Posted 4/19/2013 9:23 PM (GMT -7)
I haven't taking any actual sleeping pills, but I do take Tizanidine (muscle relaxer) and it works wonders. We settled on this early vs. sleeping pills because it doesn't carry the same problems that many sleeping pills do.
Some things I figured out about sleep:
-If I take my muscle relaxer and stay upright - at the computer, watching shows, whatever - then I won't usually get sleepy. I take my iPhone to bed and read a book on it in sleep mode so the screen is dark until I get sleepy, this works well for me. At first it would take me quite a while to fall asleep, but gradually the time shortened.
-I used to wake up every night for hours at a time. At first I would get up and go read or watch a show, computer or whatever. (See first point!). To re-train my sleep brain I would stay in bed, take a muscle relaxer (or half) and lay quietly waiting for sleep, after a period of time I let myself read for a while. As I started having success with this method I then stopped taking the muscle relaxer, still waited a time, then would read a little - then only if I couldn't get to sleep in a reasonable time I would take the muscle relaxer. It took quite a while, but I gradually got to the point where now when I wake up from the pain I shift positions, adjust pillows and fall back to sleep. A lot of the time now I don't even remember waking up to do it, but I know I do.
Of course, in great pain nights sometimes all bets are off and I have to get up and do something for it - heat, patches, gel, stretching, muscle relaxer or whatever.
Hopefully your doctor can help you work out a plan to re-train your sleep. I'm not saying it's easy, but for most people I think it really is achievable.
One other thing that made a real difference for me, is NOT thinking about the sleep I am losing, or counting the hours of sleep I "might" get, or worrying about being tired the next day! Those thoughts can cause me to lie awake at night. :)