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    • I have had insomnia for a very long time so I am always looking for relief.

      My specific problem is technically called Maintenance Insomnia. I can fall asleep easily doing basically nothing to promote sleep. No pills, no white noise, etc. But I wake up early in the morning, about 3:30 am or so and cannot get back to sleep. Have been to two different sleep centers and spent nights hooked up to machines for testing. I am not overweight but I do apparently have mild sleep apnea. Have been using a CPAP machine for over a year. Have tried Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. But nothing is helping.

      So I always look for articles about insomnia like this one:

      If you have had great success with any of these "noises" I would love to hear about it. (And any other suggestions!)

    • Hi MM.

      I too sometimes have nights where I wake up 3 or 4 hours before my alarm clock. Other nights I sleep in till 9 am. I have been trying to figure this out, like you. Ruling out the usual suspects like caffeine, alcohol, full bladder, late night meals and heartburn/reflux, reading an electronic screen before lights out (Kindle? Kobo? Ipad?) leaves things like stress (about the next day) and poor sleep environment: noise, dry air, wrong temperature.

      I live in the country where the noise is minimal or zero. I put a humidifier in my room. I have cozy warm fleece blankets on the bed, but keep the room temp around 19 Celsius. No TV or radio. Just a good book and a dim LED light to read by.

      But if I watch the news, eat late, drink a glass of wine, have an afternoon tea or coffee, or am booked for a busy day - I'm in trouble.

    • And last fall while travelling I got to try out a white noise machine in my hotel room. At first it was great, but after a while my subconscious realized the sounds were on a 20 minute cycle. So the rain showers sounded great, until the soundtrack repeated over and over three times an hour. Ditto for the stream, the forest glade, the thundershowers, etc.

    • The fluid intake at night is a very big deal for me. I really try to limit it. I am sure stress is a factor but years ago when this insomnia began I was not as stressed as now. So there has got to be something more. Like you my sleeping situation is pretty good. In fact it sounds a lot like yours. Sigh. And I don't drink alcohol or tea or coffee. Sometimes if I go to bed earlier I wake up a bit earlier, about 2:30 and then sometimes the combination of a fast release melatonin and a bit reading (with a dim LED light) helps.

    • I use foam earplugs and, if there's external noise, I use a small table fan as a white noise machine.

      MountainMom, if you think stress might be a factor, could meditation be helpful?

    • I started having this wake-up-at-3:00am problem for no obvious reason just a bit ago. I have always been able to get a pretty good night’s sleep (except when I was pregnant—weird dreams then). I started to wonder if it was hormonal (the pregnancy thing made me wonder). I got some simple tests done, and sure enough, my hormones and cortisol levels are way out of whack. @MountainMom, you might want to look into this stuff...

    • Thanks for the suggestion. I have tried some meditation but am thinking I might need to get more serious. Mainly just listened to some meditation how-to's and went to one meditation session. Maybe I need more....

    • Thanks for the suggestion. My problems started with menopause. Not sure I want to do anything with drugs, hormones, etc. But I will ask my doctor at my next appointment. At the sleep clinics they seemed to think just the CPAP machine would be a huge help. That has not been the case, unfortunately. It probably helps me get better sleep when I am asleep but does not help with getting back to sleep.

    • I am with you on not wanting to tangle with hormone supplements. Apparently, there are other, more natural ways to take on the challenge—I am just beginning to look into them.

      I’m not a big fan of holistic medicine (I’ve known cancer patients who went that route and suffered unnecessarily), but my doctor was very frank when we reviewed the test results that showed my hormones were way out of whack (tests I insisted on getting, since I wanted scientific proof that it might be the problem rather than just speculation). He said, “Frankly, we did not learn much about this in med school. Hormone imbalance is just a nuisance—it’s not really life-threatening. But, having said that, remember, I’m a 30-something male who has never been and never will go through menopause. I can’t speak to your quality of life. If this is a bigger problem than I understand it to be, then you will have to teach me more about it. If you are OK with that, I will try to help with the science side of it.”

      So I’m learning...

    • Have you considered the practice of second sleep?

      Historian A. Roger Ekirch's book At Day's Close: Night in Times Past describes how households at this time retired a couple of hours after dusk, woke a few hours later for one to two hours, and then had a second sleep until dawn.

      It was a common practice until the 17th century.

    • I've read that before and it raises questions for me. Top of the list, why go to bed so early if you have the light to be active in the middle of the night? I confess to being a little skeptical.