnia by showing you how to prevent your problem
from becoming more chronic.
I have tried sleeping pills, antidepressants for sleeping purposes, melatonin, warm milk, exercise in the late afternoon, exercise in the morning, exercise in the evening, sleep clinics, over-the-counter medications (including aspirin, Advil, Benadryl, Nyquil), hot baths, a glass of wine, one or more stiff drinks, "white noise", soft music, TV on, total darkness, night lights, and both the presence and absence of a clock in the bedroom. I have stopped smoking, don't drink coffee, have gone to caffeine-free drinks, and don't take afternoon naps. My wife and I went from a queen size bed to a king size with a firmer mattress. I have used a heating pad and tried sleeping in different positions. If I could not fall asleep, I would get out of bed rather than staying there tossing and turning. Nothing stopped my insomnia-until now.
Depending on my frustration level at any particular time, I would pull out my books and read everything I could get my hands on regarding insomnia. I have symptoms of several classifications of insomnia, caused by several types of stimuli. I have trouble falling asleep as well as staying asleep. My mind races, my mind doesn't race. I have stress, anxiety, and depression (Who wouldn't, with no restful sleep?). I have restless legs syndrome (RLS), periodic leg movements (leg myoclonus-PLMS), night eating disorder, conditioned insomnia, Sunday-night insomnia, my circadian rhythms are screwed up, and now, as I am growing older, I am being told my sleep is not going to be as restful as it was when I was younger. WELL, THAT'S JUST GREAT!!! And don't even get me started right now on sleeping medications or the sleep clinic that costs hundreds of dollars. The doctors at the sleep clinic prescribed a medication for anxiety saying that I was a type A personality. Thanks, but no thanks!
I Did It, So Can You
There was one thing that I always thought about during those many wasted hours. I was going to figure out a way to beat the monster. I would lie there and be so tired and so close to going to sleep, and the monster would grab me again just as I was dozing off. Why me? What have I done to deserve this? Insomnia has literally cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because of my sleeping problems, I left a very good job to work out of my home so that I would not be tied to a schedule. I have done satisfactorily, but nothing like I was doing before. Since that time I have been presented with several opportunities for employment that no normal person would ever have rejected. "Yes, I will be happy to start on Monday. By the way, occasionally I have nights (about 3-4 a week) where I don't sleep very well, and I don't function quite as efficiently as you might like me to. Don't worry though, if I don't get to sleep by 5:00 a.m., I have a rule that I just call in sick". Because of my insomnia, I wouldn't even schedule a haircut appointment until 10:30 in the morning. If I had to attend an early morning meeting the next day (before 10:00), I slept even worse worrying about getting up on time. And how great did I feel when my wife told my son that Dad would not be coming to his early morning soccer game because he did not sleep well last night? Again, all of this has now changed.
I always told myself that when I did figure out
a way to beat my insomnia, I would take my knowledge and help others. When I was awake at
three in the morning, absolutely exhausted, with sleep nowhere in sight, I used to look
for something that would just push me over the top....sleep was so close, yet so far.
There had to be a way. Well, glory, glory, hallelujah! The day has come. I want to share
with you the peace of mind that I have found. Don't let anyone tell you that you will
never sleep normally again because I am living proof that you can. Don't let anyone tell
you because of your age that you will never have a good night's sleep without a sleeping
aid because you can.
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