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I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!

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Hi, I'm new to this site. I've been meditating consistently since the start of June, almost daily. Daily since mid July, I have been meditating about 45+ minutes per day. Since mid August it's been 1 hour + per day, up to 2 hours on weekends.

 
I have severe ADHD, and have been struggling with Adderall for nearly 5 years. I hate taking it. Since mid July I have been off my meds. I still have ADHD, but it's no longer a problem. Does that make sense? This, in fact, is the reason why I pursued meditation.

Since the beginning of August I have been having excruciating neck pain at the base of my skull, but only while meditating. The pain would go away almost immediately after.  Additionally, I would have meditation sessions that felt "productive", but I couldn't actually focus on anything. 

Sunday, I went to a Shambala Center for some guidance, the closest option I have to something I'm interested in. I distain religiosity, but my other options are No Ho Renge Kio (or some such) and spacey new agey universal love feel good shit. (I'm all about feeling good, but I prefer actual progress at the moment.) Anyway, the Shambala teacher didn't fully seem to understand much of what I was talking about, however, he did say something that led me to the conclusion that my inability to focus on anything is actually me observing everything.

Monday I meditated for two hours, half an hour of which was walking. I could barely walk, it seemed like I had to relearn how, similar to a near fatal car accident I had 25 years ago. During that session I developed a stomach ache that lasted most of the day, but no headache... Yay!

Since Monday, I have probably slept three hours per night, couple with an already seriously reduced sleep schedule since mid August. Today, I'm struggling. I'm not an ER doctor! I'm not used to this and lack of sleep exacerbates ADHD symptoms. I'm reading Daniel's book, but I'm only ½ way through the 2nd part. 
Can someone please help me figure out where I am and how to get some sleep? I take care of clients and drive them around for work and I feel like another night like this might put them in danger and I can't really afford to take time off (though I will, if I must! Don't worry about that.)

Thanks,
Alejandro

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/6/17 3:36 PM as a reply to Alejandro Duarte.
Hi, and welcome.
My sleep gets disrupted when I up my meditation time per day.  

This may not be the answer for you, but the link is relevant.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUQFw2jNf7s

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/6/17 2:07 PM as a reply to C P M.
Thanks for sharing the video, I'll give his advice a shot. I did try to do it last night, but not from an informed place, thus my effort was half asses. 

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/7/17 6:49 PM as a reply to Alejandro Duarte.
Hi Alejandro,

I also have a problem sleeping during and after I've done a really intensive retreat. What I do is take melatonin (3-10 mg). Melatonin is a natural hormone that the body produces around the time you should be going to sleep. One of its effects is to elevate blood sugar during the night. The theory is that this is to prevent you from becoming hypoglycemic while you sleep, since you can't eat. As a result of this, it should not be taken by diabetics, and it is not possible to buy in Europe without a prescription. In the US, it is available over the counter at most drugstores or even some organic food stores (like Whole Foods). I also have really bad allergies and take Benadryl (diphenhydramine) at night regularly for them. Benadryl is a first generation antihistimine and makes you sleepy. In Europe, diphenhydramine is not sold for allergies but over the counter (in Germany anyway) as a sleep medication. Neither of these is in any way  addictive like other, heavier prescription sleep drugs are. For example, when I fly to Europe and have jet lag, I take melatonin for the second and third night (the first night I am generally so wiped out from the flight that I don't need it) and then stop. Some people have problems "taking pills" to sleep, but, I don't know, I think as you get older, your brain generates less melatonin when you should sleep, and sometimes and for some people, they have the same problem.

With regard to your practice, if you find that you are OK with working through another book, I'd also recommend Culadasa's The Mind Illuminated. Culadasa has a ten step program towards achieving insight. Even if you only get to stage 6 or so, I think you'd really benefit. He has many suggestions for how to practice, what to do with distractions, etc. One of the most helpful observations of his I've found is his distinction between attention and awareness. Many vipassana teachers don't make this distinction.

And, as I see you're reading MCTB, I don't have to recommend it. That would be my other "go to" source for advice.

Good luck!

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/7/17 9:43 PM as a reply to svmonk.
Thanks for the suggestion. I looked up some YouTubes of Culadasa and found them very interesting. In fact, one tip for meditating substantially helped me out. I also just got The Iluminated Mind in the mail yesterday! 

As for the medications, over the counter or not, I generally try to avoid them. I'm pretty sensitive to them. I've tried melatonin in the past and it messed me up the whole of the following day. 

However, hearing how and when sleep issues affect you really helps me put this in perspective. Last night I slept 6 hours and today I took an hour nap. So, it makes sense with what you were saying about it being an issue when you increase your time on the cushion. Sunday I did over 2 hours and Monday I did 2 hours. Not my usual. 

That said, I want to increase my practice so that I can be meditating about 2 hours daily, but I just read in Daniel's book that one shouldn't practice more than 1.5 hours a day. So, I'm not sure why, but I'll keep reading. 

Thanks for for your suggestions! 

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/9/17 3:02 AM as a reply to Alejandro Duarte.


That said, I want to increase my practice so that I can be meditating about 2 hours daily, but I just read in Daniel's book that one shouldn't practice more than 1.5 hours a day. So, I'm not sure why, but I'll keep reading. 


Hi Alejandro,

I was surprised to read this, because I don't remember Daniel writing that.  I was motivated to check and found this quote on page 10 of the book

"Should you need someone to tell you how long to practice, start with10 minutes a day and work up to an hour or two each day as your life allows. If you can learn to hold your attention completely on yourchosen object for even one solid minute, you have some strongconcentration skills. That said, you might have 10 hours a day to devote to practice. Don’t let me hold you back!"


