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Can't sleep, yet I get nightmares

Discussion in 'Withdrawal Symptoms' started by DK01, Feb 14, 2015.

  1. DK01

    DK01 Active Contributor

    I've been trying to give up smoking for some time now, with varying degrees of success. Whenever I've managed to go for longer than 2 weeks, I have the same 2 side effects, which on paper should be mutually exclusive. I have terrible insomnia, which somehow is punctuated by short bursts of sleep, which are in turn punctuated by nightmares. No your typical nightmares either, more psychological nightmares where the threat of danger feels much worse than actually being in danger. Worse thing is you don't wake up (cos you were never sleeping)

    Anyone experienced this? Any advice?
  2. JohnBrock

    JohnBrock Active Contributor

    I think (don't hold me accountable) that this is probably a pretty common side effect of substance withdrawal, your body is out of it's perceived 'natural' balance, and this manifests itself in insomnia and night terrors (which I think is what you're experiencing)
    Lostboy8731 and DK01 like this.
  3. DK01

    DK01 Active Contributor

    LOL @ night terrors! I better not let word get out that I'm suffering from these, seeing as I'm a 32 year old man in excellent physical condition :):)

    Seriously though, thanks for that, it seems like pretty good insight. The body is all balances and feedback systems, and what goes in must come out so it would appear there's already scientific basis for that analysis
    Lostboy8731 likes this.
  4. Plus

    Plus Member

    I've dealt with this quite recently. I'm in the process of giving up smoking (about 5 months in) and for the last 3 or so months I've had terrible insomnia as well, almost each time I sleep I have such a horrid lucid nightmare that I just don't want to fall asleep anymore.
    I find it kind of funny though, so many people do so much work for a lucid dream and here I am trying to avoid it. And the trouble with it is that since I know I'm dreaming, I have to come to a conclusion within the nightmare in order to wake up. Almost every time I've found a solution I've been able to instantly wake up, I'm worried one day I won't be able to find one.


    I don't have much advice to give other than perhaps cutting out caffeine or staying away from lit screens before bed (it causes something to happen in your brain that makes it harder to sleep) but I definitely know where you're coming from!
  5. JohnBrock

    JohnBrock Active Contributor

    All in all the worst thing you can probably do is worry about it, just attempt to relax as much as possible, and when you experience problems sleeping, engage in some other activity, such as reading, or watching a movie et cetera, while the problem may indeed be caused by the withdrawal, it may worsen due to the pressure and anxiety often accompanying insomnia :D
  6. Charli

    Charli Community Champion

    I've experienced this and I agree that it is no fun at all. I think the best solution is really to just ride it out. Don't expect years worth of a bad habit to be solved in just a few weeks. It will take months or even years to totally get over it but it will be worth the effort so just stay strong and stay on the path.
  7. Peninha

    Peninha Community Champion

    I never heard of something like don't sleeping and having nightmares. I have dreamed that I could not sleep and that is exhausting... I hope you get better soon!
  8. Jane

    Jane Active Contributor

    I haven't had this as a withdrawal symptom, but I did have this happen when I was trying out a prescription medication a couple year ago. It would keep me up, but as I would fall asleep, I would have these horrible nightmares that I couldn't wake myself up from. When I would finally wake up, I couldn't fall asleep again so then it would create these vicious cycle of insomnia. When I'd finally become so exhausted that I'd pass out, the same thing would happen again. :(

    Unfortunately, only time was the fix for me. Eventually my body adjusted to the change (a few months, if I'm being honest) and I got back to a normal sleep schedule again.
  9. pandabear1991

    pandabear1991 Active Contributor

    I had these sleepless terrors along with Insomnia often while I was detoxing from Cymbalta 60 mg. I hate to say it, but this may be a good option until you over come the cigarette dependency completely--gain weight by eating the heck out of protein rich meats, cheeses and vegetables. Cut the sugar, caffeine, pork, chips, or anything that you know will make your more irritable. Drink whole milk and water like a fish.

