2

votes

Insomnia... You win...

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 17, 2012 at 3:50 PM

At home, my sleep is okay. But as soon as I go to my dorm at the university, I wake up twice every night and have a hard time sleeping again. The room has curtains but some light shines through. The next day, I'm a zombie.

As I'm working really hard on my diet (lots and lots of veggies, quality meat, some coconut oil, ...), I'm pissed. I look a bit better than I used to, but my body composition is practically the same (a bit skinny fat), I still have lots of health problems, etc.

The thing is, when I'm at home, most problems disappear... Yet my diet does not change at all, and pollution is higher there!

I've tried everything : magnesium (still do that), ZMA, vitamin D in the morning, vitamin D later, more carbs, less carbs (this made my sleep very bad), more veggies, less veggies, more fat, less fat, more protein, less protein, valerian root, catnip, not taking fish oil in the evening, no computer after 8PM, high doses of quercetin, nettle root extract, potassium chloride, epsom salts on my chest, putting socks on during the night, ... I even use F.lux all the time... Sometimes I think I have hypothyroid issues (really looks like it : weight gain, fatigue, constipation, weight gain, ...) which could be caused by a low iodine intake (I do eat lots of fish, but seaweed gives me acne).

Yet there is one thing I know works : levocetirizine (a good antihistamine). I've bought a batch of it today, but I hate myself for doing so. I hate having to use pills again, I hate every damn second of it. But what can I do? Constantly buying new herbs doesn't do much good to my wallet.

Please hack my insomnia!

The only possible cause I can think of is mold : there are some water problems in the kitchen underneath my dorm, and wherever there's water problems, I tend to have problems (since I'm allergic to mold). If this is the case, what could I do to solve my issue?

Update : I have been taking the antihistamine and will probably take it until the end of may, just to make sure I don't lose quality sleep time so I can study well. Yet, even the antihistamine doesn't work 100%... I still wake up for 2 seconds. I think I found the reason though : I don't have insomnia (that disappeared when cutting out gluten and casein), but neighbors make noise : they go to the toilet, they start taking, ... The walls are thin, and paleo probably made my ears better (never have earwax coming out anymore). Is there anything I can do about that? Fortunately this will only last until the end of May, then I'm gonna focus on food again (if I pass my exams).

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on April 28, 2012
at 05:54 PM

Okay, solved the issue. I had to add lots and lots of sugar to my diet, and use ice cream before bed. Computer light keeps me up a bit, so I also turn off the computer 2 hours before going to bed. Epsom salt baths are great too!

D07a525f9021f8d72bf6aaa52893c795

(1011)

on March 30, 2012
at 08:42 AM

How about melatonin? Also get yr serum 25(OH)D levels checked - it's extremely hard to optimise by Sun exposure - especially in Belgium! IMHO supplementation is an "evil" necessitated by dwelling so far North! AND - the greater your tendency to tan, the worse it is. Worst case is if you are Afro, then you are seriously compromised.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on March 29, 2012
at 03:33 PM

GABA gave me skin issues but did improve my sleep. I don't take vitamin D anymore, I just get sun.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on March 29, 2012
at 03:33 PM

Iodine did nothing, but calcium and epsom salt baths helped. The last one is weird, since I supplement magnesium before going to sleep.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on March 09, 2012
at 08:17 AM

Stopped the antihistamine after a week because it made me feel tired. And what dya know : nothing changed. Apparently the antihistamine didn't even help me sleep. Soon I'm trying out iodine, but eating more calcium helped a lot already.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on February 19, 2012
at 07:13 PM

Sounds like ear plugs are worth a shot until then!

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:42 PM

There is less noise in my dorm, but if someone makes noise it's loud and it wakes me up (eg. going to the toilet which doesn't happen at home). I think the big difference is the comfortable bed at home (I have a big, cozy bed there) and the light (I have velux at home so there is practically no light during the night).

