Breaking the Cycle of Insomnia with…. Benadryl??? | Print |  E-mail
Sunday, 22 February 2009
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This whole, awesome TBI (traumatic brain injury) web blog is an inspiring story in and of itself. Put  together by someone who’s dealing with it every day, it’s designed to inspire, educate and assist any of the 5.8 million people (and growing fast every day) affected directly by TBI, plus their families, docs and therapists. And it does - a very good thing, too, because until recently, very little was known about TBI, even though the incidence has been growing exponentially, thanks to sports injuries, domestic abuse, auto accidents, bombs and IED’s – improvised explosive devices.

The blogger, who remains nameless for reasons that are fully explained on the site, is brilliant, honest, thorough, credible, responsible and wonderfully informative (and I’m not just saying this because she likes guided imagery!).  Please send people you know with TBI or suspected TBI over there.  It’s a great resource.  She fills in a lot of blanks.

One of the more common symptoms of TBI is sleep disturbance. (We’re hoping a new study with imagery and TBI will start soon at a V.A. hospital in Arizona – stay tuned!) This blogger writes about her insomnia a lot.  (I’m assuming this is a her. Not sure if that’s ever spelled out or if it’s even true...but she uses a lot of explanation points for a guy!!!)

In this blog, the allergy medication, Benadryl, gets a shout-out.  Even though the writer is a little chagrined about having to use it, she’s reporting truthfully on how it helped her break a vicious cycle of insomnia.  I’m going on record here to say that I think this was a good move.  Insomnia can indeed take on a life of its own, creating a level of exhaustion that is utterly resistant to normal efforts at falling asleep. Break the cycle with meds if you need to, then get back to your regular ways of dealing with it.  

Here is her posting:

Finally got eight hours of sleep…

Okay, so I succumbed. I took something last night to let me sleep through the night. I am not a big fan of sleeping pills, but Benadryl allergy and sinus does it for me. I did wake up once overnight, but I was able to get back to sleep, which is huge for me.

I also got a three-hour nap in, yesterday, which is no small matter.

I get to the point, sometimes, where I’m so tired I literally cannot rest. My nerves are all a-jangle, and I wake up with my heart pounding so hard I feel like it’s going to jump out of my chest.

It helps, if I listen to Belleruth Naparstek’s “Stress Hardiness Optimization” CD — the last two cuts on the CD for relaxation and restful sleep. I put on my headphones, set the volume fairly low, and let myself just listen and relax… and I usually can get to sleep.

Unless I’m over-tired, which I’ve been for a few weeks, now.

This morning, my mouth tastes funky with that after-Benadryl chemical taste. And I’m still a little out of it. But I slept till 7:00 this morning, which is a real change form the past couple of weeks of waking up at 3:30… 4:30… 5:00 and not being able to get back to sleep.

I’ll try again tonight to sleep without some help, but if it comes down to it, I may take something again.

All I know is, I need to sleep.



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Comments (7)Add Comment
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written by Christine , February 24, 2009
That's intriguing because once I took Benadryl for nighttime allergies and my nurse practitioner warned me that Benadryl can create a rebound insomnia effect which is bad news for an insomniac like myself. So I stopped. Congratulations on finding something that works!

To all fellow insomniacs out there--what has worked for me is acupuncture with moxibustion 2-3 times/week, yoga therapy and the Richard Shane Ph.D., SleepEasily program which teaches you a certain kind of breathing called the sleep breath .
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written by Belleruth, February 25, 2009
I'll check these interventions out. Thanks for the input! Never heard of "sleep breath" before, but it sounds like a good idea.
BR
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written by BrokenBrilliant, February 25, 2009
Holy smokes - thanks for the shout-out!

I just checked my blog stats, and lo and behold, all these folks are finding their way to my blog through your site. Thank you - thank you - thank you for helping me get the word out.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI or Mild TBI) is a vast and rampant problem and feeds into countless personal and interpersonal ills throughout our country -- and the world. And yet, it's routinely ignored and trivialized, both by the (often well-meaning) medical profession and TBI survivors and family and friends alike. My own most recent 'mild' TBI almost destroyed my life, four years ago, and it's only through painstaking attention to details I routinely missed over the years, that I've been able to fashion a constructive response to it.