    It may sound silly, but it will help you get back to sleeping, and eventually without the night terrors. Once you can resist the cigarettes no questions asked, presume a normal diet again. I would also strongly suggest daily outdoor physical activity. Doesn't have to be something strenuous, just something to get you outside and into the sun. Not getting enough sunlight can also affect sleeplessness. Hope this helps or that you find something effective.
  10. amethyst

    amethyst Community Champion

    It seems to me to me that you might be "self-medicating" yourself with cigarettes to help you deal with some deep-seated psychological and/or emotional pressures that you are experiencing. Perhaps a sympathetic hypnotherapist might be able to help you unlock some of the issues that you are dealing with. Another way would be to work with meditation, breathing exercises, and herbal remedies that will help you with the symptoms that you are experiencing.
  11. dyanmarie25

    dyanmarie25 Community Champion

    I have never experienced something like that, but I occasionally get nightmares too and sometimes suffer from insomnia, however it's not really that bad. I think these things that are happening to you are some side effects of your smoking habit. If you try to minimize or lessen your smoking, I think it will somehow bring a big change upon you.
  12. jeremy2

    jeremy2 Community Champion

    I was never an active smoker neither did i experience such kind of withdrawal symptoms. It looks to me that their is a psychological aspect in your case and the sooner you unravel the causes of this condition, the better. I've heard of situations where hypnosis was recommended in such scenarios so i wouldn't hesitate to urge you to give it a try.
  13. Lizel

    Lizel Community Champion

    I suffered from nightmares after the death of my father and they were truely terrible.
    I used to wake up in the middle of the night and throw up because it was such a stress for me.
    I went to the doctor and told him about that and he gave me some sort of pills and they helped me.
    Maybe you should do that too?
  14. Sparkster

    Sparkster Community Champion

    I've never experienced this, at least not to this degree, from giving up smoking. I have, however, had similar experiences when giving up much more potent substances (such as crack, meth, etc). I don't think this sounds like normal nightmares or night terrors. It actually sounds a lot like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which I have suffered after being subject to several years of abuse. PTSD is usually characterized by flashbacks and nightmares of fragmented real-life memories which caused trauma.
  15. Jane

    Jane Active Contributor

    This is actually really good advice. I don't know about the milk itself, but paying attention to what you're eating can make a HUGE difference. I do remember at one point that I had started using caffeine to get me through some of the days where I hadn't slept the night before, but then that caused a vicious cycle because then I was dealing with the side effects of that, too...and ultimately it affected how I slept the following night, too.
    pandabear1991 likes this.
  16. pandabear1991

    pandabear1991 Active Contributor

    I started drinking the milk at least 2 times a day to help with acid re-flux. Just seemed to help ease my stomach and keep my head-spinning/splitting withdrawals away for longer time frames (Cymbalta 60mg, cold turkey). But I suppose decaffeinated green tea could work all the same if not better? The milk did make me gain weight faster, so if your trying to avoid that for sure, decaffeinated green tea (no sugar, can substitute with honey) would probably work best.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
  17. Sparkster

    Sparkster Community Champion

    I think green tea and honey is probably a good idea. Personally, I have been avoiding milk due to the fact that I had calcium/kidney stones recently which caused a few other problems. It's not me that needs it though, I don't have nightmares! lol. Of course, dreams are basically just your subconscious mind processing data, so it's possible that it could be a result of things going on in your life right now.
  18. bombshell

    bombshell Member

    I've never experienced anything like this, but my ex would get night terrors and it's what made him drink until he passed out.

    I'd recommend seeing a therapist or doctor before it's too late. Extreme insomnia will mess with your head, even cause hallucinations. I hope it works out and good luck to you.
    pandabear1991 likes this.
  19. rainbowguard

    rainbowguard Senior Contributor

    I have similar problems as well. When I could not sleep, sometimes I fell into that dreamlike state where I saw dreams yet I imagined them as they were the real things and I did not have the power to control them. Fortunately, most of the dreams that I see that way are not that unpleasant. There are times where I would see nightmares as well but those cases are rare. Anyway, I usually take flu medicine to be able to sleep better. I know it's bad so I only do it when I really need some sleep for the next day.
  20. Sparkster

    Sparkster Community Champion

    This is very true. Sleep deprivation can potentially be extremely dangerous (and is something I've studied and written about). Sleep deprivation can actually cause clinical insanity after 72 hours. I think a lot of drug users that experience delusions and hallucinations actually experience them due to sleep deprivation, rather than as a result of the drugs they take (but not always of course).