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:42 PM

I have to admit : I gave up yesterday... I just wanted good sleep... So I took the antihistamine. God I felt way better this morning, really refreshed. I'm afraid taking catnip made me slow though, cuz I started building a construction around my bed but I fell on my chin (don't ask me how) and now there's a hole in my chin. Horrible :P

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:39 PM

There is less noise in my dorm, but if someone makes noise it's loud and it wakes me up (eg. going to the toilet which doesn't happen at home). I think the big difference is the comfortable bed at home (I have a big, cozy bed there) and the light (I have velux at home so there is practically no light during the night).

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on February 18, 2012
at 03:59 PM

If there is noise either outside, or in the building, using an electric fan can be a great help. All the best to you.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 18, 2012
at 03:48 PM

Yeah, second this, I complained about what I thought was mold when I was in the dorm, and they took care of that pronto. It is their responsibility to make sure you are in a safe environment, and mold is not safe.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on February 18, 2012
at 03:30 PM

Sorry that didn't work out. This is the one I use:http://www.amazon.com/Aroma-Home-Silk-Mask-Black/dp/B003Q6T7KY

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 18, 2012
at 09:55 AM

I bought one (damn expensive), but it prevented me from sleeping : it just puts pressure on my head and sinuses and it's not very comfortable. I managed to make a construction around my bed to stop all light from shining through, and it helped a lot.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 18, 2012
at 07:47 AM

Yeah, some people say to take D3 in the morning, but others say to take it in the evening. I was already taking it in the morning, so I guess I'll have to try taking it in the evening.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 18, 2012
at 07:45 AM

I don't know, the years I take it, I'm usually way healthier.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 18, 2012
at 07:45 AM

I'll try finding some blankets and I'll see. I managed to make my sleep better by creating a sort of box around my bed made out of cardboard. The air flow isn't great though.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 18, 2012
at 07:44 AM

Next year I'll come back home, but right now, that's almost impossible : I'm paying until August, and I need to go to a lot of classes to be sure. It's only 3 nights a week that I have this.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on February 17, 2012
at 10:32 PM

I wonder if the antihistamine is doing double duty of reducing your reaction to the mold and acting as a sedative simultaneously?

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on February 17, 2012
at 10:19 PM

Gotta cover that window better. I throw towels up over the curtains if I'm staying somewhere with insufficient curtains to block the light. When I lived in a building full of people who went drinking every night there were all sorts of interesting and annoying sounds to block out for sleeping, and ear plugs did wonders. I still find that I sleep best with ear plugs and a sleep mask even though I'm somewhere much quieter now. If you suspect mold, keep that window open get yourself a hepa air filter running on high until you can get better accommodations.

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on February 17, 2012
at 05:33 PM

Yeah... I HATE that part of communal-ish living. It sucks. I lived in an apartment below an alcoholic once, and I woke up EVERY night when they'd get home from closing time, clomp across my ceiling and spend 1/2 hour retching with their head in the toilet (which carried every sound down the pipes near my bed). Yuck!

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 17, 2012
at 05:29 PM

Good point. I do wake up mostly because of noise. I don't really have a roommate, though there is a guy and his girlfriend living next to me and their laugh is too loud for the walls :D

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 17, 2012
at 05:13 PM

Okay. I take D3 in the morning ATM, and I have GABA but didn't try it out yet. I wanted to avoid chemicals :)

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 17, 2012
at 04:57 PM

Hmmmm, maybe water kefir might help?

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 17, 2012
at 04:40 PM

Eye mask works wonders? Really? Cool, that's an easy thing to acquire :)!

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11 Answers

5
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on February 17, 2012
at 04:21 PM

Sounds like you need to move out if there are mold problems. That would be the easiest solution & probably safer in the long run.

If you have a confirmed mold allergy, you can have your doc write a letter to the college, explaining that they need to find you other accommodation. It will also alert the officials to the mold problem & maybe they will do some remediation. It's not cheap, so they may put it off...

Also, get an eye mask. They work wonders!