And I have to say - not because I'm trying to get on anybody's good side, but because it's *true* - that guided imagery made it possible for me to start approaching my TBI issues in a constructive and methodical way. It wasn't until I was able to chill out my jangled nervous system and take the edge off that brutal biochemical cascade of fight/flight/OMG, that I was able to step back and see my life for what it was -- hundreds of thousands of dollars "lighter" than it had been in 2004, burdened by serial poor decisions about the work I pursued, and suffering terribly from my neglecting important things -- like taking care of my house, my car, my body, my family... the works.

Again, I'm saying this all because it's very true. I strongly suspect I'd be in even worse trouble than I am right now, if it weren't for the self-managed help I got from guided imagery. Being the one in control of the experience made it possible for me to approach the 'monsters under my bed' on my own terms. Having the explanations of how it was going to work, prior to each episode also helped me, as my brain has been injured a number of times over the course of my life, and my short-term memory is not the best. I probably never would have bothered with the guided imagery, if I hadn't actually heard the "mechanics" of it discussed in terms I can understand -- in the Invisible Heroes book, on this website, and at one of the BRN conferences. I'm a software engineer, so the underlying explanation is very important to me. It also helps that the narration on the Healing Trauma and Stress Hardiness Optimization doesn't ooze 'sticky sweetness', like some of the other guided imagery I've heard -- which totally turned me off.

I owe a lot to the positive impact of guided imagery -- Belleruth, here's a BIG thanks from my family, my bank account, my employer, my mortgage, and my sanity! (Not to mention, me ;)
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written by BR, February 27, 2009
My pleasure. You've got a terrific site that performs a much needed service.
BR
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written by Leslie, March 04, 2009
I was having a panic attack earlier, thinking I was having an allergic reaction, and took two benedryl. I figured that it would calm me down and knock out the allergic reaction (if there was one) in one shot. Wrong....... I fell asleep and an hour and a half later I woke up to my heart pounding and racing. I researched Benedryl online and read that it can cause these symptoms! Now what? Is this common? How do I make it go away?
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written by Phantasm22, May 17, 2010
Benadryl is dangerous if taken in large doses. It shut down my kidneys completely for almost a whole day, and severely hindered liver function. I was using it as a sleep aide, and I woke up in so much pain that a shattered ankle or kidney stones look like a stubbed toe. My heart rate was over 180 and I couldn't breathe. It caused a a fever of 102 that held for several days. I was blind for over 12 hours and lacked the ability to stand or speak for a full day. The vessles in my eyes turned blood red and leaked blood for a few hours. I had back spasms, severe abdominal pain, vomiting and loss of cognitive function.

Short and sweet, benadryl can kill. It's extremely painful and is not a decent sleep aide. I almost died for taking a few too many just to counter insomnia.

If you want/need a sleeping pill, benadryl is not the answer. It kills, plain and simple. All organs are rendered useless and destroyed in the most agonizing manner possible. Alcohol is less damaging to the system than this OTC medicine.

Heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, stomach, digestive tract, muscles.... all gonners. Avoid benadryl as a sleep aide. It WILL kill you.
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written by Bonnie , October 25, 2010
Hey,
So I am writing this after having slept through all my classes...oops. I don't know your story, but I am so glad to hear someone who is going through dealing with TBI and is willing to share. I too am dealing with it. It's funny I keep thinking it's done with; I received my injury 2.5 years ago. But I have come to the conclusion that this is something that never really goes away.
Okay, sorry, to the point. Yeah, I took benadryl last night after waking up at 2:30. I know what you mean about insomnia! I foolishly took a benadryl because I knew otherwise I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep. Well, I ended up sleeping through the night, which is great, but I slept until 2:00 in the afternoon! When I woke up I was so lethargic that it was hard for me to even lift my arms and this lasted for like an hour and half after waking. I also had some swelling of my face and tongue. I don't know what that was about! BUT my point is if you have experienced a traumatic brain injury, you have surely learned that the brain is a highly complex and intricate machine and that everything is connected. SO just be CAREFUL when dealing with medicines of any sort. I am not nearly as careful as I should be and I have had some bad experiences because of it. Though, I must say, it sounds as if you have figured out what works for you and that's wonderful. TBI is really a case by case thing. Just a word to the wise. :)

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