Daniel is a strong advocate of intensive retreats, so I would be very surprised if he would advise limiting practice to1.5 hours a day. Perhaps you could post the passage you are referring to.

Conal

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/9/17 11:45 AM as a reply to Conal.
Thanks for that clarification, Conal. I do now remember reading what you said. Last week I was incredibly sleep deprived and had to reduce my daily meditations to 15 minutes per day.

However, in Part II, in the section "A Clear Goal", Danial says --

"There are those that are such macho meditators that they will try to sit for very long periods of time, say 10 to 24 hours. While this might seem like a really brave thing to do, a real tribute to one's determination, I don't see the point. I have managed to make very rapid progress when on intensive retreats where the longest sit I did was four hours and most were less than 1.5 hours." 

So, is this than not a "hard" recommendation? Given the effects meditation has had on my ADHD, I really want to experience "rapid progress", to see where this could go. I have a life situation where I can devote a lot of time per day without compromising the other aspects of my life (so long as I can manage to sleep properly ;).  

Thanks, Alejandro

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/9/17 12:45 PM as a reply to Alejandro Duarte.
Ok, I think you are confusing a "sit" with hours per day spent meditating.  A sit is a continuous period of meditation, whereas on retreat you would do quite a few sits per day, so on an intensive retreat you would probably do 10-12 hours meditation per day split into at least 3 sits.  The macho meditators that Daniel refers to are those who would skip mealbreaks and continue meditating.  At least that's my understanding of it.

Conal

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/9/17 1:05 PM as a reply to Alejandro Duarte.
I can see that I haven't addressed your main concern which is the effects meditation has on sleep.  When I did my first retreat I found that my sleep was disturbed because of all the emotional stuff that was being dredged up.  This was less of an issue on my two subsequent retreats, but I have found that dreams tend to become more vivid when you are dealing with heavy stuff on the matt.  On the Goenka courses they advise you to concentrate on your bodily sensations if you can't sleep, so I tend to do that now.  Sleep is not really an issue for me, but concentrating on bodily sensations calms the mind down.  Goenka also says that less sleep is needed as you progress in meditation, but I can't say that I have noticed this, but then I haven't advanced very far on the path as yet!

Conal

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/9/17 1:15 PM as a reply to Conal.
Thanks again, Conal. 

So, continuous meditation doesn't equal deeper meditation? Daniel was referring to 1.5 to 4 hours per meditation period, not per day?

Sit doesn't equal meditation (that's how I've been using it)? 

Less sleep is related to emotional stuff coming up (possibly negative experience) and/or development of the skill (positive experience)?

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/11/17 2:08 PM as a reply to Alejandro Duarte.
Hello, I also suffer from focus and attention problems. Since I started training my mind I have found that my ADHD diagnosis to be rather lazy. I have experienced extreme insomnia in my life and it took allot to figure out how to sleep. I do not respond well to medications due to their crude nature. I have no advice to take medication or not.

I know all the tricks and theories, trust me. At my worst I was awake for five days and went insane in a very real sense. After awhile the simple act of moving sleep to a top priority solved the insomnia problem. I had to get real nasty about it to. However, I never had any real reason on why I couldn't sleep until I started meditating with a clear goal.

It seems to me that the ability to meditate with focus is directly related to getting to sleep. For me their isn't much difference. Getting to sleep feels exactly like trying to change mental states in meditation and I have noticed many common problems that deny me access in meditation also prevent sleep.

This information may or may not help you because my exact cause of insomnia was very technical in the end and deals with genetics and autisim. However, I think the one unversal point I am trying to make is that it takes focus to get to sleep. If one can't focus there are other ways but to me it is as if the body will force the mind still by burning it out.

For example, counting sheep has never worked for me not because it doesn't work. When I induce insomnia on purpose I find that I can't count sheep period so how can that work? When in this situation I find it best to give up on sleep and wait 10 minutes. It seems like a one shot deal that has to be reloaded if the mind fails.

One night I was so desperate to get to sleep that I went through a total emotional meltdown and passed out on the floor. This was interesting because I am in great physical condition and I have the ability to walk while knocked out or sleeping. After that I had success getting to sleep via pure physical exhaustion. Not a perfect solution but it was a solution.

At the moment I am trying to figure out the exact mental procedure to produce sleep at will but it is just out of my reach. It is like trying to feel the tip of my nose without anything touching it and when I do I get punched in the face before I sleep. There is a weird reason for that for me, so don't read too much into that.

My habbits to prepare for sleep are shaped by how I prepare to meditate. The half hour before sleep is extremely important to me.

Good luck in your search for sleep. Lack of it disrupts life in a way that is very hard to communicate.

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/11/17 5:56 PM as a reply to Daniel Roundtree.
Wow Daniel,

that was great. Your experiences with your issues are more severe than mine, but do very closely map to mine. I greatly appreciate you sharing that with me. I have gotten a handle on my sleep issues, but I will consider your words the next time there is a problem. 

In fact, I read your post to my wife to help her better understand me. Again, thank you!

alejandro

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/11/17 6:41 PM as a reply to Alejandro Duarte.
No problem, I was just relating to your frustration because it is so familar to me. Society itself causes alot of problems because lack of sleep generates some kind of pride. This is one of those things I had to get nasty about because there was so much destructive self talk created. On the flip side, realizing the desire for sleep was causeing alot of problems for me cracked opened alot of doors.

RE: I new here, new to meditating, and I can't sleep!
Answer
9/12/17 4:21 PM as a reply to Alejandro Duarte.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04DDx8wcUDw

Check out the video and see if it helps. Let me know how it went.