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 18, 2012
at 09:55 AM

I bought one (damn expensive), but it prevented me from sleeping : it just puts pressure on my head and sinuses and it's not very comfortable. I managed to make a construction around my bed to stop all light from shining through, and it helped a lot.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 17, 2012
at 04:40 PM

Eye mask works wonders? Really? Cool, that's an easy thing to acquire :)!

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on February 18, 2012
at 03:30 PM

Sorry that didn't work out. This is the one I use:http://www.amazon.com/Aroma-Home-Silk-Mask-Black/dp/B003Q6T7KY

3
F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on February 17, 2012
at 10:57 PM

I could NEVER sleep in my dorm at school, part of the reason i transferred and came home. People were up all hours of the night making noise. It does't sound like noise is the problem, but you never know, try a pair of earplugs?

Hearos have worked good for me as a good combination of noise blocking and comfort, they wont block all noise but the ones that do were too uncomfortable to sleep with. Once you get used to them it's great. Go to bed and not having to worry about noisy people waking you up

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on February 19, 2012
at 07:13 PM

Sounds like ear plugs are worth a shot until then!

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 18, 2012
at 07:44 AM

Next year I'll come back home, but right now, that's almost impossible : I'm paying until August, and I need to go to a lot of classes to be sure. It's only 3 nights a week that I have this.

3
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on February 17, 2012
at 10:31 PM

Gotta cover that window better. I throw towels or a blanket up over the curtains if I'm staying somewhere with insufficient curtains to block the light.

When I lived in a building full of people who went drinking every night there were all sorts of annoying sounds to block out, and ear plugs did wonders. I still find that I sleep best with ear plugs and a sleep mask even though I'm somewhere much quieter now. Valerian also helped me with the annoyance factor.

If you suspect mold, keep your windows open as much as possible, and get yourself a hepa air filter running on high until you can get a new place. Don't mess around with mold, its bad news.

Mattresses and pillows can harbor all sorts of weird fungi too and can cause problems if you have sensitivities, maybe try getting a new pillow and a mattress cover too.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 18, 2012
at 07:45 AM

I'll try finding some blankets and I'll see. I managed to make my sleep better by creating a sort of box around my bed made out of cardboard. The air flow isn't great though.

3
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 17, 2012
at 04:20 PM

Bruno,

You could ask the dorm management to inspect for mold. Home inspectors have a gizmo that tests for it. Mold would be a liability for the college so they may not want to know! Put pressure on them to test. If it's positive, they can fix it or it would be a good excuse to move you to a different bldg.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 18, 2012
at 03:48 PM

Yeah, second this, I complained about what I thought was mold when I was in the dorm, and they took care of that pronto. It is their responsibility to make sure you are in a safe environment, and mold is not safe.

2
Medium avatar

(2923)

on February 18, 2012
at 07:38 AM

As you can see from the rest of the answers, the two biggest causes of interference with sleep are light and sound.

Light: cheapest and easiest is a sleep mask, next step is switching in blockout curtains when your RA isn't looking. You're already using F.lux, otherwise turn off everything electronic (had one monitor with a BRIGHT blue LED that blinked when it was in powersave mode -- then there was the smoke detector in the motel room that blinked red once every five minutes) ...

Noise: in dorms is nearly impossible to deal with, best bet is a white noise generator (if you can't afford one or are not sure, check out the website SimplyNoise (some people prefer pink or brown noise, if you're really geeky AND brown noise works for you, the 24 hour Enterprise Ambient Engine Noise video is a fun option).

Pills: seen reports that people get better results with D3 in the morning (a side effect of making your body think it's getting sunlight) and then melatonin in the evening.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 18, 2012
at 07:47 AM

Yeah, some people say to take D3 in the morning, but others say to take it in the evening. I was already taking it in the morning, so I guess I'll have to try taking it in the evening.

2
D07a525f9021f8d72bf6aaa52893c795

(1011)

on February 17, 2012
at 05:06 PM

From episode 85 Robb Wolf podcast - combination of 5000iu D3/1-2mg melatonin/400mg GABA. Courtesy a university sleep expert consulting to the US navy. Timing not elucidated, other than 'evening'. Might be worth a try.

