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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5839
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My doctor says you wont die from lack of sleep. she says

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my doctor says you wont die from lack of sleep. she says your body will shut down before you get into real danger. is this true as i have a chronic sleep disorder that ive been treating with sleeping pills for the last five years. how many days of no sleep roughly does it take for your body to shut down and sleep.? i also take olanzapine 10mg and mirtazapine 45mg to help with sleep. i usually take up to 15mg of zopoclone, but in times of less stress can actually come down to 3.75mg and sleep. i even went saturday night without any sleeping pills. my problem is if i have any kind of stresser or over excitement my head locks up and i cant switch off to go to sleep at all. It is a horrible experience and i can never work the following day. the stress or lack of ability to sleep lasts for quite a while, very often weeks. up untill now i have taken sleeping pills to combat this problem. it has not fixed the problem, merely put a blanket over it and allowed me to sleep. i am very much at the end of taking sleeping pills because they are losing their effectiveness. at the moment im am finding 20mg of zolpidem usefull as alast resort. it knocks me out everytime. but i dont want to over use them. i am about to start some physcological courses on mindfullness and difficulty sleeping. so im doing the right things, but am not getting very far with results. i also got a progressive muscle relaxation exercise off just answer and along with breathing exercises they do help, so long as im not stressed, when nothing works apart from sleeping pills. theres alot to answer here so please answer every point. also going on line to chat doesnt work as there are problems with your reply button. so just give me a straight answer and i will read it. thanks
Hi, I'd like to help you with your questions.

In your case, your doctor is correct. She understands your medical issues and feels based on those, that she can safely say that you will fall asleep when you need to. If it makes you feel any better, get a second opinion. That will ease your mind.

It's hard to say how long you can go without sleep. The different kinds of sleep make that a judgment call. Some people can take "cat" naps and survive without deep sleep for a while. And even if you go without sleep for a few days or longer, one good night's sleep will take care of the lack of sleep you experienced.

Research shows that about 11 days without sleep is the longest anyone has purposely tried to stay awake. But people do experience hallucinations and other physical symptoms when awake that long.

Given that you have never experienced trouble sleeping that long before, it is unlikely that you ever will. And you can take your medications as a last resort if you have to so you can sleep. But I agree with what you are doing by saving them until you have to use them. They will remain more effective a lot longer that way.

Using Progressive Muscle relaxation is a good way to get yourself calm. Guided Imagery also helps a lot:

That can occupy your thoughts and keep you relaxed. Taking the courses is an excellent idea too. You can also try the following tips:

Write down any worries you have. Keep a notepad next to your bed as well as one in your home somewhere. Anytime you think of something upsetting, write it down and consider it dealt with until morning.

Establish a routine for bed and stick to it. This helps your body learn to start relaxing by a certain time each day.

Keep your room cool. It's harder to sleep when it's warm.

Keep your mind occupied with easy tasks like naming your favorite foods or counting something simple.

Make your room the best place in the house. Buy comfortable bedding, keep the lighting low.

Listen to a talk show on very low. It can give you something to focus on. Just be sure you have it so low you can't really make out the words. The sound of the voices will help sooth you.

I hope this has helped,

PS Sorry you are having trouble with the reply button on chat. If you want to, let the moderators know. They can help you with it.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
thanks for your help. hopefully im entering a period where i can sleep sleeping pill free for a while. till the next episode of stress. i will try visualisation as well, starting tonight

You're welcome! I hope the visualization does the trick and helps you sleep.

Take care,


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
hi kate, you say in my case my doctor is correct. what about the syndrome i described that my head locks up and i cant switch off at all to sleep. strangely enough i dont really suffer from anxiety when like this. and it feels like nothing will change my head when it locks up like this. do you think that when i reach the point of exhaustion my head will let go and let me sleep.

