151 posts in the category “Mood Conditions”

Getting out of bed: The “One hour rule” and other tips

Posted March 12th, 2018 by

Does getting out of bed in the morning ever seem like an overwhelming task? You’re not alone. PatientsLikeMe members are talking about it a lot in the mental health forum. Read on to learn what’s worked for others on difficult mornings.

Give yourself no more than an hour

Elyse Raffery, contributor to The Mighty, shared her strategy for the “One Hour Rule” to get out of bed on the days she’d rather not move from beneath the covers:

“Within one hour of waking up, I have to be out of my bed. If I look at the clock when I wake up and it is 9 a.m., by 10 a.m., I cannot still be lying in bed. I am a competitive person, and even some gentle competition with my own brain helps me sometimes.”

Louder alarms, brighter lights and more tips from PatientsLikeMe members

Check out these practical morning tips from other members in the forum:

“I got a much louder alarm. I went back to the classic two bell analog alarm clock… so loud that my cat bolts from the room.”

“Now I have a routine where I get up, turn the light on, and listen to the radio for ten minutes. Then I get out of bed. The ‘light’ is a full-spectrum, really bright light. You might find that turning on bright lights when you get up helps. You can put them on timers, too, so that they light up when your alarm goes off.”

“Write down or think about something you are looking forward to on the next morning/day. Motivate yourself to want to get up by planning a special item for breakfast (cinnamon toast) or wearing a certain shirt you like or planning a half hour of your favorite music with headphones for the first ten minutes. Something that will keep your head on straight.”

Some shared wisdom from around the web:

  • Make small goals: “If you can’t do one thing a day, try one thing every two days, or even one thing every week. A slowly fought battle is still one you can win in the end.”
  • Ask for help: “We’re all human, there are times we can all benefit from support.”
  • If you have a pet: “Pets are also something great to turn to, as they rely on you to care for them, which gives you a sense of responsibility each day.”

Try to get enough sleep the night before

Chronic sleep problems — common in many mental health conditions — can often be part of the issue. According to the Harvard Health Newsletter,

  • Sleep problems affect more than 65% to 90% of adult patients with major depression
  • In bipolar depression, 23% to 78% of patients report that they have trouble getting out of bed
  • Sleep problems are also common in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Here are some strategies for sleeping better (and potentially getting up more easily.) Talk to your doctor about what might work best for you:

  • Exercise can improve sleep, and can help regulate your mood to make mornings easier
  • Maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, or “sleep training” — staying awake longer so that your sleep is more restful
  • Keeping your bedroom cool and dark, and banishing electronics from the bedroom
  • Meditation and guided imagery, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation ─ alternately tensing and relaxing muscles ─ can reduce anxiety that can ruin sleep and make mornings so hard

Have you tried the “One Hour Rule” or something else to help you get out of bed? Log in or join PatientsLikeMe and jump in the conversation.

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PTSD Nightmares: Why they’re happening and what you can do

Posted January 5th, 2018 by

More than 1,600 members of the PTSD community on have reported experiencing severe nightmares, and there are dozens of forum threads tagged with topic. So, we took a deeper dive into PTSD nightmares and some of the research-backed approaches you can try to help manage them.

PTSD nightmares

How common are nightmares after trauma?

The quick answer: Very common.

  • According to one study, 71% to 96% of people with PTSD experience nightmares. And the number is even higher for those also living with another mental health condition like panic disorder.
  • At least 50% of people with PTSD suffer from nightmares that incorporate elements or contain exact replications of a traumatic event (these are called replicative nightmares).
  • An additional 20-25% experience post-traumatic nightmares that don’t exactly replay the trauma memory, but are symbolically related to the traumatic event.

Why do PTSD nightmares happen?

Scientists have been studying dreams for years, but they still don’t fully understand how or why we dream.

Matthew Walker, a psychology researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, has one theory. Walker found that during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the chemistry of the brain actually changes. Levels of norepinephrine — a kind of adrenaline — drop out completely. REM sleep is the only time of day when this happens. In people not living with PTSD, REM sleep is kind of like therapy; it’s an adrenaline-free environment where the brain can process its memories while stripping away the emotional edges.

Walker’s theory suggests that in people with PTSD, REM sleep is broken. The adrenaline doesn’t go away like it’s supposed to. The brain can’t process tough memories, so it just cycles through them, again and again. This theory is being put to the test: The VA is currently running several clinical trials on prazosin, a drug that lowers sensitivity to adrenaline. Check out this page to see if there’s a trial in your area.

Treatments for PTSD nightmares

  • Imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) – This approach helps people change how their nightmare ends by reimagining it while they are awake. The idea is that by changing the storyline of the dream to something not scary, your nightmare becomes less upsetting and occurs less often.
  • Prazosin – Mentioned above, prazosin is currently in clinical trials to evaluate its effectiveness for treating PTSD nightmares. In the few trials that have been conducted, results have been positive. In one 15- week study involving 67 active duty soldiers with PTSD, prazosin was found to improve trauma-related nightmares and sleep quality and reduce PTSD symptoms. See what PatientsLikeMe members have said about taking prazosin for nightmares.

Here are 5 common treatments members of the PatientsLikeMe PTSD community have tried in order to manage insomnia :

Interested in finding out more about what other people living with PTSD are trying in order to manage their condition? Join PatientsLikeMe and become part of a community of others like you.

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