I posted on D3 in the evening - I switched my 10,000iu from morning to evening, and I sleep longer and better. But that is my n=1.

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 17, 2012
at 05:13 PM

Okay. I take D3 in the morning ATM, and I have GABA but didn't try it out yet. I wanted to avoid chemicals :)

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on March 29, 2012
at 03:33 PM

GABA gave me skin issues but did improve my sleep. I don't take vitamin D anymore, I just get sun.

D07a525f9021f8d72bf6aaa52893c795

(1011)

on March 30, 2012
at 08:42 AM

How about melatonin? Also get yr serum 25(OH)D levels checked - it's extremely hard to optimise by Sun exposure - especially in Belgium! IMHO supplementation is an "evil" necessitated by dwelling so far North! AND - the greater your tendency to tan, the worse it is. Worst case is if you are Afro, then you are seriously compromised.

1
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:30 PM

The fact that you can sleep well at home but not in your dorm, may have to do with the familiar comforts of home compared to the louder, less relaxing dorm room. Have you tried using relaxation techniques to wind you down such as deep breathing or meditation? I had a hard time sleeping in my dorm partially for the noise (ear plugs help) and lights (black towel over the blinds + sleeping mask help), but even after solving those two problems I still wasn't drifting off to sleep like I imagined. When I'm at school my anxiety levels are much higher, and I don't having siblings/pets/parents/comfy couches to give me that time to calm down. I found that after taking care of the light/noise, using relaxation techniques helped me greatly improve my sleeping length and quality (note- meditation also helped with exam anxiety!).

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:39 PM

There is less noise in my dorm, but if someone makes noise it's loud and it wakes me up (eg. going to the toilet which doesn't happen at home). I think the big difference is the comfortable bed at home (I have a big, cozy bed there) and the light (I have velux at home so there is practically no light during the night).

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 18, 2012
at 04:42 PM

There is less noise in my dorm, but if someone makes noise it's loud and it wakes me up (eg. going to the toilet which doesn't happen at home). I think the big difference is the comfortable bed at home (I have a big, cozy bed there) and the light (I have velux at home so there is practically no light during the night).

1
464e1c66609d402615ae2b3cf72d53fb

(1472)

on February 18, 2012
at 03:41 PM

Read Dr. Krakow's book Sound Sleep, Sound Mind. It is a life changer. Helped me a ton!

1
35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on February 17, 2012
at 05:20 PM

Not to be Captain Obvious here, but do you have a roomate? What is his/her sleep cycle like? Are they getting up every few hours? Or coming home from the bar at 3am when you've been out like a light for 4 hours? Or even an upstairs neighbor who makes noise you don't quite notice, but it awakens you. A white noise machine might help, or some white noise over headphones.

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on February 17, 2012
at 05:33 PM

Yeah... I HATE that part of communal-ish living. It sucks. I lived in an apartment below an alcoholic once, and I woke up EVERY night when they'd get home from closing time, clomp across my ceiling and spend 1/2 hour retching with their head in the toilet (which carried every sound down the pipes near my bed). Yuck!

685e3c967e63b4eacccf02628fd9a3ac

(1026)

on February 17, 2012
at 05:29 PM

Good point. I do wake up mostly because of noise. I don't really have a roommate, though there is a guy and his girlfriend living next to me and their laugh is too loud for the walls :D

1
C4f80b8d42e013583c404bdd939c0bbc

on February 17, 2012
at 05:14 PM

Have you tried using a sleep mask? I don't even own a sleep mask, but I sometimes cover my eyes with a shirt or towel because of the lights shining directly at my apartment window.

1
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on February 17, 2012
at 04:23 PM

How does the temperature compare? And the humidity? Amongst all the other things you've tried, have you experimented with varying water intake? What do you do all night if it gets dark for 12 hours and you don't use lights or have you not really tried going to bed earlier?

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