I think so. If your situation is not caused by a physical ailment, then it is psychological. And in the case of psychological issues, it is a matter of medication or therapy. Often changing your habits, practicing the exercises we talked about, etc helps in those cases. There are very few things that will prevent you from sleeping when your body needs to. And the fact that you have always slept or found a way to sleep says that you are unlikely to have a problem with not falling asleep when you need to.


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

i am having problems with my sleep still. im taking sleeping pills every night at the moment, and am finding it very difficult to come off them. i worked long hours yesterday and knew i would have problems sleeping, even with sleeping pills. i took 3.75mg of zopoclone as a minimal dose, hoping it would relax me enough to go to sleep. i ve been taking sleeping pills for most of the last five years and there effectiveness is minimal now, especially zopoclone. anyway, i went to bed at about 9pm (my normal time) and lay in bed doing breathing and progressive muscle relaxation exercises. I am pretty sure i fell asleep because i was next aware two hours later. the thing is i slept very lightly and was unable to transgress into deep sleep. i tried for another hour will similar results. i then gave up and took 20mg of zolpidem and fell asleep very quickly. i was able to get up and go to work as normal this morning. what im wondering is my hypathalmus damaged as i cant sleep without sleeping pills at the moment. maybe the damage is not full, because i have slept without sleeping pills before. any kind of stress or over working causes severe problems with my sleep. I remeber in my last job five years ago i went into data to deeply and really hurt my brain. by that i mean i strained my brain from over analyzing data. i havent been the same since and have had these sleeping problems ever since. can you damage your hypathalmus like this

You cannot damage your brain from too much work or over thinking something. But medications may affect it. Your question is an excellent one to check in with your doctor about just to be sure. But in my experience, I have not heard of hypothalamus damage from medications or as a side effect. Medications can affect your ability to sleep, but a medication meant to help you sleep probably does not do that type of damage. And once you stopped the medication, the side effects would stop as well.

It could be that you have gotten into a pattern of thinking that is affecting your ability to relax after a hard day of work. You said you first noticed that the sleep problems started when you overanalyzed data in your work. When you feel that overworking is why you can't sleep, you can convince yourself that each time you over work that you won't sleep. The mind can be very powerful and when you believe something, you can make it happen. For example, it is common when you are around sick people to feel you have symptoms yourself even if you are not ill. That is an example of the power of suggestion. You may feel that overwork equals no sleep. So that is what occurs. When instead you may just feel anxious because of the thought and that is actually what keeps you up at night. Training yourself to not think that anymore can help you relax at night.


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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Hi Kate, i have set up a subscription to your site. so it wont cost me so much money. if you cant damage your brain by over thinking, then i doubt my hypathamus is damaged. but whatever is wrong with me, its very deep and extremely difficult to shake off. I am working as a taxi driver, because its the least stressfull thing i can do. i just get in my car and switch off. whats so frustrating is im degree educated and cannot fulfill my potential. i should be doing a job earning alot more money, but i cant, simply because i get stressed (sub consiously) and cant switch off in the evening.. i hope one day i will be able to overcome my problems and work a normal life. thanks for listening to me.

I agree with you, I don't think you have damaged your brain. And the more you talk about how you feel, the more it sounds like the issue might be cognitive based. What you describe sounds possibly like an OCD issue or anxiety. Either way, changing your thoughts can make a big difference. It may take some time, but it would help. You can start by changing the connection between overanalyzing and not being able to sleep. Each time you have that thought, you can say "that is not true" then replace it with a new thought, one that you feel helps such as "overanalyzing can help me feel more tired and sleepy". Just having the different thought can change how you react. Here is a resource that may help you:

If you feel that resource is helpful and addresses what you are feeling, we can find more resources and other ways you can work on how you feel so you can reach your potential.


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Let me know if that link works for you. And if you need more, I will gladly help.


May I please request that if you find the service I provided helpful at all that you rate me with three or more stars? Your rating is the only way I am reimbursed for my answer.
Thank you so much!